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The site of Stonehenge may have been used as a graveyard for an elite community of families hundreds of years before the construction of the monument that stands today, according to archaeologists.
The research, carried out by a team of academics from around the UK and led by Mike Parker Pearson from the UCL Institute of Archaeology, analysed 63 sets of human remains buried around the site. The results suggest that the bodies would have been interred over a period of more than 200 years.
Tests on cattle teeth found at the site, meanwhile, point to its use for massive communal gatherings in the years around 2,500 BC. As documented in Secrets of the Stonehenge Skeletons, a documentary to be broadcast in the UK at 8pm on Sunday 10 March on Channel 4, the fact that the animals were apparently killed in winter suggests their use for mid-winter feasts.
Professor Pearson said: "Stonehenge was a monument that brought ancient Britain together. What we've found is that people came with their animals to feast at Stonehenge from all corners of Britain — as far afield as Scotland."
Image credit: Channel 4