Timothy Darvill (Professor of Archaeology in the School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University) and Geoffrey Wainwright (President of the Society of Antiquaries) will be leading the team in excavation at two sites: (1) parts of the Stonehenge site, in the county of Wiltshire, on the Salisbury Plain, and (2) in the Preseli Mountains, located in the southern portion of Wales, where the bluestones were originally located.
Overseeing the project is Dave Batchelor, an archaeologist with English Heritage. The project is funded by the BBC.
The digging operation at the prehistoric Stonehenge monument (Council for British Archeology), located about eight miles (thirteen kilometers) north of Salisbury, is the first such disturbance at the site in over four decades (since 1964).
Stonehenge (English Heritage) is a prehistoric site composed of a earthworks surrounding a circular structure of large standing stones. Before the stones were erected, approximately in 2200 B.C., a circular bank and ditch was constructed around 3100 B.C.
The entire Stonehenge complex (National Trust) is thought to have been built over thousands of years, in numerous stages.
The legally protected Stonehenge is owned by The English Crown and managed by English Heritage, a part of the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport of the government of the United Kingdom (and directed by the National Heritage Act of 1983).
The surrounding land is owned by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty (commonly called National Trust), which is a conservation organization in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The excavation project is scheduled to continue through April 11, 2008. During this time, the diggings are hoped to discover dateable materials that will help determine when the stones were first put into place at Stonehenge, and the purpose for the circular placement of the stones.
The original builders of the Stonehenge structure (Salisbury/Stonehenge Tourism) had to transport the bluestones approximately 153 miles (246 kilometers) from the Preseli Mountains to the Salisbury Plain. The team hopes to ultimately be able to say “why” the materials were moved and erected at the Stonehenge site, and “when” they were set into place.
Some researchers contend that the bluestones, which weigh about five tons each and have a height of about six feet, may have been dragged from the Preseli Mountains and taken to the coast, and then placed on rafts where they are transported up the River Avon.
Currently, archaeology experts roughly estimate Stonehenge (Stonehenge Project) was erected some time over 4,600 to 5,100 years ago. With modern scientific methods and techniques, such as radiocarbon dating techniques, the scientists hope to determine a better estimate for the building of Stonehenge, why bluestones were used, and other such important facts.
Additional information is found in the CBS News article “Archaeologists Dig For Clues At Stonehenge: Hopes High With New Technology For 1st Excavation At 5,000-Year-Old Site In Decades”.
Progress of the Stonehenge dig will be followed by the BBC. One of its first articles is found at: "Excavation starts at Stonehenge."
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William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University