A Missing Piece of Stonehenge Found?

A missing stone that was probably an important part of the ancient rituals that took place at Stonehenge has been discovered by a Welsh archaeologist, reports the Western Mail, the national newspaper of Wales.

Found by Dennis Price, who has avidly studied the archaeology of Stonehenge, the newly found stone was most likely part of the altar. He insists it now sits in two pieces on either side of a road in the village of Wiltshire, England, a few miles from Stonehenge.

This altar stone was first named and described in the 17th century by Inigo Jones, a prominent architect of the period. In 1620 he carried out the first known and very detailed measurements of Stonehenge. The stones that make up this ancient astronomical structure are Jurassic limestone, which can be found in Dorset and the Cotswolds, but not locally.

When put together, the newly found missing stones are remarkably similar to one in a Victorian woodcut picture Price has acquired, reports the Western Mail. He thinks the stone was stolen from the site in the Victorian era when such raids were commonplace.

"We have a woodcut of an easily carved stone with a distinctive shape being cut in two at Stonehenge, and we have accounts of a curious altar stone as described by Inigo Jones being transported to somewhere called St. James," Price explained to Western Mail reporter Sam Burson. "We have drawn a blank at the Palace of St. James, but when we look at the nearby village of Berwick St. James, we find two standing stones that once formed two bridges across a stream, and if we mentally reunite the parts, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the stone in the woodcut."

Why would someone steal the altar stone? Price says it was once a common and well-documented practice to take the Stonehenge rocks when needed for constructing bridges. "On the balance of probabilities, there can be little doubt that Inigo Jones's fabled and once-lost altar stone from Stonehenge now stands in two pieces in a nearby village either side of a small lane, in plain view of anyone who wishes to inspect them," Price insisted to the Western Mail. "There can also be little if any doubt that our ancestors went to great pains to select this stone and to transport it from either Dorset or the Cotswolds to Stonehenge, where it formed an integral part of the ancient observances and ceremonies there over 4,000 years ago."

--From the Editors at Netscape

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