Ancient 'Halls of the Dead' Unearthed

1K years older than Stonehenge

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2013 8:43 AM CDT | Updated Aug 4, 2013 6:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists have unearthed two ancient buildings in England thought to be 6,000 years old—that's 1,000 years older than Stonehenge. The remains of the 320-foot-long wooden long houses were found under burial mounds in Herefordshire. They are believed to have been deliberately, symbolically burned down—probably when the head of a family died—and then turned into burial places where people would worship for hundreds of years, Sky News reports. "The halls of the living became the halls of the dead," says one of the archaeologists behind the dig.

As proof of the site's long-lasting significance, the researchers found items like flint weapons and tools dating from hundreds of years after the long houses were built and originating from neighboring areas, reports the Daily Mail. "These subsequent finds show that 1,000 years after the hall burial mounds were made, the site is still important to later generations living 200 miles away—a vast distance in Neolithic terms," the archaeologist says. The items "may not have been traded, but placed there as part of a ceremony or an ancestral pilgrimage," suggesting "an inter-connected community" linked by ancestry and marriage.

The excavation at the top of Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire.   (University of Manchester)
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