New digging at Stonehenge sheds some light on the ancient site's mysterious ties with the summer and winter solstices. Contrary to what some have speculated, the landmark wasn't built for some sort of sun-worshipping ritual, says a researcher, nor was it "some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory." Instead, Ice Age meltwater formed ridges along the solstice axis—the directions of the summer solstice's sunrise and winter solstice's sunset. Stonehenge's creators dug around the ridges to form a path ending at Stonehenge; researchers made their discovery by digging around this path, known as the Avenue, the Guardian reports.
"This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land," says a top expert on the site. In other Stonehenge news:
- Digs also indicate that the site was once a full circle of stones.
- By next year, a highway near the site is set to be replaced by grass.