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The Call Came From America: I Have a Piece of Stonehenge

And it could be a coup for researchers
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2019 12:09 PM CDT
A file photo of Stonehenge.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – An 89-year-old gave a piece of Stonehenge back to ... Stonehenge. As the BBC reports, one of the trilithons—the distinct three-stone arrangements that make up the prehistoric monument—had fallen, and so in 1958 archaeologists went about righting it. While doing so, they noticed one of the stones had cracked. To bolster it, three 3-foot-long cores were extracted from it to create holes for the placement of metal rods. Robert Phillips, who worked for the diamond-cutting firm that participated in the effort, kept one. Now retired in Florida, Phillips decided it was time to give it back. He did so a year ago, but news of it is only being released now by English Heritage, which tends to Stonehenge and says it wanted to be able to explain the value of what it had received.

They don't mean financially: Archaeologically speaking, it could be a big coup. The other two cores remain missing, and this one will allow experts to assess the chemical composition of the stone—which came from one of the larger Sarsen stones—in a bid to identify the Sarsens' geographical origins. The Guardian reports Professor David Nash of the University of Brighton is heading up the analysis of the core and has been given the OK to use destructive testing on a bit of it. As for how much of a surprise getting this one back was, a rep for English Heritage says "the last thing we expected was to get a call from someone in America saying they had part of Stonehenge." Phillips apparently made the decision to do so while getting his "affairs in order" prior to his 90th birthday, per the Guardian. (Scientists discovered who is buried at Stonehenge.)

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