The 90-stone structure, which is buried under a grassy bank, was found in Wiltshire — less than two miles from Stonehenge — by a group of archaeologists from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project at the University of Birmingham. It likely dates from 4,500 years ago.
Some of the stones found under the Durrington Walls site are thought to have originally measured up to 14 feet in height, according to a statement released Monday about the find. Around 30 of the stones, which were pushed over, are believed to be intact, while there are fragments of 60 more.
Archaeologists didn’t make the important discovery through excavation, turning instead to remote sensing technologies to discover the large prehistoric monument.
The find will likely impact how neighbouring Stonehenge is understood.
“This discovery of a major new stone monument, which has been preserved to a remarkable extent, has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge and its landscape setting,” Professor Vincent Gaffney from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project said.
“Not only does this new evidence demonstrate a completely unexpected phase of monumental architecture at one of the greatest ceremonial sites in prehistoric Europe, the new stone row could well be contemporary with the famous Stonehenge sarsen circle or even earlier.”
Stonehenge, dating from around 3,000 B.C. onward, is spread over 10 square miles and is one of the most visited attractions in England.
The purpose of prehistoric structure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, remains a mystery, however the stone circle, which is built on the axis of the midsummer sunrise, suggests it could have been used as a calendar or for worship.