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Five thousand years ago — like, very nearly when they think Stonehenge was built — and for five hundred years afterward, the monument was used as a burial site. They’ve known this for a long time. Excavations in the early Twentieth C uncovered lots of bone fragments that were, in an unusually wise move for the time, reburied for later generations to examine.

That’s us, with our fancy pants machines. The bodies were cremated, so there’s no DNA analysis or anything like that. But they can do that new thing where they analyze the strontium signature to tell where a person’s from. No, I don’t really understand how that works.

Well, in this case, because of the condition of the fragments, they can only tell where the person spent the last ten years of his (or her) life.

This is the interesting bit. Of the 25 individuals they’ve identified, 15 came from the area around Stonehenge, and 10 came from West Wales. Yeah, where the bluestones come from — those very early stones in the henge. The ones they’re always trying to figure out how the hell they moved them so far.

They think they’ve identified both men and women, and they say high-status individuals — though you have to wonder if that last bit is speculation, unless there’s something they can tell about diet or bone wear.

The story has appeared in several places right now, because the studies are new, but here it is from Science News.

I love this stuff. And don’t even start on me with the druids. Druids were later, probably.


Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: August 8, 2018, 3:49 am

“In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people… the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing…”

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: August 8, 2018, 11:51 am

Re: bone wear. There was a news story about the attempt to identify the bones of a woman, who was believed to be a nun who had spent her lifetime embroidering linens and tapestries. The forensic people concluded that the bones were indeed the remains of the nun because the ends of the bones at her knees showed extraordinary stress and wear, from a lifetime of getting up and down for kneeling, and damage from spending so much time on her knees. Also, her front teeth were heavily, deeply grooved, from smoothing and biting off embroidery threads, and her finger bones were gnarled and arthritic from constantly gripping the needles.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: August 8, 2018, 3:09 pm

“In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people… the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing…”

According to my new history text from UT Austin –
They were an ancient race of rainbow colored vegan earth friendly Gaia conscious people with up to 152 genders, exterminated by evil cis-gender Caucasian European Anglo-Saxon Trump voting Romans from Italy Texas (there is such a place, look it up, so this is probably mostly true).

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: August 8, 2018, 3:45 pm

My ex-father-in-law used to say, when asked on a form for his religion, “Druid. Reform — we worship bushes.”

It’s quite possible some of those West Welsh were slaves, or women captured in raids and brought back to Stonehenge. I doubt it would have been “Gee, I’ve seen everything around Wales. I think I’ll start wandering eastward, see what I can see.”

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: August 8, 2018, 4:58 pm

Gimme that old tyme religion,
it’s good enough for me.

Oh let’s all pray with the Druids
Cuz they drink exotic fluids
And run naked through the wooids
and that’s good enough for me

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 8, 2018, 8:33 pm

Did they have pet foxes?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2018, 9:30 pm

Wolfus, it seems more likely there was some sort of religious relationship between the two places, because of the stones. And they were supposedly high status (there were fewer than fifty burials found total).

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 8, 2018, 9:43 pm

What wilde wode did Druid dudes do when Druid dudes did wild wode?
Sorta silly stuff with stones or brutally bad behavior with old bones?

Comment from BJM
Time: August 9, 2018, 1:35 am

I can’t take the subject seriously after seeing Eddie Izzard’s henge routine.

Although we did trek out to Stonehenge for Solstice back in our gap summer of bumming around Europe.It was very spooky and cold.

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