British researchers announced on Saturday (March 9, 2013) that Stonehenge – on Salisbury Plain in southwestern England – was used as an ancient burial ground around 3,000 B.C. By 2,500 B.C., the site had evolved to become a gathering place for perhaps one-tenth of the ancient British population. Although the site also has astronomical features, and has long been thought to have been built as an astronomical calendar, perhaps these features were secondary to its main purpose as a gathering spot for a significant fraction of the ancient British Isles.
Mike Parker Pearson of University College London led the research. He was quoted in Physorg.com as saying
In many ways our findings are rewriting the established story of Stonehenge
Parker Pearson’s team spent a decade carrying out research which included excavations, laboratory work and the analysis of 63 sets of ancient human remains. Their analysis of cattle teeth from 80,000 animal bones excavated from the site also suggest that around 2500 BC, Stonehenge was the site of vast communal feasts. These would have been attended by up to one tenth of the British population at one time, according to Parker Pearson. He said:
It seemed that ancient people travelled to celebrate the winter and summer solstices but also to build the monument. Stonehenge was a monument that brought ancient Britain together.
Bottom line: Stonehenge in Great Britain has long been thought to have been built as an astronomical calendar. New research from British Archaeologists led by Mike Parker Pearson of University College London suggests the site dates from at least 3,000 B.C., was originally a burial ground and later evolved to become a gathering place for a significant fraction of the population of the British Isles.