6,000-year-old ’Halls of the Dead’ unearthed in England
The two wooden long-buildings, or halls, were burnt to the ground; the ashes were then shoveled in to make burial mounds.
"The buildings seemed to have been deliberately burned down," said Julian Thomas, the archaeologist leading the excavation and a professor at the University of Manchester.
Excavations at Dorstone Hill in the UK revealed a nearly 6,000-year-old set of burial mounds that were created from the ashes of an ancient longhall.
Researchers believe these halls of the living may have been transformed into "halls of the dead" after a leader or important social figure died.
The find was uncovered in an open field near Dorstone Hill, Herefordshire in the UK. For decades, amateur archaeologists have noticed pieces of flint blades in the area and wondered whether the land there contained relics of a long-forgotten time.
When Thomas and his team began excavating, they found two large burial mounds, or barrows, that could have held anywhere from seven to 30 people each.
The smaller barrow contained a 23-foot-long (7 meters) mortuary chamber with sockets for two huge tree trunks. Digging deeper, the researchers uncovered postholes, ash from the timbers, and charred clay from the walls of an ancient structure.
These burnt remains came from what were once two long-halls, the biggest of which was up to 230 feet (70 m) long, with aisles delineated by wooden posts and several internal spaces.
Though it’s not clear exactly who built the halls and barrows, the building construction is similar to that found in England between 4000 B.C. and 3600 B.C, predating the construction of Stonehenge by up to 1,000 years.
The burial mounds were made from the charred remains of two massive halls. Here, a reconstruction of what one of the halls would have looked like.
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