‘New Stonehenge’ uncovered in Ireland

‘New Stonehenge’ is uncovered in Ireland as summer heatwave reveals the foundations of ancient structures across the British Isles including Roman villages and a World War II airfield

  • The never-before-seen monument is made up of a ring of prehistoric ditches now buried deep underground
  • The site features rings of pits or post holes around its edge and an ‘entrance’ once used by Neolithic Britons
  • It was snapped by a drone over County Meath, Ireland, close to Newgrange, a 5,000-year-old Neolithic tomb
  • The outlines of several monuments have been uncovered as the summer heat turns Britain’s fields brown
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Incredible aerial photographs of a ‘new Stonehenge’ have been snapped over Ireland as a summer heatwave reveals the foundations of ancient buildings across the British Isles.

The never-before-seen monument is made up of a ring of prehistoric ditches now buried deep underground.

It was spotted in County Meath close to a 5,000-year-old Neolithic tomb called Newgrange.

Historic landmarks have been cropping up across the UK over the past few weeks as a recent bout of hot weather uncovers imprints on fields and lawns that mark the sites of various old and prehistoric features.

The outlines of World War II airfields and shelters have appeared in Hampshire and Cambridge, as well as long-buried Roman villages in Wales and Norfolk and a once-removed Victorian garden in Lancashire.

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Incredible aerial photographs of a ‘new Stonehenge’ (pictured) have been snapped over Ireland as a summer heatwave reveals the foundations of ancient buildings across the British Isles. Like Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the circular site features rings of pits or post holes around its edge and an entrance, as well as a central double-ditch ring with a causeway

The Irish henge was spotted by drone photographer Anthony Murphy, 44, who said he ‘giggled with excitement’ when he noticed the ‘amazing detail’ in his footage.

The monument is ‘entirely new’ and includes ‘extraordinary and unexpected’ features, Dr Stephen Davis, an archaeologist at University College Dublin, told BBC News.

Like Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the circular site features rings of pits or post holes around its edge and an entrance, as well as a central double-ditch ring with a causeway.

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There are currently no plans to dig on the site as it is positioned on a working farm. 

It is the latest in a series of seven monuments discovered across a one-mile (1.6km) stretch in County Meath, making it the densest concentration of these sites anywhere in the world, Dr Davis said.

Crops over ditches created by the monuments grow more healthily because the trenches retain more moisture than the surrounding soil, making them clearly visible from above.

Archaeologists believe that Neolithic henges in Britain were used for religious rituals and ceremonies, and people may have travelled hundreds of miles to visit them.

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    The never-before-seen monument is made up of a ring of prehistoric ditches now buried deep underground and was captured in County Meath close to Newgrange, a 5,000-year-old Neolithic tomb


    The Irish henge was spotted by drone photographer Anthony Murphy , 44, who said he ‘giggled with excitement’ when he noticed the ‘amazing detail’ in his footage

    WHAT CAUSES CROP MARKS IN HOT WEATHER?

    During scorching summer heatwaves, the dull outlines of ancient structures show up in fields across Britain.

    These landscapes scars are called crop marks and can often only be seen from aerial footage or photographs of the countryside.

    They appear when grass above ancient stone or wood still buried in the soil flourishes or deteriorates at different rates to surrounding plant life in the unusually hot weather.

    This creates outlines which can help archaeologists pinpoint the location of ancient settlements that are otherwise hidden beneath centuries of farmed land. 

    Crop marks are difficult to see from the ground, but thanks to the recent rise in shop-bought drone technology they are now being captured where they had otherwise remained hidden for centuries. 


    The new henge (centre) is the latest in a series of seven monuments discovered across a one-mile (1.6km) stretch in County Meath

    During summer heatwaves, the dull outlines of ancient structures show up in fields across Britain.

    These landscape scars are called crop marks and can often only be seen from aerial footage or photographs of the countryside.

    They appear when grass above ancient stone or wood still buried in the soil flourishes or deteriorates at different rates to surrounding plant life in the unusually hot weather.

    These monuments in Ireland join a host of recently uncovered historical sites as fields across the British Isles are baked by a summer heatwave.

    Photographer Mike Page was able to get up high above the Norfolk countryside to take a photo of Caistor Roman Town – which was founded in AD60 as the Roman predecessor of the modern county town of Norwich.

    The site, which resembles an assorted collection of football pitches, was first discovered by an RAF aircraft in July 1928 and is only visible in extremely hot summers.

    Staff at National Trust Gawthorpe, Lancashire, meanwhile, were stunned to see clearly the outline of a garden that was installed in the 1850’s but removed after the Second World War.


    The monument is ‘entirely new’ and includes ‘extraordinary and unexpected’ features, said archaeologist Dr Stephen Davis, a researcher at University College Dublin

    The ‘ghost garden’, which was designed by Sir Charles Barry, the same man who sketched out plans for the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, has been visible during particularly hot summers in the past.

    The garden’s outline had never been seen this clearly, though, according to Gawthorpe Hall museum manager Rachael Tollitt.

    She said: ‘There has been a real positive reaction from locals who may not have thought about the garden before. We’ve had a lot of interest from people wanting to know about the garden in person and on social media.’

    Photographer Jordan Bridge, meanwhile, was able to get up above Lasham Airfield in Hampshire to capture an incredible photo showing the outline of the site when it was much bigger in WW2.


    Crops over ditches created by the monument grow more healthily because the trenches retain more moisture than the surrounding soil, making them clearly visible from above. Pictured is the site’s entrance


    Archaeologists believe that Neolithic henges in Britain were used for religious rituals and ceremonies, and people may have travelled hundreds of miles to visit them


    The ‘new Stonehenge’ was found close to the 5,000-year-old Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland

    Mr Bridge said: ‘My photos are unique as they were captured from the air by a glider, and unlike other cropmarks these are in huge detail as they are from recent history.

    ‘I am no archaeologist or land expert though, just a professional glider pilot!’

    The De Havilland Mosquitos took off from the airfield during the war, and took part in the heroic air raids of April 1944 when 613 Squadron bombed the Central Records Registry of the Gestapo in the Hague, Netherlands.

    Dr Toby Driver, 48, archaeologist and senior investigator at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, said aerial footage they took of the excoriated Welsh countryside on Friday even unearthed some previously unknown sites.

    Dr Driver said: ‘There has been such an extreme drought we’ve got sites of national significance emerging.’

    The crop marks photographed at Langstone are one of the commission’s new discoveries, which have been found in the same area as an already-discovered Roman fortification.


    The UK’s historical secrets have been exposed by scorching temperatures, as the outlines of the nations’ lost wonders have emerged in fields and hillsides across the country. Staff at National Trust Gawthorpe, Lancashire, were stunned to see clearly the outline of a garden (right image) that was installed in the 1850’s but removed after the Second World War (left image)

    WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT NEOLITHIC BRITAIN?

    The Neolithic Revolution was the world’s first verifiable revolution in agriculture.

    It began in Britain between about 5000 BC and 4500 BC but spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11000 BC and 9000 BC.

    The period saw the widespread transition of many disparate human cultures from nomadic hunting and gathering practices to ones of farming and building small settlements.


    Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age

    The revolution was responsible for turning small groups of travellers into settled communities who built villages and towns.

    Some cultures used irrigation and made forest clearings to better their farming techniques.

    Others stored food for times of hunger, and farming eventually created different roles and divisions of labour in societies as well as trading economies.

    In the UK, the period was triggered by a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel.


    The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (pictured)

    Today, prehistoric monuments in the UK span from the time of the Neolithic farmers to the invasion of the Romans in AD 43.

    Many of them are looked after by English Heritage and range from standing stones to massive stone circles, and from burial mounds to hillforts.

    Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later finished during the Bronze Age.

    Neolithic structures were typically used for ceremonies, religious feasts and as centres for trade and social gatherings.


    Photographer Mike Page was able to get up high above the Norfolk countryside to take a photo of Caistor Roman Town – which was founded in AD60 as the Roman predecessor of the modern county town of Norwich (pictured)


    The site, which resembles an assorted collection of football pitches, was first discovered by an RAF aircraft in July 1928. Pictured is a University of East Anglia artist’s impression of what it might have looked like

    Dr Driver said: ‘It’s a race against time now to find out the significance of this new discovery.Those marks will probably only be there for another two-and-a-half weeks or so.’

    Another previously undiscovered Roman site near Magor, south Wales has been unearthed by the commission’s aerial footage.

    Other shots taken from the Cessna Aircraft include the nearly dried-up Nant-y-Moch reservoir and the Gaer Fawr hillfort, both in Ceredigion, Wales.

    The hillfort, according to Dr Driver, had not been seen for 30 years. 


    The outlines of a first century town, a ‘ghost garden’ from the 1850s and a World War Two airfield have all appeared as the normally luscious green landscape turns brown. The airfield (pictured) was found at RAF Lasham in Hampshire

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