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Stonehenge: new discoveries are still stunning archaeologists!

Durrington’s mile-wide circle

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en.wikipedia.orgstonehenge
Stonehenge sits on Salisbury plain, near the newly discovered trench circle.
Published: 29 June 2020 (GMT+10)

To the astonishment of archaeologists, the largest ‘prehistoric’ structure ever found in Britain has recently been unearthed—just under two miles north-east of Stonehenge, the UK’s iconic Neolithic site on Salisbury Plain, near Amesbury, Wiltshire. The newly discovered site is a huge circle, 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter, consisting of twenty shafts which are five metres deep (16 ft) and up to 20 metres (65 ft) in diameter. This construction encircles an existing structure called the Durrington Walls, the site of a large settlement and later wooden henge circle, described as ‘Neolithic’ (from the so-called ‘Stone Age’).

Professor Vincent Gaffney of Bradford University, one of the leading archaeologists working on the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, stated: “This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK. Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadn’t been discovered, until now, so close to Stonehenge.”1

The new circular structure was revealed using ground penetrating technologies a ‘fluxgate gradiometer’ (measures earth’s magnetic field) geophysical survey (ground penetrating radar), and mechanical coring.

Early man—still fully human

Archaeologists leading the investigations are stunned at ‘early man’s’ abilities. For instance, geoscientist Richard Bates, of St Andrews University, said the new Durrington circle discovery offered “an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine.”1 Henry Chapman, of Birmingham University, professor of archaeology, described the structure as “an incredible new monument.”1 The new Durrington circle discovery, is considered all the more extraordinary by researchers because, in their opinion, it provides the first evidence that the early Britons—who were thought to be from farming communities—were able to count! They come to this conclusion because the site required people to count out paces to survey and construct it.2

sxc.hu14475-bible
A correct understanding of history should start with the Bible.

Regarding the construction of the pit circle, Professor Gaffney stated: “I can’t emphasise enough the effort that would have gone in to digging such large shafts with tools of stone, wood and bone.”1

But researchers shouldn’t be so surprised, considering Stonehenge was made by the same people who transported ‘bluestones’ (weighing up to five tons) 150 miles (240 km) to Salisbury Plain from south-west Wales. Ancient man likely had technology and ingenious means to achieve such great feats, which we have so far failed to uncover. Archaeology is replete with examples of out-of-place artefacts (e.g. this ancient battery), examples that demonstrate humans have always been intelligent and resourceful and are not the product of evolution from primitive ancestors.3

This comes as no surprise to Bible-believing Christians, who hold the history of Scripture as real. Genesis 1:26–27 tells us that humans were made in God’s Image from the beginning, so faculties such as mathematics and the ability to plan and make complex constructions would have been fully formed in the first couple. Within the first few generations, Genesis 4 makes it clear that humans were able to farm (v. 2, 20), build cities (v. 17), make complex musical instruments (v. 21), and work with iron and bronze (v. 22).

Trowel ©iStockPhoto.com/Walter_mitty | Bone ©iStockPhoto.com/DWithers | Dirt ©iStockPhoto.com/Hüseyin TuncerAngst-archaelogy
Archaeologists uncover the past, but it needs to be correctly interpreted

How old is the Durrington circle?

Silts (fine mud) extracted from core samples and the circle’s pits, contained bones and shells, which were sent for carbon-14 dating. A wide range of dates were calculated, some as old as 7,179 ± 28 years BC for shell, and 1130 BC for bone (calibrated), but all from the same deposits. The archaeological report admits: “There is a wide range of time represented in the radiocarbon dates… early dates are on shells and suggest that the determinations from these samples are not reliable…”2

However, carbon-14 dating is a method full of assumptions. All the monuments discovered so far, and those still to be discovered, must be placed after the Flood. Even mighty monuments like Stonehenge could not have survived the Deluge; in fact, the larger ‘Sarsen stones’ are made of sedimentary rock that was formed during the Flood, and chemically altered afterwards. These monuments, therefore, would have been constructed sometime after Babel, when people-groups were scattered over the face of the earth, after their common language was confused (Genesis 11:1–9). Some of them, likely Japheth’s descendants,4 eventually settled in Britain and constructed Stonehenge along with many associated monuments like the newly identified Durrington circle. The likely reasons were to bring order to their emerging society through a shared sense of worship, a place for ceremonial burial, and possibly as a means to understand the seasons and cosmology using the monuments as a sort of calendar.

Conclusion

This brand new discovery is an amazing find and has been unearthed using some clever technology and techniques. The uncovered shaft structures demonstrate that, as far as archaeologists peer back into history, humans have always been humans, displaying their God-given abilities of great intelligence and ingenuity. Radiocarbon ages that are offered so confidently, far in excess of the date of Noah’s Flood, should be dismissed. The Bible’s history is confirmed by such discoveries.

References and notes

  1. Alberge, D., Vast Neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge, 22 June 2020, theguardian.com; accessed 22 June 2020. Return to text.
  2. Gaffney, V. et al., A Massive, late Neolithic pit structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge, Internet Archaeology 55, 2020, doi.org/10.11141/ia.55.4; accessed 22 June 2020. Return to text.
  3. Chittick, D.E., The puzzle of ancient man, Creation Compass, Oregon, pp. 95–204, 2006. Return to text.
  4. Cooper, B., After the Flood, Creation Science Movement, Portsmouth, pp. 153–161, 2015. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Alf F.
What farmer is not able to count? These people call themselves scientists, but I don't think they know how toes they have. Farmers do. All farmers. All builders as well.
Jim M.
“The archaeological report admits: “There is a wide range of time represented in the radiocarbon dates… early dates are on shells and suggest that the determinations from these samples are not reliable…””

This is too funny!

If they had only the shell, they would be adamant that the date was “7,179 ± 28 years BC” because, you know, radiometric dating and all, and if they had only the bone, they would be just as adamant that the date was 1130 BC, for exactly the same reason—perhaps even more adamant since this date was “calibrated”.

The only reason that they conclude that the dates “are not reliable” is because they have a number of dates that don’t agree with each other. But what about other cases where they only have one date? How do they know that this one is also “not reliable”?

And if carbon-14 dating gives erroneous dates, how can there be any assurance that other radiometric dating techniques don’t also give erroneous results—especially when there are cases where different dates are generated for the same sample? None are calibrated against known reference standards, as is typically done for other measurement devices, such as scales.

It is also worth noting that the quoted uncertainty in the 7,179-year date—± 28 years—is, by their own admission, not an indication of the accuracy of the quoted date. Rather, it is an indication of the variation that could be expected in the result if the same experimental procedure used to derive the date was repeated numerous times. So while there might be not much variation in the result, the results would still be “not reliable”.
Gavin Cox
Excellent point Jim, thanks for stopping by to read my article. I too was surprised at the incredibly wide range of dates from the same deposit, over 6000 years!
Beverley G.
Why do they assume it's a monument? Couldn't it be a series of watch towers connected by a defensive wall?
Gavin Cox
The term 'monument' has quite a wide definition, but in the context of the word's use in the article would point to the pit circle as a 'structure which is relevant to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage', rather than 'remembering a particular person'. The circle is comprised of pits, not towers, so could not be watch towers.
Thomas R.
“...the largest prehistoric structure ever found...”

I thought there was no such thing as “prehistoric”...

At any rate, I enjoyed the article, but it would have been nice to see some diagrams and some discussion as to what the possible use of such a tunneling system might have been. (Aqueduct? Wartime escape? Storage?)

And just like the diorite megaliths, figuring out how and why such structures were made isn’t all that difficult if one starts with a viewpoint of practicality.
Gavin Cox
Hi Thomas,
Many thanks for writing into CMI regarding my article, and your kind comment. You are absolutely correct about the term ‘prehistoric’, as you rightly say, there is no such thing as ‘prehistory’, because God gave us His Word from the beginning, and Adam was an eye-witness to events from day 6 onwards . My article will be amended accordingly to include scare quote marks around the term ‘prehistoric.’

Regarding diagrams of the new find, they are available on the articles referenced in the footnotes 1 and 2, the articles show a large circle with 20 pits, but for our use they are copyright.
Regarding the use of the pits, no one knows for certain what their functions were, there are only theories, hence I haven’t engaged in any speculation of my own.

Even regarding the function of Stonehenge, it isn’t as clear cut as you suggest, there are only modern theories, because the original builders left us no inscriptions that explain why they were built, how they were built, or even by whom.

Yours,
Gavin
Courtney K.
I would be curious to know... Do you think this is pre-Babel or post-Babel?
Gavin Cox
I do actually address this question in my article. I state "These monuments, therefore, would have been constructed sometime after Babel, when people-groups were scattered over the face of the earth, after their common language was confused (Genesis 11:1–9)."

Only after the Babel dispersal would people have travelled from the plains of Shinar (Genesis 11:2) to the rest of the world, the extremities of the globe would have been settled later, so only some time after Babel would people have settled Britain to build monuments like Stonehenge.
Thomas R.
After reading a few secular articles on this, it appears that some believe it may have been used for some kind of celestial observation.

This makes sense, but it reminded me of a common logical fallacy that the secular archeologists make quite frequently.
That is, if they find something that has no historical backdrop with which to compare it to, they often assume that the find represents the height of technology for the date that they assign it to.
It seems like that was the type of logic behind determining ideas like Stone Age, Bronze Age, etc.
I am quite certain that is what they did with the famous cave paintings at Lascaux.
Gavin Cox
Thanks for your comment, you make some excellent points. The secular articles I reviewed on the newly discovered Durrington Circle go so far as to suggest this is the first evidence of 'farmers being able to count' whereby requiring some method of survey to measure off the different pits to make the huge Durrington circle. Obviously from a biblical perspective humans have always been intelligent and had the ability to count!
Particularly, when it comes to the supposed 'three age system' of 'stone age', 'bronze age' and 'iron age', this is an artificial construct, (supported on an edifice of circular reasoning and carbon 14 dating with its accompanying pre-suppositions) that cannot be supported by biblical history. It is useful to recognize the term 'Stone Age' has been subdivided into three, and replaced by the term Palaeolithic. (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) and Neolithic (New Stone Age), with even more subdivisions for the Palaeolithic. However, when we take Biblical history at face value, these ages are illusionary. These supposed 'ages' should be understood as regional developments post-Babel. Many influences including trade would account for certain patterns. However, the 'three ages' system is self-reinforced due to the explanatory-filter imposed on data by archaeologists wedded to the idea of 'three ages'. It would be more instructive to think in terms of 'technology' appearing (and disappearing) in certain areas amongst different people groups, rather than 'ages'. Family groups leaving the planes of Shinar, post-Babel, would take a certain knowledge-base with them. Some only knew about stone tools, others about metal working, some in iron and some in bronze. (Iron requires more heating, so is more difficult to produce, requiring different more complex technology). Some may have lost the knowledge of how to produce iron and bronze at a later period, others regained it through trade.

Even today there are some indigenous tribes who only use stone tools, but they are not in a stone 'age' and can gain technology through outside influences. You could even take me and leave me on an island somewhere and I would be reduced to stone technology immediately! But it wouldn't mean I am in a 'stone age'. So, when it comes to artefacts and the strata that they are found in, the data requires interpretation. The Bible represents the best and only true interpretive framework through which to correctly understand ancient history and the development of technology at a regional base.
Jason C.
Not trying to sound like a skeptic—I'm a Biblical Creationist—but a question occurred to me that I'm hoping you can answer, Mr. Cox, since I'm not well-versed in some of these matters. The shell and bone that came from the same deposit but were given much different age estimates are used together as an example of the unreliability of radiocarbon dating methods. But could it be true that two objects of significantly different ages nonetheless somehow ended up in the same geological deposit? For example, if a flood sweeps through the valley in which I live and buries a contemporary object and a 100-year-old object together? Maybe that's not a great example, not enough of a time gap, but I hope my point is clear.

Or does some chemical reaction take place within such a deposit that contaminates everything within it, such that producing reliable or consistent dates becomes impossible?
Gavin Cox
Hi Jason,
Thanks for taking the time for reading my article and for your excellent question. You are correct to point out that older material can in certain circumstances be swept into place, and this would be a possibility for a river deposit. However, the sediment deposits in the Durrington pits show no evidence that some of the material was swept in, so it depends on the local geology. The authors state the following regarding the anomalously old dates calculated for the shells: "The early dates are on shells and suggest that the determinations from these samples are not reliable and may reflect geological calcium contained within the shells themselves." The supposed "geological calcium" would be a suspected source of contamination of older carbon, so is being rejected by the authors. But it does go to show that radio carbon dating is notoriously difficult to calibrate and account for. However, what my article is specifically pointing to is the date is well outside the biblical age for the earth itself, so must be rejected. Furthermore, I am simply reporting what the article authors stated themselves about their own data.
When it comes to claiming 'contamination', it is an easy option to assert for anomalous data, in other words it can easily be called upon to dismiss inconvenient data. This is particularly the case for dinosaur soft tissue, and even diamonds that contain measurable amounts of radio carbon, when they should be radio carbon 'dead' (i.e. all the C14 should have degraded back to nitrogen). So the take-home message for Christians is, don't be fooled by radio carbon dates well in excess of the Bible's history.
Jason C.
Thank you for your reply, Mr. Cox. I see what you mean about "contamination" being a convenient excuse, and I've read (on this website) about other examples of faulty dating methods. Keep up the good work!
Ken W.
[Dating] labs ... use known standards or controls, or they go out of business very quickly. Radiometric dating has never used known standards at any time ... Except for falsely ascribed “standards” that suffer from the same assumptions as in the dating calculation itself. This article shows carbon dating similarly can’t be trusted-unless standards with a known age are buried with the test samples. Maybe the scientists should say if all our educated guesswork/assumptions are correct then this is the age of the sample. Thank you for a refreshing view of the scientific analysis of the Stone Age.
Gavin Cox
Thanks Ken for your comment. You allude to a well kept 'trade-secret' of carbon 14 dating labs regarding their procedures. In theory it is not possible to obtain 14C dates from supposedly ‘ancient’ specimens, like oil, gas, fossils, coal, diamonds etc. These are believed to be millions of years old, so would be expected to be radio carbon 'dead' (meaning all detectable carbon 14 has degraded back to nitrogen.) However, for 50 years or more, the radio carbon literature has been full of examples of measurable amounts of radio carbon, in supposedly 'ancient' ('millions of years old') materials. See the Creation Answers Book chapter 4 on radio carbon dating for further details and this article that talks about C14 in diamonds!
Gary F.
The blindness is astounding. Most atheists are conditioned to believe the narrative to the death in spite of the evidence. I was one of them. It’s a spiritual condition, the devil has blinded their minds.
Christians, keep patiently loving those atheists, they may get saved one day like I did. I meet a rational, sane and loving Christian. It had a profound effect on me and was part of the reason I became a Christian.

The Puzzle Of Ancient Man is a great book. I read it early in my Christian walk and it was an eye opener for those steeped in evolutionary worldview.
Ironically, the secular scientist doesn’t realize the Christian worldview is not only more solid than their’s but also more scientific.
John G.
Nabat playa is a stone circle in Egypt, said to be approximately 7500 BC. At the same time there are claims of pottery in China dating to 18,000 BC. Please can we have some comments on this. I am totally certain the Bible is true and I am not asking in an attempt to somehow deal with doubt through 'science'.
Gavin Cox
Thanks for writing into CMI with your question. The Nabta is a region in Egypt, in the Nubian Desert, 800 kilometers south of modern-day Cairo. The term 'playa' refers to drainage plains, or sheets — the remnants of pluvial lakes formed during the Neolithic to pre-dynastic period in Egypt, which was a period of greater precipitation compared to modern arid conditions. At Nabta early settlements were discovered, including a 'calendar circle', which your question alludes to, a reconstruction of which can be seen at the Aswan Nubia museum. The site of this stone circle comes from the Egyptian Neolithic Period, which is conventionally dated to c. 7,500 BC. This was dated using the carbon 14 method from remains of charcoal found at the site. As Creationists, we would place this site post Babel, (c. 2,200 BC) and was likely one of the earliest settlements from Ham's tribe, including his son Mizraim who lent his name to Egypt in the Hebrew Bible. For the reasons I give in my article, we don't take this figure of 7,500 years at face value. There are many articles on CMI's site dealing with the assumptions and problems of radio carbon dating. Your question about claims of pottery in China dating to 18,000 BC has already been dealt with on CMI and can be read about here.

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