Skeleton of necklace-wearing adolescent will help archaeologists discover "frenzied" Stonehenge of 4,000 years ago

By Ben Miller | 24 July 2015

Scientists hope to reveal diet, pathologies and date of burial after discovering 4,000-year-old skeleton

A photo of a dark brown human skull
A rare skeleton of a Bronze Age child found in Wiltshire© University of Reading
The remains of an amber necklace-wearing adolescent child who died 4,000 years ago have been found placed in a foetal position at the bottom of a Neolithic henge near Stonehenge.

A photo of a man measuring a skeleton in a dark brown archaeological pit
The discovery was made during the final week of the dig's first year © University of Reading
Measuring 1.5 metres in length, the well-preserved skeleton had its arms crossed and legs drawn up in a grave at Wilsford Henge, a previously unexplored site between Stonehenge and Avebury which archaeologists are hoping will reveal more about the lives of people who saw Stonehenge in action.

A close-up photo of a human skull
Archaeologists began excavating Marden Henge and its little sister, Wilsford, in June© University of Reading
“Scientific analysis will provide information on gender of the child, diet, pathologies and date of burial,” predicts Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading, calling the skeleton “a wonderful discovery”.

A photo of a skeleton in a brown archaeological pit
The Vale is considered a barely explored archaeological region of huge international importance© University of Reading
“It will help tell us what life was like for who lived under the shadow of Stonehenge at a time of frenzied activity.

“It may also shed light on where this young individual had lived.

"Finds from the first five weeks of the dig were exciting. But, as so often during excavations, the best is revealed last.”

Experts from Historic England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Wiltshire Museum say “extensive research” at four trenches – Wilsford, Marden Henge, a large Roman farm settlement and a Roman enclosure next to the farm – will reveal “priceless” new information. The work will continue in 2016.

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Three places to learn about the famous stones:

Stonehenge - English Heritage
The World Heritage Site is near Salisbury in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.

The Salisbury Museum and Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
Home of the Stonehenge gallery, Warminster Jewel and famous Monkton Deverill gold torc. Displays of prehistory in Early Man, Romans and Saxons, the medieval history of Old Sarum and Salisbury and much more.

Wiltshire Museum, Devizes
Home to one of the best Bronze Age collections in Britain, the collections here, together with the Library and Archive, are Designated Collections of national significance.
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