Archaeologists are busy excavating Marden Henge, a giant stone circle and earthwork ten times larger than its more famous cousin. It’s not nearly as well-known, however, because all of its stones have been lost or buried. Traces of a giant earthwork and ditch that encircled the monument do survive, and archaeologists hope they’ll reveal secrets of England’s prehistoric past.
While everyone knows about Stonehenge, many people don’t realize there are nearly a thousand stone circles in the British Isles, from massive ones like Avebury (shown here) to smaller ones like the Rollright Stones. Marden Henge is in Wiltshire, close to Stonehenge and Avebury, and could provide clues to how and why they were constructed. The giant circle encloses about 15 hectares (37 acres) and has a mound at its center. Archaeologists plan to investigate both the central mound and the earthwork and ditch. The Neolithic farmers who built these monuments often put sacrifices in the surrounding ditches.
While there are no current plans for a visitor’s center at Marden Henge, there are plenty of other stone circles open to the public. Some of the more famous cater to visitors with interpretive signs and parking lots, while others simply stand in open fields, an enduring part of Europe’s ancient landscape. An excellent website to help you plan a visit is The Megalithic Portal, which includes information on stone circles and other megaliths such as barrows (tombs) and menhirs (individual standing stones) in the UK and all around the world.