Ancient stone circle found in Wales was 'dismantled and rebuilt' as Stonehenge

Credit: PA

Archaeologists in Wales have discovered the remains of an ancient stone circle which they think could have been dismantled and rebuilt as Stonehenge.

The stone circle named Waun Mawn was found in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire.

It is in the same area where the smaller "bluestones" found at Stonehenge, are known to have come from.

The team behind the discovery said there are key elements linking Wiltshire's most iconic heritage site to the Welsh monument, one of the biggest stone circles ever found in Britain.

UCL’s Professor Mike Parker Pearson at Stonehenge. Credit: Barney Rowe/BBC/PA

They suggest its bluestones could have been moved as the ancient people of the Preseli region migrated, even taking their monuments with them, as a sign of their ancestral identity, and re-erecting them at Stonehenge near Salisbury, 175 miles away.

Experts say this could explain why the bluestones, thought to be the first monoliths erected at Stonehenge, were brought from so far away, while most circles are constructed within a short distance of their quarries.

Archaeological investigations, as part of the "Stones of Stonehenge" research project, previously excavated two bluestone quarries in the Preseli Hills and discovered the bluestones had been extracted before the first stage of Stonehenge was built in 3000BC.

Archaeological excavation revealed a series of stone holes Credit: Mike Parker Pearson/Antiquity Journal/PA

This prompted the team to re-investigate the nearby Waun Mawn stones to see if it was the site of a stone circle supplied by the quarry and later moved.

Only four monoliths remain at the site, but an archaeological dig in 2018 revealed holes where stones would have stood, showing the remaining stones are part of a wider circle of 30-50 stones.

Several of the monoliths at the World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain are made of the same rock type as those that still remain at the Welsh site. One them also has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn, suggesting the monolith began its life as part of the stone circle in the Preseli Hills before being moved.

The Wesh stone circle was an important and densely settled area in Neolithic times until 3000 BC when activity seems to have ceased.

Prof Parker Pearson said: "It's as if they just vanished. Maybe most of the people migrated, taking their stones - their ancestral identities - with them."

With only a few of the Stonehenge stones directly linked to Waun Mawn, the archaeologists also believe monoliths from other stone circles could have been taken from Wales to form part of the new monument.

Prof Parker Pearson said: "With an estimated 80 bluestones put up on Salisbury Plain at Stonehenge and nearby Bluestonehenge, my guess is that Waun Mawn was not the only stone circle that contributed to Stonehenge."

Stonehenge in the snow last month Credit: PA