The child's skull after excavation; scientists hope to determine a lot about the person buried, such as diet, place of habitation, any diseases and cause and year of death.

Body of 4,000-year-old teenager near Stonehenge may give clues about Bronze Age lives

(Read the article on one page)

Archaeologists have unearthed a 4,000-year-old adolescent who lived near Stonehenge and was buried in the fetal position with an amber necklace. Now archaeologists working at the site of Marden Henge in Wiltshire, England, will study the body to determine the child's gender, diet, cause and time frame of death. By examining minerals in the child's teeth, they may also be able to tell what part of England he or she was from. Scientists hope the studies will provide information about the people who lived near and built Stonehenge in the Vale of Pewsey.

It is possible the adolescent traveled to Stonehenge itself, though the site where the body was found, at Marden Henge, is 15 miles (24 km) away from the world's most famous stone circles.

Marden Henge, about which little is known, is the largest and considered one of the most important ancient ceremonial sites in Britain, researchers say. Archaeologists this summer are excavating the remnants of a house up to 4,400 years old on the site, which lies halfway between the World Heritage sites of Stonehenge and Avebury.

The world-famous site of Stonehenge, Wiltshire

The world-famous site of Stonehenge, Wiltshire ( Wikimedia Commons )

Lead archaeologist Jim Leary told The Daily Mail : “The skeleton is a wonderful discovery which will help tell us what life was like for those who lived under the shadow of Stonehenge at a time of frenzied activity. Scientific analysis will provide information on the gender of the child, diet, pathologies and date of burial. It may also shed light on where this young individual had lived.”

The skeleton's arms were crossed, its head turned to the right and its legs drawn up. The teenager was 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall. In addition to the skeleton, archaeologists have found blades, flint arrowheads, shale and copper bracelets and decorated pottery. They also unearthed a Roman brooch.

"Marden Henge is located on a line which connects Stonehenge and Avebury,” Leary said earlier this month. “This poses some fascinating questions. Were the three monuments competing against each other? Or were they used by the same communities but for different occasions and ceremonies? We hope to find out."

Jim Leary, lead archaeologist, with the remnants of the walls and the floor of the ancient home at Marden Henge

Jim Leary, lead archaeologist, with the remnants of the walls and the floor of the ancient home at Marden Henge (University of Reading photo)

There is no great stone circle at Marden Henge. Two amateur archaeologists, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and William Cunnington, dug a shaft into a huge burial mound in the early 1800s. They didn't close the shaft, perhaps meaning to return to it. But the entire mound collapsed, and all that remains there now is a 3 cm rise in the ground. A farmer later filled in a moat that had surrounded the barrow. They left written records about animal bones, burned wood and two fragments of burned human bones—citations that tantalize and frustrate archaeologists.

This latest excavation and research project at Marden Henge, which will explore and record the huge site, will take place over three years. Scientists hope to shed light on the lives of the people who operated the ceremonial center at Marden but also the vicinity around Stonehenge.

The house that is being excavated was on a terrace in a small circle of earthen banks. The site had ramparts that researchers think were 3 meters (10 feet) tall that enclosed 15 hectares (37 acres). This is far larger than Avebury, and larger than Stonehenge itself. Leary says it was too big for a practical purpose, telling The Guardian it may have been to show off power and wealth in the ability to enlist a large workforce.

Also at the site is a previously undiscovered Roman complex that includes the foundations of a barn and a deserted medieval village.

Some of the standing stones at Avebury

Some of the standing stones at Avebury (Photo by Jim Champion/ Wikimedia Commons )

Featured image: The child's skull after excavation; scientists hope to determine a lot about the person buried, such as diet, place of habitation, any diseases and cause and year of death.

By Mark Miller

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Caves of Loltun, Mexico
It goes on speak about the challenges and wonders of Columbus’s voyage to the new lands known today as the Caribbean. It even goes on to mention Columbus’s blunder in assuming that this newly discovered land was India when in fact it was what we know today as the Bahamas.

Human Origins

Photo of Zecharia Sitchin (left)(CC0)Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC depicting the deities Inanna, Utu, and Enki, three members of the Anunnaki.(right)
In a previous 2-part article (1), the authors wrote about the faulty associations of the Sumerian deities known as the Anunnaki as they are portrayed in the books, television series, and other media, which promotes Ancient Astronaut Theory (hereafter “A.A.T.”).


Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio. Representative image
During the Early Woodland Period (1000—200 BC), the Adena people constructed extensive burial mounds and earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Many of the skeletal remains found in these mounds by early antiquarians and 20th-Century archaeologists were of powerfully-built individuals reaching between 6.5 and eight feet in height (198 cm – 244 cm).

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article