IT’S a puzzle that has taken 4000 years to solve: was Stonehenge built in a complete circle?
Extensive tests and excavations carried out at the site on countless occasions have failed to shed any light on the great mystery, with historians remaining unsure about where missing stones were originally placed.
It turns out all they needed was a garden hose.
So what did the hose do that historians couldn’t? Well, it’s more about what it couldn’t do.
Usually the grass around Stonehenge is watered to keep it looking healthy for the hordes of tourists that swarm to the site every day, but this year the caretakers found their hose was too short to reach the southwest side.
This shortcoming actually ended being a blessing in disguise, with the ground drying out and revealing parched grass. This showed the location of missing stones which had once filled out the circle.
Worker Tim Daw discovered the dried out areas, thought to be “stone holes”.
“I was standing on the public path looking at the grass near the stones and thinking that we needed to find a longer hosepipe to get the parched patches to green up,” Mr Daw told the UK’s Telegraph.
“(I had) a sudden light-bulb moment in my head, and I remembered that the marks were where archaeologists had looked — without success — for signs that there had been stone holes, and that parch marks can signify them.
“I called my colleague over and he saw them and realised their possible significance as well. Not being archaeologists we called in the professionals to evaluate them.
“I am still amazed and very pleased that simply really looking at something, that tens of thousands of people had unwittingly seen, can reveal secrets that sophisticated machinery can’t.”
Susan Greaney from English Heritage told the Telegraph that while it was a fabulous find, there’s still a lot that remains unknown about Stonehenge.
“There’s quite a lot we still don’t know and there’s quite a lot that can be discovered just through non-excavation methods,” Ms Greaney said.
“It’s great that people who know the site really well and look at it every day were able to spot these parch marks and recognise them for what they were … It’s really significant, and it shows us just how much we still have to learn about Stonehenge.”
Numerous geophysical surveys and excavations over the years had failed to provide an answer about the shape.