Stonehenge attracts thousands of Druids, tourists and music festival revellers from far afield each year. Now a new analysis of ancient animal teeth has revealed it was a popular feasting area as far back as 5,000 years ago.
Stone-age people drove cattle across the country to ‘bring-your-own’ beef barbecues near Stonehenge, the tests revealed.
The analysis of the teeth found at Durrington Walls, a 5,000-year-old village, showed the animals had come from at least 60 miles away.
Dr Jane Evans from the British Geological Survey said the discovery showed a number of feasts were held at the Stonehenge site.
She added that people travelled from as far away as Wales to get there but brought their own food rather than shopping for beef locally.
‘People are coming from considerable distances and dispersion in order to have feasts,’ Dr Evans said.
‘People were bringing their food supplies to this site. There wasn’t a farming community that supplied travellers with local beef. It was a case of bringing your own beef barbecue.’
The discovery was made by analysis of different types of a chemical element called strontium found in the soil and absorbed through food into animal and human teeth.
Different types or isotopes of strontium are found in soils of different geological make-up, and the nearest match to those found in the cattle teeth are in Wales, Dr Evans said at the BA Festival of Science in Liverpool.
The Stone Age Neolithic site is a massive circular earthwork close to Stonehenge that was used from around 3,000 BC to 2,500 BC, until around the time the stones at Stonehenge were put in place in the Bronze Age.
An archaeological dig at the site in the 1960s revealed a circular timber structure and a vast collection of animal bones.
Dr Evans added the discovery shed light on communications and movement in the Neolithic period, and showed the already-known relationship between the Stonehenge area and Wales stretched back into the Stone Age.