Stonehenge may have been a burial ground for an ancient royal family, researchers said on Thursday.
New radiocarbon dates of human remains excavated from the ancient stone monument suggest it was used as a cemetery from its inception just after 3000 BC until well after the larger circle of stones went up around 2500 BC.
Previously, archaeologists had believed people were buried at Stonehenge between 2700 and 2600 B.C.
“The hypothesis we are working on is that Stonehenge represents a place of the dead,” said Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield, who is leading an excavation of the site. “That seems to be very clear.”
“A further twist is that the people buried at Stonehenge may have been the elite of their society, an ancient royal British dynasty, perhaps.”
Built between 3000 and 1600 BC as a temple, burial ground, astronomical calendar or all three, the stone circle is sometimes called “Britain’s pyramids”.