Scientists find huge ring of ancient shafts near Stonehenge

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FILE – In this June 21, 2019, file photo, the sun rises as thousands of revelers gather at the ancient stone circle Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England. The coronavirus pandemic has scuttled summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, a highlight of the year for thousands of British pagans, druids and assorted revelers. English Heritage, which looks after the ancient stone circle, says restrictions on public events to slow the spread of the virus make it impossible to hold the event. It said it had decided to cancel the gathering “after much deliberation and in consultation with our partners in the police and the emergency services, the druid and pagan community and others.” (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)

LONDON (AP) — Archaeologists said Monday that they have discovered a major prehistoric monument under the earth near Stonehenge that could shed new light on the origins of the mystical stone circle in southwestern England.

Experts from a group of British universities say the site consists of at least 20 huge shafts, more than 10 meters, or 32 feet, in diameter and 5 meters deep, forming a circle more than 2 kilometers— over a mile — in diameter.

Researchers say the shafts appear to have been dug around 4,500 years ago, and could mark the boundary of a sacred area or precinct around a circular monument known as the Durrington Walls henge, about 3 kilometers, or 2 miles, from Stonehenge.

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