Culture

Researchers find mysterious wooden pagan circles are actually 800 years older than Stonehenge

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Thought Stonehenge was our oldest relic?

Think again.

Mysterious religious rituals were happening WAY before the stone circle was assembled, in a lesser-known prehistoric site some 20 miles down the road in Avebury, Wiltshire.

Experts discovered the circular Palisades – which would have appeared like large wooden enclosures and stretched 250m in diameter – 30 years ago.

They initially believed they were erected at the same time as Stonehenge, at around 2,500 BC.

But new radiocarbon analysis suggests they were built in about 3,300BC - just a few hundred years after the first farms emerged in Britain.

The wooden rings would have been burnt to the ground to create rings of fire and could be dated using charcoal samples.

Professor Alex Bayliss, a carbon-dating expert at Historic England had been waiting for technology to advance so they could learn more about the rings.

He told The Times: "They are two really massive circles of timbers.

"One of the hypotheses is that one could have been for women and the other for men to use for rituals.

"We have an entirely new kind of monument that is like nothing else ever found in Britain."

He doesn't believe they were occupied or for storing livestock - suggesting that they were for religious rituals.

The two structures would have represented a huge investment of time and labour.

The study, published in British Archaeology, estimates that the rings stretched over four kilometres and used more than 4,000 trees.

The incredible discovery comes as Druids and Wiccans gear up for the summer solstice, celebrated at Stonehenge in midsummer, which this year will take place on June 21.

Hundreds of mysterious 2,000-year-old stone circles were recently discovered deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.