|Watch digging progress on the BBC|
Professor Tim Darvill, Director of BU’s Centre for Archaeology, Anthropology & Heritage, is leading scientists and students in excavating a site among the stones at Stonehenge.
The two-week excavation is funded by the BBC, which is filming the project for broadcast as part of the popular ‘Timewatch’ television series.
Stonehenge will be open as normal during this time, and visitors will be able to observe the excavation as it happens via webcams located inside a special marquee.
This is the first excavation permitted within Stonehenge in over 40 years. Professor Darvill, who is joined at the ancient monument by Professor Geoff Wainwright, President of the Society Antiquaries, said: "It is an incredibly exciting moment and a great privilege to be able to excavate inside Stonehenge.”
He continued saying: “This excavation is the first opportunity in more than half a century to bring the power of modern scientific archaeology to bear on a problem that has taxed the minds of travellers, antiquaries, and archaeologists since medieval times: just why were the bluestones so important to have warranted our ancestors making the gargantuan journey to bring them to Salisbury Plain?”
Professor Darvill believes that his excavation will shed new light on the origins of Stonehenge. The project team will focus on the bluestones that are aligned within the site. These bluestones originally came from the Preseli Hills in Wales and once formed a double circle, the first stone structure built at Stonehenge.
The arrival of the stones marked a turning point in the history of the monument. They changed the site from being a fairly standard formative henge with timber structures and occasional use for burial, to the complex stone structure whose remains dominate the landscape of Salisbury Plain today.
Professor Darvill’s recent book, ‘Stonehenge: The Biography of a Landscape’ (Tempus Publishing) reveals his theory that Stonehenge was a source and centre for healing and not a place for the dead as believed by many scholars.
The BBC's Timewatch programme is providing exclusive access to the dig via its website - www.bbc.co.uk/timewatch - including a web cam and exclusive podcasts that will follow the project as it progresses.