Nine megaliths in a remote part of Dartmoor, England, share features in common with Stonehenge, and may shed light on the meaning behind these prehistoric stone monuments, according to a report in the latest issue of British Archaeology.
The Dartmoor megaliths, which were recently carbon-dated to around 3500 B.C., could predate Stonehenge, but both sites feature large standing stones that are aligned to mark the rising of the midsummer sun and the setting of the midwinter sun. Yet another Dartmoor stone monument, called Drizzlecombe, shares the same orientation.
The ancient Brits were not necessarily sun worshippers, however.
Archaeologist Mike Pitts, editor of the journal, told Discovery News that “huge quantities of barbecued juvenile pig bones” were found near Stonehenge, indicating that the animals were born in the spring and killed not far from the site “for pork feasting” in midwinter.
“The general feeling is that the sun was symbolizing or marking the occasion, rather than being the ritual focus itself, so it probably was not sun worship,” added Pitts, who is author of the book “Hengeworld” and is one of the leading experts on British megaliths.
This feasting was not just a meaningless pork party, and might have been more akin to a post-funeral wake today.