New research at Stonehenge has been extended in recent years and annual surveys carried out to the east and southeast of the stones annually 2003 to 2008.
These annual research surveys studied the development of the landscape in and around the monument in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain. Especially the relationship between the Stones and surrounding monuments and features such as the River Avon, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge.
The area around the monument is steeped in Neolithic history and it is obvious that the Stones themselves are only a small part of the story. Theories abound but only through very thorough archaeological research (bearing in mind that there could never be any written records) can we even begin to understand the mystery of this World Heritage Site and the numerous sites surrounding it.
The main population centres today for this concentration of archaeological sites around the Stones are the town of Amesbury
and the villages of Durrington and Bulford and small villages along the Avon valley to the north.
The immediate area within the World Heritage site has been excavated many times in the past but to the east around Durrington Walls there have only been two major studies conducted in recent times. The most recent being when the A345 was improved 1967 and routed through the site. During this more recent excavation large amounts of animal bones and Neolithic pottery and tools were discovered.
With the advent of more sophisticated archaeological tools e.g. magnetometry the importance and breadth of this newly excavated site is being revealed.
More recently fieldwork surveys started in 2003 identified previously unrecognised entrances to the north and south of the henge of Durrington Walls. Work on the Stonehenge Riverside Project continued through the summers of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
In 2006 it became apparent that the Sarsen phase of the building of Stonehenge was contemporary with that of the Durrington Walls henge circa 2640-2480 BC These two monuments, different but complementary, now predate the earliest Beaker burials in Britain – including the famous Amesbury Archer and Boscombe Bowmen. Further excavations and surveys of 2007 and 2008 have since more about the monuments to the southeast of Stonehenge on the banks of the River Avon. Although new research at Stonehenge to date has only scratched the surface of our knowledge of this wide area it has become apparent that this ‘hidden’ landscape, of which the visible famous stone circle is a part, was not only the major centre of Stone Age life in Southern England but very likely the largest in Northern Europe. New Research at Stonehenge