Neolithic 'halls of the dead' found in Herefordshire

Professor Julian Thomas said the find was of "huge significance to our understanding of prehistoric life"

Related Stories

Two 6,000-year-old "halls of the dead" found in Herefordshire have been called "the discovery of a lifetime" by archaeologists.

Teams from the University of Manchester and Herefordshire Council made the find on Dorstone Hill, near Peterchurch.

The team also found possible links between Neolithic communities in Herefordshire and Yorkshire.

Professor Julian Thomas said the "very rare" find was of "huge significance to our understanding of prehistoric life".

The remains of the halls were found within prehistoric burial mounds.

Yorkshire link

Archaeologists believe they were deliberately burnt down after they were constructed and their remains incorporated into two burial mounds.

They think the timber buildings may have been "halls of the dead" similar to others from the Neolithic period found in Europe.

Find from Dorstone Hill archaeological dig Stone artefacts from Yorkshire may have been placed at the site as part of a ceremony

Bodies may have been placed in the halls before being moved to nearby chambered tombs.

Prof Thomas said: "These early Neolithic halls are already extremely rare, but to find them within a long barrow is the discovery of a lifetime."

The halls are thought to be have been built between 4000 and 3600 BC.

A flint axe and a finely-flaked flint knife found on the site have "close affinities" with artefacts dating from around 2600 BC found in eastern Yorkshire, the team believe.

Dr Keith Ray, Herefordshire Council's county archaeologist, said the axe and knife may not have been traded, but placed there as part of a ceremony or an ancestral pilgrimage.

He added: "These subsequent finds show that 1,000 years after the hall burial mounds were made, the site is still important to later generations living 200 miles away - a vast distance in Neolithic terms."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More England stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • A painting of the White House on fire by Tom FreemanFinders keepers

    The odd objects looted by the British from Washington in 1814


  • Hands holding goldGold rush Watch

    Recession drives new wave of prospectors into the wild


  • Chris and Regina Catrambone with their daughter Maria LuisaSOS

    The millionaires who rescue people at sea


  •  a Kurdish bakery, complete with a tandoor ovenLittle Kurdistan

    Middle Eastern haven in the American south


Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • ShanghaiThe Travel Show Watch

    From its high-speed trains trains to its luminescent skyscrapers - take a minute to discover Shanghai

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.