Hunter-gatherer used open woodland conditions in the millennia before the Stonehenge monuments were built, according to a new study :
Much research has traced the Bronze Age and Neolithic history of the area around Stonehenge, but little is known about earlier times in the area. This leaves open questions about how ancient people and wildlife used the area before the famous archaeological monuments were built. In this paper, Hudson and colleagues reconstruct environmental conditions at the site of Blick Mead, a pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherer site on the edge of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
The authors combine pollen, spores, sedimentary DNA and animal remains to characterize the site’s pre-Neolithic habitat, citing partially open woodland conditions, along with large grazing herbivores such as the aurochs. Would have been beneficial to hunter-gatherer communities. This study supports previous evidence that the Stonehenge area was not covered in closed canopy forest at this time, as has been previously proposed.
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The study also provides date estimates for human activity at Blick Mead. The results indicate that hunter-gatherers used the site for 4,000 years, up to the time of the first known farmers and monument-builders in the region, who would also have benefited from the space the open environment provided. These results indicate that the first farmers and monument-builders in the Stonehenge area encountered open dwellings that were already built and used by large herders and earlier human populations
Further study at similar sites will provide important insights into interactions between hunter-gatherer and early farming communities in the UK and elsewhere. In addition, this study provides techniques for combining sedimentary DNA, other ecological data and stratigraphic data to interpret the ancient environment at sites where such information is difficult to assess.
The authors add :
The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is recognized globally for its rich Neolithic and Bronze Age monumental landscape, but little is known about its importance for Mesolithic populations. Environmental research at Blick Mead suggests It is believed that the hunters had already chosen part of this landscape, an alluvial clearing, as a frequent place for hunting and occupation.
Read About This Before Stonehenge monuments, hunter-gatherers made use of open habitats