For part of its existence as an ancient temple, Stonehenge doubled as a substantial prehistoric art gallery, according to new evidence revealed yesterday.
A detailed laser-scan survey of the entire monument has discovered 72 previously unknown Early Bronze Age carvings chipped into five of the giant stones.
All of the newly discovered prehistoric art works are invisible to the naked eye – and have only come to light following a laser-scan survey which recorded literally billions of points micro-topographically on the surfaces of the monument’s 83 surviving stones. In total, some 850 gigabytes of information was collected.
Detailed analysis of that data – carried out on behalf of English Heritage - found that images had been engraved on the stones, normally by removing the top 1-3 millimetres of weathered (darker coloured) rock, to produce different sized shapes. Of the 72 newly discovered images revealed through the data analysis, 71 portray Bronze Age axe-heads and one portrays a Bronze Age dagger.
A laser-scan-derived image of the largest panel of axe-head carvings at Stonehenge. 75% of the carvings in this image were not previously known.
Drawings of all the axe-heads shown in the laser-scan-derived image. The green ones are new discoveries. The brown ones have been known or suspected since the 1950s. Read more.