Firm unlocks the mysteries of Stonehenge with 3D lasers

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A Little Eaton firm has been helping to unloc k the mysteries of Stonehenge by using the latest 3D laser scanning techniques.

Greenhatch Group, on Duffield Road, have been studying the ancient moument as part of a project commissioned by English Heritage.

Project Executive Andrew Dodson and a team from Greenhatch conducted weeks of tests using state-of-the art equipment which revealed significant differences in the way the stones were shaped and worked.

This week, English Heritage revealed the impact of the research and how it has helped them to learn more about the people who constructed them.

They said the differences show that Stonehenge was not only aligned with the solstices, but that the view of the monument from the north east was particularly important.

To approach and view the stone circle from this direction means that the midwinter sunset had special meaning to prehistoric people, and that they made deliberate efforts to create a dramatic spectacle for those approaching the monument from this direction.

Stones on the outer sarsen circle visible when approaching from the north east were found to be completely “dressed” with a pick - that is, the brown and grey crust on the surface has been removed exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface.

However, the outer faces of surviving uprights in the south-western segment of the circle were not pick dressed.

Professor Clive Ruggles, Professor of Archaeo-astronomy, said: “We see how the utmost care and attention was devoted to ensuring the pristine appearance of Stonehenge for those completing their final approach to the monument.”

Analysis of the laser scan has also led to the discovery of many more prehistoric carvings, including 71 new Bronze Age axeheads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known in Stonehenge to 115.

Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “We didn’t expect the results of a laser scan to be so revealing about the architecture of Stonehenge and its function.”

English Heritage commissioned the first comprehensive laser survey on Stonehenge in 2011. Archaeological analysis was then carried out to examine the high-resolution data that was produced for all the stone surfaces.