9th Experimental Archaeology Conference abstract – Winter

The Construction of Prototype Neolithic Houses for the Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Luke Winter

The Ancient Technology Centre

In 2013/14 The Ancient Technology Centre was commissioned by English Heritage to build a number of Neolithic structures at the newly opened Stonehenge Visitor Centre based on evidence for buildings from the nearby excavated site at Durrington Walls. The excavation at Durrington Walls (The Riverside Project) has interpreted this site as the possible settlement of the builders of Stonehenge.

The Project aimed to test the validity of some claims that the buildings represented short term/temporary shelters that may have had seasonal occupation, to answer questions regarding the shape and potential construction methods of the discovered structural remains, and to provide examples of Neolithic housing for the visiting public.

A two phase project was designed:

Phase 1 looked in detail at harvesting strategies and gathered statistical information regarding material requirements during the construction of 1 fully finished prototype (building 851) and two partial buildings (547 and 848), as well as exploring different construction methods capable of explaining the archaeological record.

Phase 2 would take the lessons learned during Phase 1 and produce five finished structure as an external gallery at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to accommodate one million visitors each year.

This project has confirmed that the archaeological evidence from Durrington Walls might reflect the construction of durable long-term structures that used lighter materials in their construction. It has also suggested some functional rationales for the shapes of the buildings which are material driven.

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