This seems to fit with the idea of a midwinter festival, in turn
supported by analysis of pig teeth found at the site.
"One of the things we can tell from the pig teeth we've looked
at is that most of them have been slaughtered at nine months. And we
think they are farrowing in Spring," he said.
"It's likely there's a midwinter cull and that ties in with our
midwinter solstice alignments at Durrington and Stonehenge."
Professor Parker Pearson believes Durrington's purpose was to
celebrate life and deposit the dead in the river for transport to
the afterlife. Stonehenge was a memorial and final resting place for
some of the dead.
After feasting, he speculated, people travelled down the timber
circle's "avenue" to deposit their dead in the River Avon flowing
towards Stonehenge. They then moved along Stonehenge's avenue to the
circle, where they cremated and buried a select few of their dead.
The Sheffield University archaeologist said Stonehenge was a
place for these people, who worshipped their ancestors, to commune
with the spirits of the departed.
But not all archaeologists agree: "I see Stonehenge more as a
living monument," archaeologist and broadcaster Julian Richards
"So in terms of broad understanding of the landscape I'm not in
Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, from Wessex Archaeology, who was not a
member of the research team, commented: "There haven't been many
excavations near Stonehenge in recent years and the new work will
stimulate exciting new theories in coming years.
"But we shouldn't forget that Stonehenge became special when
people brought the stones from Wales, 250km away. Some of the
answers about Stonehenge aren't just to be found in Durrington, but
Stonehenge was the largest cemetery in Britain at the time,
containing about 250 ashes from cremations.
In a separate area, further up the valley from Durrington Walls,
Julian Thomas of Manchester University, discovered two other
Neolithic houses. But these were free of rubbish.
The researchers think these dwellings were deliberately kept
clean. They could have been home to community leaders, or they might
have been sacred sites, where rituals were performed.
A map of the sites