Stonehenge of the sea

Photo: Wendy George

A centrepiece of the new Stonehenge exhibition at the British Museum in London ( will be a “Stonehenge of the sea”. Known as Seahenge, the astonishing circle consists of the upturned roots of an oak tree surrounded by 54 posts. Its exact purpose is unclear, but experts speculate that corpses were laid on it so that carrion birds could feast on the flesh.

The henge is also known as Holme I, after the village of Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk where it was discovered in 1998 by John Lorimer, an amateur archaeologist. The henge was excavated to protect the wood from exposure to oxygen and seawater after lying for four millennia in a layer of peat.

 “If Stonehenge is one of the world’s most remarkable surviving ancient stone circles, then Seahenge is the equivalent in timber” said Dr Jennifer Wexler, project curator of the exhibition. “But as it was only rediscovered in 1998, it is still relatively unknown.”

Researchers believe that the henge held some kind of spiritual significance, and the open “doorway” to the circle is aligned with the midsummer sun. Visitors to the British Museum exhibition, which runs from Feb 17 to July 17, will be able to pass through the doorway.

Text     Alun Harvey


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