back to article City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub

Boffins have discovered the remains of a hidden city two miles from Stonehenge, after creating digital maps of the ancient site to an unprecedented level of detail. The researchers found 17 previously undiscovered religious monuments, as well as a huge burial mound, dozens of smaller ones and the remains of a timber building …

  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. i like crisps

    Forget the 'WHEEL'...

    BEER!!!! is the one true marker of a civilizations passage through time.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Forget the 'WHEEL'...

      There was that old quote about the signs of civilsation were along the lines of having a pub, a jail and a racecourse.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Forget the 'WHEEL'...

      .... and barbecue - Taste like chicken, I'm told.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Forget the 'WHEEL'...

      BEER!!!! is the one true marker of a civilizations passage through time.

      Generally it's one of the markers of the start of civilization, since it's usually invented when people settle down into an agricultural lifestyle. It requires surplus grain, storage technology, leisure time, and labor specialization; and it provides food preservation, drinking-water purification, and entertainment. Secondary benefits include a form of commodity money (various preliterate cultures paid workers in beer, at least in part, because beer was desirable, divisible, and fungible) and the general pacification of the populace (on the "bread and circus" principle).

      Of course, not all early civilizations invented beer, as far as we know. I don't know if there's any evidence that the Cahokians had beer, for example, and since their primary grain (and foodstuff) was maize, it probably wouldn't have been very good beer. But they did have caffeinated beverages, so that's all right.

      1. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

        Re: Forget the 'WHEEL'...

        >>paid workers in beer<<

        Where the phrase "drinking your wages away" came from

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Forget the 'WHEEL'...

        provides [...] entertainment

        “I drink to make other people more interesting.”

        Ernest Hemingway

  3. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    So basically...

    ... a pub where they dismember (and eat?) the locals.

    Tough area.

    Pint, but I won't be hanging around.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: So basically...

      Grab that pint to-go, or you may find yourself staying for dinner!!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: So basically...

      Don't want to be passing out drunk in that pub...

      "What's this?!? Where's my flesh? Very funny you a-holes!! Give me my flesh back." Could have been a Python skit.

    3. Mr_Pitiful

      Re: So basically...

      I think that might still be my local, strange place!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They know this because............

      They went out in Sailsbury, where it's still practised.

    5. Joe User

      Re: So basically...

      If my job was to carve the flesh off dead people, I'd require loads of ale, too.

    6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Re: So basically...

      "...the remains of a timber building which may have been used to cut the flesh from bodies before they were put in the ground."

      'Ah look! I think a timber building was here. Therefore, it must have been used to cut the flesh from bodies before they were put in the ground.'

      Not sure if I follow the logic.

    7. Stuart Castle

      Re: So basically...

      If the city had a kebab shop, I'd be a little concerned about the contents of the kebabs... In my local town, in one row of shops, there was a pub, a kebab shop and a funeral director.. The pub was quite friendly and busy. The kebab shop was never visited by locals. Mainly because most of us are uncomfortable eating meat served next to a place where they handle dead bodies..

      Never saw any evidence they were using bodies, but also never saw any cats around there either.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: So basically...

        Do you mean something like this in Whitby?

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Everything old is new again...

    "ancients were also shown to have dug large pits, some of which may have been arranged to align with the stars, and drunk beer, judging by the presence of a load of ale pots."

    So kind of like Friday night in any modern major British city center?

    BOOM!!!! Yes, I went there!!!!

  5. Mr_Pitiful

    Have a pint on me!

    Err maybe not then :(

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Have a pint on me!

      That should probably be "Have a pint, not me."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have a pint on me!

        The Beers good...but those are not pork scratchings!

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Have a pint on me!

          What are you complaining about. Everybody likes long-pig.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            Re: Have a pint on me!

            Long-pig, the other white meat!

        2. Nicholas Nada

          Re: Have a pint on me!

          and you do not want to touch the complimentary nuts.

  6. lee harvey osmond


    I think that's a typo which is going to get fixed.

    'HUMAN ABBATOIR' implies not just human, but four ... very specific ... Swedish people. Not that I'm necessarily opposed to that

    1. ravenviz Silver badge


      Maybe it was meant to be 'Hunan abattoir'!

  7. bill 36

    what i would like to know


    "All in all, researchers found 17 previously undiscovered religious monuments"

    How do they know that?

    They were just as likely to have been pagan cannibals for all we know.

    But since one of the guys who works for the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute and who did the scans at Stonehenge, drinks in my local bar, i'll ask him tonight.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: what i would like to know

      If true, please report back!

      1. bill 36

        Re: what i would like to know

        He wasn't there.

        I will report back but when is another matter.

      2. bill 36

        the report

        So, i finally got to ask the question last the boozer.

        The verbatim reply was "that's show business. you have to sell news somehow".

        So there you have it. It made me laugh.

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: what i would like to know

      If they can't figure out what it was used for, it was 'religious use'.

      Honestly, if there are no beds or soil holes (home or toilet) and no other clue, they put it down under that. Hence 17 in a small area.

      Odds are high there is nowhere in the world with that many religious buildings so close, bar perhaps the Vatican City.

    3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: what i would like to know

      @bill 36 - they didn't say which religion. Pagan is just a generic term for a broad group of indigenous and historical polytheistic religious traditions. Anyone want to discuss whether they could have been atheists?

    4. bitten

      Re: what i would like to know

      Are the new scans not from Boltzmann but from ORBit?

    5. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: what i would like to know

      Paganism is a religion. Canabalism not so much, but may have had a religious or ritual aspect.

  8. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    Large Pits?


    Body parts missing?

    Nothing to see here - move along.

    It's Friday night!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Body parts missing?

      Yeah, stump the band night was taken more literally back then!

  9. russell 6

    Traffic jams

    'Defleshing on a forecourt' Maybe the early version of the A303 also had serious traffic problems, instead of pulling in for a Ginster while waiting for traffic to clear they had more readily available fresh snacks.

    1. Mr_Pitiful

      Re: Traffic jams

      Naaa, the A303 is still the same around there!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A drunken Brit?

    Why I've never hear of such a thing.

  11. LieutenantCharlie

    Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it.

    In today's History books, you will find that history is being rewritten to be politically correct. This, of course, requires the Author to lie about history. And it requires the makers of documentary films to lie about history.

    History tells harsh truths, about people and what really happened,..... Lincoln jailed all newspapers Editor,s that wrote stories, that did not agree with his point of view. Anyone suggesting that the North should negotiate with the South was called a "Copper Head", and Lincoln wanted all CopperHeads put in prison. Senator Clement Vanlandingham, from Ohio, was forced by Lincoln, to flee to Canada to escape prison. George Washington died from a syphilis infection. The first United States President, under the Articles of Confederation, was John Hanson.

    1. Greggles

      Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it.

      Yes, the winners are usually the only ones left alive, or not exiled, to write the history books. And absolutely every last nation in existence has done it to varying degrees of success. Yes the American founding fathers can be looked at as a bunch of tax dodging bootleggers who managed to hold out longer than the financially distressed English government could before cutting their losses, but what in the world does that have to do with buried English artifacts from thousands of years prior to the European discovery of the American continents?

    2. cynic56

      Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it.

      Fascinating. I know I'm pished but what has this got to do with the article?

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it.

      History is rewritten all the time, that's not a new trend. That's what historians do for a living. The more people try to make a living at it, the more rewriting will be done. Of course "political correctness" will factor into what gets written - that's just another way of saying "historians write in the language and terms of their own time" - but that's not the reason for doing it.

      "History tells harsh truths" - well, yes. Lincoln did things that lots of people condemned, those people were called "confederates" and they lost, end of story. I see lots of Americans condemning Obama for using the US military to kill US citizens - well, Lincoln did that on a far, far larger scale, so presumably all those Americans would consider him the devil incarnate.

      As for the Copperheads, they had a not-insignificant amount of blood on their hands by the war's end.

      Who was "right" and who was "wrong" in these stories? You can argue that as long as you like, and because of the abundance of historians out there, who all need to make a career for themselves... you can find historians who will agree with you. But in the end, "right" or "wrong" is always going to be subjective, and who are you to judge the actions of someone who has to choose between killing a thousand people here or letting ten times that number die there?

      If you're ever put in that position yourself, I hope you have the guts to act with at least a fraction of Lincoln's integrity.

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it. (Quite true but....)

        Lincoln also wanted to send all the slaves back to Africa after the Civil War according to his letters.

        The problem with revisionist history in the US is more related to rampant politcal correctness these days.

        God forbid you should espouse your actual beliefs or the truth, somebody's feelings might get hurt.

        We are teaching the young that no matter what or how you do something "they are always a winner" when real life is much different and there are few if any real winners. Certain politicians are more concerned with how they are perceived by the public than how effective they are.

        Giving a false sense of security is a greater harm than being truthful even if the truth hurts.

        BTW If an American citizen joins forces with a group that promotes the killing of American citizens, he just gave up his citizenship and is "fair game".

        Those Americans you see condemning Obama for the drone strike in Yemen are clear proof that too many here have been raised with more self esteem than common sense.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it. (Quite true but....)

          The problem with revisionist history in the US is more related to rampant politcal correctness these days.

          That's a load of crap. The only "revisionist history" (historiography, actually, but I expect that distinction is lost on those who invoke the "political correctness" bugbear) in the US these days is that being perpetrated on textbooks, largely at the hands of education authorities in Texas; and their concern is to make the historical narrative safe for rich white folks.

    4. Mooseman Bronze badge

      Re: Those that do not know History, are doomed to repeat it.

      Repeat after me..."I must look up how to use commas"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    just an early transport caff on the 303.

  13. Apul_MadeeqAoud

    This sounds like a whole lot of sensationalistic conjecture. I don't believe they know what was going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes. It's very old, so it must involve religion and rituals and alignments with the stars. The ancients were so stupid and wore dead animal skulls for hats and did nasty stuff to each other. Not like us modern civilised folk at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. All anybody actually _knows_ about Stonehenge is that it's the remains of a very old building. Everything else is just speculation, conjecture and extrapolation. True scientists often describe such hypotheses as "a load of bollocks".

      Archeology is basically digging up a few bones and stones and then making up stories about them.

      The stories are more likely to get published if they include weird and creepy religious rituals* and/or human slaughter.

      * not that there has ever been any other kind of religious ritual, then or now.

  14. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Are they CERTAIN that it was a human abattoir...?

    ...Could have just been the prep area for the takeout. I mean, you've got a lot of hungry henge builders, menhir delivery men and the like coming out of the pub next door of a Friday night and you're the ONLY curry shop in 5,000 miles -- you're going to be making a LOT of chicken vindaloo, is all I'm saying...

  15. Brian Miller

    Wonder where they get their data

    "Predating Stonehenge, the building is thought to have been a house of the dead where bizarre burial rituals were played out. "The rituals included exposure of the dead bodies, and defleshing on a large forecourt,""

    Where do they get that data? And about a wooden building that's older than Stonehenge?? The builders and others who played around with the stones weren't big on writing anything down, so I wonder how the archeologists came up with the specifics of the rituals.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wonder where they get their data

      Carbon dating for starters, followed by chemical and molecular analysis and then just plain old decay charts.

      It almost lab assistant stuff these days.

    2. Promotor Fidei

      Re: Wonder where they get their data

      As to the age of the wooden house: dendrochronology and carbon 14 dating.

      As to the rituals: tools marks on human skeletons found buried in the area.

    3. iranu

      Re: Wonder where they get their data

      Probably from digging a hole in the ground and finding artefacts such as flints used for cutting along with human remains that show signs of butchery/cutting.

  16. Kernel

    RE: what I would like to know.


    "All in all, researchers found 17 previously undiscovered religious monuments"

    How do they know that?

    They were just as likely to have been pagan cannibals for all we know."

    From the point of view of those who built these complexes, yes, these are religious monuments - the pagans are the ones who are doing the modern research on the remains.

    I recall reading a book some years ago that mentioned rituals associated with the dead and visiting the bones on feast days (who wants to skip school today and go on a picnic with great-grandad?) - the author suggested that Stonehenge and similar monuments were basically charnel houses.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: RE: what I would like to know.

      "rituals associated with the dead and visiting the bones on feast days"

      You mean like the Day of the Dead in Mexico and Grave Sweeping in China?

      Next you'll be telling me about a religion that ritually re-enacts eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their god.

  17. Charles Manning

    Sounds just like medical school

    Lots of short-bearded druids around no doubt.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They were probably trying to stop climate change

    By eating their Greens.

  19. Stevie Silver badge


    Beer, fire pits and a torn down village?

    Not a settlement then, but the remains of Ye Burnynge Manne encampment.

    Turns out Stonehenge is not a calculator or a temple or a UFO landing strip, but a piece of neolithic installation art.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Bah!


      Love it!


    2. Julian Bond

      Re: Bah!

      This doesn't seem so unreasonable to me, If you imagine Glastonbury running for 200 years, and then being discovered 3000 years later, we'd be finding the same stuff. The John Peel tent would have burnt down several times, been rebuilt as a permanent structure and then lost so only the post holes were left. And there'd be lost implements involved in the making of falafel buried nearby.

      The earliest known graffiti on the stones dates from 700 years after it was built. I'd wager they'd already forgotten why it was built but recognised the solstice significance. And got back into the habit of having a yearly 3 day bender every mid summer.

  20. elDog Silver badge

    Flesh flailing?

    Anybody have any good ideas on this loverly process?

    Was it to save room in the burial pits - seems a bit overzealous.

    Was it to make some nice skin fritters - yummy.

    Perhaps the whole edifice is just a "educational institution". This particular building is for budding plastic surgeons.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Flesh flailing?


      Utter conjecture backed by nothing but half-remembered snippets of half-heard, half-read theories that I only half-understood anyway, but I believe that they had special reverence for bones, so perhaps this was a way to extricate the spiritually important parts of the dead.

      Or not - maybe Wiltshire circa 2500BC was just a bit of a dull place so a night of ale and corpse flaying seemed a good way to spend a solstice.

      Or perhaps it was an offering to the lizard people.

  21. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So basically, Lovecraft was right?

    Unless these soon-defleshed corpses died of natural causes or internecine struggles?

    "Piecing together the tales which Norrys collected for me, and supplementing them with the accounts of several savants who had studied the ruins, I deduced that Exham Priory stood on the site of a prehistoric temple; a Druidical or ante-Druidical thing which must have been contemporary with Stonehenge. That indescribable rites had been celebrated there, few doubted; and there were unpleasant tales of the transference of these rites into the Cybele-worship which the Romans had introduced. Inscriptions still visible in the sub-cellar bore such unmistakable letters as “DIV . . . OPS . . . MAGNA. MAT . . . “ sign of the Magna Mater whose dark worship was once vainly forbidden to Roman citizens. Anchester had been the camp of the third Augustan legion, as many remains attest, and it was said that the temple of Cybele was splendid and thronged with worshippers who performed nameless ceremonies at the bidding of a Phrygian priest...."

    I hope these researchers very carefully check the walls of their sleeping quarters.

    1. Irony Deficient

      Not exactly.

      Destroy All Monsters, it was becoming a priest of Cybele which was forbidden to Roman citizens, not her worship. (Her mendicant priests had to self-castrate, and it was castration which was forbidden by Roman law to citizens.)

    2. gazthejourno

      Re: So basically, Lovecraft was right?

      I read The Rats in the Walls years and years ago but never did remember the title. Thanks for triggering my memory, I've been looking out it for it ever since.

  22. Graham Marsden

    Yes, but....

    ... did they find The Pandorica?

    Mines the one with the bow tie in the pocket.

    Bow ties are cool...

    1. dan1980

      Re: Yes, but....

      I wouldn't say they're 'cool' but they do give you a reason to do up your top button. I'm really not a fan of the whole invisible tie look this current chap has going on. (But to be fair, I'm not always focussed on the 'main' character . . . )

  23. Winkypop Silver badge

    Beer AND Flesh?

    I was just in Amesbury.

    They didn't serve that combo at the local Wetherspoon's

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: Beer AND Flesh?

      What do you think those "Steak/Curry and Beer" deals are then? ;-)

    2. Santa from Exeter

      Re: Beer AND Flesh?

      You won't find it in the 'spoons, but check out Friar Tuck.

      Besides, this is in Durrington, not Amesbury so maybe the Stonehenge Inn?

  24. NeilPost

    'Boffin's ... seriously

    Are you 'eHacks' seriously still calling scientists 'boffin's. They only give the impression of Boffinary, because you have no clue what they are or how they do anything, and draping the story in Sciencey stuff does not really make a store stand up.

    Try reading Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, and do some decent journalism.

    From your Twitter page

    Jasper Hamill


    Thinker in search of a thought (all donations gladly received). Staff reporter at The Register and Forbes contributor. Essex refugee.

    ... The smell of a humanities grad, doing science/tech reporting.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Apostrophe's ... seriously

      Bad Grammar is the book you should read.

      Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: 'Boffin's ... seriously

      Are you 'eHacks' seriously still calling scientists 'boffin's.

      Leather-elbow patch tweed jacket wearing one, please!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Boffin's ... seriously

      You really seem to have an issue with our glorious regtards use of the affectionate term Boffin (as seen in comments from other articles which have also used it). Maybe linked to a childhood trauma?

      No-one else round here cares, in fact, most of us quite like it. Save yourself a load of downvotes next time and just ignore it.

    4. dan1980

      Re: 'Boffin's ... seriously


      I shall add my voice - the word is 'boffinry'.

      And, on a point of order, 'boffin' (as others have pointed out,) is a term of affection. To me, I see it in the same vein as when my clients refer to me as a 'wizard' because I have fixed something or other for them. Indeed, the very fact that they don't understand what I did or how is the point - they are saying that I possess knowledge beyond their ken and that they are impressed by that.

      Now, I conceded that it's perfectly possible that you understand the spirit that the word 'boffin' was meant in. If so, it would seem that you may be implying that through ignorance of the nitty-gritty, Jasper was 'blinded by science' and thus, as impressed as my clients are when I fix a print queue, Jasper has failed to understand that the 'science' being presented is flaky and not worthy of being called 'boffinry'.

      In which case, I invite you to present your counter findings.

      Either way, Jasper is indeed reporting - he is reporting that some scientists/historians somewhere have proposed some new theories based on some new discoveries. Based on what I know, I'd say he's just about f^%king nailed in because that is exactly what has happened; some scientist/historians somewhere have proposed some new theories based on some new discoveries.

      I am pretty sure that Jasper at no point put his big stamp of approval on to say that he had, personally, investigated the research, and found it to be rigorous and well-supported so I'm not really sure what a humanities degree has to do with anything.

    5. EssEll

      Re: 'Boffin's ... seriously

      Think he's going for the record number of downvotes. I mean, I thought I had it when I said Snowden should face trial, but this guy's going large .

      Beer for the effort.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think I know

    Yeah it's all very good guys, and some of those stones are pretty big but it's all bit blocky.

    Me and my mates who did Gobekli Tepe made an effort, now that is what I call a stone circle.

    These are all right and will probably last for a while but they are not very pretty are they, where's your animals, fancy carving and stuff?


    Early monumental one-upmanship lead to an unfortunate end for some travellers around Salisbury.

  27. jukejoint

    After reading . . .

    ...let me just say that I am very glad the researchers think it's a pub and butcher shop.

    On first glance of the headline my thought was, it was a Druid orphanage.

    What a relief!

    Forgive the icon. It simply appeared.

  28. Rugster

    Early gaming

    Maybe it was just the early minecraft beta......

  29. cs94njw


    Since when did "2 miles away from Stonehenge" become classified as "beneath Stonehenge"?

    If I'm in Trafalgar Square, am I actually in Buckingham Palace??

  30. steward

    "The ancients"?

    If we're dealing with the ancients here, I want to know if they found a Stargate, Merlin, or Excalibur...

  31. seebert

    Two miles=directly beneath

    Apparently, this is some strange meaning of the words "directly beneath" that I have not previously been aware of.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So people were getting legless?

  33. quondam

    Excarnation with Ravens?

    This evidence of defleshing doesn't seem unlike the practices of various peoples at different times in history, with recent examples of "sky burials" in Tibet and Mongolia.

    Based on the concept of all life being interconnected and death being one part of the cycle of life, corpses were defleshed to better enable vultures and similar carrion birds to feed on the remains leaving large bones to be ritually dealt with.

    There's a large number of skeletons of ravens and crows (carrion birds) at Iron Age and Roman sites across Europe. I don't think that anybody has explained why there are so many in such small areas other than some kind of deliberate act by humans or simply because there were a lot of them about for some other reason.

    Could it be that Salisbury Plain is just another place where excarnation was carried out? Corpses butchered to make it easier for carrion birds to dispose of the flesh?

    We don't know much about the religious or other beliefs of humans at that time to be able to prove or deny...

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019