Despite being one of Britain’s best-known sights, Stonehenge is still surrounded by mystery.
The iconic structure was almost certainly built around 5,000 years ago, and it appears to have been built for mainly religious motives.
But exactly who built it has long been the subject of debate.
The fact that over 40 of the stones that make up the site were dragged 180 miles from quarries in the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, West Wales suggests a huge organisation – at a time when humans tended to live in small villages and the first recorded cities were only just beginning to develop in Mesopotamia.
But there may have been a city closer to home.
Dr Albert Lin believes he has uncovered the city where the builders of Stonehenge lived.
Just one mile away from Stonehenge lies the prehistoric settlement of Blick Mead which he thinks was one of the first cities in Europe, if not the world.
“Blick Mead was an important place for the early humans that roamed here, maybe even one of the first manifestations of a human city,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
His colleague, University of Buckingham professor David Jacques, says that recent excavations at the site have changed our understanding about how these prehistoric Britons lived: “At Blick Mead we found shed loads of stuff.
“Up until 2006 only 30 finds had ever been recovered from this period at any one site, and now we’re up to more than 70,000, so it’s been a total game-changer.”
“We’re talking about a very small area that people were coming to again and again and I think it was probably some sort of permanent settlement, so all our ideas of how hunter-gatherers move around in dispersed communities needs to be revised.
“This makes Stonehenge more interesting because it gives it a longer history, linking it back to people from the Mesolithic. Blick Mead really is the cradle of Stonehenge.”
The area was home to a prehistoric form of cattle called an aurochs which, archaeologists believe, was sacred to the people of the time, and the ditches around Stonehenge are filled with the bones of these supersize cows.
The results from the recent excavations are presented in a new documentary, Lost Cities, for the National Geographic channel.