Press Releases

Wales' most famous export?

A Bronze Age grave discovered in Boscombe Down, near Stonehenge, has revealed that the some of the builders of the ancient ceremonial site were Welsh.

The grave was found last year during road improvement works by QinetiQ employee and archaeologist Colin Kirby followed by research and tests by Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, Wessex Archaeology.

Archaeologists are calling the men 'the Boscombe Bowmen' because of the flint arrowheads in the grave. Dr Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology said: "The Boscombe Bowmen, a band of brothers, must almost certainly be linked with the bringing of the bluestones to Stonehenge. With the discovery that the Amesbury Archer came from central Europe, these finds are casting the first light on an extraordinary picture at the dawn of the metal age".

The Bowmen's teeth provided an essential clue to where they came from. As the enamel forms on children's teeth, it locks in a chemical fingerprint of where they grew up. Tests by scientists of the British Geological Survey on the strontium isotopes in the Bowmen's teeth show that they grew up in a place where the rocks are very radioactive. This was either in the Lake District or Wales. The men's teeth also all have the same pattern, showing that they migrated between the ages of 3 and 13.

Adam Gwilt, Curator, NMGW said: "This is a great story for Wales. Using this exciting new technique we are beginning to see the long distances over which people travelled during the Bronze Age. Transporting the Preseli bluestones to this sacred place was a monumental achievement!"

The stones brought from the Preseli Hills 250 km away in south west Wales are called the bluestones because of their colour. It still remains a mystery as to how the huge blue stones from the Welsh mountains were dragged 200 miles to the ancient ceremonial site.

Dr Fitzpatrick will reveal more about this new and exciting discovery, during a lunch time talk at the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff on Wednesday 23 June. The Amesbury Archer is featured in the Buried Treasure exhibition currently on show at the museum.