Stonehenge Precursor Found? Island Complex Predates Famous Site
Scottish site also home to northern Europe's oldest painted walls.
First discovered in 2002, the waterside site—called the Ness of Brodgar ("Brodgar promontory")—lies on Mainland, the largest of Scotland's Orkney Islands (map).
According to recent radiocarbon dating of burned-wood remains, the Ness was first occupied around 3200 B.C. and went on to include up to a hundred buildings within a monumental walled enclosure.
By contrast, the earliest earthworks at Stonehenge date to about 3000 B.C. And it would be roughly another 500 years before the first of the famous stones were set on Salisbury Plain. (Interactive time line: "Stages of Stonehenge.")
In addition, ritual gatherings at the Ness of Brodgar may have foreshadowed feasts Stonehenge and similar sites such as Avebury.
"Orkney is one of the keys to understanding the