Bring-your-own-beef barbecues in stone age?

September 12th, 2008 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 12 (IANS) Animal remains at a site near Britain’s Stonehenge region suggest that Neolithic people from as far away as Wales had brought their own livestock to barbecue at cultural events.Stone age people drove animals hundreds of miles to a site close to Stonehenge to be slaughtered for ritual feasts, according to scientists who have examined the chemical signatures of animal remains buried there, The Guardian reported.

The research suggests that Neolithic people travelled further than archaeologists had previously realised in order to attend cultural events.

Durrington Walls is a stone age village containing the remains of numerous cattle and pigs that are thought to have been buried there after successive ritual feasts.

The site is two miles northeast of Stonehenge and dates from around 3000 BC, 500 years before the first stones were erected.

“We are looking at communication networks and rituals that are bringing people from a large area of southern England to the Stonehenge area before the Stonehenge stones were in place,” said Jane Evans at the British Geological Survey in Nottingham.

“I think what we are seeing is basically a sort of bring-your-own-beef barbecue at Durrington Walls.”

The evidence points to groups of people driving animals from as far away as Wales for the feast events.

Evans’ team analysed the strontium content in the enamel of teeth from the cattle remains. The ratio of different atomic forms or ‘isotopes’ of the element gives an indication of where the animals were raised.

“What you eat has a strontium isotope composition dependent on where it was grown. Broadly speaking the older the rocks the higher the strontium values,” she said.

Only one animal was raised on the chalk-lands around Stonehenge, the rest came from much farther away.

Although archaeologists believe the stones that make up Stonehenge came from Wales, the new evidence suggests that people were travelling long distances to visit the site much earlier.

There was no farming in and around Durrington Walls at the time, so travellers brought their own animals for eating at feasts.

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