A team led by University of Manchester archaeologist Professor Julian Thomas has dated the Greater Stonehenge Cursus at about 3,500 years BC – 500 years older than the circle itself.
They were able to pinpoint its age after discovering an antler pick used to dig the Cursus – the most significant find since it was discovered in 1723 by antiquarian William Stukeley.
When the pick was carbon dated the results pointed to an age which was much older than previously thought – between 3600 and 3300 BC – and has caused a sensation among archeologists.
The “cursus” is a rectangular earthwork that is about 3,000 meters long and between 100 and 150 meters wide near Stonehenge. No one knows what they are for. This particular feature was first tested by J.F.S. Stone after World War II, and was established at that time as likely Neolithic. Stone then asserted based on artifacts found in his trenching that the cursus predated Stonehenge. However, all of the British ‘monuments’ as well as the continental megalithic and earthenworks sites were re-dated when radiocarbon dating became available.
The word “cursus” comes from latin “course” as in an athletic course. Early archaeologists thought these features were Roman race tracks or other athletic facilities.
The Stonehenge cursus is actually a bit odd because it is closed off, while others tend to be open at the end and thus seem to be a kind of pathway. This has led archaeologists to guess that the Stonehenge cursus is cursed. The cursed cursus.