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Within a 3-mile (5-km) radius of Stonehenge there remain from the Neolithic Period at least 17 long barrows (burial mounds) and two cursus monuments (long enclosures), all dating to the 4th millennium Aubrey Holes, named after John Aubrey, who identified them in 1666.
The ditch of the enclosure is flanked on the inside by a high bank and on the outside by a low bank, or counterscarp.
A large, deep hole was dug within the stone circle in 1620 by George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham, who was looking for treasure.
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The Stonehenge that is visible today is incomplete, many of its original bluestones having been broken up and taken away, probably during Britain’s Roman and medieval periods.
The ground within the monument also has been severely disturbed, not only by the removal of the stones but also by digging—to various degrees and ends—since the 16th century, when historian and antiquarian William Camden noted that “ashes and pieces of burnt bone” were found.
About half of Stonehenge (mostly on its eastern side) was excavated in the 20th century by the archaeologists William Hawley, in 1919–26, and Richard Atkinson, in 1950–78.
The results of their work were not fully published until 1995, however, when the chronology of Stonehenge was revised extensively by means of carbon-14 dating.
In 1877 Charles Darwin dug two holes in Stonehenge to investigate the earth-moving capabilities of earthworms.
The first proper archaeological excavation was conducted in 1901 by William Gowland.
Although most experts consider these Welsh stones to have been brought by human agency, some geologists argue that they might have been carried toward the Salisbury Plain thousands of years earlier by ice-age glaciers.
The Heelstone, a large unworked sarsen outside the northeastern entrance, also may have been erected during the first stage of Stonehenge, if not earlier.
A source for one of the rhyolites, however, was identified in 2011 as Pont Saeson, north of the Preselis.