Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fascinating Find Near Stonehenge: The Boy with the Amber Necklace

Amber Boy,
A Neolithic Robert Pattinson
A group of scientists and researchers have gathered near Stonehenge in preparation for the the publication of a collection of research papers on Stonehenge. The following is one of the subjects under discussion:

Chemical tests on teeth from an ancient burial site containing the 3,550-year-old remains of a teenage boy wearing a unique necklace unearthed near Stonehenge indicate that the person buried there grew up around the Mediterranean Sea… A previous skeleton unearthed near Stonehenge was analyzed and was found to also be a migrant to the area.

Amber Beads or
Honeynut Cheerios
  The “Boy with the Amber Necklace,”* as he is known to archaeologists, was discovered in 2005, about three miles southeast of Stonehenge on Boscombe Down. The remains were found next to a Bronze Age burial mound, during construction of a road for military housing. The boy is around 14 to 15 years old and “is buried with this beautiful necklace,” said Professor Jane Evans, head of archaeological science for the British Geological Survey. “The position of his burial, the fact he’s near Stonehenge, and the necklace all suggest he’s of significant status.” Professor Evans compared the Stonehenge in the Bronze Age to Westminster Abbey today: a place where the “great and the good” were buried.

“Amber necklaces are not common finds,” Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, told BBC News. “Most archaeologists would say that when you find burials like this... people who can get these rare and exotic materials are people of some importance,” he said.

As tooth enamel forms in the first few years of childhood, it stores a chemical record of the environment in which the individual lives… Most oxygen in teeth and bone comes from drinking water, which is derived from rain or snow… Comparing the oxygen isotope ratio in teeth with that of drinking water from different regions can provide information about the climate in which a person grew up…

“We see the beginning of the Bronze Age as a period of great mobility across Europe. People, ideas, objects are all moving very fast for a century or two,” Fitzpatrick told BBC. “At the time when the boy with the amber necklace was buried, there are really no new technologies coming in [to Britain]... We need to turn to look at why groups of people - because this is a youngster - are making long journeys,” he said. “They may be traveling within family groups... They may be coming to visit Stonehenge because it was an incredibly famous and important place, as it is today. But we don’t know the answer,” Fitzpatrick speculated.

*The amber itself would have come from an area around the Baltic Sea.


  1. This is very interesting! I don't know much about Stonehenge, only the basics, so this news came as a surprise to me. They found a boy with a necklace near Stonehenge? So cool! This article was very good to read and I love to read about such things (I being a subscriber to National Geographic says enough, haha). Thanks for sharing, Mary!

  2. Great one Mary.
    I've read this too on the BBc website. People think of Stonehenge as just the ring of stones but it is set within a vast Neolithic landscape of burial mounds, wood henges, a workers settelement, akin to the slave villages on the Nile for the workers who worked on the Pyramids, hill forts, ceremonial avenues leading from the River Avon.Water was an important force and even a deity in Neolithic times. Votive objects have been found in the river bed.

    Stonehenge is only one part of a whole intricate system and may not been the most important part. Archaeologists will probably work on it forever. In recent years a large concerted archaeological project has been undergoing hence finds like the young boy.

    The first time I went to Stonehenge was when I was about 7 years of age. My mum and dad took me and my brother there for a day out. I've been many times since.The place draws you back.

  3. I didn't see Stonehenge on either visit to England. Another reason to go back. Thanks for all the info. :)

  4. Hi Irena, I was a subscriber to National Geographic for years and years. Excellent magazine. Thanks for commenting.