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'Superhenge' found hidden underground near famous Stonehenge site. -

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DAVID MARK: It's being dubbed "Superhenge".

Archaeologists believe they have found the remains of what they say is the largest prehistoric monument yet found in Britain.

What's more, it's been under their very noses buried a metre underground just a short distance from the famous world heritage site Stonehenge.

Nick Grimm reports.

NICK GRIMM: It measures half a kilometre wide and one a half kilometres in circumference.

The circular monument also lies just 3 kilometres from Stonehenge and is inside the Stonehenge world heritage site.

Its believed to have been made up of 100 standing stones, some four and a half metres tall, carefully arranged in a c-shaped pattern by someone four and half thousand years ago.

NICK SNASHALL: This is one of the discoveries in Britain for archaeology that is really up there.

NICK GRIMM: Dr Nick Snashall is an archaeologist with the Stonehenge world heritage site.

She told Britain's sky news the discovery expands the boundaries of their understanding of the lives of prehistoric humans.

NICK SNASHALL: It's one of the most important things that has been discovered in the last 20 or 30 years anywhere. It was completely unsuspected and it gives us a whole new chapter in the story.

NICK GRIMM: In fact "superhenge" as archaeologists are calling it has been hiding in plain sight..

They had long been aware of the massive man-made bank of earth known as "durrington walls".

It forms a natural amphitheatre, something archaeologists thought was significant in itself.

But the real surprise was in what lies beneath.

Professor Vince Gaffney from the University Of Bradford is lead researcher on the project. He's speaking here to the BBC.

VINCE GAFFNEY: We appear to have found a new monument, a new stone monument the like of which archaeology has never seen in Britain before. And the scale and the preservation is unique, and if that's the case, it is a massive contribution, not just to archaeology in a mundane sense, but to how the stone henge landscape is developed.

NICK GRIMM: The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has used ground penetrating radar to probe underneath the area which looks like an open meadow. That's how they discovered the remains of the stones that once ringed the site.

Researchers mapped the area by criss-crossing the ground with the radar device mounted on a quad bike.

Professor Gaffney again.

VINCE GAFFNEY: What we've been able to do is to look at every part of this huge monument, because you can't excavate it, and using the latest technology and being able to look underneath the banks and see what they hide.

And, we've been fantastically lucky because underneath the southern bank we appear to have found evidence for up to 100 standing stones of which at least 30 to 40 are still there. They've just been pushed over and a massive bank been placed on top of them. So for the best part of 4,500 years these have just been hidden, lost to archaeology and history. And we've just found them again.

NICK GRIMM: It's believed the site might have been used during Neolithic times for rituals or as some kind of arena.

But like its smaller cousin Stonehenge "super henge's" origins are a mystery that will continue to taunt and tantalise its researchers, and the many visitors who flock to the site to marvel at the monoliths.

One theory being advanced is that some of the stones that once stood at the Durrington Walls site might have been moved and used to build Stonehenge itself.

The rest were left behind toppled over and buried by earth.

Just why that was remains unpenetrable, despite the best of modern technology and 21st century understanding.

DAVID MARK: That report from Nick Grimm, who's had a busy day.