Excavations have uncovered three holes where missing stones would have stood on the outer sarsen circle, evidence, it is believed, that the circle was indeed once complete. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated surveys failed to spot them. Two members of staff noticed dry areas of grass, or parchmarks.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson said: “The problem is we’ve not had a decent dry summer in many years. Stonehenge is always regularly watered, and the only reason these have shown up is because – for some reason this year – their hose was too short … So we’re very lucky.”

In addition excavation of the now closed A344 road revealed, just below the surface of the tarmac, natural lines created by Ice Age meltwater that happen to point directly at the mid-winter sunset in one direction and the mid-summer sunrise in the other and which have previously been cited as the reason for the alignment of both The Avenue leading to the monument and of the stones themselves.

Periglacial striations (and later workings) previously revealed in 2008. [Image credit: Jim Mitchell, Heritage Action]

Periglacial striations (and later workings) previously revealed in 2008 by The Riverside Project [Image credit: Jim Mitchell, Heritage Action]

 “The reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we  think” said Prof Parker Pearson “is because they actually saw this in the land.”