Part of 4,000-year-old Seahenge to go on display at British Museum

archaeologists uncoveing Seahenge at Holme next to th sea , removing the mud that surrounds the timb

Archaeologists uncovering Seahenge at Holme, removing the mud that surrounded the timber structure, exposed at low tide. - Credit: Steve Adams

Part of a 4,000-year-old timber circle found on the Norfolk coast 23 years ago is set to go on display at the British Museum.

The World of Stonehenge will include timbers from the monument, dubbed Seahenge, which was found at Holme, near Hunstanton, in 1998.

The exhibition, which will feature 430 objects and artefacts, will run from February 17 to July 17 next year.

It will tell the story of the mysterious stone circle in Wiltshire.

A key part of the collection is the timber structure, nicknamed the Stonehenge of the Sea after it reemerged in 1998.

The full structure consists of a large upturned tree stump surrounded by 54 wooden posts.

The oak posts, some up to three metres tall, form a 6.6m-diameter circle around the upturned oak, creating a giant tree-like spectacle.

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A narrow entranceway was built aligning to the rising midsummer sun and it is speculated the monument was used for ritual purposes.

The exhibition at the British Museum will include roughly 15 of the timbers, though the central stump will remain at Lynn museum, where it is displayed.

The Seahenge central stump has now been installed at Lynn Museum. Pictured: looking at the Seahenge

The Seahenge central stump has now been installed at Lynn Museum. Pictured: looking at the Seahenge central stump in Lynn Museum is project manager Hannah Jackson.PHOTO: IAN BURTCOPY:Chris BishopFOR:EDP NewsEDP pics © 2010(01603)772434 - Credit: IAN BURT

Dr Jennifer Wexler, project curator of the World of Stonehenge at the British Museum, said: "If Stonehenge is one of the world's most remarkable surviving ancient stone circles, then Seahenge is the equivalent in timber.

"But as it was only rediscovered in 1998, it is still relatively unknown.

"We know about some aspects of the monument, including that it was constructed in the spring and summer of 2049 BC, from mighty oaks.

"But there's much that still eludes us, including exactly what it was used for.

Seahenge on the North Norfolk coast. The Norfolk Archaeological Unit, which became NAU Archaeology,

Seahenge on the North Norfolk coast. The Norfolk Archaeological Unit, which became NAU Archaeology, worked on the site. Pic: Norfolk Archaeological Unit. - Credit: � Norfolk Archaeological Unit

"Perhaps the central upturned trunk was used in funerary rituals to support a dead body. Perhaps entering the circular shrine brought worshippers closer to the otherworld."

Seahenge comes to the British Museum from the Norfolk Museums Service and is the first time it has ever gone on loan.

Stonehenge was built 4,500 years ago around the same time as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

According to the British Museum, nearly two-thirds of the objects going on display in the exhibition will be loans, with artefacts coming from 35 lenders across the UK, the Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland.

The majority of the items have never been seen in the UK before.
Tickets for the exhibition are now on sale.

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