Parties at Stonehenge Rocked

Looking for a totally rad party-theme idea? One word: Stonehenge!
Looking for a totally rad party-theme idea? One word: Stonehenge!

About 4,500 years back, the celebrations enjoyed by visitors to the upright prehistoric-stone monument in Wiltshire, England, were “epic barbecues,” according to NPR’s The Salt blog.

New details about the revelry and feasts enjoyed by travelers to Stonehenge around the winter solstice, many of whom stayed at Durrington Walls, a village nearby, are starting to emerge, NPR reports, citing recent research published in the journal Antiquity.

A few key facts to know — especially if you’re planning to go all historically accurate at your next Late-Neolithic-period-themed bash:

1. Warn Your Vegan Friends to Eat Before They Arrive: The remains of animal bones and pottery shards unearthed in Durrington Walls, where the parties took place, indicated that the revelers probably consumed pork (from whole pigs spit-roasted over a fire) and beef stew (with meat from butchered cows cooked in pots) as their main courses.

2. Dairy Delights on the Side: Dairy products such as yogurt, milk or cheese were probably enjoyed as beverages or side dishes, study coauthor and archeologist Lisa-Marie Shillito, of Newcastle University in the U.K., told NPR.

3. Think Big, Think Banquet, Think BBQ: The animals that were consumed, as well as the celebrants, came from all over Britain, researchers say. (So the theme could work for a reunion.)

4. Till?: Durrington Walls was hot — at one time among the biggest Neolithic British settlements, boasting 1,000 residences and thousands of visitors — until it was not. For some reason, when Stonehenge was completed, the town of Durrington Walls had emptied out completely — with neither residents (likely the people who had built Stonehenge) nor visitors. "It's not clear why the site came to end," Shillito said.

5. Party with a Purpose?: Stonehenge scholar Tim Darvill, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University, in the U.K., who was not involved with Shillito’s study, suggests the village feasts may have been connected to rituals and celebrations at Stonehenge. "There's lots of stuff going on — just look at any big ceremonial structure,” Darvill told NPR. “Marriage vows being exchanged, funerals, good quality stone and flint being passed on."

All good reasons to party 2500 B.C. style as we look toward 2016.

Photo courtesy of iStock
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