Nearly 5,000 years ago, people dug a pit on King Barrow Ridge (2km east of Stonehenge) and carefully buried some objects: two extraordinary chalk plaques, carved pieces of chalk, animal bones, some sherds of Grooved Ware pottery and an antler pick. Known as ‘Chalk Plaque Pit’, and dating from between 2900 and 2580 BC, this pit might have been the site of a temporary settlement and the animal bones the remains of a feast. These plaques, decorated with incised lines and marks, are highly unusual and could be described as the earliest known art from the World Heritage Site. There are similar examples from other sites in Wiltshire including Durrington Walls and Butterfield Down. We don’t know what the decoration on the plaques meant, if anything, but the geometric and criss-crossed design resembles decoration found on Grooved Ware pottery and other objects of this date such as the finely decorated Folkton Drums from North Yorkshire. Caption: Susan Greaney (English Heritage)


  • Title: Carved Chalk Plaques
  • Location: Salisbury Museum, obj 529, on display at the Stonehenge visitor centre
  • Rights: Salisbury Museum

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