Hundreds of 'magical' rock crystals were recently found at Stone Age ceremonial site in western England, suggesting they were used to decorate graves by Neolithic people thousands of years ago. These fragments are made up of a rare translucent quartz called "rock crystal" and were most likely brought to the spot from a source around 80 miles away. The rock crystal was broken down into smaller fragments during some sort of a community gathering to see exactly what was considered this magical material.
According to Nick Overton, an archaeologist at The University of Manchester in England, finding the rare material is considered a "really special event." He continued, "It feels like they're putting a lot of emphasis on the practice of working [the crystal] … people would have remembered it as being distinctive and different." The stone is almost completely transparent but gives off a sudden flash of light when it comes into contact with something, which must have made it easier to break into much smaller fragments. "If you bash two of these crystals together, they emit little flashes of bluish light, which is really fascinating," Overton explained. Overton has previously discovered over 300 of these unique quartz crystals at a 6,000-year-old ceremonial site at Dorstone Hill in western England near the monument, Arthur's Stone. Dorstone Hill is home to "Halls of the Dead," three timber buildings that were destroyed and replaced with burial mounds in Neolithic times.
Researchers believe the monuments at both Arthur's Stone and Dorstone Hill were part of the New Stone Age or early Neolithic ceremonial landscape that was created around 5,000 years ago. Legend has it that Arthur's Sone is somehow linked to the mythical King Arthur story, but the timeline doesn't 100% match up!
Absolutely delighted that our new paper on #Neolithic Rock Crystal from Dorstone Hill is now out #OpenAccess in Cambridge Archaeological Journal #Archaeology #Prehistory https://t.co/jZ6IznoUkz @RoviraGarcia @julesbirch72 @UoMCAHAE @UoMArchaeology @CUHistArchRel 🧵1/9 pic.twitter.com/HylnecgNFL— Nick Overton (@ArchaeOverton) August 10, 2022
When the first pieces of crystal were uncovered, according to Overton, they were scattered all around Dorstone Hill but mostly sat in the burial mounds and were used as "grave goods." However, they were mistaken for glass at first, but once they realized how transparent they were, they knew right away they had found something, and boy did they!