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The Cursus

Stonehenge Cursus is a mysterious ancient earthwork located near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

Constructed around 3,400 BC, the Stonehenge Cursus is considered one of the world’s oldest monuments.

Despite its age, the purpose and function of the Cursus remain a mystery.

This article will explore the Cursus’ history, archaeology, purpose and discuss the implications of the Cursus for our understanding of the ancient world.

Location of Stonehenge Cursus

The Stonehenge Cursus, otherwise known as the Greater Cursus is a long set of banks and ditches that runs for 1 3/4 miles in an east-west direction. 

It lies in the same area as Stonehenge. 

The banks and ditches are spaced between 100 and 150 m apart, with the ditch on the outside of the banks. 

The total height of the ditch and bank combined is approximately 1.5 m. 

At the western end of the Cursus, the ditch is higher and at the eastern end, there is a long barrow. 

The Lesser Cursus is located a few hundred yards northwest of the Stonehenge Cursus.

Uncovering the meaning behind the name “Cursus”

The Latin word ‘Cursus’ was first used by William Stukeley, an English antiquarian, in the early 1700s to refer to a racetrack or hippodrome. 

Stukeley was the first to identify and describe this structure and he sought to explain its meaning and purpose. 

Stukeley had previously been on a Grand Tour of Europe. He had seen the Circus Maximus in Rome and thought Cursus had been used for chariot racing. 

This seemed a logical assumption, given its shape and dimensions. 

However, it should be noted that the Romans were in Britain some 2,000 years ago, while the Cursus were constructed 3,500 years before their arrival. 

Some have postulated that the Cursus may have been a landing strip for aliens, but its proper use is believed to have been ceremonial or ritual. 

This is a term used by archaeologists to denote a structure or object whose purpose they cannot determine.

Visiting Stonehenge Cursus

The Cursus lies on publicly accessible land owned by the National Trust. 

It is challenging to observe the ancient monument from the ground but best viewed from the air. 

Although the airspace is mainly under the control of the military, it is possible to gain access. 

When viewing Stonehenge, the Cursus is located to the northwest and is visible as a set of barrows (burial mounds) running from left to right. 

To reach the Cursus, one must walk past the barrows and within approximately 100 yards.

Featured Image: Wikipedia.org

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