London, September 11 : New research suggests that stone-age visitors to Britain's most famous historical monument, Stonehenge, brought cattle to the area from as far away as Wales or even the Scottish Highlands.
Research leader Dr. Jane Evans, from the British Geological Survey, has revealed that the research team came to this conclusion after analysing animal remains near the site.
During the study, the researchers tested the chemical fingerprint of cattle teeth found at Durrington Walls, a Neolithic monument built 500 years before Stonehenge.
Their analysis indicated that the animals might have been reared in areas of Wales or Scotland, which have high levels of the chemical element strontium in the soil.
The study also suggests that the area around Stonehenge was already an important national site long before it was built, and started to attract pilgrims from all over the British Isles.
"It looks like people were driving cattle to the area from a significant distance away. The area must have been an important place for rituals and gatherings long before the first stones were laid at Stonehenge itself," the Telegraph quoted Dr. Evans as saying.
"People are coming from considerable distances and dispersion in order to have feasts and were bringing their own food supplies for what must have been a kind of bring your own beef barbecue," the researcher added.
The fact that large numbers of animal remains have been found at the site suggests that it was a hotspot for feasts, say the researchers.
While making a presentation at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Evans revealed that the research group used teeth to examine where the cattle had come from because they absorbed strontium from soil through the grass they ate in the same way as teeth absorb calcium from food.