London, Oct 10 : Throughout history, Stonehenge was used as a cremation cemetery, claims a new report.
Stonehenge, England's most famous ancient, has long been considered a monument that was about celebrating life or death.
For centuries, the origins and purposes of Stonehenge have eluded academics and historians and been the subject of much debate.
The circle of standing stones was originally through to have been erected in 2,600 BC, to replace an earlier wood and earth structure where cremation was carried out, reports the Telegraph.
Recently a BBC documentary suggested that the standing stones were not erected until 2,300BC, when the site became a centre of healing.
Now a team behind the latest dig suggest the standing stones were erected much earlier than previously thought, in 3,000 BC, and used for cremation burial throughout their history and not for healing.
The new finding comes from a team of archaeologists from a number of British universities who have been carrying out excavations over the past five summers.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project looked at remains found in an "Aubrey Hole", one of the pits where it was originally throught the wooden posts that predated the standing stones stood.
Crushed chalk was discovered leading the team to conclude that in fact standing stones had been erected in the holes much earlier than previously thought.
The report said: "We propose that very early in Stonehenge's history, 56 Welsh bluestones stood in a ring 285 feet 6 inches across. This has sweeping implications for our understanding of Stonehenge."
The second significant finding was from radiocarbon dating of human remains found on the site from between 2,300 and 3,000 BC. Researchers concluded that this meant cremation burial was going on long after the standing stones had been erected.
The report said: "Contrary to claims made in the recent BBC Timewatch film, which promoted a theory of Stonehenge as a healing centre built after the practice of cremation burial had ceased, standing stones and burial may have been prominent aspects of Stonehenge's meaning and purpose for a millennium."
Mike Pitts, one of the authors of the study and editor of British Archaelogy, said that the study overturned previous theory over Stonehenge.
"This means there were earlier connections with Wales, where the standing stones came from, than previously thought and that Stonehenge was always about death and ancestors and burial and not healing," he said.