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Stonehenge mystery solved: Stonehenge circle mystery solved by short water hose?

The baffling and unsettled mysteries of Stonehenge are many – but one long-thought supposition can now be closed and considered solved: Stonehenge was indeed a complete circle, as experts always suggested. The Neolithic site in Wiltshire, England, thought to be 4 to 5 millenniums old, is one of the most famous standing stone, earthworks site on the planet. And thanks to what we might call a lazy groundskeeper, we now know more about the renowned monument.

People gather to watch the Summer Solstice sunrise at Stonehenge on June 21, 2014 in Wiltshire, England.
Photo by Tim Ireland/Getty Images

Writes RawStory: “One of the many mysteries of Stonehenge may have been solved, not because of a brilliant scientific breakthrough or thanks to painstaking research, but after a maintenance team’s hosepipe turned out to be a little short. Archaeologists have long argued over whether the ancient monument was once a perfect circle or if it was always, as it is now, an incomplete ring.”

Groundskeeper Tim Daw, who has the task of keeping the grass green around the monoliths, was using a hose that was a little too short to reach the incomplete side of the ring. Rather than purchase an extension or a longer hose, he simply stopped watering the western side of the site as much.

His oversight, however, coupled with a very dry summer, produced what Daw described as a “light bulb moment.” He says:

“I was standing on the public path looking at the grass near the stones and thinking that we needed to find a longer hosepipe to get the parched patches to green up,” Daw recounts. “I remembered that the marks were where archaeologists had looked without success for signs that there had been stone holes. I called my colleague over and he saw them and realized their possible significance as well. Not being archaeologists we called in the professionals to evaluate them.”

Daw and his crew were quite pleased that as humble caretakers, they were able to deliver a noteworthy find.

“I am still amazed and very pleased that simply really looking at something, that tens of thousands of people had unwittingly seen, can reveal secrets that sophisticated machinery can’t,” Daw said.

Raw Story, reporting from UK’s The Guardian, wrote:

The professionals duly took charge. Aerial photographs were hurriedly commissioned (before the rain could come and remove the brown patches) and the scorch marks on the western side of the Wiltshire site were carefully mapped. Some of the brown patches indeed tallied with where stones would have stood if the circle was a complete one.

Susan Greaney, senior properties historian for English Heritage, said the accidental discovery was “really significant.”

“It shows us just how much we still have to learn about Stonehenge. It’s great that people who know the site really well and look at it every day were able to spot these parch marks and recognize them for what they were,” she said.