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Stonehenge era statue is most important UK archaeological discovery for 100 years

A new exhibition will unravel the secrets of the ancient British landmark
A new exhibition will unravel the secrets of the ancient British landmark   -   Copyright  British Museum
By Tim Gallagher  with AFP

Archaeologists who unearthed a statue in the UK have made the most important prehistoric discovery in a century, according to the British museum.

The chalk drum (not a musical instrument), which is 5,000-year-old, dates back to the period when stonehenge was built and will go on display as part of a new exhibition on the Neolithic site opening later this month.

Similarities between this and other finds at disparate locations in the UK show a unification of culture across the territory at the time.

"It is truly a remarkable find, it is the most important piece of prehistoric art found in Britain in the past 100 years," said Neil Wilkin, curator of the exhibition.

According to the museum, this drum is "one of the most elaborately decorated objects of this period found anywhere in Britain and Ireland". Its style resonates with the objects of Stonehenge.

Ancient Celtic culture in the UK

The decorated cylinder was discovered in the tomb of three children, whose hands are touching. It was placed just above the eldest child's head, along with a chalk ball and a needle made from polished bone.

The discovery was made about 384 kilometers from Stonehenge, near the village of Burton Agnes in the north of England.

A comparable bullet and needles had been found at Stonehenge and around the site, suggesting that people in Britain and Ireland shared "artistic styles, and probably beliefs, at remarkable distances", the report said.

The museum's collection includes three similar drums found in 1889 in a child's burial about 24 kilometers from the last discovery. These three objects, known as the Folkton Drums, are among "the most famous and enigmatic ancient objects ever found in excavations in Britain", according to the museum.

They were created around the same time as the first phase of the construction of Stonehenge, between 3005 and 2890 BC.