King’s Lynn in Norfolk played host to the year’s oddest cultural occasions yesterday, as a 1.5 ton tree stump was lowered into the town’s Lynn Museum. But it was no ordinary stump: the giant piece of oak was once the centrepoint for 4,000-year-old Seahenge, an ancient circle of wooden posts discovered off the coast of Holme in 1998.
The move is the last major event before the completed henge goes on display at the museum this summer in a replica of its original surroundings. Almost 50,000 people have visited the posts since they were first exhibited there in 2008. Each stump has been preserved by the same team that worked on restoring the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s famous warship, yet the stump took longer to save thanks to its 8ft size.
“It’s great to see the stump being reunited with the remainder of the timber circle after all these years they’re been apart and great to see the timbers back together in West Norfolk,” says area museums officer Dr Robin Hanley. “We’ve been extremely pleased with the response to the displays, a lot of people have been inspired by the preservation of the timbers and have enjoyed being able to see them in such detail. To be able to get so close to 4,000-year-old timbers and see individual axe marks left by Bronze Age axes is extraordinary.”
The 1999 decision to excavate Seahenge has come under fire from a number of groups, not least modern Druids who once mounted the stump to prevent its removal. Druid groups argue such moves desecrate the sanctity of ancient landmarks. Stonehenge has become the centre for Druid protest in recent years, with issues ranging from access to the stones to the removal of human remains (Click here to watch a special video on Stonehenge at Spring Equinox).
Seahenge was built in the spring of 2049BC, around 300 years after Stonehenge. It was preserved for so many years thanks to a thick layer of peat, yet tidal surges exposed it twelve years ago. There are many more henges in Britain: check out this interactive map to see some of the better ones.
The Lynn Museum is currently closed to the public while the exhibition is set up. Click here for more details.