Stonehenge’s missing core returned to UK after 60 years

  08 May 2019    Read: 1041
Stonehenge’s missing core returned to UK after 60 years

The piece was removed decades ago after conservation work on the site of one of the world’s most famous monuments and thought to be lost. It turned up in the US after a former employee of the firm that drilled the mysterious circle made up his mind to return the missing piece on the eve of his 90th birthday.

A core piece, taken from one of Stonehenge’s stones during excavations in 1958, will return to the UK after being missing for decades, Sky reports. The stone is expected to help researchers shed light on the history of Stonehenge as this part was shielded from erosive weather conditions, like the sun or rain.  

"Studying the Stonehenge core's 'DNA' could tell us more about where those enormous sarsen stones originated”, curator for Stonehenge Heather Sebire told the British broadcaster. 

She revealed that getting a call from someone in America, saying that they had a Stonehenge piece, was “the last thing we ever expected”. The surprise came from the Philips’ family living in the US, whose patriarch had worked for Basingstoke diamond-cutting business Van Moppes who conducted the drilling on the famous stone circle 60 years ago. 

The conservation work done back then was to raise a fallen complex of two vertical stones and one top horizontal stone, called trilithon. One of the metre-thick upright stones had cracked, so the workers had to drill three 32mm holes to reinforce it with metal rods. The cores, carved out, were believed to have disappeared into thin air. 

However, it turned out that at least one of them had been taken by Van Moppes’ employee Robert Phillips, who kept the artifact in his office and brought it across the pond when he later emigrated. He said that he decided to return the missing piece to its homeland on the eve of his 90th birthday.

"Our father has always been interested in archaeology and he recognised the huge importance of the piece of the monument in his care. It was his wish that it be returned to Stonehenge”, Lewis Phillips said.

Now, English Heritage is encouraging anyone who knows the whereabouts of two missing stones get in touch if these pieces have survived.


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