This overhead photo of the burned rock midden at the Higgins site clearly shows the dark-stained central cooking pit and the large rocks representing the remains of a large earth oven.

There is no evidence that the circle had a particular orientation or even an entrance.

Soil that fell into the holes when the stones were removed was full of charcoal, showing that plenty of wood was burned here.

Within the next few months, radiocarbon dating of these antler picks will provide more precise dates and reveal whether the circle was built at the same time as Stonehenge itself (in the decades after 3000 BC) or at some other time.

In the meantime, the discovery of this unknown stone circle may well be exciting confirmation of the Stonehenge Riverside Project’s theory that the River Avon linked a ‘domain of the living’ – marked by timber circles and houses upstream at the Neolithic village of Durrington Walls (discovered by the Project in 2005) – with a ‘domain of the dead’ marked by Stonehenge and this new Bluestonehenge circle.

Archaeologists know that after this date Stonehenge consisted of some 80 Welsh blue stones and 83 local sarsen stones.

Some of the bluestones that once stood at the riverside probably now stand within the centre of Stonehenge.

Furthermore, it offers tremendous insight into the history of its famous neighbour.

Its riverside location demonstrates once again the importance of the River Avon in Neolithic funerary rites and ceremonies.” The builders of the stone circle used deer antlers as pickaxes.

It is compelling evidence that this stretch of the River Avon was central to the religious lives of the people who built Stonehenge.