English Heritage

Neolithic Prototype House Project - 2013

The overall aim of the "prototype" is to develop a solution for the permanent construction of the dwellings at the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre in the spring of 2014.

To support this work in late 2012 English Heritage invited volunteers (like myself) to apply to participate in the "Neolithic Prototype House Project".

The aim of the prototype stage of the project was to build three houses at Old Sarum based on floor plans obtained from excavations at Durrington Walls in 2006-07. Durrington Walls is a large henge feature just north of Amesbury and east of Stonehenge - it is thought to be the base were the people of Stonehenge lived. No one really knows how the houses were built or what they looked like apart from what evidence was left in the ground at Durrington. This included a chalk floor, a hearth and the holes left by the perimeter posts of the wals of the dwelling. From these holes, their width, depth and spacing an educated guess can be made of the wall construction types, roof and other features. Part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project was to experiment with alternative approaches and possible solutions used by our ancestors.

The work was led by the Ancient Technology Centre based in Cranborne, Dorset on behalf of English Heritage.

Part I: Materials Gathering

In early 2013 those applicants living near Salisbury were invited to gather materials for the construction phase. This took place in late January and early February in Dorset.

This work is described more as outlined below:

Location Topic
Garston Woods & Nr Alderholt Material Gathering Article
Garston Woods & Nr Alderholt Material Gathering Gallery

Part II: House Building & Testing

From early March 2013 work started on the three houses at Old Sarum and lasted nine weeks. Their positions (floor, hearth, furniture locations and post holes) were marked out according to the Durrington Walls site records and with the same orientation.

This work is described more as outlined below:

Location Topic
Old Sarum House Building Article
Old Sarum House Building Gallery


Ancient Technology Centre Materials Gathering Phase
English Heritage: Plans for Stonehenge.
English Heritage: Neolithic Houses page
English Heritage: Neolithic Houses - blog.
English Heritage: Video of the houses being built

Updated KM
24 April 2017