Stonehenge
What we see at Stonehenge is 'second-hand', according to Professor Mike Parker PearsonGetty

A new study has suggested that the iconic Stonehenge may have been built in Wales and moved to its current location in Wiltshire some 500 years later. The discovery of a series of holes cut into rocks at the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire in south-west Wales has archaeologists excited by the possibility that the prehistoric monument was once dismantled and moved on a 140-mile journey.

The holes have been dated back to between 3400BC and 3200BC, but the site at Wiltshire was not established until 2900BC. The holes at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin – just north of the Preseli Hills – match the shape and size of the giant stones at Stonehenge.

Mike Parker Pearson, professor of British later prehistory at University College London (UCL), told the Guardian: "It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that's pretty improbable in my view. It's more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.

"But we think it's more likely that they were building their own monument [in Wales], that somewhere near the quarries there is the first Stonehenge and that what we're seeing at Stonehenge is a second-hand monument."

In addition, the team, which consists of academics from UCL, Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton universities, says that it found stones which were potentially left by the ancient walkers which could have been used as a type of "loading bay" area.

Speaking of the findings, which were published in Antiquity magazine, Parker Pearson added: "Three metres above us were the bases of these monoliths that were actually sitting there ready simply to be lowered out of their recesses.

"It's the Ikea of Neolithic monument building. The nice thing about these particular outcrops is that the rock has formed 480 million years ago as pillars. So prehistoric people don't have to go in there and bash away ... All they have to do is get wedges into the cracks. You wet the wedge, it swells and the stone pops off the rock."