Feeding Stonehenge: cuisine and consumption at the Late Neolithic site of Durrington Walls

Oliver E. Craiga1, Lisa-Marie Shillitoa1a2, Umberto Albarellaa3, Sarah Viner-Danielsa3, Ben Chana3a4, Ros Cleala5, Robert Ixera6, Mandy Jaya7, Pete Marshalla8, Ellen Simmonsa3, Elizabeth Wrighta3 and Mike Parker Pearsona6

a1 BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK (Email:

a2 School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

a3 Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, Northgate House, West Street, Sheffield S1 4ET, UK

a4 Laboratory for Artefact Studies, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, Postbus 9514 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands

a5 Alexander Keiller Museum, High Street, Avebury, Marlborough SN8 1RF, UK

a6 Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31–34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK

a7 Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Evolution, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

a8 Historic England, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138–142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2ST, UK


The discovery of Neolithic houses at Durrington Walls that are contemporary with the main construction phase of Stonehenge raised questions as to their interrelationship. Was Durrington Walls the residence of the builders of Stonehenge? Were the activities there more significant than simply domestic subsistence? Using lipid residue analysis, this paper identifies the preferential use of certain pottery types for the preparation of particular food groups and differential consumption of dairy and meat products between monumental and domestic areas of the site. Supported by the analysis of faunal remains, the results suggest seasonal feasting and perhaps organised culinary unification of a diverse community.

(Received August 26 2014)

(Accepted November 13 2014)

(Revised December 02 2014)


  • UK;
  • Stonehenge;
  • Neolithic;
  • feasting;
  • isotopic lipid residue analysis;
  • public and private consumption