ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Dorset are embarking on the second phase of their experimental work as part of a new visitor centre at the world-famous Stonehenge.

Staff from Dorset County Council’s Ancient Technology Centre (ATC) in Cranborne, have been commissioned by English Heritage to build five authentic Neolithic houses and help discover how people may have lived in the late Stone Age.

Working at the new visitor centre at Stonehenge near Salisbury, the ATC team (with the help of English Heritage volunteers) will construct the houses using the same tools and materials as their prehistoric counter-parts.

Earlier this year, ATC staff designed and built three prototype Neolithic houses at Old Sarum to understand which materials and methods would work best.

The work was carried out by over 60 English Heritage volunteers using a range of Neolithic tools, materials and construction methods to produce buildings based on 4600-year-old evidence from the excavated site of Durrington Walls.

And based on their experience from building the prototypes, they will now construct five buildings that will form part of the new visitor centre, which opened on December 18.

Starting on January 27, they will have just 12 weeks to construct the houses and fit them out to form part of the visitor centre’s outdoor gallery, due to open in April.

ATC manager Luke Winter, who is leading the project, said: “These Neolithic buildings will be seen by over one million visitors to Stonehenge every year.

“Each house will be different and will bring history to life.”

The Ancient Technology Centre is an educational facility which provides an opportunity for children to experience the life in the past.

Coun Toni Coombs, Cabinet member for education at Dorset County Council, said: “Staff at the Ancient Technology Centre beat off strong competition from other organisations.

“We hope that more schools will visit the centre in Cranborne and learn about history through unique, hands-on experience.”

For information about the ATC and the Stonehenge project, go to