Six aligned standing stones have been discovered on a building site in Sion, southwest Switzerland, in what local authorities call an important archaeological find.
“This discovery is of prime importance to help us understand social rituals at the end of the Neolithic period (around 2,500BC) in central Europe,” says a press releaseexternal link from canton Valais’s buildings, monuments and archaeology department.
The find was made by chance during work for a new residential building in the Petit-Chasseur quarter of the cantonal capital Sion. This is the same area where, in the 1960s, several dolmens (collective tombs) and some 30 standing stones were found.
Three of the recently found standing stones are engraved with markings. The biggest find is a stone weighing nearly two tonnes bearing a representation of a male figure wearing geometrically patterned clothing and with a sun-like motif around his face.
One of the stones also has a number of small circular depressions on its surface, something that has not been found before in Valais but has been found at a site near Aosta in Italy.
According to the press release, some of the stones were observed to have been deliberately broken, raising the question as to whether parts of them were used to construct dolmens previously found in the same area. The question remains open, the authors say, but this find will “allow us to revisit or to complete the puzzle opened in 1961 when a dolmen was found […] some 400 metres from the current finds”.