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In Photos: Excavating a Mysterious Ancient Structure

Monmouth Site

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

Researchers discovered the remains of an ancient, still unknown, structure in Monmouth, Wales — a town known for its rich archaeological features. "Whatever it is, there's nothing else like it. It may well be unique," said Steve Clarke, chairman and founding member of the Monmouth Archaeological Society. (Shown here the site from the south.)

Before Excavation

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

The Monmouth site with the first timber slot (the timber beams have since decayed, leaving behind clay-filled trenches) before excavation.

Ancient Lake

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

The timbers seem to be lined up with the middle of an ancient lake (part of which is shown here), suggesting the structures may have been part of a causeway to a crannog, or artificial island, constructed in the middle of the lake.

Timber!

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

The researchers think the structures' builders may have cut whole trees in half lengthwise, as the beams are so huge. Shown here, the smallest of the three beams.

Smallest Slot

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

Another shot of the smallest of the three beams, which the researchers had first thought may have been sleeper beams. However, they seem too big to have been used to form the foundation of a house.

Timber Trenches

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

The western side of the site with the timber-beam slots continuing beyond the excavation. So far the researchers have found they extend at least 50 feet long.

Excavation Continues

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

The lower (Eastern) part of the Monmouth site with the timber slots highlighted. The researchers are continuing their excavation of the site, which may date to the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago, though more likely from the Iron Age, the researchers say.

From Above

A archaeological site in Wales

(Image credit: Steve Clarke)

An aerial photo of the Monmouth site where archaeologists are excavating the mysterious structure.