SHEFFIELD, England, May 31 (UPI) -- British researchers said radiocarbon dating suggests Stonehenge was used as a cemetery for about 500 years after it was built around 3,000 B.C.
University of Sheffield archeologists Mike Parker-Pearson and Andrew Chamberlain said the cremation burials could represent the deaths of a single elite family or ruling dynasty.
It was previously thought that Stonehenge was only used as a cemetery between 2700 B.C. and 2600 B.C., the university said in a release.
Archaeologists estimate that up to 240 people were buried within Stonehenge.
"I don't think it was the common people getting buried at Stonehenge -- it was clearly a special place at that time," said Parker-Pearson, head of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. "One has to assume anyone buried there had some good credentials."
The Stonehenge Riverside Project is funded by the National Geographic Society and Arts and Humanities Research Council, with support from English Heritage, the university said.