A piece of the enigmatic monument that has been missing for six decades has finally been returned.
The cylindrical fragment, which measures just over one meter long, was obtained by Robert Phillips of diamond cutting firm Van Moppes in 1958 when some of the cracked stones at the world-famous heritage site were being re-enforced with metal rods.
Phillips would end up taking the stone core with him when he emigrated to the United States but now, on the eve of his 90th birthday, he has finally asked for it to be returned to where it belongs.
“The last thing we ever expected was to get a call from someone in America telling us they had a piece of Stonehenge,” said Heather Sebire of English Heritage.
Given that it was taken from the middle of one of the stones, the missing piece is not as weathered as the monolith itself, making it ideal for study. Scientists hope that a detailed analysis could help to reveal more about precisely where the stones that make up Stonehenge originally came from.
“Studying the Stonehenge core’s ‘DNA’ could tell us more about where those enormous sarsen stones originated,” said Sebire.
Intriguingly, a total of three such cores were removed from the monument during the 1950s, meaning that two more of them are still out there in the hands of private owners.
Determining their whereabouts however is likely to prove a considerable challenge.