Nash – who is Professor of Physical Geography in the university’s School of Environment and Technology – and his team have been nominated after discovering major new details about one of Britain's most iconic ancient sites, Stonehenge. The global renown of the famous standing stones has led to his findings drawing media interest from around the world.
"It was a genuine surprise to be nominated for a Current Archaeology Award, and especially one as prestigious as 'Research Project of the Year',” said Professor Nash. “The fact that this award will be voted on by the public is even better."
The two-year investigation by Professor Nash's team discovered where most of the large stones that make up Stonehenge's iconic main sarsen circle and inner trilithon horseshoe came from. The team pinpointed their origin to West Woods on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, around 15 miles north of the famous stone circle on Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire.
Professor Nash's team turned to geochemistry to discover that 50 of the 52 sarsen stones at Stonehenge share a consistent chemistry, pointing strongly to a common source. By comparing the geochemical signature of small fragments of a core taken from one of the site's towering sarsen stones – Stone 58 – with data for stones across southern Britain, Nash and his team were able to pinpoint the source to West Woods.