Located in the county of Wiltshire, at the center of England's densest complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, Stonehenge has been the subject of myth, legend and -- more recently -- scientific research for more than eight centuries.
The mysterious circle of large standing stones has been interpreted in the most disparate ways -- as a temple for sun worship, a temple of the ancient druids, a healing center, a burial site and a huge calendar.
The new laser findings appear to be compatible with two main theories taking shape in recent years to explain the monument's purpose.
According to archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson, head of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, the iconic monument was built as a grand act of union after a long period of conflict between east and west Britain.
Another theory, posed by archaeologists Geoff Wainwright and Timothy Darvill, says Stonehenge was a destination to which the sick traveled from around Europe to be healed by its magical powers.
"The scanning work at Stonehenge is really important and has opened our eyes to many new aspects of Neolithic technology," Darvill, professor of archaeology in the School of Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University, England, told Discovery News.