Stonehenge discovery could rewrite British pre-history

20 12 2014

The most important discovery at Stonehenge for a generation could be destroyed by David Cameron’s plan to build a tunnel at the World Heritage Site

David Cameron announced plans to route the A303 into a tunnel to take traffic away from the world heritage site of Stonehenge Photo: AP

David Cameron announced plans to route the A303 into a tunnel to take traffic away from the world heritage site of Stonehenge Photo: AP

Archaeologists have discovered the earliest settlement at Stonehenge – but the Mesolithic camp could be destroyed if government plans for a new tunnel go ahead.

Charcoal dug up from the ‘Blick Mead’ encampment, a mile and a half from Stonehenge, dates from around 4,000BC. It is thought the site was originally occupied by hunter gatherers returning to Britain after the Ice Age, when the country was still connected to the continent.

Experts say the discovery could re-write history in prehistoric Britain.

There is also evidence of feasting – burnt flints and remains of giant bulls – aurochs – as well as flint tools.

The dig has also unearthed evidence of possible structures, but the site could be destroyed if plans for a 1.8 mile tunnel go ahead.

Earlier this month David Cameron, the prime minister, visited Stonehenge, in Amesbury, Wiltshire and announced plans to duel the A303 and build a new tunnel to take traffic away from the world heritage site.

But archaeologists want more time to assess the importance of the site and record new findings.

“The PM is interested in re-election in 140 days – we are interested in discovering how our ancestors lived six thousand years ago,” said archaeologist David Jacques, who made the discovery on a dig for the University of Buckingham.

“British pre-History may have to be rewritten. This is the latest dated Mesolithic encampment ever found in the UK.


A shard of bone found at the site

“Blick Mead site connects the early hunter gatherer groups returning to Britain after the Ice Age to the Stonehenge area all the way through to the Neolithic in the late 5th Millennium BC.

“Britain is beginning across this time period. Blick Mead connects a time when the country was still joined to the mainland to it becoming the British Isles for the first time.”

The experts believe that the site could show the Stonehenge was built as a monument to the ancestors of Neolithic Britons.

“Our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain’s history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead,” added Mr Jacques.

A previous dig at the site, led by the University of Buckingham, revealed Amesbury is the longest continually-occupied place in the country. They discovered that frogs’ legs from 7,000 years ago were a delicacy here long before the French took a liking to them.

Archaeologists believe that early Britons were drawn to the site because of a natural spring. A The combination of a water of a constant temperature and a rare algae also produced the only colour-changing stones, which change from brown to pink, found at any archaeological site in the country.

Professor Tim Darvill, of Bournemouth University has described this as “This is the most important discovery at Stonehenge in over 60 years.”

Experts are calling on the government to rethink plans to build on the critically important landscape.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, of Amesbury and chairman of the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, added: “Traffic congestion to one of the country’s most visited attractions will not be solved by a tunnel with one exit lane – the current tailback can extend five miles and can take two hours to get through.

“Any tunnel would need to be motorway standard, and even with four lanes there would still be tailbacks.

“A much more practical solution would be to reroute the A303 supporting South Wiltshire as well as the West Country.”
Article by , Telegraph Science Editor: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/archaeology/11303127/Stonehenge-discovery-could-rewrite-British-pre-history.html

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Midwinter walk: Explore the ancient Stonehenge Landscape on the Winter Solstice with National Trust

5 12 2014

On the midwinter solstice, explore the ancient monuments of the Stonehenge landscape. This walk is around four and a half miles.

21st December 2014: Ancient ceremonial landscape of great archaeological and wildlife interest:Stonehenge Landscape

Within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the National Trust manages 827 hectares (2,100 acres) of downland surrounding the famous stone circle.

Walking across the grassland, visitors can discover other prehistoric monuments, including the Avenue and King Barrow Ridge with its Bronze Age burial mounds.

Nearby, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows is another fascinating example of a prehistoric cemetery. While Durrington Walls hides the remains of a Neolithic village.

Today thanks to their extensive programme turning ploughed fields into pasture, you can explore the landscape and follow in the footsteps of the people who built and used Stonehenge.

Booking essential: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/things-to-see-and-do/events/

National Trust Stonehenge Landscape Tours:  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Road Investment Strategy – Stonehenge and the A303

1 12 2014

Originally posted on National Trust Press Office:

Today (Monday 1 December, 2014) the Government has announced, as part of its Road Investment Strategy, that it will be investing in a new 2.9km tunnel to remove the A303 from the Stonehenge landscape.

English Heritage [1] and National Trust [2] as guardians of Stonehenge and its World Heritage Site, see this announcement as a “truly momentous decision” in the modern history of one of the most famous places in the world.

View original 326 more words





The boring Stonehenge story takes off again

1 12 2014

Originally posted on Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper:

fund the tunnel I would really like the Stonehenge A303 problem to be sorted out – and there is a serious problem, as anyone knows who has to drive there regularly. Tunnelling has to be part of the solution, for it would achieve what nothing else could, the removal of an impermeable barrier across the world heritage site landscape. So news that the government is ready to fund major works there is good to hear. road closed But let’s save a great deal of anguish, time and money: keep the politics out of it. For those of you new to this story (you wouldn’t think there would be anyone, but to judge from online comments, there are many), here are a few pointers.

  1. Don’t waste time dreaming up complex new routes. If you can find one, be sure it’s already been thought of. The map below is a hint of the work done in this…

View original 326 more words





Tunnel could have an “adverse impact” on Stonehenge, an advisory body on World Heritage Sites has warned.

30 11 2014

Stonehenge fears over A303 road tunnel plan

A planned dual carriageway and road tunnel could have an “adverse impact” on Stonehenge, an advisory body on World Heritage Sites has warned.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), which advises Unesco, has expressed concern over plans for the project in Wiltshire.

The group wrote to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin earlier in November.

An announcement about upgrading the whole A303 is expected in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The options include a 1.6-mile (2.5km) tunnel or two longer 1.8-mile (2.9km) tunnels that would run south of the current A303 route.

Proposals to build a tunnel beside Stonehenge were dropped seven years ago because of cost, but lobbying has continued from local councils.

A303 past Stonehenge
The A303 currently passes right past the Stonehenge site in Wiltshire
Stonehenge
The site is near Amesbury, thought to be the longest continuous settlement in the UK

Despite the road layout at Stonehenge being changed, the stretch of single carriageway still has many traffic jams.

In a letter seen by the BBC, the UK branch of Icomos said it wanted the government to “fully engage” with the World Heritage Committee to find a solution that “respects and maintains” the value of the “iconic and unique site”.

“We appreciate the very real need to address the issue of the A303 and recognise that a tunnel could have beneficial impacts on parts of the World Heritage property,” Icomos said.

“However, we are concerned that associated portals and dual carriageways could have a highly adverse impact on other parts of the World Heritage landscape that cannot be set aside, however great the benefits of a tunnel.”

The Department for Transport said it had “worked closely with key organisations” and “no decisions” had yet been made.

English Heritage, which runs the Stonehenge site, said the bottleneck road was “highly detrimental” to the ancient monument.

“We have met with a representative of Icomos UK to explain the work we’ve done and sought feedback on it,” a spokeswoman said.

Article Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-30248826

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Heaven and Earth Stonehenge Access Tour

18 11 2014

A special early evening bookable tour, learning about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them. Over 12’s only, under 16’s to be accompanied by an adult.

stonehenge-stars1This event is next Saturday (to include a special access visit to the stones), all about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them.

Each person is required to bring a torch.

How to Book: Call the English Heritage customer services team to book : 0870 3331183

November 22nd is also the ‘New Moon: In astronomy, new moon is the first phase of the Moon, when it orbits closest to the Sun in the sky as seen from the Earth. More precisely, it is the instant when the Moon and the Sun have the same ecliptical longitude. The Moon is not always visible at this time except when it is seen in silhouette during a solar eclipse or illuminated by earthshine. See the article on phases of the Moon for further details

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access 2014

15 11 2014

English Heritage will once again welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Sunrise is just after 8am on Monday 22nd December and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely. Conditions of entry will be posted shortly.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Please be aware that parking is very limited and there is a thirty minute walk, in low light, from the parking areas to the monument.

Why 22nd December?

Many people – not least diary manufacturers – believe that the Winter Solstice always falls on 21st December. But the celebration of the winter solstice at Stonehenge is not fixed to a specific calendar date – this is because of a mismatch between the calendar year and solar year. (The actual time of the Winter Solstice this year is on December 21st at 23:03 GMT)

The solstice is traditionally celebrated at the sunrise closest to the time when the sun is stationary before beginning its transit to the north or south. This year this occurs late on 21 December, hence the winter solstice celebrations take place at sunrise on 22nd December.

Conditions of entry

Further information and the conditions of entry for the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge will be posted here a month in advance of 22nd December.**

Do not climb or stand on any of the stones – this includes the stones that have fallen. This is in the interest of personal safety, the protection of this special site and respect for those attending. As well as putting the stones themselves at risk,
climbing on them can damage the delicate lichens.

If do not have your own transport and are travelling from London then Solstice UK Events are offering their usual transport option with an expert guide.

**Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and seen by many as a sacred site – please respect it and please respect each other!

The new Stonehenge visitor centre is well worth a visit and opens at 9.30am. Visit the English Heritage website
Directions to Stonehenge
Download the free English Heritage Stonehenge Audio Guide here
English Heritage Winter Solstice Link

Merlin at Stonehenge
Follow Twitter@st0nehenge for Solstice updates
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