Road tunnel under Stonehenge: Nick Clegg gives his backing to plans to improve the A303

10 10 2014

Deputy Prime Minister gives his backing to plans to improve the A303

Nick Clegg has said he wants the Government to sanction “diggers on the ground” to re-build the A303 highway before the next election.a303

A road tunnel under Stonehenge is one of nine proposals with an estimated cost of £1.2 billion being scrutinised by Whitehall officials to ease the traffic nightmare on the road connecting the South West to London.

The Government has signalled it will make an announcement during George Osborne’s autumn statement in December.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he and Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, will be pushing for improvements on the 110-mile “A303-A30-A358 corridor”, which starts near Exeter in Devon and finishes close to Andover in Hampshire, in negotiations with David Cameron and Mr Osborne.

He said he was “very keen” to “push forward” with the A303. Mr Clegg said: “I can’t predict to you now exactly whether we will succeed in our discussions and all the sums involved, but that is something I would like to do even in this government.

“If we can’t do that in this coalition Government I’m very clear that the fiscal rules (we advocate) about borrowing prudently for infrastructure investment once the books are balanced after 2017-18 is exactly the kind of thing that would permit us to borrow money on the Government’s books to invest in the A303.

“But I very much hope we can see diggers in the ground and this arterial route properly unblocked well before then.”

The Western Daily Press understands officials are working up a plan to upgrade the entire road in phases, with stages signed off in advance. Some fear Labour would scupper the upgrade given their lack of MPs in the South West.

Full story: Western Daily Press:

Stonehenge News Blog





Soldiers at Stonehenge: A new special exhibition is being launched at the Stonehenge visitor centre in November

4 10 2014

Salisbury Plain and the journey to the First World War.

A new special exhibition is being launched at the Stonehenge visitor centre in November to tell the story of the Stonehenge War memorial at Stonehengelandscape, its neighbouring communities and how they were dramatically altered by the Great War.  During the First World War, the World Heritage Site was at the heart of Salisbury Plain’s military training ground and the Wiltshire landscape was dramatically transformed.  A 25 mile area around Stonehenge became home to the largest complex of military training camps in the world, as soldiers dug intricate networks of trenches in an attempt to replicate conditions on the Western Front.

This exhibition will open in November 2014. It tells the story of the Stonehenge landscape, its neighbouring communities, and how they were changed by the First World War.

Visit the English Heritage Website and see ten of the exhibition objects and images in more detail.

NOVEMBER 11th 2014 EVENT:  Join English Heritage for an insight into the First World War exhibition at Stonehenge with Guest Curator and Historian Simon Jones .  Enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition and discover the story of the soldiers who trained on Salisbury Plain. £22 (visit the English Heritage website)

The Stonehenge News Blog

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The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project

3 10 2014

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is an unprecedented initiative to survey a vast tract of land around the iconic stones. Now that the bulk of the practical work is complete, Carly Hilts spoke to Vince Gaffney and Chris Gaffney to find out more.

An ambitious programme of geophysical survey, covering 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge, has revealed a landscape scattered with previously-unknown features. Credit: All images courtesy of the University of Birmingham and LBI ArchPro

An ambitious programme of geophysical survey, covering 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge, has revealed a landscape scattered with previously-unknown features. Credit: All images courtesy of the University of Birmingham and LBI ArchPro

Stonehenge could confidently claim to be one of the most-studied, and certainly most hotly debated, prehistoric sites in Britain. However, much of the local landscape, so important to any interpretation or understanding of the site, was largely terra incognita – until the launch of The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, the largest geophysical mapping survey of its kind yet undertaken.

Begun in July 2010, and headed by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology  in Vienna, the four-year Project has explored a massive 12 square kilometres around the celebrated stones, and revealed the footprints of hundreds of previously unknown features, invisible to the naked eye, including henge-like monuments, burial mounds, ditches, and pits spanning thousands of years.

Clocking up 120 days in the field, the team used the latest non-invasive survey techniques – including magnetometry, ground penetrating radar (GPR), earth resistance surveys, and 3D laser scanning – to explore the Stonehenge landscape in unprecedented detail, allowing researchers to see features buried as much as 3m below the modern ground level.

‘We created a palimpsest,’ said geophysics expert Dr Chris Gaffney of the University of Bradford. ‘Unpicking it is one of the joys of geophysics, but also one of its conundrums – we don’t have a ditch detector or a wall detector, so after gathering this incredible explosion of data, you still have to delve in and interpret it manually.’

So far, eagle-eyed project members have picked out 17 shapes from the vast amounts of resulting data that are thought to represent Neolithic monuments roughly contemporary with Stonehenge, as well as field enclosures, barrows, settlements, and other signs of human activity ranging in date from the Bronze Age to the 20th century.

We approach the features as we would if we were using aerial photography, by looking at their shape and comparing them to known sites,’ said project co-director Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Birmingham (and brother of Chris Gaffney). ‘The tricky thing is that prehistoric monuments come in a variety of forms, they do not conform to standards – even Stonehenge is not a typical henge, as its ditch lies outside its bank – so once you spot something, it is not always easy to categorise it.’

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, added: ‘No landscape deserves to benefit from a study at this level of detail more than Stonehenge. The terabytes of digital survey data collected, processed and visualised by LBI ArchPro provide the base for the precise mapping of the monuments and archaeological features buried in the subsurface or still visible in the landscape surrounding Stonehenge. After centuries of research, the analysis of all mapped features makes it possible, for the first time, to reconstruct the development of Stonehenge and its landscape through time.’

High-speed survey

With an ambitiously large area designated for investigation, the team called on other modern technologies to help cover the uneven terrain. Although hand-pushed carts were used to explore more difficult or sensitive sites, much of the project survey equipment was mounted on the back of quad bikes.

‘This means we were collecting data at up to 40kmph,’ said Vince. ‘It was georeferenced and its location logged as it came in, and the information would already be partly processed before you reached the end of the field – that’s how we managed to so much data in a relatively short time.’

Beyond the stones of Stonehenge

This multi-technology approach has proven a particular boon in revisiting well-known sites, where a host of unexpected new details have been revealed. Around 3km from Stonehenge lies , the largest-known henge in the world at over 0.5km in diameter, and home to a Neolithic settlement that some interpret as a possible base camp for the builders of Stonehenge (CA 270). Although the site has been studied in detail during previous investigations, the recent survey identified traces of a previously unknown row of holes along the site’s southern border, which could have held around 70 posts or stones.

While investigating a known long barrow at Woodhenge, the team found the remains of a large timber building hidden inside it. This reconstruction shows how it may have looked

Another enigmatic find comes from the adjacent site of ‘Woodhenge’, once home to a Neolithic timber circle. The chalk long barrow standing in the same field had long been known to archaeologists, and so it came as a complete surprise to discover that the monument seems to have a kind of forecourt in front of it – and that within the mound itself there once stood a massive timber building some 33m long. With the outline of its walls marked out by lines of holes that once contained huge wooden posts, the team has provisionally interpreted the building as a mortuary, possibly used in excarnation rituals.

Interpreting the Cursus

Stonehenge_new_monuments_distribution

Over at the Cursus ­– the c.3km long Neolithic earthwork just north of Stonehenge, thought to predate the earliest phase of the monument’s construction by several centuries –exploratory work has revealed new links between the two sites, as well as potentially significant astrological associations. At each end of the Cursus, the team has identified a massive pit measuring around 5m in diameter. More excitingly, Vince said, if you stand at Stonehenge and look towards the Cursus on the Summer Solstice, the easternmost pit aligns with the rising sun, and the westernmost with the sunset.

‘As the Cursus runs East-West it has long been suspected that it had some kind of association with the sun, so these pits forming a triangle with the site of Stonehenge are very interesting,’ he said. ‘It seems like a massive coincidence if their alignment was not intentional. We don’t know their date, but something else that is interesting to note is that while you can get a clear view of the sunrise pit from Stonehenge, looking down the first section of the Avenue, the sunset pit is hidden behind a bank. You might be able to see it if it was filled with fire and smoke, though – perhaps a future excavation will reveal traces of burning.’


This is an extract, but you can read the full article in Current Archaeology 296

http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/stonehenges-hidden-landscape.htm

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Autumn Equinox (Mabon) 2014

21 09 2014

Autumn Equinox Stonehenge Open Access Arrangements: 23rd September 2014

This Tuesday Druids and pagans converge on the windswept English plains of Wiltshire to observe the annual rites of autumn. The occasion is the equinox, when the tilt of Earth’s axis is suspended between 12 hours of night and 12 hours of daylight.

Druid at Stonehenge.

Dawn: Stonehenge Autumn Equinox 2013

Mabon marks the middle of harvest, it is a time of equal day and equal night, and for the moment nature is in balance. It is  a time to reap what you have sown, of giving thanks for the harvest and the bounty the Earth provides. For finishing up old projects and plans and planting the seeds for new enterprises or a change in lifestyle. Mabon is a time of celebration and balance.

Actual Date and Time of Autumnal Equinox: 02.29 23rd September 2014

Access to the Stonehenge Monument Field from 06:15 (or first light) until 08:30 on 23rd September 2014
Parking is on both sides of Byway 12 – no parking on A344
Access to the Byway from 19:00 on 22nd September 2014 via the A344
Exit via A344 closes at 09:00 on 23rd September 2014
Disabled Parking: 8 spaces available in the VTS turning circle. These are permit-only and must be booked in advance by contacting Lucy Barker at lucy.barker@english-heritage.org.uk
**Conditions of entry

The new Stonehenge visitor centre is well worth a vist and opens at 9.30am. Visit the English Heritage website
Save time and buy entrance tickets in advance here:
Directions to Stonehenge: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/directions?lang=en&gclid=CMCjxJnd8cACFYXJtAod1xMAhw
Download the free English Heritage Stonehenge Audio Guide here: http://wp.me/pQAXF-yH

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. It can be booked here

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

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.

Merlin at Stonehenge
Follow Twitter@st0nehenge for Equinox updates





Bradford researchers help uncover hidden secrets of Stonehenge

12 09 2014

Bradford archaeologists are part of an international research team that has uncovered a host of previously unknown archaeological monuments around Stonehenge in a project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic site.

Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath, can be seen on BBC iPlaver here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04hc5v7/operation-stonehenge-what-lies-beneath-episode-1

Results from the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project are unveiled today at the Stonehenge_new_monumentsBritish Science Festival in Birmingham. They show how, using new remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys, the team has uncovered 17 previously unknown ritual monuments around the site, along with dozens of burial mounds – all of which have been mapped in minute detail.

Researchers at the University of Bradford are partners in the project, which is led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Austria.

Alongside previously unknown features, the team has also uncovered new information on other monuments, including the Durrington Walls ‘super henge’, a vast ritual monument of more than 1.5 kilometers in circumference which is situated a short distance from Stonehenge.

Hundreds of burial mounds, and settlements from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period have also been surveyed at a level of detail never previously seen. Taken together, the results show how new technology is reshaping how archaeologists understand the landscape of Stonehenge and its development over a period of more than 11,000 years.

Dr Chris Gaffney, Head of Archaeological Sciences at Bradford, says: “The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes project is the pinnacle of a recent trend to apply new and rapid technologies to collect accurate non-invasive data for mapping our buried heritage.

“In many respects, the Stonehenge project goes far beyond any other project – both in the complexity of the data sets generated but also in the immense impact it will have on our understanding of Britain’s greatest and best-known archaeological site.

He adds: “Archaeology studies the past, but, in the application of remote sensing at this scale, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project demonstrates how future researchers will investigate our archaeological heritage. Increasingly, the investigation and understanding of iconic sites across the globe will be enhanced by rapidly mapping the larger-scale environment that they have come to dominate.”

British project leader Professor Vincent Gaffney, Chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics at the University of Birmingham, and Chris Gaffney’s brother, said:

“This project has revealed that the area around Stonehenge is teeming with previously unseen archaeology and that the application of new technology can transform how archaeologists and the wider public understand one of the best-studied landscapes on Earth.

“New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists. All of this information has been placed within a single digital map, which will guide how Stonehenge and its landscape are studied in the future.

“Stonehenge may never be the same again.”

The results of the project will be featured in a major new BBC Two series, Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath, is due to be broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 11 September.

Full article: http://www.bradford.ac.uk/life-sciences/news-and-events/news/bradford-researchers-help-uncover-hidden-secrets-of-stonehenge.php

The Stonehenge News Blog





Among the Ancient Stones, Magic as Potent as Ever

10 09 2014

stonehengenews:

Great article Stonehenge Guided Tours. Have you published your 2015 Stonehenge access dates yet?

Originally posted on Stonehenge Travel Company:

WILTSHIRE DOWNS, England — Standing at the center of the Stone Circle of Stonehenge in the moments before dawn, lulled by low-hanging rain clouds, I am, for a while, unable to understand why so many pilgrimages have been made here.

Stonehenge SunriseSure, the setting is attractively pastoral, with gently rolling fields and dark patches of trees on distant hills. But the vista verges on the ordinary. I can even make out the line of a highway not far off, cutting across the meadows, commuters’ headlights poking through the mist. In the half-light, the surrounding stones seem almost familiar and scarcely mysterious.

Is this really the place that Thomas Hardy called “a very Temple of the Winds,” describing it “rising sheer from the grass,” its stones seeming to hum with sound? Did Christopher Wren, the great architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, really think so much of Stonehenge that he left…

View original 1,028 more words





US President Barack Obama visits Stonehenge.

7 09 2014

US President Barack Obama paid a visit to Stonehenge on his return home from the Nato summit in Newport.

The White House said the presidential helicopter Marine One stopped at Boscombe Down Airbase, Wiltshire, before his motorcade drove to the ancient monument.

The president was then given a guided tour by curator Heather Sebire.

English Heritage, which manages the site, said it was “an honour” to host the president.

General manager of Stonehenge, Kate Davies, said: “His office told us the president was very interested to see the iconic monument for himself.

“Every day people from all over the world make the trip to the ancient stones but this visit was a particularly special one.”

Ms Sebire said Mr Obama “was fascinated by the story of the stones, what we know about them and the mysteries that have yet to be solved”.

we know about them and the mysteries that have yet to be solved”.

President Obama at Stonehenge
The president ented that he had “knocked this off my bucket list”
 

She went on: “He described the atmosphere around the stones as ‘really special’ and his visit to Stonehenge as ‘a highlight of my tour’.

“It was a beautiful still evening and it was a privilege to show the US president around this unique monument which continues to inspire and intrigue people.”

Mr Obama described seeing the monument as “cool” and said it was something he could tick off his “bucket list”.

He also chatted briefly to a local family and posed for photos.

Janice Raffle, who lives near Stonehenge, had come down to the monument with her husband and three sons after hearing Mr Obama was there.

She said: “We had a brief tete a tete across the barbed wire.

“He was really a sweetie. He asked all our names and he was commenting on the fresh air and the beautiful countryside.

“He also said that I was quite outnumbered because I have three little boys as well as my husband and there was a bit of banter between the boys saying boys are best and he said well I don’t know if I agree with that.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-29083959

mote International coverage on this story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/09/06/barack-obama-stonehenge-family-pictures_n_5776386.html
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/05/after-nato-obama-visits-stonehenge/
http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/story/2014-09-05/barack-obama-stops-off-for-visit-to-stonehenge/
http://www.spirefm.co.uk/news/local-news/1388552/president-barack-obama-visits-stonehenge/
http://www.chron.com/news/article/After-NATO-Obama-visits-Stonehenge-5736351.php
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2745437/Knocked-bucket-list-Obama-makes-surprise-visit-Stonehenge-following-NATO-meeting-poses-grinning-family-walk.html
http://www.lbc.co.uk/familys-incredible-obama-stonehenge-surprise-96608

The Stonehenge News Blog








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