Artefacts to go on display at Stonehenge visitor centre

12 01 2010


THE new Stonehenge visitor centre will show off artefacts from Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum’s collection to a wider audience English Heritage is collaborating with the museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum to present and interpret the story of the World Heritage Site in a dedicated exhibition space in the centre, at Airman’s Corner.

In returning for loaning items from their collections, the museums will get help from English Heritage with their own displays and with enhancing their archives.

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge project director at English Heritage, said: “The exhibition will be part of an overall experience that will draw on all the senses and lead people to a greater understanding, not just of Stonehenge, but of the people who built it.”

Salisbury museum director Adrian Green said: “We look forward to supporting the development of the visitor centre, and also redisplaying our own nationally important collections from the World Heritage Site to complement the new exhibition at Stonehenge.”

David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, said “Together we can present the full story of Stonehenge and encourage visitors to explore Wiltshire.”





Stonehenge and the Pagans -

11 01 2010


I just had to add this web link. This very funny sketch by the comedian Eddie Izzard about Stonehenge is sure to put a smile on your face.
Click on this link and enjoy!

Oh Yeah – What exactly is a Pagan ?
A brief introduction

Paganism is a spiritual way of life which has its roots in the ancient nature religions of the world. It is principally rooted in the old religions of Europe, though some adherents also find great worth in the indigenous beliefs of other countries. Such belief in the sacredness of all things can be found world-wide. Pagans see this as their heritage, and retain the beliefs and values of their ancestors in forms adapted to suit modern life. We celebrate the sanctity of Nature, revering the Divine in all things; the vast, unknowable spirit that runs through the universe, both seen and unseen.

Pagans honour the Divine in all its aspects, whether male or female, as parts of the sacred whole. Every man and woman is, to a Pagan, a beautiful and unique being. Children are loved and honoured and there is a strong sense of community. The woods and open spaces of the land, home to wild animals and birds, are cherished. Paganism stresses personal spiritual experience, and Pagans often find that experience through their relationship with the natural world that they love. We seek spiritual union with Divinity by attuning with the tides of Nature and by exploring our inner selves, seeing each reflected in the other. We believe that we should meet the Divine face to face, within our own experience, rather than through an intermediary. Although some paths do have leaders and teachers, these people act as facilitators, using their own wisdom and experience to help guide those in their care towards discovering their own sense and interpretation of the Divine. Our rites help us harmonise with the natural cycles, and so they are often held at the turning points of the seasons, at the phases of the moon and sun, and at times of transition in our lives.

There is a great variety of traditions within the broad spectrum of Paganism. This reflects the range of our spiritual experience, for we believe that everyone is unique, and so everyone’s spirituality must be equally unique. Some Pagans follow multiple Gods and Goddesses, their names familiar to all from the pages of European folklore and mythology: others focus on a single Life Force of no specific gender; yet others devote themselves to a cosmic couple – Goddess and God, or Lord and Lady. We celebrate our diversity for we believe that each person should find their spirituality according to the dictates of the quiet, inner voice of their own soul. For this reason we respect all sincere religions, and do not proselytise or seek converts. From other faiths and from society generally, we ask only tolerance.

In these days of environmental concern and eco-awareness, Pagans are often at the forefront of Green awareness. Pagans of all paths respect the rights of every living soul, whether human, animal, plant or rock. We are ever mindful of the actions of cause and effect, whether by thought or deed, upon the creatures of the Earth. We encourage free thought, creative imagination and practical human resourcefulness, believing these to be fundamental to our spending our lives in harmony with the rhythms of the natural world. We rejoice that some of our personal beliefs should now be shared by so many other people. These beliefs are the heritage of all people from our distant and common ancestors – they are equally the concern of all our descendants.





2010 Stonehenge Inner Circle Tours – Touch the Stones

8 01 2010


Many of you have been eagerly awaiting the release of Stonehenge ‘special access’ tours for 2013
I have been contacted by some of the London Tour operators who have just published their dates for March – September this year.
I can highly recommend the following tour operators;

The Sightseeing Tour Company
www.BestValueTours.co.uk

Stonehenge Guided Tours
www.StonehengeTours.com

HisTOURies UK
www.Histouries.co.uk

These companies have been operating tours for over a decade and I have recieved excellent feedback about their tours and customer service.

It is important to book these tours early as they are extremely popular!

There will be some more dates published soon with different itineraries – watch this space………….. I hope this has helped – good luck !

Their itinerary is as follows:

STONEHENGE INNER CIRCLE TOURS:

Highlights: Private viewing of Stonehenge at sunset * Enter the stone circle and touch the stones * Visit Lacock, a delightful Saxon village * See where Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice were filmed * Meal stop in a 13th century inn (food/drinks not included) * Visit Bath – free time to shop and explore * Entrance to the Roman Baths and Pump Room included

After your pick-up directly from or near to your hotel, we drive to Bath to visit the Roman Baths and Pump Room. In the late afternoon we visit Lacock for an early evening supper in a 13th century inn, before driving to Stonehenge. As the sun begins to set, we enter the stone circle (which is normally roped off to the public) for a unique private viewing. The most dramatic and atmospheric way of visiting Stonehenge.
Stonehenge – Private Viewing at Sunset and tourch the Stones
Built nearly 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge is the most popular prehistoric monument in the world. Most visitors to the site are not allowed direct access to the stones. With Premium Tours you get that access, with a private viewing of the mysterious monoliths. We will enter the stone circle itself and stand beside the mighty Sarsen rocks towering above us. Our guide will explain the history of this ancient site, pointing out the altar, slaughter and heel stones, above which the sun rises dramatically on the summer solstice. There will be time to enjoy the peace, away from the crowds, as we experience Stonehenge at its most mystical and atmospheric best. Not to be missed!

Lacock
Lacock is a little known, picturesque village dating back to the Saxon era. Many of the beautiful buildings originally formed part of an extensive monastic complex and are now owned by The National Trust. So pretty is the village that it has provided the setting for many movies and television dramas including Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice and more recently Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. We will take a delightful walk before we enjoy an early evening supper* (or breakfast for morning tours*) in The George, a vintage English pub built in 1361.
*food/drink not included

Bath
Bath, a world heritage site, is a beautiful Georgian city with delightful crescents, terraces and architecture. There will be plenty of time to visit Bath Abbey, or to shop and explore. Your guide will also conduct an optional walking tour to show you where Charles Dickens lived and worked as a young man, and a give you a chance to sample some delicious cheeses fresh from the local dairy farms. Then we will enter the magnificent Roman Baths, where over one million litres of boiling water still burst free from the hot springs everyday.

Merlin @ Stonehenge





New ‘Feeding Stonehenge’ project to run from 2010 to 2012

7 01 2010


Professor Mike Parker Pearson and his team have been awarded a further £800,000 grant to discover exactly how the people who built Stonehenge lived, what they ate and where they came from.

The research team from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield will study how at the time of the Winter Solstice, Stone Age people would have needed to have brought livestock with them to Stonehenge to feed on. Initial research suggests the animals were brought considerable distances to this ceremonial site at this time of year.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of their annual large grants research scheme, this new project, entitled `Feeding Stonehenge´, will allow the team to answer some key questions about Stonehenge over the next three years.

The team will develop their research further by analysing the bones of the cows slaughtered in the area 4,500 years ago to calculate where the cattle had been moved from to give a better guide of where the people had travelled from to visit the site. In addition, the archaeologists will aim to gain a better understanding of the dressing of the sarsen stones, study how the public and private spaces at Durrington Walls differ from each other and establish in which season animals were culled at Stonehenge and Durrington Walls.

The grant forms one of 34 major research grants made by the AHRC in 2009 to projects that will help further our understanding of human culture and creativity. It was awarded following the already revolutionary Stonehenge Riverside project, also led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, which strengthened the idea that nearby Durrington Walls was part of the Stonehenge complex. The large collection of cattle jaws collected during the last few years of excavations will now undergo strontium and sulphur isotope analysis to establish where they came from.

The newest project will now see the archaeologists study the material resources required for building Stonehenge and the other henge complexes of Wessex. In addition, the team will try and ascertain whether Britain´s Copper Age started 50 years earlier than first thought. Circumstantial evidence points to copper tools being in use at Durrington Walls earlier than previously calculated. Cut-marks on animal bones should reveal whether they were made by copper daggers as opposed to flint tools.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffied, said: “The Stonehenge Riverside Project’s results were well beyond anyone’s expectations – archaeologists and general public alike. It has allowed us to completely re-write the story of Stonehenge. One of the unforseen outcomes is the vast quantity of new material – flint tools, animal bones, pottery, plant remains, survey data, and chemical samples – which now needs analysing.

“The new grant from the AHRC for the ‘Feeding Stonehenge’ project allows us to get the maximum information out of this unexpected wealth of remains. We are going to know so much about the lives of the people who built Stonehenge – how they lived, what they ate, where they came from. The AHRC’s grants have been crucial for helping us find out more about one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments. They have enabled the project to develop in directions which could not possibly be predicted when we started digging.”

In early September the AHRC spent a day visiting the 2009 excavation near Stonehenge and interviewing the research team. A short video podcast is now online that offers viewers an insight in to the scale of the excavations undertaken during 2009.





Winter solstice attracts more than just druids to Stonehenge

6 01 2010







Popularity of pagan festival grows as intrigued mums and dads bring their kids to winter solstice

Of course, the usual characters were there: Taloch in an antler head-dress, the archdruid Rollo Maughfling splendid in his trademark white robes and a flat cap and Arthur Pendragon, who claims to be the current incarnation of the once, and future, king.

But through the icy mist and the smoke of camp fires a different sort of crowd, wearing anoraks and woolly hats rather than ceremonial capes, also emerged to celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge.

Regulars have noticed that over the last few years the popularity of the winter solstice, a much quieter and gentler affair than the summer version, has grown.

As always, the pagans turn up in force to chant and dance and welcome the sun but they are being joined by people of different or no faiths who seem to be there to take a quick break from the pressures of the UK’s ever more commercial take on Christmas.

Spiro Marcetic had travelled to the Wiltshire monument from Birmingham with his wife, Alison, and their children – Evie, four, and Hector, two – to get away from it all for a few days. They stayed in a Travelodge down the road (not very druidic) and pushed the children under the subway and up to the stones in a double-buggy.

“We’re here for an anti-religious reason, if any,” said Alison. “Pagans seem to have more fun so we’d thought we’d give it a go. We’ll be celebrating Christmas but this is about showing the children that this season isn’t just about getting presents. What goes on here is more basic, more tangible.”

Jill and her 10-year-old daughter Jasmine are Stonehenge regulars. But this year they brought along Jasmine’s classmate, Ifu, and her father, Ken, who are not pagans, to show them what it was all about.

Ken said: “I think we found it very spiritual, very moving. It’s a great experience.”

Jill added: “For us this time of year is about starting to come out of the dark. It’s a very positive time of year. I think people who aren’t pagans come here to enjoy that feeling too.”

But as a mother of five and grandmother of four, Jill admits she feels compelled to celebrate Christmas, too. “I don’t have much choice but we do it as modestly as possible.”

A couple of thousand people turned out for the winter solstice last year.

There were around 600 , the numbers probably down because it was fiercely cold and the roads around Stonehenge were treacherous.

Around 300 others had turned up yesterday, believing that English Heritage was going to allow open access to the site – a chance to stray from the paths, spend time in the centre of the circle and actually touch the huge hunks of stone – on December 21.

But the celebration does not always fall on the same date as the solstice because the modern year does not correspond precisely to the solar one. English Heritage took pity and allowed them in anyway.

The winter solstice occured yesterday evening but many druid and pagan communities saw today as the first dawn after the solstice.

The archdruid Rollo launched proceedings. Little Evie emerged from her blankets to join in a chant encouraging world peace. As Rollo strayed into politics, hoping that some good may come out of the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Hector sought comfort in a Crunchie bar.

Another 10-year-old, Ashvini, kept warm by playing snowballs with his dad, Dheeraj Kulshrestha, after possibly the longest journey of everyone. They were stopping off in London en route from Ohio to India and decided to make the pilgrimage to Stonehenge for the solstice. The trip took them eight hours. “But it’s been worth it,” said Kulshrestha. “This is a unique experience.”

Eight-year-old Ben, from Devon, didn’t sound so sure. “It’s cold and I want to go home and play games on my computer.” What were his hopes for the season? “A new computer game.”





Revellers a day early for solstice at Stonehenge

5 01 2010

AROUND 300 pagan worshippers braved freezing temperatures to celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge, but turned up on the wrong day.

Dressed in traditional robes, they met at the stone circle on Monday to mark the rising of the sun on the shortest day of the year, but got their calculations wrong.

The winter solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is at its furthest from the Sun, resulting in the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

Although it normally falls on December 21, the exact time of the solstice varies each year and this year the solstice was 5.47pm on Monday so, because the sun had already set, the official celebrations took place at sunrise on Tuesday.

But the hundreds of enthusiastic worshippers who turned up a day early went ahead and celebrated anyway.

English Heritage, which manages the site, decided to open the gates and welcome them even though it was the wrong day.

Hundreds more pagans and druids turned up on Tuesday morning for the official winter solstice celebrations.








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