Stonehenge experiment to be repeated with ‘lost’ stones

14 11 2014

Another attempt is to be made to solve the mystery of how the largest stones used to build Stonehenge were moved.

The experiment was first carried out in a BBC documentary in 1996

The experiment was first carried out in a BBC documentary in 1996

In 1996, a BBC TV programme aimed to find out how the stones for the largest trilithon were put into place, and how the lintel was placed on top.

Since then the concrete replicas have remained untouched and forgotten about at an army base on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

They have now been rediscovered and the experiment will be repeated.

Archaeologist Julian Richards is teaming up with farmer Tim Daw see if modern techniques are any more efficient.

Mr Daw, who farms at All Cannings, near Devizes, and who created the first “Neolithic” long barrow to be built in the UK for 5,500 years, also works part-time at Stonehenge.

He said one of the most popular questions asked by visitors is ‘how were the giant stones moved?’.

“When Julian Richards mentioned there was a life-sized replica of the largest stones at Stonehenge that were looking for a home that we could do some experiments on I said ‘let’s do it’.”

The 45-tonne replicas were used in the BBC documentary Secrets of Lost Empires: Stonehenge, which was broadcast in 1996.

They have remained at Larkhill Camp, about a mile from Stonehenge ever since.

The experiment was partially successful, but now new theories have emerged about how the stones may have been moved.

“The first thing is to collect the stones from Salisbury Plain where they have been languishing for the past 20 years and get them back to my farm,” said Mr Daw.

“Hopefully next year we’ll get some teams of people [to take part in the experiment]”

Mr Daw said different theories had now emerged about how the huge stones could have been moved.

“The experts certainly think they know more. Whether they actually do know more is an interesting question.

“Without trying all the wonderful ideas of how you do it Neolithic style, just using man power – no wheels, no draught animals, no machinery – we can’t tell what is practical and what is just fantasy.”

It is hoped the result of the experiment will be turned into another television programme to air next year.

Full story: BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-30041330

Merlin at Stonehenge
Stonehenge News Blog





Step back in time at Stonehenge this winter

14 11 2014

Visitors to Stonehenge are being invited to step through the doorways of its Neolithic houses and into prehistory this winter as expert-led events and demonstrations are offered for the first time.#

Full programme of events and demonstrations:

Making Musical instruments

Sat 15 – Sun 16 Nov & Sat 24 – Sun 25 Jan, 10am–4pm

See Corwen Broch as he creates instruments from natural materials and demonstrates the sounds

of the Neolithic period.

Prehistoric Pottery

Sat 22 – Sun 23 Nov and Sat 20 – Sun 21 Dec, 10am–4pm

Using a handling collection of replica pots, tools and artefacts, Graham Taylor will show you how to make your own pottery tool kit, decorate replica pots as well as how to fire them using authentic prehistoric methods.

Fire & Life

Sat 6 – Sun 7 Dec, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Jan and Sat 14 – Sun 15 Feb, 10am–4pm

Guy Hagg demonstrates all things essential to Neolithic life, from fire lighting, game preparation using flint tools, early cooking methods to making weapons, bone and antler tools and the everyday utensils used at this time.

Flint Knapping

Sat 8 – Sun 9 Nov, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Dec, Sat 17 – Sun 18 Jan and Sat 21 – Sun 22 Feb,  10am–4pm

Join expert Karl Lee, as he demonstrates how Neolithic flint tools were produced using authentic techniques and tools. See a Flint Knapper at work in the setting of Stonehenge’s Neolithic houses.

Basket Weaving

Sat 29 – Sun 30 Nov, 10am–4pm

Kim Creswell makes baskets using the primitive flint tools of the Neolithic age. See her work raw materials found in the landscape into a working basket in just one day.

Heaven & Earth

Sat 22 Nov, Sat 13 Dec, Sat 24 Jan and Sat 21 Feb, 5–6.30pm

Book onto one of these special evening tours learning about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them. Over 12s only. Under 16s should be accompanied by an adult.  Booking required.*

Textile Demonstrations

Sat 31 Jan – Sun 1 Feb, Sat 28 Feb – Sun 1 Mar, 10am–4pm

Sally and Gareth Pointer will work with a variety of natural fabric crafts over these weekends including cord making, twining, looped weaving, netting and leatherwork. See bone and antler worked and discover how materials were used in the Neolithic period.

Secrets  of the Stones

Mon 16 – Fri 20 Feb, 10.30am–4.30pm

Bring the family this half-term to uncover the ancient past of these mysterious stones as we explore the history of their role in the lives of ancient man.

Bronze Casting

Sat 3 – Sun 4, Jan and Sat 7 – Sun 8 Feb, 10am–4pm

Watch demonstrations by Neil Burridge of the amazing Bronze Age casting, which helped primitive man to develop.

The Stone Age is being brought to life through a fascinating range of weekend demonstrations from the people who made the replica objects on display in the houses and the exhibition.

Visitors will understand how Neolithic people turned stones into essential every day tools and other natural materials into pots, musical instruments, clothes and baskets.

Watch Bronze Age casting and book onto our very special Heaven and Earth tours which will introduce you to the stars and how they were also essential tools of the Neolithic people living in and using the Stonehenge landscape.

Join Corwen Broch, musician and instrument maker, will create instruments from natural materials and demonstrates the sounds of the Neolithic.

And expert flint knapper Karl Lee will demonstrate how Neolithic flint tools were produced using authentic techniques and tools.

Get hands on with Neolithic pots as Graham Taylor uses a handling collection of replica pots, tools and artefacts to show you how to make your own pottery tool kit, decorate replica pots as well as how to fire them using authentic prehistoric methods.

Many of the replica pots you see in the Stonehenge visitor centre and Neolithic houses are made by Graham.

He says: “Pottery is one of the commonest finds from Neolithic and Bronze Age sites. There is far more to this prehistoric technology than meets the eye – the craftspeople who created the pottery of the Stonehenge landscape had a deep understanding of their materials and processes.

“The pots themselves formed part of the everyday lives of the people who made and used them.”

Guy Hagg, one of the volunteers who helped build the Neolithic Houses and also works as a house interpreter, will be demonstrating the essentials of Neolithic life, from fire lighting, game preparation using flint tools, early cooking methods to making weapons, bone and antler tools and the everyday utensils used at this time.

Many of the replica pots you see in the Stonehenge visitor centre and Neolithic houses are made by Graham.

He says: “Pottery is one of the commonest finds from Neolithic and Bronze Age sites. There is far more to this prehistoric technology than meets the eye – the craftspeople who created the pottery of the Stonehenge landscape had a deep understanding of their materials and processes.

“The pots themselves formed part of the everyday lives of the people who made and used them.”

Guy Hagg, one of the volunteers who helped build the Neolithic Houses and also works as a house interpreter, will be demonstrating the essentials of Neolithic life, from fire lighting, game preparation using flint tools, early cooking methods to making weapons, bone and antler tools and the everyday utensils used at this time.

Kim Creswell will be making baskets using the primitive flint tools of the Neolithic age. See her turn raw materials found in the landscape into a working basket in just one day.

At textile demonstrations, in January and February, Sally and Gareth Pointer will work with a variety of natural fabric crafts over these weekends including cord making, twining, looped weaving, netting and leatherwork. See bone and antler worked and discover how materials were used in the Neolithic period.

Watch Neil Burridge reveal the secrets of Bronze Age casting – a huge step forward in the development of primitive societies.

The ancient past of the mysterious stones will be explored with families in February half-term as we look at the history of their role in the lives of ancient man.

The Neolithic houses were built by volunteers and are based on the excavations of domestic dwellings found at nearby Durrington Walls during excavations in 2007. It has been suggested that the original structures may have been the houses of the Neolithic people who built and used Stonehenge.

During the winter, Stonehenge is open from 9.30am-5pm with last admissions at 3pm. All weekend demonstrations run between 10am and 4pm.

Article source:

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Pre-history may have to be re-written due to groundbreaking finds by Stonehenge team

2 11 2014

Pre-history may have to be re-written following a recent dig by university students near Stonehenge.

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Signs of human habitation 8,000 years ago have been discovered by Archaeology MA students from the University of Buckingham, led by senior research fellow David Jacques.

Mr Jacques said: “This year we’ve found burnt flint – a sign that people had made fires, so were in the area, around 8,000 years ago.

“The finds will have to be carbon-dated to get a precise date.

“It’s been wonderful that the first ever University of Buckingham archaeology students have unearthed mesolithic tools as part of the team of volunteers at the dig.”

The archaeologist, who is leading the new Archaeology MA course at the university, has just completed a two-week dig at Vespasian’s Camp, a mile from Stonehenge, at which MA students and University of Buckingham staff worked as volunteers, sifting through remains.

A number of ancient flint tools were among the finds.

More than 12,000 items from the mesolithic era (8000 – 3500BC) have been uncovered, including hunting tools, the cooked bones of aurochs – a gigantic cow-like animal – deer, wild boar, and even toads’ legs.

The finds have revealed that the site was in use continually for over 3,000 years, and could even be the reason why Stonehenge is where it is.

Mr Jacques suspects the site will contain evidence of settlements, which would be some of the earliest ever found in the UK and would completely change our understanding of this era.

Mr Jacques appeared on TV this year in BBC 1’s Operation Stonehenge and BBC 4’s The Flying Archaeologist.

And the MA students working alongside him at the dig a fortnight ago found themselves being filmed for a forthcoming episode of Horizon.

Digs at the site over the last few years have already yielded a staggering 32,000 artefacts dating from as far back as 7500BC.

Last year, the dig resulted in 8,000-year-old burnt frogs’ legs being found, revealing the delicacy was originally English and not French.

Earlier this year, carbon dating of finds from the dig led to the revelation that Amesbury is the oldest town in the country.

A previous public lecture by Mr Jacques at the university drew a packed audience.

Following the latest dig, Mr Jacques is returning to deliver another public lecture on Thursday, November 13.

The free event will take place at 6.30pm, in the Chandos Road Building, as part of the university’s autumn concert and lecture series.

In the lecture, Mr Jacques will unveil startling new evidence showing how the mesolithic period influenced the building of Stonehenge.

The lecture will focus on the area around the dig, Blick Mead, which features a natural spring, which would have attracted settlers to the area.

The warm spring water has caused stones to turn a bright puce, a colour of stone not found elsewhere in the UK.

David Jacques was elected a Fellow of the Society of the Antiquaries (FSA) in recognition of the importance of his discoveries there.
Link Source:

Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge new theory: music to their ears.

30 10 2014

A new theory has been put forward for why Stonehenge was created. Steven Waller, an American researcher, believes that its primary purposes was not visual, but aural: along with Neolithic cave paintings, it was designed for its acoustic properties, in this case the interference the stones would cause to the volume of the music.

Steven Waller, an American researcher, believes that Stonehenge's primary purpose was not visual, but aural: that it was designed for its acoustic properties Photo: Alamy

Steven Waller, an American researcher, believes that Stonehenge’s primary purpose was not visual, but aural: that it was designed for its acoustic properties Photo: Alamy

We have another theory, however. It is that Stonehenge was in fact built by ancient practical jokers, for no better reason than to drive future experts to distraction. One can picture them giggling to themselves as they laid false trails, safe in the knowledge that they would provide fodder for endless wild hypotheses about their true motives. Granted, it seems like a lot of bother to go to. But the fact that we are still trying to solve their riddles, thousands of years later, suggests it was worth the effort.

By : Link Source

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Halloween History, Pagan Beginnings and Stonehenge Sacrifices

28 10 2014

Halloween is a day of tricks, treat, sweets, pumpkin carving, cider drinking and costume wearing; but the holiday has evolved immensely from its pagan beginnings.

Human Sacrifice at Stonehenge by ancient and modern pagans?

It has never been proven that there were human sacrifices by Celtic peoples to celebrate Samhain (sow-en). However, we do know that the Celtic peoples had a great spiritual reverence of Samhain and it was akin to how one views Easter and many of the other “holy days” today.Stonehenge sacrifice

Stonehenge is a well guarded public monument. Hundreds of Thousands of people visit this incredible site yearly. I have no doubt that it would be impossible to sacrifice anyone or anything at this monument without being caught. Besides, in the last 30 years, I have never heard of any sacrifice being committed at Stonehenge during Halloween, or anytime..

Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the beginning of the agricultural year.  The Celtic peoples

Stonehenge Pumpkin

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believed that the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is at its thinnest on this night. In the ancient past, it was commonly believed that certain kinds of knowledge were available at the time of Samhain, a night when the sidhe or faery people would come forth to walk amongst mankind.

Over 2000 years ago, the Celts, a people who lived in what is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France, celebrated their New Year on November 1st. The New Year was associated with the end of summer and harvest season, and the beginning of cold, destructive winters. The Celts would often kill and eat weak livestock that they believed would not survive through the winter.

The Celts, who worshiped Pagan gods, commemorated this time with a festival called Samhain (sow-en). This time of year was associated with death for the Celts; they believed that the wall between the living and dead was thinnest the night before the New Year, which allowed spirits of all kinds to walk among the living.

Many of today’s Halloween traditions derive from the Pagan practices of the Celts. During their last night of the year, all manner of order was forgotten. Men would dress up as women, and women as men; people would play pranks such as moving livestock to different fields, or moving gates and fences from their proper places.

Since they believed that spirits of the recently deceased were most likely to emerge and cause trouble among the living, such as possessing people and ruining crops, many Celts would leave offerings of food and drink to the spirits, to either aid them to the afterlife, or ward them way. They would also feast and celebrate the lives of the deceased. People extinguished all of the fires in their homes in order to prevent evil spirits from haunting them.

A central aspect of Samhain was the worship by the Druids, or Celtic priests. The Celts brought crops and livestock to the priests who would sacrifice to the Pagan gods in large bonfires, praying for protection during the winter. During these celebrations, Celtics would dress in animal heads and skins and read each other’s fortunes.

One of the main influences of modern day trick-or-treating was the Celtic believe that faeries would roam about dressed as beggars and would go door to door asking for food. The belief was that those who helped the faeries were rewarded while those who didn’t were punished.

Ancient Celtic celebrations

Not only did the Celts believe the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead dissolved on this night, they thought that the presence of the spirits helped their priests to make predictions about the future.

To celebrate Samhain the Druids built huge sacred bonfires. People brought harvest food and sacrificed animals to share a communal dinner in celebration of the festival.

During the celebration the Celts wore costumes – usually animal heads and skins. They would also try and tell each other’s fortunes.

After the festival they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them, as well as keep them warm during the winter months.

Visit Stonehenge at Half Term
Stonehenge makes a great family day out during half term. Stonehenge now has a transformed visitor experience, with a new world-class visitor centre, housing museum-quality permanent and special exhibitions, plus a spacious shop and café.
Visit their website here

Other Spooky events at English Heritage properties

Visit Wiltshire Website for local spooky events
With many a historic building to be seen, it’s no surprise that Wiltshire has its own share of ghosts and spooky goings on. Halloween in Wiltshire can be a lot of fun with some exciting events including Ghost Walks run by the Salisbury City Guides as part of their Spooky Salisbury event, Halloween activities at Longleat with ghost tours, a pumpkin trail and fireworks set to spine-chilling tunes and a Halloween ghost train on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway

Link resources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/24/halloween-witch-costumes_n_5965920.html

Links: http://www.ibtimes.com/halloween-history-pagan-beginnings-856991
Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/holydays/samhain.shtml
Link: http://clonehenge.com/tag/stonehenge-pumpkin/

Merlin says “Tweet us your Stonehenge / Druid / Pagan pumpkin carvings”
https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE
#StonehengePumpkin

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‘Old ones’ reference links 8th century poem to Stonehenge?

23 10 2014

AN ancient poem believed to have been written about Bath could in fact be the earliest writing ever discovered about Stonehenge, according to an academic expert following a presentation last night at the Amesbury History Centre. 

Dr Graeme Davis.jpg-pwrt2Mediaeval language scholar Dr Graeme Davis believes an 8th Century Anglo Saxon poem called “The Ruin” could be the oldest known surviving text in the world to describe the monument.

Although the original manuscript is damaged, Mr Davis has translated the poem and said he was surprised to find references to the standing stones as the “old ones”.

Mr Davis is part of a team studying a constant spring at Blick Mead in Amesbury.

He believes that the Stones and Blick Mead spring could be those referred to in the poem.

The spring caught Mr Davis’ attention during recent visits to Amesbury and led to discussions with the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust over the interesting history of the area.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Graeme’s interpretation of this poem intriguingly focuses the mind on Stonehenge especially with the reference to a hundred generations passed and the naming of the Stones as “the elders” or “old ones”.

“If the spring is indeed Blick Mead, it reinforces links and unlocks another clue to Amesbury’s significance in British History.

“It is interesting to note the book is recognised as one of the greatest works of the Benedictine revival, for which Amesbury played a major role.”

The full translation can be found on the Amesbury Museum, Heritage Trust Facebook page and the hard copy can be seen at the Amesbury History Centre.

Article source: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/11546570.Is_eighth_century_poem_about_Stonehenge_/

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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:

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