Have archaeologists found Stonehenge quarries?

7 12 2015

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

Bluestone open spread.jpgThey certainly think so – not all, but two important ones. I went to visit their excavations in Pembrokeshire this summer, and was sufficiently impressed to ask them to write about their discoveries for British Archaeology. You can read their report with many photos – including this fabulous opening shot by Adam Stanford – in the new magazine later this week. Digital on Wednesday December 9 (as an App and in web form) and print in the shops on Friday. Copies for Council for British Archaeology members and magazine subscribers are on their way.

Carn Goedog M Pitts.jpgExcavations at Carn Goedog (photo M Pitts)

In the meantime, here is the UCL press release.

Stonehenge ‘bluestone’ quarries confirmed 140 miles away in Wales

Excavation of two quarries in Wales by a UCL-led team of archaeologists and geologists has confirmed they are sources of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’– and shed light on how they were quarried…

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Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales, ‘amazing’ finds suggest

7 12 2015

‘Evidence that bluestones were quarried in Wales 500 years before they were put up in Wiltshire prompts theory that Stonehenge is ‘second-hand monument’

Archaeologists at one of the Stonehenge quarry sites in Wales. Photograph: UCL

Archaeologists at one of the Stonehenge quarry sites in Wales. Photograph: UCL

Evidence of quarrying for Stonehenge’s bluestones is among the dramatic discoveries leading archaeologists to theorise that England’s greatest prehistoric monument may have first been erected in Wales.

It has long been known that the bluestones that form Stonehenge’s inner horseshoe came from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, around 140 miles from Salisbury Plain.

Now archaeologists have discovered a series of recesses in the rocky outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, to the north of those hills, that match Stonehenge’s bluestones in size and shape. They have also found similar stones that the prehistoric builders extracted but left behind, and “a loading bay” from where the huge stones could be dragged away.

Carbonised hazelnut shells and charcoal from the quarry workers’ campfires have been radiocarbon-dated to reveal when the stones would have been extracted.

Prof Mike Parker Pearson, director of the project and professor of British later prehistory at University College London (UCL), said the finds were “amazing”.

“We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” he said. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”

The dating evidence suggests that Stonehenge could be older than previously thought, Parker Pearson said. “But we think it’s more likely that they were building their own monument [in Wales], that somewhere near the quarries there is the first Stonehenge and that what we’re seeing at Stonehenge is a second-hand monument.”

There is also the possibility that the stones were taken to Salisbury Plain around 3200 BC and that the giant sarsens – silicified sandstone found within 20 miles of the site – were added much later. “Normally we don’t get to make that many fantastic discoveries in our lives,” Parker Pearson said. “But this is one.”

Parker Pearson heads a project involving specialists from UCL and the universities of Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, among others. Their findings are published on Monday in the journal Antiquity alongside a new book by the Council for British Archaeology titled Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery.

Prof Kate Welham, of Bournemouth University, said the ruins of a dismantled monument were likely to lie between the two megalith quarries. “We’ve been conducting geophysical surveys, trial excavations and aerial photographic analysis throughout the area and we think we have the most likely spot. The results are very promising. We may find something big in 2016,” she said.

The long-distance transport of the bluestones from Wales to Stonehenge is one of the most remarkable achievements of Neolithic societies. The archaeologists estimate that each of the 80 monoliths weighed less than two tons and that people or oxen could have dragged them on wooden sledges sliding on rail-like timbers.

Parker Pearson said people in Madagascar and other societies were known to have moved such standing stones long distances and that doing so created a spectacle that brought together communities from afar.

“One of the latest theories is that Stonehenge is a monument of unification, bringing together people from across the many parts of Britain,” he said.

He recalled the moment he looked up the near-vertical rock-face and realised that this was one of the quarries. “Three metres above us were the bases of these monoliths that were actually sitting there ready simply to be lowered out of their recesses,” he said.
“It’s the Ikea of Neolithic monument building. The nice thing about these particular outcrops is that the rock has formed 480 million years ago as pillars. So prehistoric people don’t have to go in there and bash away … All they have to do is get wedges into the cracks. You wet the wedge, it swells and the stone pops off the rock.”

 Article source:  (Guardian News)
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A vote in a Wiltshire field about drainpipes

3 12 2015

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

Woodhenge view 1.jpg

The last time I visited Woodhenge, the site of a great ritual timber structure near to, and of the same age as, Stonehenge, there was a small community notice on the back of a road sign. ‘BEWARE!’ it read, ‘THIEVES OPERATE IN THIS AREA!’

They do indeed, and they’re not just after our ‘mobile phones, wallets and bags’. Some time in November a pair of bronze plaques that told the visitor about the site were prized off their concrete pillar and taken away.

Woodhenge plaques.jpg

It may not sound much if you don’t know the site, but it would be dreadfully sad if the plaques were not seen again. We don’t know of course, but it’s unlikely that whoever took them understands (or understood) their significance. They have no market value – a tiny amount of metal, and they are too recognisable to be sellable without being caught. If you’ve got them…

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Film promoting Stonehenge tunnel released by public bodies

2 12 2015

A YEAR after the Government announced plans to build a 2.9km tunnel under Stonehenge three public bodies have released a film promoting the benefits of burying the A303.

Film promoting Stonehenge tunnel released by public bodies

Film promoting Stonehenge tunnel released by public bodies

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage hope that construction of the tunnel will improve wildlife and nature at the World Heritage Site.

Ian Wilson, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust in Dorset and Wiltshire, said: “We really hope the film brings to life the very real benefits that a tunnel could bring to the Stonehenge Landscape, for people and for wildlife.

“A full scheme has yet to be designed, but the Trust supports the Government’s proposals in principle and we are committed to engaging with Highways England and others to ensure that any scheme will be fully and carefully considered and assessed.”

Alex Rennie,Source: Salisbury Journal

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WINTER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE 2015

29 11 2015

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

frosty-sunrise

Why 22nd December? 

Many people – not least diary manufacturers – believe that the Winter Solstice always falls on 21st December. But the celebration of Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is not fixed to a specifiic date – this is because of a mismatch between the calendar year and the solar year.

MANAGED OPEN ACCESS PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Please read and respect the Conditions of Entry for Winter Solstice 2015 and the English Heritage website.

Public Transport is being provided by Salisbury Reds buses and will be running from 06:00 from Salisbury.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are offering their usual transport with expert guide service from London and Bath. Booking essential (click here to book direct)

Please be aware that parking is very limited. There is a thirty minute walk, depending on where you are parked, in low light or darkness, from the parking areas to the monument. You are therefore strongly advised to bring a torch with you for personal use.

Accessibility – parking provision for people with disabilities

A limited number of permits will be avaialable for blue badge disabled parking and there will be dedicated accessible transport to the stone circle – which will begin just prior to the opening of the monument field. Please apply to Sandra.Ross@english-heritage.org.uk

Please note that there are no other amenities or facilities available to visitors until such time as  commences.

Conditions of Entry

Please read and respect the Conditions of Entry.

Stonehenge Audio Tour: Free Download from English Heritage

Follow Stonehenge and English Heritage on Twitter for Stonehenge Solstice news and updates

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English Heritage Events at Stonehenge: December 2015

29 11 2015

Neolithic craft and textile demonstration (Sun 6 Dec 2015)

Sally Pointer and Gareth Riseborough will bring the past to life in their demonstrations of a variety of natural fabrics and crafts including cord making, twining, looped weaving, netting and leatherwork. See bone and antler worked and discover how all these materials were used in the Neolithic. Book here

neolithic-crafts-and-textile-workshop

Neolithic Textile and Craft Workshop (Mon 7 Dec 2015)

Work with textile experts Sally Pointer and Gareth Riseborough to discover more about the research and processes used to create replica Neolithic and Bronze Age clothing for Stonehenge and get hands-on experience with materials and techniques. Learn to make cordage from natural fibres and deer sinew and experiment with braiding, twining and looping techniques. All materials are supplied, and using flint tools, you will craft a needle from red deer antler to take home along with the resources to continue your project. Lunch and refreshments included. Book here

textiles-event-stonehenge

Stonehenge Christmas Shopping Evening (Wed 9 Dec 2015)

Join English Heritage on Wednesday 9th December for a festive evening of Christmas shopping and enjoy a 10% discount on purchases.

They will be serving delicious mince pies and hot mulled wine in the cafe.

Live music and Christmas carols will be sung throughout the evening and the exhibition will be open for free visits.  More info

xmas-stones.jpg

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Coming 2016: “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach

16 11 2015

Coming 2016: “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach | Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeologmamuz-stonehenge-mamuz_vorderseite

New discoveries and insights into Stonehenge landscape made possible by the LBI ArchPro’s intensive research over the last five years will be – for the first time – presented in a comprehensive exhibition in Austria.

Starting on 20th March 2016, the “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at the MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach will take the visitor on a journey of more than 8.000 years through Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape including the newly discovered stone monument at Durrington Walls and original finds from the Salisbury, Wiltshire and Dorchester Museum.

MAMUZ “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” website:
Article source

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