Circle of light: how Stonehenge shapes a landscape

17 07 2012

Jonathan Jones continues his story of British art in pictures with a look at the mystical monument on Salisbury Plain that has haunted the British imagination for centuries
Stonehenge Art 

Stonehenge is a circle that shapes a landscape. The hills and valleys around it seem to radiate from it. Shaped and mounted between 3,000 and 2,500BC in a powerful architecture of pillar and lintel, its stones define geometry, mathematics, the power of the mind. It has haunted the British imagination. The medieval chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed Merlin brought the stones from Ireland; the romantic artists Blake and Constable powerfully pictured this mystic place

Photographer: Patrick Eden /Alamy
Source Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/picture/2012/jul/16/stonehenge-shapes-landscape-british-art

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com 

Merlin @ Stonehenge





Winter solstice sunrise over Stonehenge 2011

23 12 2011

The omens are good that 2012 will be an excellent year, a druid said today, after the sun shone on Stonehenge during a dawn ceremony to mark the winter solstice.

 

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Sunrise

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Sunrise

 

Organisers of next year’s London Olympics could perhaps take heart from the positive pronouncement by Rollo Maughfling, the arch druid of the standing stones in Wiltshire, after this morning’s ceremony.

He said that the sun rising over the horizon at the end of the religious service, bathing more than 1,000 people who attended in pale light, meant good things for the next 12 months.

The mild temperatures and sunshine at the pre-historic site were a marked contrast to last year’s solstice, when the giant stones were surrounded by a thick blanket of snow and the winter morning mist obscured the actual sunrise.

”Just as the ceremony came to an end the sun came over the horizon, it was excellent,” Mr Maughfling said.

”It has been a very jolly occasion. It’s a good omen for the year ahead.”

During the winter solstice, the sun is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights.

The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.

The shortest day of the year often falls on December 21, but this year the druid and pagan community marked the first day of winter today because the modern calendar of 365 days a year – with an extra day every four years – does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days.

Linj:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8972331/Winter-solstice-sunrise-over-Stonehenge-is-good-omen-for-2012-say-druids.html

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Winter Solstice Videos: http://www.youtube.com/stonehengetours

Merlin says ” A truly great Solstice celebration with a spectacular sunrise” 

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Season Greetings…………….

15 12 2011

Merlin says:  For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer –   See you at the Winter Solstice 2011

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle website





Stonehenge ‘should be lit at night’ campaigner claims

29 11 2011

Calls for Stonehenge to be lit up at night to capitalise on its appeal have been resisted by experts who claim it would spoil enjoyment of the prehistoric Wiltshire monument.

I was listening to this discussion on Radio 2 (Chris Evans) this morning so thought I would share this article by Andy Bloxham in the Telegraph today

Some people believe Stonehenge should be lit at night

Some people believe Stonehenge should be lit at night

After years of little progress, a multi-million-pound development plan was recently adopted to improve the site, which abuts the busy A303.

However, some people believe more could be done to ensure that Stonehenge can be appreciated around the clock.

They suggest the ancient stone circle could be lit at night “like the pyramids in Egypt or Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome”.

The discussion became a national debate when Lady Mimi Pakenham, of Warminster, in Wiltshire, raised it in a newspaper.

She said: “The magic of Stonehenge could be shared every evening with all who pass, many of whom can’t afford a ticket, just as it was a magical place thousands of years ago, sometimes with the Moon and clouds shining as well.

With subtle lighting sunk well out of view and endless possibilities of solar energy, the monumental power of ancient man’s achievement in another age would inspire all who pass by.

“Perhaps in depressing times a cocktail of cost-free magic is the very least we can expect from the guardians of the national heritage.”

However, some archaeologists disagreed.

Clive Ruggles, a professor of archaeoastronomy – the study of how ancient cultures understood the sky, said seeing Stonehenge alongside the stars was a key part of its appeal.

He said: “Stonehenge is iconic of the connections between ancient monuments and the sky, not only with strong connections to the annual cycles of the Sun but also very likely to the Moon and stars.

“Lighting up the monument would cut the visual connection between the monument and the starry night sky at a stroke.”

A number of groups, including the Royal Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union, have been working alongside English Heritage for several years to try to preserve as dark a night sky as possible in the area.

They have also been exploring ways in which “night tourism” might be permitted and encouraged in the future, Prof Ruggles said.

However, the debate is likely to only make the ongoing struggle to acceptably improve the site more knotted.

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/8922352/Stonehenge-should-be-lit-at-night-campaigner-claims.html

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Archaeological discovery provides evidence of a celestial procession at Stonehenge

27 11 2011
BIRMINGHAM.- Archaeologists led by the University of Birmingham with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection have discovered evidence of two huge pits positioned on celestial alignment at Stonehenge. Shedding new light on the significant association of the monument with the sun, these pits may have contained tall stones, wooden posts or even fires to mark its rising and setting and could have defined a processional route used by agriculturalists to celebrate the passage of the sun across the sky at the summer solstice.

 photograph showing Arch Druid Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney inspecting the famous British landmark Stonehenge in Wiltshire, south west England.

photograph showing Arch Druid Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney inspecting the famous British landmark Stonehenge in Wiltshire, south west England.

Positioned within the Cursus pathway, the pits are on alignment towards midsummer sunrise and sunset when viewed from the Heel Stone, the enigmatic stone standing just outside the entrance to Stonehenge. For the first time, this discovery may directly link the rituals and celestial phenomena at Stonehenge to activities within the Cursus.

The international archaeological survey team, led by the University of Birmingham’s IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA), with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna (LBI ArchPro) have also discovered a previously unknown gap in the middle of the northern side of the Cursus, which may have provided the main entrance and exit point for processions that took place within the pathway. Stretching from west to east, the Cursus is an immense linear enclosure, 100 metres wide and two and a half kilometres across, north of Stonehenge.

Professor Vince Gaffney, archaeologist and project leader from the IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre at the University of Birmingham, explains: “This is the first time we have seen anything quite like this at Stonehenge and it provides a more sophisticated insight into how rituals may have taken place within the Cursus and the wider landscape. These exciting finds indicate that even though Stonehenge was ultimately the most important monument in the landscape, it may at times not have been the only, or most important, ritual focus and the area of Stonehenge may have become significant as a sacred site at a much earlier date.

“Other activities were carried out at other ceremonial sites only a short distance away. The results from this new survey help us to appreciate just how complex these activities were and how intimate these societies were with the natural world. The perimeter of the Cursus may well have defined a route guiding ceremonial processions which took place on the longest day of the year.”

Archaeologists have understood for a long time that Stonehenge was designed to mark astronomical events, built by farming societies whose everyday concerns with growing crops linked their daily lives to the passage of the seasons and in particular the sun, on which their livelihoods depended. This new evidence raises exciting questions about how complex rituals within the Stonehenge landscape were conducted and how processions along or around the Cursus were organised at the time Stonehenge was in use.

Professor Gaffney adds: “It now seems likely that other ceremonial monuments in the surrounding landscape were directly articulated with rituals at Stonehenge. It is possible that processions within the Cursus moved from the eastern pit at sunrise, continuing eastwards along the Cursus and, following the path of the sun overhead, and perhaps back to the west, reaching the western pit at sunset to mark the longest day of the year. Observers of the ceremony would have been positioned at the Heel Stone, of which the two pits are aligned.”

Dr Henry Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Visualisation observes: “If you measure the walking distance between the two pits, the procession would reach exactly half-way at midday, when the sun would be directly on top of Stonehenge. This is more than just a coincidence, indicating that the exact length of the Cursus and the positioning of the pits are of significance.”

Stonehenge, while certainly the most important monument in the later Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape, was surrounded by a dense concentration of other sacred sites, some of which were already ancient when Stonehenge itself was built. The team has also revealed a new horseshoe arrangement of large pits north-east of Stonehenge which may have also contained posts and, together with the henge-like monument discovered last year and a number of other small monuments, may have functioned as minor shrines, perhaps serving specific communities visiting the ceremonial centre.

Paul Garwood, Lecturer in Prehistory at the University of Birmingham, comments: “Our knowledge of the ancient landscapes that once existed around Stonehenge is growing dramatically as we examine the new geophysical survey results. We can see in rich detail not only new monuments, but entire landscapes of past human activity, over thousands of years, preserved in sub-surface features such as pits and ditches. This project is establishing a completely new framework for studying the Stonehenge landscape.”

These new discoveries have come to light as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, which began in summer 2010 as the world’s biggest-ever virtual excavation using the latest geophysical imaging techniques to reveal and visually recreate the extraordinary prehistoric landscape surrounding Stonehenge.

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, adds: “The LBI provides the best academics, technicians and young researchers in a team of 20 people and uses multiple systems designed for use on projects where the scale of work was previously unachievable. The use of non-invasive technologies provides information for virtual archaeologies that can be disseminated to the public via the web, iPad or mobile phone.”

Dr Christopher Gaffney, lecturer in Archaeological Geophysics at the University of Bradford, concludes:

“Building on our work from last year we have added even more techniques and instruments to study this remarkable landscape. It is clear that one technique is not adequate to study the complexity of the monuments and landscape surrounding our most important archaeological monument and the battery of techniques used here has significantly increased the certainty of our interpretation.”

Link: http://www.artdaily.org

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tourv Company’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Haulage companies set to by bypass Stonehenge

5 11 2011

Fleet drivers will have to seek alternative routes when travelling through the county of Wiltshire later next year, following an announcement that roads around Stonehenge will be closed.

The news came after roads minister Mike Penning backed plans for a £3.5 million investment in diverting traffic away from Stonehenge in a bid to reduce congestion in the area.

Under the plans, the 879m length section of the A344 and its junction with the A303 will be closed.

Along with this, a 263m length segment of the B3086 and its junction with the A344 are also set to be closed under the scheme.

According to Mr Penning, further improvement will see “increased capacity delivered on the A360/A303 at Longbarrow Crossroads”, to compensate for the stopped up roads around Stonehenge.

The move was greeted positively by English Heritage, with Stonehenge project director Lorraine Knowles calling it “necessary in order to enable the Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Project to proceed”.

“It will significantly improve the experience of visitors to the Stonehenge monument and facilitate greater access to the wider World Heritage Site landscape,” she said.

At present, the Highways Agency is set to finish improvements to the Longbarrow roundabout in the area before closing the roads near the site from next year

Hope that will stop them ‘honking’ their horns as they travel passed as well (noisy bas***ds)

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Where will they go ?

Merlin ‘ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Chichen Itza points to Stonehenge – GPS research proves

26 07 2011

Jarome Vahai’s research on early GPS devices fascinated a group of students and scholars at this year’s Stanford Honors Research Symposium

Pyramids and monoliths around the world perform four functions that modern GPS devices perform, according to a newly released study by Jarome Vahai. The ancient navigational device researcher recently told a captivated audience at the 2011 Stanford Honors Research Symposium that ancient structures helped societies tell time, measure the circumference of the earth, pinpoint their location on the earth and identify their location during travel—just like modern GPS devices.

GPS systems are used for many things, including exploration, expanding territories, and conducting import/export trade and commerce over great distances.

“Early civilizations thought the same way we think now,” said Jarome Vahai. “We use GPS devices to locate where we are and how to get to other places—and so did they.” Vahai notes that as tools have improved, building structures like the pyramids has become unnecessary.

Many of the ancient landmarks that are still in existence are positioned in ways that mark the longest and shortest days of the year by the patterns of shadows they cast at equinox. In addition to showing calendar position, shadows could also be used to tell time during the day.

The Giza pyramids and shadows were also used by Eratosthenes to calculate the circumference of the earth. Ancient civilizations understood they were on a round, turning planet because their stone markers line up with one another around the globe. Some even line up with other planets and constellations, says Vahai.

Vahai’s research shows that markings identified at the pyramid at Chichen Itza point to the pyramids at Giza; others point to Stonehenge, the pyramids in China, and the great Cambodian temple Angkor Wat. He has also found that the stone markers of Ha’amonga, known as Tonga’s Stonehenge, line up with Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

“These ancient structures were lasting landmarks that told people where they are located in relation to other parts of the world,” said Vahai.

The usefulness of landmarks in the ancient world cannot be understated. Rulers had expansive empires that covered huge amounts of land, and protecting those lands could be challenging. Babylon and Giza are located in places that are difficult to find and get to, probably for security reasons. The large structures were helpful landmarks.

“I am very proud that Stanford selected my research; they only accept about 20% of submissions,” said Vahai. “The audience was extremely engaged—the moderator was so wrapped up in the topic, we ended up going over the time limit.”

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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