Merlin and the Making of Stonehenge

8 06 2019

The archaeologists have their ideas about how and why Stonehenge was built. The annals of legend have another story, one that involves Merlin the magician plus the uncle and father of King Arthur.

The story begins not in Neolithic times but in the troubled years of the fifth century, after

46739440934_98a8f1b736_z (1)

21st Century Merlin at Stonehenge

the Roman legions had withdrawn from Britain. The Saxons had invaded and were advancing rapidly across the land. The native British sought to resist them and to sustain the remnants of Romano-British civilisation. So there was terrible fighting between Saxon and Briton. So much bloodshed that their respective leaders agreed to meet at a spot on Salisbury Plain to try to negotiate a peace treaty.

The thing is, some people take a more hardball approach to ‘negotiation’ than others do. It had been agreed that the leaders should meet together unarmed, but the Saxon chieftains treacherously smuggled in their knives. The leaders stood in a circle in which Saxon and Briton alternated. They began to parlay. But not for long. At a signal, all the Saxon chieftains drew out their knives and each stabbed the Briton standing immediately to his left.

So the Saxons had the upper hand for some time. Till a British prince in exile in France, Aurelius Ambrosius, returned to Britain with his brother Uther Pendragon. Ambrosius won a major victory against the Saxons. Having done so, he desired to honour the British chiefs who’d been murdered on Salisbury Plain, by building a monument in the exact spot where the atrocity had occurred.

He called for advice from a wise man of prodigious repute, Merlin, who told him of a fabulous stone circle that had been built by giants – hence its name ‘the Giants’ Dance’ – on a mountain in Ireland. Ambrosius sent Merlin with Uther Pendragon to lead an expedition to Ireland to steal the Giants’ Dance. There was fighting of course, because the Irish quite understandably wanted to keep the structure in Ireland. But Uther’s warriors prevailed.

There was then the problem of how to transport this huge stone circle. Merlin applied his esoteric knowledge to uproot the stones, transport them on ships, and then re-erect the monument on Salisbury Plain – at the very spot where the Saxon chieftains had so treacherously slain the British leaders.

When, in due course, Aurelius Ambrosius died, he was buried in the Giants’ Dance – or Stonehenge, as it became known. So too was Uther Pendragon. Uther was the father of the future King Arthur. According to the legend, Arthur was expected to be buried there too. But Arthur never dies and is instead transported, badly wounded, to the Isle of Avalon, there to sleep and dream, waiting to return in his country’s hour of need. That being so, perhaps we ought to hope he might return quite soon!

We have this story from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, written in Oxford in the 12th century. You can find a fuller telling of the tale in Kirsty Hartsiotis’s Wiltshire Folk Tales.

One doesn’t want to pull the rug out from beneath a lovely, enchanting legend, but of course there’s no easy way to match up this story with the archaeological knowledge that Stonehenge was built in Neolithic times. But there are elements that do fit. For one thing, the use of Stonehenge as a burial ground. For another, the likely transportation of the bluestones on watercraft from what is now Pembrokeshire in West Wales. An intriguing observation is that sea communications between Ireland and West Wales throughout antiquity mean that this western extremity of Wales could have been colonised by people from Ireland and therefore might, in a cultural rather than narrowly geographical sense, have been regarded as part of ‘Ireland’. Finally, although legend presents Merlin as a magician, the esoteric skills he demonstrates in the story in uprooting, transporting, and erecting the megaliths invite us to view him as symbolic of the engineering experience that some individuals must have possessed in the age of Stonehenge’s construction.

Article by guest blogger and author/storyteller Anthony Nanson

Recent Blog: Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon, Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband.

English Heritage: The King Arthur Story and links to Arthurian locations

BBC HistoryKing Arthur, ‘Once and Future King’

Stonehenge Guided Tours offer King Arthur Tours including Stonehenge and associated sites in the South West of England.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge news and stories.
The Stonehenge News Blog
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 

 





Stonehenge Summer Solstice Open Access 2019

20 05 2019

Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric world heritage site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice for thousands of years. Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and part of a World Heritage Site. It is seen by many who attend as a sacred place.  

Summer Solstice Sunrise Celebrations at Stonehenge

Summer Solstice Sunrise Celebrations at Stonehenge

Please note that last normal admissions to Stonehenge is on Thursday 20th June at 13:00 and the site will close at 15:00 in preparation for Summer Solstice Managed Open Access. Stonehenge will re-open for normal admissions on the afternoon of Friday 21et June. Please check our social media channels for the exact time.

English Heritage is pleased to provide free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice. We ask that if you are planning to join us for this peaceful and special occasion that you read the Conditions of Entry and the information provided on the following pages before deciding whether to come.

Stonehenge is a significant World Heritage Site and to many it is sacred – please respect the stones and all those who are attending.

Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.  We hope the weather will be kind and wish you a peaceful and celebratory solstice.

THURSDAY 20th JUNE 2019  
SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS 19.00 hours
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD 19.00 hours
SUNSET 21.26 hours
FRIDAY 21st JUNE 2019  
SUNRISE 04.52 hours
LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK 06.00 hours (or when full)
STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD CLOSES

SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED

08.00 hours

12.00 hours (Noon)

For further information about Managed Open Access for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, please call English Heriage Customer Services Solstice Information Hotline on 0370 333 1181.

RELEVANT LINKS:
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. Stonehenge New Blog
Why Thousands Of Pagans Gather At Stonehenge For The Solstice Stonehenge News Blog
Respect the Stones: Stonehenge News Blog

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and Summer Solstice updates
http://www.Stonehenge.News





Audit Office says Stonehenge tunnel benefits ‘uncertain’

20 05 2019

There are “risks and uncertainty” over a road tunnel near Stonehenge and its benefits are “inherently uncertain”, a scrutiny body said. (BBC NEWS)

a303

The government wants to build a tunnel past the monument as part of a £1.6bn plan to upgrade the A303.

However, the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the likely cost as £1.9bn, and says it “must deliver value for taxpayers”.

Highways England says the route will cut congestion and boost the economy

Work is due to begin in 2021 with an expected opening date of 2026.

The NAO estimates the project will only deliver £1.15 in benefits for every £1 spent.

Auditor General Amyas Morse said: “The tunnel at Stonehenge is currently only just value for money by the department’s own business case.

“Based on experience, project costs tend to grow rather than fall, at least in the early years.

“It will take a very special effort by the department to protect public value up to completion.”

The NAO also warned the project poses “geological and archaeological risks”, and said Highways England must ensure it can “support the project throughout its life”.

The government wants to build the tunnel to hide the busy A303, but opponents claim it could destroy archaeological treasures and scar the landscape.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) described the plans as “severely flawed” while The Stonehenge Alliance – a campaign group which includes archaeologists and environmental campaigners – said the work threatened the area’s “fragile archaeology”.

Highways England said the “vital route” would cut congestion and boost the economy, and would “restore the tranquil environment and setting of the monument”.

The Department for Transport said the road upgrade would “improve connections” with the rest of the country.

“Stonehenge is a site of significant historical value – we have worked closely with heritage groups, including English Heritage and Historic England, to ensure it is protected both during the upgrade of the A303 and in the long-term.

“Across the South West, we are investing £2 billion to improve roads, on top of £133 million for Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucester to introduce the MetroBus rapid public transport.”

A public consultation into the scheme ended in April 2018.

Highways England submitted a development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate in November.

The agency has set a six-month timetable in order to examine the proposals.

RELEVANT LINKS:
Stonehenge tunnel benefits ‘uncertain’ says Audit Office BBC NEWS
National Audit Office questions value of Stonehenge tunnel  THE GUARDIAN
Benefits of Stonehenge road tunnel scheme `uncertain´DAILY MAIL
DfT’s cost benefit methodology puts Stonehenge tunnel at risk SCIENCE TELLS
National Audit Office reports on the A303 and Stonehenge Tunnel HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News

http://www.Stonehenge.News

 





Local Landlord recreates Stonehenge outside his pub.

16 05 2019

A LANDLORD at the Stonehenge Inn has created a mini version of Stonehenge outside his pub for tourists

Stonehenge replica

Daniel King has created a mini replica of Stonehenge outside his pub near Amesbury, Wiltshire

He commissioned artist and brickie Rhys Bliszko to make a 4ft concrete version for his pub, The Stonehenge Inn, three miles from the 4,000-year-old monument.

Stonehenge replica

The Stonehenge replica is less than a third as tall as the 13ft original but the stones is shaped exactly as the real monument.

“It might be a bit smaller and not quite as old but at least you can get up close.”

It is less than a third as tall as the 13ft original but Daniel says each stone is shaped like the real ones and the circle aligns with the sun in the same way.  Rumor has it the whole thing will light up at night.  Meanwhile it’s a great place to get a picture of a friend or yourself sitting on a trilithon.

pub-group-18

The Stonehenge Pub Group, a family run business, owns 2 great venues close to Stonehenge (within 8 minutes drive). Ideal for either independent travellers or larger groups, the pubs are typical olde English Inns and make a great stop off from your travels. Stonehenge Tour Companies are already using the venue

Full story: The Sun
Clonehenge: Durrington Stonehenge Almost Complete!

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News

http://www.Stonehenge.News





Street Pastor Summer Solstice at Stonehenge Volunteer Call

2 05 2019

Street Pastor volunteers are once again being asked to patrol the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
This will be the 4th year in a row that Street pastors have cared, listened and helped at the event. The event will be taking place from Thursday the 20th of June until Friday the 21st of June. 

Stonehenge Solstice

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Sunrise Celebrations


The event will be split into two shifts, with the 1st shift from 5pm until approx 2am (with a mandatory onsite briefing at 5:15pm) and the 2nd shift from 12am until approx 9am (with a mandatory onsite briefing at 12:15am), although please note these timings are approx and may change slightly.

Working in partnership with English Heritage they will provide parking onsite and a hot meal for all volunteers.
English Heritage appreciate what Street Pastors bring to the event, especially our calm and reassuring presence. We are currently limited to having 20 volunteers per shift so it is important that if you wish to reserve your place on the team or if you have queries you need to Contact the event coordinator, Michael Weeks at chippenham@streetpastors.org.uk for an application form.

Deadline for applications is Friday the 17th of May

Visit the Ascension Trust Facebook Page for more details

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News

http://www.Stonehenge.News





The ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge travelled west across the Mediterranean before reaching Britain.

17 04 2019

DNA reveals origin of builders: DNA shows migrants who arrived in Britain around 6,000 years ago constructed the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

20180620_205048

Britons who built Stonehenge were product of ancient wave of migrant farmers, DNA reveals

Researchers compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic inhabitants appear to have travelled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia before winding their way north.  They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Ancient skeletons reveal arrival of eastern Mediterranean population replaced hunter-gatherer population of British Isles

Paleogenomicist Federico Sánchez-Quinto from Uppsala University in Sweden used these techniques on dozens of remains from four megalithic tombs in Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden that were first uncovered years ago. He and his team sequenced the nuclear genomes of those remains—most of which have been dated to between 4500 B.C.E. and 3000 B.C.E.

Whereas Britain’s outgoing hunter-gatherers—including the oldest known Briton, “Cheddar Man”—likely had blue or green eyes and dark or even black skin, the farming populations migrating across Europe are believed to have had brown eyes and dark to intermediate skin.

Details have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

RELEVENT STONEHENGE STORIES:
DNA reveals origin of builders – BBC WEBSITE
Were Europe’s megalithic societies patrilineal? – SCIENCE MAG
Study: Aegean farmers replaced hunters of ancient Britain – PHYS.ORG WEBSIITE
Stonehenge builders came from as far as modern-day Turkey, DNA suggests – ITV NEWS
Stonehenge built by descendants of early immigrants, study finds – SKY NEWS
Britons who built Stonehenge were product of ancient wave of migrant farmers, DNA reveals – THE INDEPENDENT

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 





Get hands on with history at Stonehenge and help to move a 4-ton stone, similar to those used to build the stone circle. 12th – 16th April 2019

9 04 2019

MOVING AND RAISING A STONE: Friday 12th April – Tuesday 16th April 2019

Get hands on with history at Stonehenge and help to move a 4-ton stone, similar to those used to build the stone circle.  Using a hand-built sledge, and under expert supervision, visitors can experience for themselves just what it might have felt like to be involved in building Stonehenge.

20190408_112819

Using a hand-built sledge, and under expert supervision, visitors can experience for themselves just what it might have felt like to be involved in building Stonehenge

The experiment will run twice a day and lasts for approximately 45 minutes. It involves pulling the 4-ton stone on a hand-built sledge across a range of surfaces and around some obstacles to understand whether rollers, halved timbers or grass provides the most efficient surface and whether a sledge allows greater control of the stone.

On the final day of the experiment, Tuesday 16th April, English Heritage will attempt to move and then raise the stone into an upright position using an a-frame (and a lot of muscle power)!

All visitors are welcome to join in however, it is not recommended for people with back, arm, shoulder or knee injuries or pregnant women. Children must be supervised at all times by an adult.

English Heritage is hosting a full programme of events over the Easter holidays, giving visitors the opportunity to explore an element of prehistory that most interests them. The events are designed for all ages and reveal that our prehistoric ancestors were organised and skilled craftsman, using sophisticated techniques to craft natural materials and fibres into tools and essential everyday items, as well as luxury objects such as jewellery and grave goods.

Visit the English Heritage website for details on this and other events happening over the Easter holidays

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 








%d bloggers like this: