The Legendary Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebration. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

6 04 2021

The summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that happens every year. Unless you are lucky enough to live close by for many of the thousands of sun-worshipping pilgrims who flock to the unique UNESCO World Heritage monument, it really is a bona fide top grade ‘bucket list’ experience, up there with visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza, Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Taj Mahal, or Machu Piccu – for Stonehenge is indubitably one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

Once seen up-close-and-personal, which is only possible at the solstices and equinoxes (excluding pandemics and other acts of god), unless a private access tour is booked, the stones are never forgotten. Visitors who make a special effort to visit Stonehenge specifically at the time of the summer or winter solstices will experience something perhaps indistinguishable to the Neolithic affect intended by its architects and priesthood over the 1500 years of its construction (3100-1600 BCE) and primary usage – for the 75 interlocking sarsen stones, and (approximately) 80 blue stones are, among other things, a gigantic solstice engine: designed to be a place to not only precisely observe the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset, but a place activated by this vast celestial drama.

If there could said to be a single ‘Stonehenge code’ that unlocks its mysteries it is the giant solar key that turns in its Neolithic lock twice a year. And it is this grand spectacle, aligning self-reflective carbon-based bipeds with the near miraculous nuclear fusion of the life-sustaining sun, which draws the hordes from across the globe. When witnessed, it is a moment of primal power – a universal leveller that connects all who gather in an instant international fellowship of life-affirming light.

The energy released by the summer solstice sunrise is a visceral whoop of joy: a universal ‘Yes!’ that makes those holding vigil erupt spontaneously into cheering, chanting, hugging, and dancing. It is a beautiful moment that cuts through all barriers, and the party that often builds throughout the preceding night really erupts at this point – but it is one without alcohol or drugs. For even if such things were not firmly forbidden by English Heritage (and bags are scrupulously checked before entry), they are really not needed in the natural euphoria of the moment.

The family-friendly atmosphere is warm-hearted and infectious – one can simply wander amid the stones and revellers enjoying the vibes; join in a druidic ceremony; witness a handfasting (a pagan wedding), knighting (performed by no less than King Arthur Pendragon), or a barding in the gorsedd bardic circle that traditionally follows the dawn druid ceremony. One can dance with wild abandon to a drumming circle, or join in yourself if you bring along a percussive instrument – but be warned, for suddenly you can find yourself shaking your feathers next to a unicorn, dragon, green man, or fairy! If you prefer you can meditate by a stone, imbibing the energy lines that have been tangibly dowsed around the temple – a nexus for many mysterious forces, both visible and invisible.

Open your eyes for a moment and don’t be alarmed to see a Great Bustard waddle by (the magnificent Gertrude, who returns annually); the cast of Hair the Musical; or a concertina-playing Christmas tree. The atmosphere is unique and can perhaps be epitomized as Woodstock remixed through the British Counter Culture: the pixie-punks of the anarcho-traveller Peace Convoy meet the refugees of the Summers of Love (’67; ’88-89), blended with a mash-up of every fashion wave and belief bubble before and since. Whether you want you to sing your heart out with the Sing Shakti Choir, hug a hippy, connect with ancient earth energies or cosmic cross-currents, take iconic selfies and panorama shots to make your friends green with envy back home, or simply just be, Stonehenge is big enough for all persuasions.

It is the broadest church with the biggest heart, and it waits to enfold you in its timeless embrace. Come and join the celebration – a five thousand year long party that everyone is invited to.

Summer Solstice 2021: English Heritage remain cautiously optimistic about being able to offer open access in some form. There is likely to still be some uncertainty on how they proceed and continue to navigate the pandemic and the changing regulations under which we are all living. Keep on eye out for our updates

Guest Blogger – Kevan Manwaring, April, 2021

Stonehenge Solstice Relevant Links:
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stones that align with the sun – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

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





MCHENGE: Fast food giant sponsors Stonehenge tunnel project.

31 03 2021

Today, companies large and small take advantage of the opportunity to adopt sections of roadway and more all over the world.  Local governments are constantly looking for creative ways to sponsor tunnel and roadway infrastructure. McDonald’s offers fresh insights on developing innovative sponsorship including naming opportunities for projects such as tunnels and bridges.  In England, spiraling tunnel costs are forcing the Government to announce a corporate infrastructure sponsorship with the fast-food giant sponsoring the Stonehenge tunnel project.  Plans also include a tunnel toll fee that will be implemented to help recoup the costs of the tunnels construction and maintenance. 

According to the National Audit Office report, the Amesbury and Berwick Down project, which includes the tunnel, is forecast to cost between £1.5bn and £2.4bn, with a likely cost of around £2.1bn.  In return for financial sponsorship, McDonald’s receives prominent fleet and uniform brand positioning.  In addition to the Golden Arches on the east and west entrances, you will see their branding (sponsor recognition panels) on the tunnel interior with several hundred intersecting horse-shoe shaped arches.

“The Golden Arches of McDonald’s will rise gloriously across the Wiltshire landscape, Contempo-monolithic, and as simple in concept as Stonehenge” said Terence Hillier, a spokesperson for the McDonald’s sponsorship scheme.

Wiltshire council leaders have been defending the private funding initiative and reportedly welcome the prospect of bringing the Golden Arches to within sniffing distance of Britain’s greatest archaeological monument.

All these factors, coupled with the public’s growing comfort with naming public assets after private entities, make road and tunnel “branding” a reality in today’s economic climate. Two decades ago few people could have imagined sports stadiums named after financial and energy companies, yet it is a common practice today.  The Stonehenge tunnel on the A303 will not be far behind.

The introduction of toll electronic road pricing (ERP) is expected to cost £7 per vehicle however, discounts will be offered to local residents.  Also, motorists on the A303, who will no longer get a free view of Stonehenge whilst travelling through the tunnel, will be able to claim a 25% discount at the English Heritage visitor centre.

McDonald’s will also be offering discounts on their exclusively branded menu for toll payers at any of their A303 restaurants. Vouchers will be redeemable on Chicken McDruids, Stone Burgers and Solstice Shakes.

The Stonehenge Drive-Thru is expected to open in 2026 and local residents are ‘lovin’ it.

1st APRIL 2021

Related Topics:
Plans for proposed dome to cover Stonehenge from 2021 – Stonehenge News Blog
April Fool! ‘Plans’ to beam advertising onto Stonehenge circle at night – Daily Mail
Moving the Avebury stones for British Summer Time – National Trust
When is April Fools’ Day 2021? Why we mark it with jokes, what time it ends and the best pranks from history – INEWS
Stonehenge To Move (April Fool’s Day – 1991) – Daily Mail
Geophysical survey reveals secret chambers and corridors underneath Stonehenge – Stonehenge News Blog
Stonehenge Tours with expert tour local tour guides – Stonenge Tour Company

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





In line with government guidance, the Stonehenge landscape is now open for local visitors to access for walks.

29 03 2021

In line with government guidance, National Trust countryside space and the Stonehenge landscape is open for local visitors to access for walks. We ask all visitors to follow guidance on social distancing to keep everyone safe. The English Heritage visitor centre is currently closed and will open on 12th April.

Please park considerately, and maintain social distancing on your walk.

This wide and open landscape is perfect for dedicated walkers. You can explore by finding your own routes, or if you prefer you can follow some of the National Trust set walks that take you past some of the most important archaeological sites.

Explore the Stonehenge Landsape on foot
Stonehenge does not stand in isolation, but forms part of a remarkable ancient landscape of early Neolithic, late Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments. The best way to appreciate Stonehenge is on foot. You can enjoy the impressive Wiltshire countryside while exploring the ancient history that has shaped it. Follow in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors and discover the prehistoric monuments that fill the vast ancient landscape surrounding Stonehenge. Stonehenge has far more than ther stone circle. It encompass unrivalled Neolithic landscapes that contain many other fascinating and unique monuments. You could easily spend a whole day in either part of the World Heritage Site.

How to see the site on an independent walk
Download a National Trust map for one of the following routes and explore for yourself.

  1. Ramble around on a Durrington Walls and Landscape walk and explore the connection between two of the most important henge enclosures in the country in a less-known part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. View the route
  2. Go on a Durrington Walls to Stonehenge walk and discover the landscape in its full glory from the Bronze Age barrow First World War military railway track, as well as its diverse wildlife and plants. View the route
Look for the National Trust and English Heritage information boards placed at key monuments in the landscape.

Durrington Walls to Stonehenge
This walk explores three major prehistoric monuments, Durrington Walls, the Stonehenge Avenue and the Cursus, all in the heart of the World Heritage Site. You will discover this landscape’s past starting with the monuments built by the first farmers, as well as finding out about its diverse range of wildlife and plants. View the route

A Kings View
A walk that explores the chalk downland at the heart of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. From Bronze Age burial mounds to ceremonial pathways, Britain’s most famous prehistoric landscape is crammed with globally important archaeology. There’s also an array of wildlife to look out for all year round, including hares, deer and birds. View the route.

Sectrets of the Stonehenge Landsacpe
A walk that explores some of the lesser known areas of the Stonehenge landscape with great views of the famous stone circle and some breathtaking archaeology. Within Fargo Woodland there are Bronze Age burial mounds and lots of wildlife to discover as well as a useful information and view point. The chalk grassland supports a wealth of native flora and fauna. View the route

Durrington Walls to King Barrow Ridge
With this walk you will explore the landscape to the east of Stonehenge. You will take in the timber circle of Woodhenge and Durrington Walls henge, the Cuckoo Stone and the burial mounds on King Barrow Ridge. All of these sites played an important part in the story of the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge. View the route

Stonehenge Landscape Winterbourne Stoke barrows
Wide, open spaces, fresh air and a deep connection with history. This short dog friendly walk takes in thousands of years of history, with amazing views in a landscape rich in wildflowers, insects, animals and birds. View the route

Walking in Wiltshire
With around 8,200 paths and almost half the county designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, walks in Wiltshire has never been better. Visit Wiltshire

Wiltshire Walks
The county is rich with ancient history, including the world famous stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury – The Walking Moon Raker

Wiltshire Walks App
The ‘Wiltshire Walks’ app is now available for iPhone and Android and includes over 150 GPS guided walking routes in and around Wiltshire. The app can be downloaded by simply searching for ‘Wiltshire Walks’ on the app stores or by visiting the website. Download the app here

Wiltshire Rural and Leisure walking
Walking through Wiltshire’s Countryside really shows you rural England at its best – Connecting Wiltshire

Stonehenge Walking Tours
The best way to approach Stonehenge is on foot across the landscape with an expert local tour guide. Stonehenge Walks

Stonehenge from Amesbury Walk
This 6-mile circular walk crosses sweeping downland, passes important prehistoric sites and visits the world-famous Stone Circle at StonehengeWiltshire. The Outdoor Guide

Wiltshire Guided Walking Tours.
A new guided tour to help you discover our countries’ most prehistoric wonders. The Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour Company

Relevant Stonehenge Links:
English Heritage – Interactive Maps of the Stonehenge Landscape – click here
Forget sitting in traffic – you should walk to Stonehenge insteadThe Telegraph
Ticking Stonehenge off your bucket list. Stonehenge News Blog – Click here
Stonehenge Guided Tours – The Stonehenge Touring Experts – click here
5 Ways to Visit Stonehenge for Free – The Portable – click here
National Trust – The Stonehenge Landscape – click here

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







Stonehenge Spring Equinox (Vernal) Managed Open Access 2021 Cancelled.

13 03 2021

Owing to the pandemic, and in the interests of public health, there will be no Spring Equinox gathering at Stonehenge this year.  People wanting to watch the sunrise to mark the first day of spring have been told not to travel to Stonehenge. English Heritage maintains it cannot host the usual celebrations at the prehistoric monument on 20 March due to safety concerns.

The spring equinox is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the stones for public access. Equinox open accesses attract fewer people than the Solstices – in the several hundreds rather than tens of thousands – and there are modern Druid ceremonies which are held in the circle around dawn, so if you prefer a quieter experience then attending a future Equinox is a good choice.

English Heritage, which manages the site, has cancelled the event and remains closed Stonehenge until 12th April following government advice on coronavirus. About 800 people usually gather at the Wiltshire monument, on or around 20 March, to mark the spring equinox.

The Spring, or Vernal, Equinox is the point at which the sun crosses the equator, returning to the northern hemisphere, the point when day and night are at equal length.  The exact time of the 2021 Spring (Vernal) Equinox is at 09.37am The spring equinox is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the stones for public access. While touching the stones has been banned since 1977, rules had been traditionally relaxed during the summer and winter solstice, as well as the spring and autumn equinox, allowing people to get closer to the stones.

English Heritage is continuing to plan for the 2021 summer solstice.
English Heritage are having a Round Table Group meeting in April to discuss the summer solstice celebrations and have issued a brief statement:

The main item on the agenda will of course be Summer Solstice 2021 at Stonehenge where we welcome your input into plans for access to Stonehenge. While we at English Heritage remain cautiously optimistic about being able to offer access in some form, I would ask that attendees bear in mind that there is likely to still be some uncertainty on how to proceed as we continue to navigate the pandemic and the changing regulations under which we are living.

Related Topics:
How the Spring Equinox marks the changing seasons – The Telegraph
What is the vernal equinox? Why does it mark the first day of spring? – Express
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present – Stonehenge News Blog
Stonehenge Equinox Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Solstice at Stonehenge – English Heritage
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – Stonehenge News Blog
What Exactly Is the Spring Equinox? – Country Living
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours – Solstice Events UK
Stonehenge Winter Solstice ban criticised by senior druid – BBC

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





The ‘remarqueable’ John Aubrey – Antiquary Son of Wiltshire.

12 03 2021

The 17th Century gentleman antiquarian, John Aubrey, is a fascinating, if elusive figure. Most famous for his proto-biography anthology, Brief Lives, in which he pithily captures in a few well-turned lines the key movers and shakers of his age, he is somewhat eclipsed by the greater lives he wrote about. Of Welsh descent (with family connections in Hereford and South Wales), Aubrey was born in Easton Piercy, Wiltshire 1626, and was to witness some of the most tumultuous events in English history.

Growing up within living memory of the rein of Elizabeth I, and amid the ruinous devastation caused by her murderous father, Henry VIII,  Aubrey was the witness firsthand the chaos of the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the merry England of Charles II, the brief rein of James II, and the Glorious Revolution, which saw in William and Mary. Living through such turbulent times, it is perhaps small wonder that Aubrey developed an obsession for the collection and preservation of the fragile, precious icons of the past. As his biographer, Ruth Scurr, pointed out, he was not alone in this predilection: ‘Rescuing or remembering the material remains of lost or shattered worlds became compelling for many who lived through the English Civil War.’ (2015: 4)  Yet Aubrey felt he was not only born in the right time, but the right place: ‘I was inclined by my genius from childhood to the love of antiquities: and my Fate dropt me in a countrey most suitable for such enquiries.’ One could also say ‘county’ as much as ‘countrey’, for in Aubrey’s birthplace and home, Wiltshire, he found an area worthy of a lifetime’s study.

With its hundreds of prehistoric monuments it is an antiquarian’s paradise. It seemed to have his name on it, literally. In 1649, when out hunting, he stumbled upon a remarkable arrangement of stones, half-hidden behind ivy and briar and apparently ignored as the mundane backdrop to the lives of simple farming folk, who grazed their livestock and grew their crops amongst them. This was the village of Avebury, and Aubrey couldn’t help but be tickled at the similarity between the names.

Tourists and gentlemen antiquaries can be seen visiting England’s most famous prehistoric monument, in this engraving by David Loggan  

By the time Aubrey was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 news of his discovery of a monument, which ‘…doth exceed Stonehenge as a Cathedral does a Parish Church,’ reached the ears of Charles II, who asked Aubrey to show it to him on a hunting trip in Wiltshire. The monarch asked Aubrey to dig for treasure, but Aubrey discretely deferred this royal command, and instead undertook something for more useful.  He conducted a proto-survey of it, alongside one of Stonehenge in 1666, where he discovered the holes of timbered uprights, which bore cremated Neolithic remains – thousands of individual bone fragments from 56 individuals. These became known as the Aubrey Holes. Aubrey was educated in Dorset, then Trinity College, Oxford, before taking the bar at the Middle Temple, London. Although he moved in exalted circles as a member of the Royal Society, Aubrey often struggled with money. Fortunately, as an erudite and entertaining conversationalist (and, perhaps, more importantly a great listener) he was a favoured guest and enjoyed the rolling hospitality of his wealthy circle. Yet, living amid other lives had its deficits – although it was ideal ‘access’ for a future biographer, it meant his own projects were always deferred and piecemeal (tellingly, Miscellanies was the only monograph published in his lifetime, although he authored several, notably on his beloved Wiltshire, and he laboured upon his magnum opus, Monumenta Britannica, for thirty years).

Aubrey himself, an agnostic with more of a belief in astrology, thought such professional procrastination was written in the stars, as he reflected in later years, writing about himself like a subject of one of his own brief biographies: ‘His life is more remarqueable in an astrologicall respect then for any advancement of learning, having from his birth (till of late years) been labouring under a crowd of ill directions’. But it is precisely that restless interest in all things that resulted in the preservation of so much priceless history, for his precious collection of books, manuscripts, artefacts, art, and antiquities, was eventually bequeathed to Elias Ashmole, who went on to found the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  

Aubrey died in Oxford in 1697, at the end of a relatively brief (the Biblical ‘three score years and ten’) but certainly ‘remarqueable’ life. Through his tireless efforts he saved for posterity many treasures from the deluge of time, and his own legacy should be celebrated as Wiltshire’s most remarkable son.

Guest Blogger: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and Herepath: a Wiltshire songline. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of the Marlborough Downs (where he lives) and beyond.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

Related links and articles:
John Aubrey: chronicler of the 17th century – History Extra
Research on Stonehenge – English Heritage Blog
John Aubrey: The Man who ‘Discovered’ Avebury – National Trust
Stonehenge Private Access Experience – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Stonehenge and the Druids – Stonehenge News Blog
John Aubrey: England’s first archaeologist? – The Heritage Trust
Stonehenge and Avebury Archaelogical Guided Tours – Stonehenge Tour Specialist

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






The Music of Stonehenge.

2 03 2021

For anyone who has ever been to Stonehenge for one of the four solar festivals – Summer or Winter solstice; Spring or Autumn equinox – it is impossible to think of it without thinking of some kind of music: the drumming circle that sometimes last all night, building up to a crescendo at dawn (and then continuing as the perpetual soundtrack of the sunrise celebration); the melodies of a wandering minstrel, strangely-attired saxophonist, opportunist young band with full kit, community choir, or scratch protest band; the chanting of Hare Krishnas, Pagans, Druids, and enthusiastic crowds; or even just the countless pilgrimage mixtapes listened to on the way there and again. It seems the unique Neolithic monument was designed for sound, as all who have stood within the inner circle when a great chant or cheer has been raised would agree – the stones act as tuning forks, and the circle seems to come alive with song.

              Archaeacoustic theories about Stonehenge, and other prehistoric monuments, have been around for a long time, but a 2020 study by the Salford Innovation Research Centre, based at the University of Salford, confirms the design intentionality of this. The researchers rebuilt a precise 3-D printed scale model of a complete Stonehenge in their sound lab, and used this to recreate the acoustics of the third phase, when all the trilithons were locked into place, and the inner ring of bluestones from West Wales stood sentinel like a ready-made (or reconfigured) stone audience. As an aside to the latest discovery of what appears to be the proto-Stonehenge at Waun Mawn, it is interesting to note that to this day the National Eisteddfod of Wales conducts its bardic inaugurations in specially constructed stone circles, as a symbolic recreation of the ‘pocketful of stones’ its spiritual founder, Iolo Morganwg, used to create a sacred circle on Primrose Hill, in 1792.  The Cornish scholar, Alan M. Kent, has noted how the Kernow Mystery Play tradition had their own equivalent Gorseth circle, the Plen an Gwari, or ‘playing place’ (with two surviving, the Plain in St Just, Penwith; and St Pirran’s Round in Perranporth). And across the Greco-Roman world the amphitheatre took this basic concept to its zenith, such as in the theatre of Epidaurus, which could seat 14,000 people, who were able to hear a stage whisper from a performer standing on its proscenium stage. And yet, according to the scientific modelling of the Salford researchers, it seems Stonehenge was not designed to enhance this acoustic effect for a large gathering, but only those standing within the inner circle. Susan Greaney, senior properties historian for English Heritage, concludes that:  ‘the results show that music, voices or percussion sounds made at the monument could only really be heard by those standing within the stone circle, suggesting that any rituals that took place there were intimate events.’

              Writer Paul Deveraux has made an in-depth study of archeoacoustics, which he summarises in his 2001 book, Stone Age Soundtracks. It is hard to disavow the heightened acoustics of sites like the underground Neolithic temple, Metageum, in Malta, or of Newgrange (where, it has been noted, drumming creates observable patterns in the dust-mote laden shards of sunlight that seem to be encoded in the chevrons and spirals of the petroglyphs adorning its passage and entrance stones). The ‘vibes’ of such places have led to artistes like Julian Cope actually recording within chambered barrows (‘Paranormal in the West Country’, from his 1994 album Autogeddon, was recorded in West Kennet long barrow). The Beatles visited Stony Littleton long barrow, while the guests of Sergeant Peppers’ cover artist, Peter Blake, in Wellow. Whether they made any music there is unknown, but Ringo apocryphally said, ‘It’s a great place to get stoned.’

              Yet, even with a plethora of educated guesses there is a telling absence of instruction tablets from the archeoarchitects, So, pending the discovery of a ‘Rosetta Stone’, the jury is still out on whether prehistoric monuments were sonic temples, or if the phenomenon is just an interesting side-effect.

              Nevertheless, the Counter Culture has not shirked in providing its own Stone Age soundtrack for Stonehenge. Most people associate Stonehenge with one song, the satirical rock anthem, ‘Stonehenge’ from This is Spinal Tap (1984). It is hard not to think of it without images of diminutive descending megaliths and pratfalling little people being conjured from the dry ice of movie memory. 

And yet in the same year as Rob Reiner’s comedy classic, the prog-rock band who is entwined with Stonehenge more than any other, Hawkwind, was playing an epic summer solstice set at what was to be the last Stonehenge Free Festival. With their lysergically-enhanced sci-fi flavoured psychedelia, legendary light shows,  epic lyrics by New Wave author Michael Moorcock, body-painted dancers, and Warp Factor 10 wildness, Hawkwind were the unofficial laureates of Stonehenge.

When the Stonehenge Free Festival was smashed in the Battle of the Beanfield of 1985 it seemed like the silver machine of the Counter Culture had been shot down in flames, but its spirit re-emerged in the road protest movement that was to be a rallying point throughout the late 80s and 90s. During a 15 year exclusion zone around Stonehenge during the times of the solstices, raggle-taggle bands like the Spacegoats and the Poison Girls kept the spirit of the Free Festival going, their pixie-punk offerings conveying messages of ecological awareness and anarchy. 

With the opening up of access for the summer solstice in 2000 many old veterans were reunited and new bloods were initiated into the Stonehenge family, a Hakim Bey ‘temporary autonomous zone’ or Brigadoon that continues to manifest (excluding periods of pandemic lockdown) at the solar festivals once more, albeit in a more civilised, co-ordinated way – with infrastructure such as parking, toilets, lighting, and walkways, provided by English Heritage, to manage the often large crowds. And new stars have emerged in this Neolithic platform for a new millennium – made internationally famous by the news crews and, increasingly so, by the smartphone footage shared on social media – including the striking crimson ensemble known as the Shakti Sing Choir, who introduce some quality harmonies to an often ragged, and discordant, free-for-all. Yet Stonehenge is nothing if not a broad church, and all are welcomed – whatever their ability. This is part of its popularity, resilience, and unique ambience – it offers a chance for everyone to shine, to have their moment in the sun, ‘under the eye of light’ as the druids say.  It offers a world-famous platform for exhibitionists, the ultimate busking spot, but also for everyone to dress up, strut their stuff, and have a good time. Some have used Stonehenge as a backdrop for their own pop videos or comedy routines – the Norwegian comedy duo, Ylvis, combined the two in their own mock-anthem of 2013, ‘Stonehenge’; Germanic rapper Kellegah throws Stonehenge into the mix in his song of 2019 without any apparent significance; while Soundgarden’s grungy  ‘Exit Stonehenge’ of 1994 starts with the memorable line, ‘Jesus I can’t feel my penis.’ And yet, in contrast, gentle, heartfelt songs such as Kellianna’s ‘Stonehenge’ evoke the spiritual feelings of many a pilgrim to the stones.  Without a doubt, music and spirituality go hand-in-hand at Stonehenge – it provides an expression of belief system, ideology, and lifestyle.

Let us end our brief foray into the music of Stonehenge with a song which, although it doesn’t mention the iconic stone circle and was composed amid the concrete sarsens of the capitol, seems to evoke the spirit of the very best of the gatherings to have graced such places over the years – David Bowie’s ‘Memory of a Free Festival’ from his second self-titled album of 1969. This was actually inspired by a free festival he had helped organise at the bandstand of Croydon Road Recreational Ground in Beckenham on 16th August, 1969, to raise funds for the Beckenham Arts Lab, which was formative to his artistic development. Both a paean and a eulogy for a golden day, it ends with a chorus that could sum up the hopes of many a pilgrim-reveller, making their way to the stones for the solstice, ‘The song machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party…’

If this has whetted your appetite and you want to experience Stonehenge for yourself then why not book a Stonehenge inner circle experience tour or join the celebrations at the Summer Solstice

Guest Blogger: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and Herepath: a Wiltshire songline. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of the Marlborough Downs (where he lives) and beyond.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

The Music:
Spinal Tap – ‘Stonehenge’ (1984)
Hawkwind – ‘Hawkwind Solstice At Stonehenge’ (1984)
Shatki Sings Choir – ‘May We Live in Peace’ (2015)
Ylvis – ‘Stonehenge’ (2013)
Spacegoats – ‘Thirteen Moons in Motion’ (1994)
Soundgarden – ‘Exit Stonehenge’ (1994)
Poison Girls – ‘Stonehenge’ (2004)
Kellianna – ‘Stonehenge’ (2004):
Paul Oakenfield – ‘b2b CARL COX at Stonehenge

Relevant Stonehenge Links:
Heavy rock music: Stonehenge was a ‘neolithic rave venue’ – Daily Mail
The first-ever scale model of Stonehenge that lets researchers explore how the monument would have sounded in its heyday has been created by UK researchers. – Stonehenge News Blog
Salford scientists reveal the ‘sound of Stonehenge’ – The Guardian
Stonehenge Private Access Inner Circle Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Stonehenge enhanced sounds like voices or music for people inside the monument – Science News
Scientists recreate prehistoric acoustics of Stonehenge – The Independent
Stonehenge enhanced voices and music within the stone ring – Science for Students
Stonehenge Solstice and Equinox Tours – The Stonehenge Tour Company
The lost sounds of Stonehenge – BBC

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





Stonehenge Leylines – Alignments of Mystery.

22 02 2021

When commercial traveller, photographic inventor, and amateur antiquarian Alfred Watkins wrote up his lecture expounding his theory about ancient routemarkers in Early British Trackways (1922), delivered to the Woolhope Club of Hereford only five months previously, he started a movement, some would say a craze, which shows no signs of diminishing even in the cold light of the 21st century.

            From his business peregrinations up and down the Welsh Marches Watkins deduced that prehistoric travellers must have created a system of routes and landmarks to aid navigation, and upon realising this  he felt he ‘held in [his] hand the key plan of a long-lost fact’. When he glimpsed in an epiphanic flash ‘the original sighting pegs used by the earliest track makers in marking out their travel ways’, it seemed as though a secret map of Britain had been revealed to him. Such a claim met with ‘violent opposition’, but he fine-tuned his controversial theorem in The Old Straight Track: its mounds, beacons, moats, sites and mark stones, his influential monograph published in 1925. Watkins drew upon archaeological, topographical, and etymological evidence, tested by exhaustive field research. He postulated that alignments had developed over a long period of time – beginning in the Palaeolithic – and that navigational aids were placed along them, starting with simple piles of stones (walkers’ cairns, such as can be found on many summits and popular walking routes across Britain), which were sometimes developed into megalithic monuments, churches, towers, follies, and so forth, through the ages, the initial purpose fading in the mists of time: ‘The straight track became an organised possession of the community for all to use, but mystery and reverence for a superior knowledge grew round its making and its mark-points’. Critically, Watkins did not perceive these ‘leys’, as he called them (from the Anglo-Saxon word for a clearing, and linked to ‘sight’) as in any way supernatural. He emphasised the practical application: ‘Utility was the primary object’. Only later, Watkins suggested, did such sites become co-opted for religious purposes, such as the predominance of churches dedicated to the Michael on hill-tops – the archangel who is commonly depicted as slaying the dragon with his spear, or ‘fixing the point’, focalising the serpent energy of the land in geomantic terms.

Yet Watkins’ revolutionary idea was tantalising enough to inspire generations of ‘ley-hunters’, and it is hard not to be caught up in his vision when he, in a rare moment of lyricism, waxes about his grand vision: ‘imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach, and paid out until it touched the “high places” of the earth at a number of ridges, banks, and knowls.’ Watkins envisioned ponds and streams being deliberately enhanced to reflect beacon fires lit upon the high places. Anyone who has stood upon Glastonbury Tor on a sunny day would have witnessed this phenomenon, as the sunlight reflects off the dykes that thread the Somerset Levels, creating chains of light across the land.

            And Watkins’ vision was to act like a beacon fire to many who followed. His work was taken up in the late Sixties by antiquarian and occult author John Michel, in The View Over Atlantis (1969), who took Watkins’ ideas, and run with them – reconceptualising his ‘leys’ as ‘leylines’, a matrix of energy stretching across not only Britain, but the world, and connecting ancient sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Machu Piccu in Peru, and Stonehenge. These energy lines were seen as the meridians of the planet, to use the analogy from Chinese acupuncture, with sacred sites acting as ‘needles of stone’ (an idea crystallised by Tom Graves in his 1978 book). Leylines had gone viral, a meme that the Counter Culture adopted as their own. Some have tried to adopt a scientific approach to their study, most notably Paul Deveraux, who has undertaken extensive field research at sacred sites, (the Dragon Project of the late Seventies), yet the leyline theory is largely discredited by archaeologists. It is argued that you could draw a random line on a map and the probability is that it will intersect ‘sacred’ or historic sites; also, that the sites offered as evidence of a ley vary so widely over time and usage that no single, coherent purpose can be applied to them. And yet humans, the pattern-making creature, love to see patterns. We are biologically hard-wired to respond to simulacra – from our mother’s face, to human forms in nature. We seek meaning in what is otherwise a random, meaningless universe. It is no wonder we fashion lines of narrative, or song, to guide us – internally and externally – across life’s journey.  It is something we have been doing for at least fifty thousand years, as the complex system of the Aboriginal dreamtime, with its songlines, attests. It seems unlikely that such an intuitive (and useful) way of mapping only developed in a single place on Earth. Enigmatic monuments like the Nazca lines in Peru, and the cursus in England, suggest otherwise. Deveraux suggests these could be ‘spirit roads’, and are a macrocosmic version of the countless ‘corpse paths’ found in many cultures. Certainly, there is more to such routes than the prosaically utilitarian. Some historic routes, such Roman roads, droveways, saltways, the ‘herepaths’ (or military track) of Alfred the Great, General Wade’s roads across Scotland, and so forth, clearly did have a primarily practical purpose – and although sometimes these overlap with other, older routes or usages, there are too many obscurer routes, ‘hidden paths that run towards the moon, or to the sun’ (as Tolkien put it), to be simply ignored. And the fact is (perplexing as it may be to an empirical, rationalist paradigm) that many of them can be dowsed. They are discernible, and anyone with a pendant, rod, or sensitive persuasion, can detect them. Many converge at Stonehenge – the Spaghetti Junction of leylines (or Mother Node, if you prefer) – and cross the land and beyond, as Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst have pointed out. Something is there, and what that signifies – Palaeolithic navigational aids, geomagnetic earth energies, the meridians of Mother Earth, ghost paths, extraterrestrial guidance beacons – who can rightly say?  Perhaps the true nature of such alignments depends on the awareness and paradigm of the one seeking them – we find the road we wish to walk; the evidence to support the theory we wish to believe. It seems ley/lines are to be experienced, more than understood – and they add a little bit of mystery to a world suffering from a dearth of the imagination. They provide a counter-narrative, of other ways of experiencing reality, one that opens up, rather than shuts down possibility. It turns the prose of the everyday into a poem, even a song. They offer another way of being in the landscape. Choosing to follow these invisible paths is an act of faith – like The Fool in the tarot, the seeker steps off the precipice of reason and hopes their vision will sustain them. It certainly sustained Watkins.  So, it feels right and fitting to give the man who started it all the last word: ‘Such alignments are either facts beyond the possibility of accidental coincidence or they are not’.

Guest Blogger: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and Herepath: a Wiltshire songline. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of the Marlborough Downs (where he lives) and beyond.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

Further Reading:
Watkins, Alfred, The Old Straight Track, London: Abacus, 1974
Deveraux, Paul, Spirit Roads: an exploration of otherworldly routes, London: Collins & Brown
Hippisley-Cox, R. The Green Roads of England, London: Metheun & Co., 1914
Macfarlane, Robert, The Old Ways: a journey on foot, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2012
Rudd-Jones, N., & David Stewart, Pathways: journeys along Britain’s historic byways, from pilgrimage routes to smuggler’s trails, London: Guardian Books

Stonehenge and Ley Line online link resource:
Healing Energies of Stonehenge – Ancient Origins
Stonehenge Ley Lines and Earth Energies – Why Does it Attract ‘New Agers’? – Stonehenge News Blog
Stonehenge New Age Tours – Stonehenge Tour Company
Ley lines and earth energies of Avebury Henge – Visit Avebury
The Lore and Lure of Ley Lines – Live Science
Moonraking: Spooky Stuff: Ley lines – BBC Website
Cross Roads of ‘Power’- Stonehenge – Pagan Potions
The Definition of a Ley-line – Ancient Wisdom
Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Avebury Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Ley Lines and the Earths Magnetic Field – UK Ley Lines Website

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







Stonehenge: Did the stone circle originally stand in Wales? Find backs theory that monument was dismantled and dragged over 140 miles to Wiltshire.

12 02 2021

One of Britain’s biggest and oldest stone circles has been found in Wales – and could be the original building blocks of Stonehenge. Stonehenge will be the focus of a new BBC documentary, airing for the first time on Friday (February 12th).

Archaeological investigations as part of the ‘Stones of Stonehenge’ research project, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London, previously excavated two bluestone quarries in the Preseli Hills
  • They believe it was dismantled and rebuilt as the first stage of Stonehenge
  • It has an identical diameter to the ditch surrounding Stonehenge, they found 
  • Waun Mawn is close to the quarries the Stonehenge bluestones were made from
    Archaeologists have unearthed Britain’s third largest stone circle in Wales

Archaeologists uncovered the remains of the Waun Mawn site in Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills.

They believe the stones could have been dismantled and rebuilt 150 miles (240 km) away on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

The discovery was made during filming for BBC Two’s Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed.

The Welsh circle, believed to be the third biggest in Britain, has a diameter of 360ft (110m), the same as the ditch that encloses Stonehenge, and both are aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise.

Several of the monoliths at the World Heritage Site are of the same rock type as those that still remain at the Welsh site.

And one of the bluestones at Stonehenge has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn, suggesting the monolith began its life as part of the stone circle in the Preseli Hills before being moved.

What is Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed?

During a one-hour documentary, questions about the stones will be answered including – where the stones probably came from, how they were moved from Wales to England and who dragged them all of the way.

Using cutting-edge research, a dedicated team of archaeologists, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, has been compiling evidence to fill in a 400-year gap in our knowledge of the bluestones, and to show that the original stones of one of Britain’s most iconic monuments had a previous life.

Viewers will be able to watch and learn how researchers discovered these secrets of Stonehenge.

LINKS BETWEEN STONEHENGE AND WAUN MAWN 
There were significant links between the neolithic sites of Stonehenge and Waun Mawn that led researchers to conclude a link between them.
The Welsh site was likely disassembled, moved to Wiltshire and used in the building of Stonehenge. The Welsh circle has a diameter of 360ft (110m), the same as the ditch that encloses Stonehenge.
Both are aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise.
Several of the monoliths at the World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain are of the same rock type as those that still remain at the Welsh site.
And one of the bluestones at Stonehenge has an unusual cross-section which matches one of the holes left at Waun Mawn.
This suggests the monolith began its life as part of the stone circle in the Preseli Hills before being moved.

Stonehenge references:
Stonehenge: Did the stone circle originally stand in Wales? – BBC
Stonehenge and Wales connection revealed in BBC2 Lost Circle – Salisbury Journal
Was Stonehenge originally built in Wales? Archaeologists unearth remains of Britain’s third largest stone circle and claim it was ‘dismantled and MOVED to Wiltshire’ – The Daily Mail
Ancient Welsh circle at Waun Mawn is brother of Stonehenge – The Times
How Stonehenge could have evolved from an earlier Welsh stone circle – The Telegraph
Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed – what you need to know – Salisbury Journal
Guided Tours of Stonehenge with megalitic experts – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Dramatic discovery links Stonehenge to its original site – in Wales – The Guardian

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





Archaeologists unearth Bronze Age artefacts and Neolithic graves at proposed Stonehenge tunnel site.

7 02 2021

All kinds of ancient artefacts have been found at the A303 site. Recent excavation has uncovered late Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts and human remains

The Guardian reports that archaeologists have examined some 1,800 test pits and more than 400 trial trenches along the path of the proposed controversial two-mile A303 tunnel at Stonehenge. The A303 road, which currently runs close to Stonehenge, will in future enter a 3km long dual-carriageway tunnel that passes through part of the ancient site, removing any vehicles from the view of visitors.

Archaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site

A Neolithic burial site, a mysterious Bronze Age C-shaped enclosure and ancient tools and pottery have been found by archaeologists carrying out work at the proposed new road tunnel at Stonehenge.

Wessex Archaeology’s investigations uncovered evidence of human activity dating back more than 7,000 years at the planned A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Scheme sites.

Archaeologists have put in a huge amount of work into preliminary investigations, including more than 462 hectares of geophysical survey and 440 evaluation trenches.

One of the two Beaker-period burials found near the site of the proposed Stonehenge road tunnel. (Image: Wessex Archaeology)

One of the most fascinating discoveries is a small shale object – found in the grave of a female in her 20s or early 30s.

The burial dates to the Beaker period, around 4,500 years ago, when new types of pottery and other objects appear in Britain. This period also saw the building of some of the bluestone circles at Stonehenge.

“It’s a unique object: we have never seen one before,” says Dr Matt Leivers, A303 consultant archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology.

“Although not hugely significant, we can only speculate about what it was – it may have been a ceremonial cup purposefully damaged before it was laid in the grave, or it may be the cap off the end of a staff or club.”

Nearby pits from the same period were found to contain other traces of human activity, including fragments of pottery, worked flint for tools, and animal bones.

Archaeologists also discovered tiny ear bones from a young infant in one of the pits, buried alongside a plain Beaker.

Elsewhere, a C-shaped enclosure dating to the late Bronze Age is thought to have been an area for industrial working, due to the density of burned flint contained in the soil around it.

The investigations have informed the main archaeological fieldwork, due to begin on site in late spring this year. The main phase of fieldwork will involve around 100-150 archaeologists and last approximately 18 months ahead of construction starting on site in 2023.

Andy Crockett, A303 Project Director at Wessex Archaeology says:

“We’ve done a huge amount of initial work which has been extremely thorough – more so than any site I’ve worked on in my 40-year career – reflecting the sensitivity of this site. We now have a very clear idea of what we expect to find in the upcoming main fieldworks. Everything we find will be processed, conserved and analysed by the specialists in our Research department. We’ll also be drawing on the expertise of our partners in the archaeological sector, so that we make sure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for the archaeology.”

Ultimately, all finds will be delivered to Salisbury Museum to be displayed to the public.

David Bullock, A303 Project Manager, Highways England, says:

“It is a scheme objective to conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site and this is being achieved through close collaborative working with heritage groups, the independent A303 Scientific Committee, and our archaeology contractors Wessex Archaeology, who have an extensive track record of work in connection with the Stonehenge landscape.

“The route itself has been designed to ensure there are no direct impacts on scheduled monuments and the amount of archaeological survey and mitigation work is unprecedented because, in recognition of the significance of the WHS, the surveys are over and above what would have usually been done at this stage of a highway project.

“As part of the extensive archaeological surveys to date, we have uncovered some interesting but not unexpected finds, and we are now preparing plans with Wessex to start further archaeological excavation work later this year. This will be monitored on site by Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service, and members of the independent A303 Scientific Committee and A303 Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Group.”

Stonehenge References:
Archaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site – The Guardian
A303 Stonehenge evaluation works uncover glimpses of prehistoric life – Wessex Archaeology
Archaeologists unearth Neolithic graves at Stonehenge tunnel site – Somerset Live
Bronze Age graves and Neolithic pottery discovered near proposed new road tunnel could shed light on makers of the stone circle – The Daily Mail
Discoveries at Stonehenge highlight controversial new tunnel’s threat to heritage – The Art Newspaper
Stonehenge tunnel discovery: Ancient civilisation evidence found under A303 – The Express
Bronze Age Graves Uncovered At Stonehenge During Tunnel Excavations – Ancient Origins
Stonehenge Archaeology Guided Tours – Stonehenge Tour Company
Lost Bronze Age graves discovered at Stonehenge tunnel site after 4,000 years – The Sun
Scrap Stonehenge road tunnel plans, say archaeologists after neolithic discovery – The Guardian
Stonehenge Walking Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours

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





Wiltshire people share thoughts on A303 Stonehenge tunnel benefits.

28 01 2021

The video’s been released on social media, with the strapline ‘transforming the landscape and transforming lives‘ to suggest how that part of South Wiltshire will benefit from the project.

They’ve featured in a new video from Highways England.

Those in favour of the tunnel has long said that it would prevent rat-running through villages to avoid heavy traffic on the A303, particularly at summer time.

Archaeologist Mike Pitts speaks about what the project means to him.
“Opening up the World Heritage Site will open up new understandings, a new appreciation of this landscape for all of us”

Archaeologist Mike Pitts on what #A303Stonehenge means to him.

B&B owner Jane Singleton talks to Highways England about what the A303 Stonehenge will do for her business and the local community. Read her Stonehenge story here

Highways England and English Heritage support the scheme, which is expected to begin in 2023 and take five years to complete.

Stonehenge A303 Tunnel References:
South Wiltshire people share thoughts on A303 Stonehenge tunnel benefits – PLANET RADIO
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Alliance. The battle to save Stonehenge WHS is on – SAVE STONEHENGE CAMPAIGN
A303 Stonehenge Tunnel explained: Plans, route design and more – THE SALISBURY JOURNAL
The Stonehenge tunnel: ‘A monstrous act of desecration is brewing’ – THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge tunnel ‘would destroy 500,000 artefacts’ – THE TIMES
A303 Stonehenge DCO granted – A sad day for our archaeological heritage – RESCUE ARCHAELOGICAL TRUST
The proposed name of the Stonehenge tunnel has been announced. THE HERITAGE TRUST
Why a Newly Approved Plan to Build a Tunnel Beneath Stonehenge Is So Controversial – THE SMITHSONIAN
Controversial $2 Billion Tunnel Near Stonehenge Approved, Causing Backlash – HYPERALLERGIC
Rival factions battle for soul of Stonehenge – THE TIMES
STONEHENGE & A303 – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Stonehenge tunnel could bring £4bn boost to South West economy – BUSINESS LIVE
The Conservative Case for the Stonehenge Tunnel | Henry Dixon-Clegg – THE MALLARD
The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

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








<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: