What are the issues surrounding the proposed Stonehenge Tunnel?

28 01 2020

The Stonehenge tunnel is a proposed tunnel or sunken dual carriageway drawn up by Highways England to upgrade the A303 road, which currently passes within 165 meters of Stonehenge. Beginning with the closure of the A344 road, the Stonehenge tunnel would complete the removal of traffic from around the site by redirecting the A303 under Stonehenge. The project aims on one hand to improve the landscape around the monument, freeing tourists from traffic that detracts from the ancient wonder of the site and on the other improving the safety on the A303, resulting in smoother travel for anyone travelling to and from the south-west of England.

Stonehenge Tunnel

When it comes to the initiation and completion of this project there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel.

The proposed tunnel already has a long history of both bureaucratic and archaeological issues. Way back in 1995 was the first time it was proposed to build a tunnel for the A303 underneath the World Heritage Site. However, it did not take long for plans to be criticised for seemingly disregarding the archaeological significance of the Wessex landscape. It was suggested that the tunnel approach would cut in to a prehistoric track way between Stonehenge and a nearby river, resulting in the loss of archaeological remains which would harmfully affect the authenticity of the site and more than cancel out the benefits of the proposed tunnel. After years of bureaucratic wrangling the proposal was finally accepted by the Government on 12 January 2017. Today, the tunnel remains mired in controversy and the arguments against it haven’t changed much since the idea’s inception in 1995. The main issues with the proposal seem to be its staunch opposition from several parties, the complexity of the job and its price.

Opposition

The staunchest opposition to the tunnel is represented by the Stonehenge Alliance campaign group ‘a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site’. This group includes environmentalists, archaeologists, residents and have recently repeated their belief that the proposed tunnel “would cause irreparable damage to the landscape”. They believe that the world heritage site of Stonehenge should be considered far wider than the barrow on which the stones stand:

The whole site, extending to beyond the horizons around the famous stones themselves, is c. 5.4 km across. All of it makes up a “huge ancient complex” that holds many secrets yet to be discovered. Yet the proposal is for a 2.9km (1.8 mile) tunnel… would result in at least 1.6 km of above-ground 21st-century road engineering…

All archaeology in the construction zones would be destroyed and the A303 would become the largest ever human intervention in an area fashioned and revered by over a hundred generations of our ancestors.

Cost

In 2018 Highways England proposed a cost of £1.6 billion and a planned start date in 2021 was indicated with the tunnel’s planned opening being in 2026. Unsurprisingly, this cost has created yet more opposition in both the commons and amongst the general public especially since the project was due to be privately funded, but now will be funded publicly since the government dismissed a ‘PFI financing model’ in the 2018 Budget.

Complexity

To protect the landscape, the plans are ambitiously complex. Not only is the job of sinking a dual carriageway a complex starting point but the project also proposes:

  • Four “green bridges” for wildlife to cross the dual carriageway.
  • Restoring areas of chalk grassland at Yarnbury Castle on Berwick Down through to the south of Parsonage Down national nature reserve.
  • 100ha of new chalk grassland to promote biodiversity in the area.
  • A viaduct at the River Till
  • Moving the junction between the A303 and A360 600m west

Adding a bureaucratic layer to the complexity is the fact that  all UK tier 1 contractors have refused to bid the job believing the current approach to be too complex with its shallow tunnel, complex geology, rabid opposition,  and huge public scrutiny because of both the cost and the environmental concerns.

Of course, all these issues are interlinked. The complexity of the job is a demanded by the opposition to protect the natural beauty of the area, but the complexity pushes up the price and then the price creates yet more opposition. It seems to be a vicious cycle. When it comes to the initiation and completion of this project there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel.

Stonehenge Tunnel Relevant Links:

The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge. Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge Alliance calls for A303 tunnel to be scrapped in open letter to government. Salisbury Journal

Ministers do battle over £2billion Stonehenge tunnel. Daily Mail

Treasury pushes for £2bn Stonehenge tunnel to be axed. Financial Times

Reuniting the Stonehenge landscape and improving your journey. English Highways

Stonehenge and the A303 Joint Response. English Heritage

Stonehenge A303 Road Improvement Scheme. Historic England

A group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The Stonehenge Alliance

Stonehenge tunnel ‘at risk’ due to funding uncertainty. Construction News

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2020 Stonehenge Full Moon Dates

9 01 2020

Was it a Neolithic calendar? A solar temple? A lunar observatory? A calculating device for predicting eclipses?
Or perhaps a combination of more than one of these? In recent years Stonehenge has become the very icon of ancient astronomy, featuring in nearly every discussion on the subject. And yet there are those who persist in believing that it actually had little or no connection with astronomy at all.

Stonehenge is situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the Landscape occupies a large, sparsely populated area ideal for stargazing.   These dark skies provide the perfect environment to see the stars in all their detail, so why not organise a night-time trip to see what you can discover?

Stonehenge Full Moon

Full Moon setting over Stonehenge. Photo credit to Stonehenge Dronescapes

FULL MOON 2020
January 10th  2020:  Full Wolf Moon
February 9th 2020: Full Snow Moon
March 9th 2020: Full Worm Moon
April 8th 2020: Full Pink Moon
May 7th 2020: Full Flower Moon
June 5th 2020: Full Strawberry Moon
July 5th 2020: Full Black Moon
August 3rd 2020: Full Sturgeon Moon
September 2nd 2020: Full Corn Moon
October 1st 2020: Full Hunters Moon
31st October 2020: Full Blue Moon
November 30th 2020: Full Beaver Moon
December 30th 2020: Full Cold Moon

Stonehenge is one of the most impressive and best known prehistoric stone monuments
in the world. Ever since antiquarians’ accounts began to bring the site to wider attention
in the 17th century, there has been endless speculation about its likely purpose and meaning, and a recurring theme has been its possible connections with astronomy and the skies.

Stonehenge sky visible around the world.
Enjoy a personal Stonehenge sky all year round, thanks to a new live feed of the sky above the ancient monument.
The live feed gives us a chance to see the sky above Stonehenge from within the monument, whenever you like. On the website, we can gaze at the sky above the stone circle and track the path of other planets in our solar system.
You can visit the website at any time of the day or night to see what it’s like inside the stone circle, with 360 degree views.
Experience it for yourself at www.stonehengeskyscape.co.uk

Related links:
2020- Lunar Phases
2020 Astro Moon Calendar shows phases of the Moon each day, astronomical events and astrological forecast for the year.
Stonehenge and other stone monuments were probably used for special moonlit ceremonies.
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.
Stonehenge Dronescapes. Amazing photos of Stonehenge. Visit the Facebookpage
Stonehenge Dronescapes YouTube channel

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





2020 Stonehenge Opening Hours, Entry Prices and Tickets.

4 01 2020

Stonehenge Opening Times and Entrance Prices.
English Heritage advise to expect a visit to last around two hours. Please see the table below for opening times for 2020, with some seasonal variability, and entrance prices for adults, children, families, seniors and groups.

The Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The English Heritage Visitor Centre at Stonehenge is located 2 kilometers from the monument. This is your entry point to Stonehenge and the place where you pick up your tickets, souvenir guides and optional audio guides. The new Visitor Centre also offers a modern exhibition with prehistoric objects on display, and a spacious café and gift shop. A Stonehenge shuttle transports you between the Visitor Centre and Stonehenge (included in your ticket price).

If you come by car you will park in the car park outside the visitor centre. It is free for people purchasing tickets to enter Stonehenge, there is a charge if you are not. Tour buses have their own separate coach park.

All Members of English Heritage or National Trust must show a valid membership card on arrival to be granted free parking and site access.

To enter the Stonehenge Exhibition at the Visitor Centre you need a full ticket to Stonehenge, anyone can access the café, gift shop and toilets though, for free.

Very Important!  Book Your Stonehenge Tickets in Advance 
To be assured of entering Stonehenge the best way is to reserve timed tickets in advance on the English Heritage web site or if you need more flexibility and without the time constraint you can purchase discount advance Stonehenge tickets here

Tickets to Stonehenge are booked by half hour time slot, the website showing you how many tickets are still available for your chosen date and time.

Note: you cannot reserve tickets on-line on the day of your visit, you must reserve before midnight latest on the day before. Only a very small number of tickets are held back each day for walk-up visitors.

Note: the last admission time is two hours before closing time of Stonehenge. Closing times are variable according to month of the year (see below)

Stonehenge Admission & Opening From 1st January 2020 – October 2020

1st JANUARY 2020 – 31st MARCH 2020

Monday 9:30 – 17:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 17:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 17:00
Thursday 9:30 – 17:00
Friday 9:30 – 17:00
Saturday 9:30 – 17:00
Sunday 9:30 – 17:00

1st APRIL 2020 – 31st MAY 2020

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

1st JUNE 2020 – 31st AUGUST 2020

Monday 9:00 – 20:00
Tuesday 9:00 – 20:00
Wednesday 9:00 – 20:00
Thursday 9:00 – 20:00
Friday 9:00 – 20:00
Saturday 9:00 – 20:00
Sunday 9:00 – 20:00

1st SEPTEMBER 2020 – 15th OCTOBER 2020

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

16th OCTOBER 2020 ONWARDS
Opening times will be available nearer the time

Stonehenge Admission & Opening From 1st January 2020 – October 2020

Admission

Opening Times

Adult

£20.90

16 Mar – 31 May

09.30 – 19:00

Child (5-15)

£12.60

1 Jun – 31 Aug

09.00 – 20:00

Students/Seniors *

£18.90

1 Sep – 15 Oct

09.30 – 19:00

Family Ticket †

£54.40

16 Oct – 15 Mar

09.30 – 17:00

For more information please visit the official English Heritage website.  If you are looking to book a tour of Stonehenge, we recommend using Stonehenge Guided Tours

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Thousands gathered at Stonehenge to mark the winter solstice and witness the sunrise after the longest night of the year.

23 12 2019

English Heritage opened the site for those celebrating the end of the longest night of the year. The sun rose over Stonehenge at 08:11 GMT.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Crowds brave the Wiltshire cold to watch the sun rise after the longest night of the year

  • Around 5,000 people gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to mark the winter solstice on Sunday morning
    English Heritage opened the ancient Neolithic site to those celebrating end of the longest night of the year
    The winter solstice occurs around December 21, when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the Sun

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Jenny Davies, from English Heritage, said about 5,000 people had come, ranging from pagans and Druid groups, families and tourists.

The solstice marks the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun, and begins the gradual lengthening of days and shortening of nights.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2019 News Links:
Winter solstice: Thousands gather at Stonehenge at dawn – BBC NEWS
Druids and dancers gather at Stonehenge to mark winter solstice – THE GUARDIAN
Winter solstice 2019: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? – THE TELEGRAPH
WINTER WONDER Thousands celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge as crowds hug the stones on shortest day of the year – THE SUN
Heathens’ greetings! Drum-banging druids join thousands marking Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – THE DAILY MAIL

The Stonehenge News Blog
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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements 2019

7 12 2019

Winter Solstice Open Access: Everything you need to know

On December 22nd 2019, to celebrate the winter solstice, Stonehenge’s inner circle is open to the public for one of only four times a year! The Stones were originally constructed in conjunction with the solar calendar – there could hardly be a more important time to be at the ancient landmark. Today, visitors from all over the world congregate to enjoy the event and English heritages policy of open access allows everyone, for this very special occasion, into the inner circle of Stonehenge, to enjoy the sunrise and interact with the monument. To ensure you have the best experience possible, we have collated all the vital information about this year’s event:

20180320_054839

English Heritage is looking forward to welcoming people to Stonehenge to celebrate Winter Solstice on Sunday 22nd December.  Visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely.  Please read the information below before planning your visit. Please visit the English Heritage website for further details

  • DATE AND TIMES

Sunday 22nd December 2019

Stonehenge Respect

RESPECT THE STONES AND EACH OTHER! Click here

The following timings are subject to change. Please do check back nearer the time for the confirmed schedule.

6am: Limited car parking opens
7.45am (approximately depending on light levels): Monument field opens
8.11am: Sunrise
10am: Monument field closes 

Please Note: Due to a ‘Temporary Traffic Restriction Order’ (TTRO) By-ways 11 and 12 will be closed over the Solstice period (18th -23rd December) 

What is the solstice?

Throughout the winter solstice, the earth’s axis is tilted at its furthest point from the sun. In the UK, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. It is both the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Visitors gather to see the sunrise above the stones – an event celebrated at this time of year for thousands of years, there could hardly be a more ideal time to be amidst the sacred monoliths. Entry is completely free!

When Exactly is the Solstice?

The exact time of the Solstice on the 22nd December is 4.19 am. Open access begins at 7:45am and ends at 10:00am. This should give you plenty of time to enjoy the sunrise, appreciate the stones and meet some interesting new people, speaking of which…

Who celebrates the Solstice?

Anyone is welcome to celebrate the winter solstice and as a result it always draws a diverse and friendly crowd. It is an important spiritual occasion for some groups – so you can join a congregation of today’s druid community, including neo-druids, neo-pagans and wiccans – as well as sightseers from all over the globe.

How do you get to the Solstice?

It is possible to drive yourself to the Stones, parking costs £5 or £2 for motorbikes (Stonehenge’s postcode is SP4 7DE for your sat-nav). However, there is no guarantee – once the car park is full there is very little you will be able to do. Luckily, Salisbury Reds is running shuttle bus service, which could relieve you of a potential parking nightmare. The 333 service will run between 6.00am and 6.50am from Salisbury New Canal– with buses returning from Stonehenge between 9.15am and 10.15 am.

The service will also stop at Salisbury Railway Station and Salisbury Street in Amesbury.

Special buses planned for Stonehenge during Winter Solstice – CLICK HERE

PLANNING YOUR JOURNEY

Parking for Winter Solstice is very limited and we cannot guarantee that there will be space in the two Winter Solstice car parks. We strongly recommend car sharing or using public transport.

  • Travel by Bus – Salisbury Reds buses will be running from 6am from Salisbury via Amesbury.

    Organised Tours – If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice celebrations you can join an organised tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company and offer guided tours and transport from London. Solstice Events offer small group Winter  Solstice Tours from Bath using local expert guides.

What should you bring to the Solstice?

The most important thing to remember is that it will likely be very cold and potentially wet! Warm clothing and sensible footwear, a pair of wellies for instance, are essential, last years solstice reached lows of 5 degrees C. Glass, drones, tents and pets (with the exception of guide dogs) are all strictly prohibited.

Ultimately, there really isn’t much you need to bring to enjoy this special occasion – a sense of adventure, a smile and a warm jacket will ensure that you have a wonderful experience. And so for all those venturing to Wiltshire’s finest historical site for this magical, midwinter day, I wish you all the very best!

Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice is free and is subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please read these before deciding whether to attend.  Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet.  Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew and there may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential. Please note, parking charges apply

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? click here
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – Click here
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – Click here
Winter solstice 2020: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? click here
Special buses planned for Stonehenge during Winter Solstice – CLICK HERE
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access – Click here
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – click here
English Heritage Conditions of Entry – click here

Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines

For traffic, weather and other updates on the morning of the winter solstice, Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland @VisitWiltshire @DruidKingArthur @Wiltshirepolice for #WinterSolstice2019

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice you can watch our LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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Ticking Stonehenge off your bucket list.

30 11 2019

For people across the world- Stonehenge is a must see location, it’s majesty as well as it’s mystery has made it a mainstay on everyone’s bucket list. 

Stonehenge sunset

However, here lies the problem. Is Stonehenge merely a pretty collection of stones which need only be sited to be ticked off the list? There is no doubt that the site itself, taken as it is, is fulfilling. However- the occasion of ticking such a magnificent and ancient spectacle off a list of things to do on this earth before you die, should be done properly. The site and the whole surrounding area deserve more than tentative voyeurism. To truly ‘tick off’ Stonehenge, one must engage with its history its myths and crucially observe the entire  surrounding area which is a veritable tapestry of Neolithic history. A tapestry which considered in its entirety enriches the ultimate site to see- Stonehenge itself. 

I want to take you on a preliminary journey around Neolithic Wiltshire’s most fascinating sites- all a walking distance from the stones, which an expert guide can take you on for a holistic experience- Weaving together the history and myth of this most beautiful landscape.

On ground level-  you and the stones in front of you, it is hard to appreciate anything else. However, imagine you could fly straight up in the air and take a birds eye view- looking down on the ancient henge and its famous stones- so they are a wonderful miniature series of concentric circles…

…then go higher and take in more and more of the landscape and you’ll notice the ground is littered with meaningful scars- tell tale signs that the entire area surrounding Stonehenge has been heaving with meaning for 5,000 years. 

Luckily the wonder of the modern day means we needn’t defy gravity to appreciate the Neolithic saturation of the landscape- a simple satellite picture reveals all the key location you need to visit.

stonehenge-map

Durrington Walls 

Starting 2 miles east of the stones with Durrington walls. This was once a Neolithic settlement and may have even been the largest village in Northern Europe sometime between 2800-2100 B.C.

Woodhenge 

Heading immediately south from Durrington walls we soon will encounter Woodhenge, the elemental antithesis of Stonehenge itself. Sadly, due to the nature of wood,  the former structure has long since rotted away. This ancient site may well have been lost forever if it wasn’t for aerial photographs which revealed dark spots in wheat crops. These dark spots signalled the former post holes of large wooden posts which formed the ancient structure. Today the post holes have been filled with concrete to partially recreate the previous composition of woodhenge. It represents a magnificent symbiosis of past and present, modern techniques ensuring the survival of ancient monuments and their memory and preserve the heritage of Wiltshire .

The Cursus

Around 4000 years ago from our aerial view the Cursus would have been a bright white scar across the land, thanks to wiltshires famously chalky ground. In the Neolithic period the cursus was a 3k avenue cut into the earth for an unknown purpose.

The cursus is so named because the famous antiquarian William Stuckley and the Cursus’ discoverer- imagined roman chariots riding along its length (cursus meaning race course in Latin). Although the earth is no longer dredged along the cursus it still makes a fascinating route to wander along and to ponder, with its purpose still not totally understood

The Cursus group

At the west end of the cursus you might expect to get a good view of the Stonehenge- however your view is blocked. Instead you  are met with the curious view of a ridge of land, topped with a barrow; a Neolithic burial mound. Between the west end of the Cursus and Stonehenge itself lie the ‘Cursus Group’ an assortment of sixteen  of these Neolithic round barrows. The land literally bulges with history at this point- on top of the ridge you can see the land ripple with various barrows as you survey it- before your eyes are drawn magnetically to the stones themselves. But before you reach them it is fascinating to hear the tales of the barrows, how they had once concealed pottery, weaponry and even jewels for thousands of years.

Beyond tales of treasures it is edifying for those who wander the mounds to ponder their ancient logic- for there certainly appears to be a system- but it is yet to be determined. 

Stonehenge Avenue

Heading East from the swollen turf of the Cursus barrows you will intersect the penultimate Neolithic wonder of our imaginary tour. Like the Cursus, Stonehenge Avenue is an ancient Avenue, stretching for 3 kilometres. And like the cursus Stonehenge Avenue would have been an brilliant white scar on the earth- an alabaster pathway connecting Stonehenge with the river Avon. 

Today the avenue is still recognisable, If a slightly more furtive path then it once was but is nonetheless the pathway to the enigmatic stones, linking up with the henge as though drawn on by a higher being.

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Photo taken by Stonehenge Dronescapes. Visit their Facebook Page for more amazing photos of Stonehenge and Wiltshire.

Stonehenge Stone Circle

At last you reach the stones themselves. The colossal upright sarsen stones, rendering you minuscule in comparison- whilst the horizontal blue stones, quarried from South Wales, add the real dimension of wonder to this wonder of the world. The stones are the crowning sight to this antiquarian tour of Wiltshire’s Neolithic sights. 

Words can hardly to this magnificent structure justice and it really must be beheld to be appreciated. What is certain is that the truest appreciation of this cultural icon is ascertained through a thorough engagement with its surroundings- appreciating the wider history and indeed mystery of the land and truly attempting to cast your mind back to the remote past; ticking Stonehenge off your bucket list in the process.

Relevant Stonehenge Links:
English Heritage – Interactive Maps of the Stonehenge Landscape – click here
Stonehenge Guided Tours – The Stonehenge Touring Experts – click here
National Trust – The Stonehenge Landscape – click here
Stonehenge – Neolithic / Bronze Age Henge and Stone Circle. Click here
Salisbury and Stonehenge Guided Tours – The local megalithic tour operator – click here
Stonehenge Dronescapesclick here

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Celebrate the stars above Stonehenge this half-term.

11 10 2019

Enjoy a closer look at the relationship between Stonehenge and the skies above the monument this October half term with moon filled family fun.

MOON MAYHEM AT HALF-TERMStonehenge Full Moon

Running throughout the day at the Stonehenge visitor centre, this drop-in activity explores our long held fascination with the moon in a lively show that covers everything from werewolves to Galileo, and from H G Wells to Neil Armstrong – with a lot of fast-paced costume changes.

Families of all ages will enjoy this two-man show, taking place at the Stonehenge visitor centre.

This season of celestial themed events marks the anniversary of the moon landing and the launch of SkyScape,

Saturday 26th October – Sunday 3rd November
No booking required for Moon Mayhem, although advance booking for Stonehenge admission tickets is recommended.  Visit the English Heritage website for full details

Can’t make it to Stonehenge this half term?  You can still soak up the atmosphere thanks to Skyscape, a new feed of the sky above the Stones.  Skygazers from all over the world can experience sunrise over the ancient monument , and see the journey of the moon and stars from within the stone circle any time of the day or night by visiting www.Stonehengeskyscape.co.uk

STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY WORLD HERITAGE SITE, AND ITS ASTRONOMICAL IMPORTANCE: 20th NOVEMBER 2019 – Click here
More English Heritage Stonehenge Events – click here
National Trust Stonehenge Landscape Events – Click here
Guided Tours of Stonehenge from London, Bath and Salisbury – Click here
Solar Astronomy at Stonehenge Blog – Click here

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http://www.Stonehenge.News








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