Faces of the past at Stonehenge over half term holiday. Make a day of it in Wiltshire.

15 02 2020

Visit Stonehenge this half term and come face-to-face with prehistoric people.

faces

Explore forensic archaeology this Half-Term at Stonehenge!

English Heritage experts how will show visitors how to use archaeological evidence and modelling clay to find out what their ancestors looked like thousands of years ago.

Visitors can have a go themselves and then take a look around the exhibition.

There is lots more to discover about the pre-historic site and what everyday life was like for the people of Stonehenge, in the galleries and Neolithic houses which are filled with replica stone age axes and tools, pottery, clothes and other objects.

Put yourself in the picture with Stonehenge’s new selfie wall in the exhibition everyone is talking about Your Stonehenge – 150 Years of personal photos.

People have been visiting Stonehenge for millennia and this special exhibition records day trips and memories from just the last 150 years.

The facial reconstruction workshops are for everyone to enjoy and are included in the price of admission.

The events run from today until Sunday, February 23, 10am to 4pm.
Vist the English Heritage webiste for full details

Special Offer: Buy a ticket for Salisbury Museum and/or Wiltshire Museum when you purchase your Stonehenge ticket from our website and you’ll get 25% off their ticket price! Make a day of it in Wiltshire!

Whats on in Wiltshire this half term – Vist Wiltshire

Source: Salisbury Journal

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Remembering the Stonehenge Free Festival – 1972-1985

8 02 2020

The Stonehenge Free Festival, held at the ancient stones every June between 1974 and 1984 culminating with the summer solstice, was a cultural phenomenon.

Stonehenge free Festival

The Stonehenge Free Festival was a British free festival from 1974 to 1984 held at Stonehenge during the month of June, and culminating on the summer solstice on June 21st. The festival attendees were viewed as hippies by the wider British public. Photo credit

By 1984 it had become the UKs premier free festival after many others were violently supressed. Founded on utopian ideals of unity and comradery the festival grew from a few people in 1974, to thousands in 1984. However, the festival’s reputation soon became marred by reports of violence, tribalism and drug use and the government decided to crack down on it. Stonehenge Free festival was eventually violently supressed by hundreds of policemen in a brutal clamp down that became known as the ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’. No free festival has been held at Stonehenge since – although people have been allowed to congregate at the stones for the solstice since 1999. 35 years on, I wanted to look back at the origins of the free festival, its brutal suppression, and its lasting impact on the site.

Stonehenge Free Festival. Summer Solstice

By the 1980s, the festival had grown to be a major event, attracting up to 30,000 people in 1984. Photo credit

The free festival movement started in the UK in the 1970s. Ostensibly, the festivals were a combination of music, arts and cultural activities, for which no admission was charged. With Britain facing high unemployment, the free festivals became a focal point for disenfranchised youth and the working class as well as melting pots of the British counterculture. This perhaps intensified during Thatcher’s tenure, when the counterculture, as well as the working classes were being squeezed even tighter. Having started as a small event in 1974, by the 1980s, the Stonehenge free festival had transformed into a major event, attracting up to 30,000 people in 1984 (although some estimates have it at 100,000). The festival had become a cultural magnet, attracting such artists as: The Damned, Dexys Midnight Runners, Hawkwind the Thompson Twins and Benjamin Zephaniah who all played for free amongst many others. Perhaps the most renowned counter-culture attendees were a group called the ‘peace convoy’ who have been described as ‘Post punk urban squatters’, although perhaps unsurprisingly, the general public viewed the festival attendees as hippies.

Stonehenge summer solstice celebrations

Stonehenge summer solstice 2019: Thousands gather to cheer sunrise Photo credit

As the festival grew however, fences were introduced around the stones, perhaps due to the open drug use and sale, and reports of far rowdier and violent attendees. The very same year, 1977, police even reintroduced a law against driving over grassland in order to levy fines against festival goers. These laws were the beginning of a total breakdown in relations between festival goers and the authorities. Although police restrictions were relaxed in 1984, the final year of the festival, the writing was on the wall. One festival goer described the festival that year as ‘like being in some kind of medieval nightmare’. Although this was probably not everyone’s experience and the truly bad attendees were probably in the minority, the authorities were not prepared for the festival to continue.

On the 1st June 1985, 1,300 police officers were deployed to stop any person from setting up camp on or around the site of Stonehenge, enforcing a High Court injunction obtained by the authorities which prohibited the festival from occurring that year. Taking place over several hours on 1 June 1985, the police prevented The Peace Convoy, who numbered around 600, from setting up.  Videos of ‘The Battle of Beanfield’, show one of the most harrowing examples of police brutality ever witnessed. Even if the festival had got out of hand, the carnage of that day are still hard to justify. Although the police at the time claimed the travellers rammed police vehicles, footage shows the police marching with truncheons and riot shields onto the field and laying waste to all vehicles and travellers in their path – smashing windows and crawling into buses to arrest the inhabitants. The Police claimed they were subject to an attack of stones and petrol bombs, but there is little evidence to back this up. 537 travellers were eventually arrested.

Of course, the festival was doomed to end, but this brutal and ruthless method still seems to leave a bitter taste. However, the spirit of the festival was perhaps reignited in 1999 when the summer solstice was once again celebrated. Revelry returned to the stones once a year – and maybe even the same old controversies, with an alcohol ban coming in in 2016 to curb ‘drunken and disrespectful behaviour’ and ‘better look after’ the stones and the attendees. Regardless, it seems that the magic of the summer solstice will always attract a crowd and hopefully we will always be able to maintain this joviality alongside the sanctity of the stones.

  • Stonehenge Free Festival and Summer Solstice links:

    History of the Stonehenge Free Festival :1972-1985. UK Rock Festivals
    30 Years On from the Last Stonehenge Free Festival, Where is the Spirit of Dissent? Andy Worthington
    Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. Stonehenge News Blog
    ‘Sex n Drugs n Rock n Roll’ – The Last Stonehenge Free Festival in Photos (1984)
    Stonehenge Free Festival 1984 – 2020 – Pinterest
    Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon – Stonehenge News
    Stonehenge Free Festival Campaign on Facebook
    Stonehenge Stone Circle Solstice Photos – Flickr

Our sponsors ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ operate Summer Solstice tours with transport from London or Bath

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Stonehenge Ley Lines and Earth Energies – Why Does it Attract ‘New Agers’?

6 02 2020

Perhaps you thought you were drawn to Stonehenge because of its innate beauty and mystery, its petrous monoliths standing proud despite their antiquity,  their stark grey beauty upon the 5,000 year old barrow in sharp contrast to the green vibrancy of Wiltshire; an area of unparalleled Neolithic history? Or perhaps you were drawn by something even more ancient and mysterious – earth energies we no longer understand and the power of ley lines. Although little understood by modern science, many new age enthusiasts have found Stonehenge to be an epicentre of earth-energy. With as many as 14 ley lines converging on Stonehenge, I wanted to take a look at the history of ley lines, their potential significance and why they attract people to the world heritage site.

Stonehenge crystal skull gathering

Harnessing the Power of Stonehenge Ley Lines. It is believed Stonehenge like many other power places emits energy and the ancients knew the power of the circle to focus and harness this energy. Photo taken at a crystal skull gathering.

What are ley lines?
Many believe that areas of especial and arcane significance, namely standing stones, stone circles, barrows & mounds, hillforts and earthworks, pre-reformation churches, fords and prominent hill tops, not only possess an essential energy, but are connected by narrow channels of this energy  in straight lines or ley lines. The term was thought up by Alfred Watkins in his book The Old Straight Track in 1925 and has been adopted by ‘new agers’ to describe the paths of energy they sense between monuments. Some have even detected ley lines that stretch between continents, connecting ancient monuments across the globe like the Great pyramid at Giza and Stonehenge.

How are they Detected?
Many claim to sense or feel the earth energies, especially at site like Stonehenge. Ley Lines are traced by a process called ‘drowsing’, using a ‘drowsing  rod’ (or ‘divining rod’, ‘vining rod’ ‘witching rod’) – ‘A Y-shaped twig or rod, or two L-shaped ones’. If the rods cross or uncross naturally it means that you have traversed over a ley line, the rods reacting to its primordial energy.

Dowsing the Stones at the Summer Solstice Celebrations. There is evidence that these straight tracks were used by the ancient peoples for spiritual purposes, and also for purposes such as trading and commerce. Photo of a tour guide demonstrating the ancient art divining.

Dowsing the Stones at the Summer Solstice Celebrations. There is evidence that these straight tracks were used by the ancient peoples for spiritual purposes, and also for purposes such as trading and commerce. Photo of a tour guide demonstrating the ancient art of divining.

Stonehenge – A Ley Line Hub?
As mentioned, for many Stonehenge is a cornucopia of earth energy and has a whole network of ley lines running through which connect it to the plethora of ancient wonders that surround it in Wiltshire and beyond. For example, one such ley line connects Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral and Clearbury Ring. Although the churches were not built at the same time, the ley lines suggest, some would say, that intense earth energies were always present in these positions – causing later societies to build their monuments there. 

For many ‘new agers’, the ley line thoroughfare at Stonehenge marks it as vastly important centrepiece for ancient religions; ley lines perhaps helped worshippers on pilgrimages between sites of significance and even helped commerce and trade.

Why do the Ley Lines Attract New Agers?
Although the existence of ley lines isn’t easy to empirically prove, there is no doubt that some people, ‘new agers’,  feel a deep and elemental energy from the site of Stonehenge. The existence of the ley lines that link the ancient stones so directly to other monuments, seems to confirm what they know intrinsically that the site has always had an inborn significance and will continue to do so ad infinitum.

Our sponsors at Stonehenge Guided Tours offer private guided tours of Stonehenge.  Their guides will demonstrate dowsing and talk about Ley Lines and earth energies. Many of their tours allow inner circle access at sunrise or sunset.

Stonehenge and ley line relevant links:

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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

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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

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