We will learn more about Stonehenge…

19 09 2017

The Heritage Trust

 
Stonehenge on right, traffic flow on the nearby A303  left
©
Mike Pitts
 
In his letter to The Times (Saturday, 16 September) Mike Pitts, Editor of the British Archaeological magazine, writes –
 

Sir, Tom Holland (letter September 13) notes that archaeologists have found ancient remains across the Stonehenge world heritage site, and implies that a road tunnel would threaten more. He is correct, but this is a red herring. Any works close to Stonehenge must be preceded by an archaeological survey. In the latest announcement the proposed route has been adjusted to avoid newly discovered sites. It is inevitable, however, that not everything can be saved in this way, and then excavation must occur. Remains will be disturbed, scientific studies will be conducted and finds will go to the local museum. We will learn more about Stonehenge. The process – turning loss into enlightenment – is exactly the same for…

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A tunnel past Stonehenge will be dug largely along the route of the existing A303, the government has announced.

12 09 2017

Stonehenge tunnel route altered to protect winter solstice view

Previously it was planned to go south of the stones but there were concerns this would intrude on the view of the setting sun at the winter solstice.

How Stonehenge could be viewed if the tunnel is built

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage said “if designed with care”, this would “restore peace and tranquillity” to the landscape.

But campaign groups have called for a “complete rethink” to the plan.

They fear the work will mean the area will lose World Heritage Status after Unesco, the organisation that decides on such sites, said the tunnel should be “reconsidered”.

Unesco has previously backed the option for a bypass to be built.

What is new in this plan?

  • A tunnel that is “at least” 1.8m (2.9km) long beneath the World Heritage site
  • The western tunnel entrance will move 50 metres further away from the stones
  • A new bypass to the north of Winterbourne Stoke
  • A new flyover at the Countess Roundabout – on the eastern side of the tunnel
  • Junctions to the A345 and A360 at either end of the tunnel

Read the full story in on the BBC NEWS website

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♔Stonehenge – The Enigma

8 09 2017

♔TQE Magazine♔

♔More than 1 million people visit Stonehenge each year. It is one of Britain’s most important ancient monuments, having been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.

The Neolithic monument is widely believed to be a prehistoric temple built to mark the movements of the sun. Each year thousands of people descend on the ancient religious site to watch the sun rise for the summer solstice, marking the longest day of the year and the first day of summer.

As archaeologists and researchers continue to study the area, their recent finds paint a picture of a far more mysterious and elaborate Neolithic and Bronze Age world than previously thought.

19396955_1606728596004078_4828993708144872079_n People gather for the Summer Solstice

Archaeologists believe the area was occupied beginning around 9,000 years ago, suggesting it had significance long before Stonehenge was built. Remains of pits and cremations within and around the area, suggest as many as 150 individuals were…

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English Heritage will launch a new special exhibition at Stonehenge in October 2017

6 09 2017

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW OF THE STONEHENGE FEAST

English Heritage will launch a new special exhibition at Stonehenge in October 2017 revealing the diet and lifestyle of the people who built Stonehenge. In the 4th special exhibition since the opening of the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, we reveal the fascinating results of the Stonehenge Riverside ‘Feeding Stonehenge’ project.

Drawing on recent archaeological discoveries and ground breaking science, the Feast! exhibition will tell the food stories of the people who built Stonehenge and how they lived. Find out more about this fascinating project and exhibition with an exclusive talk from our historian on the background of the project, followed by a talk from one of our collections conservators who was involved in overseeing the objects on display in the exhibition.

Following this, enjoy an exclusive tour of the exhibition, led by one of our experts and see some of these objects close-up. To finish your morning, enjoy our demo: Neolithic “Ready, Steady, Cook!” where you will be shown what ingredients were available during the Neolithic period what might have been done with them to create nutritious and tasty food.

DATEeh-feast

Friday 20th Oct 2017

TIME

10am – 1pm

LOCATION

Stonehenge

SUITABLE FOR

Adults

 

Visit the English Heritage website for more details

National Trust also have events in September and October including ‘Stonehenge Landscape Walks

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Stone Circle (“Special”) Access

20 08 2017

Before 1978 you were free to walk around inside the stone circle at Stonehenge once you’d paid your admission fee. The lack of any guards overnight meant people also hopped the fence once the site had closed.

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Stonehenge at dawn.  A special access ‘inner circle’ visit at sunrise.

Finally, in response to the over 800,000 annual visitors, access was restricted. An article entitled “Heritage Under Siege” in New Scientist (Sept 27th, 1979) reports the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings as saying:

“The whole problem of Stonehenge is numbers … all through the year. What menaces Stonehenge are the millions of feet (and hands) of the ordinary visitors.”

… and continues:

“An archaeologist calculated that if each visitor walked around the central area just twice during his or her visit, the effect would be the same as having one man standing on each square foot inside the ring and jumping up and down on that spot 62 times every day throughout the year.”

After March 1978, everyone was banned from inside the circle – including archaeologists and other researchers, much to their annoyance. Department of the Environment officials said that the plans to allow out-of-hours access to “those with a special interest” had to be abandoned because the custodians were unwilling to work overtime. And so it remained for a long time.

Eventually things changed and these days it’s possible to book to go inside the stone circle on what is called a “Stone Circle Access” or “Special Access” visit. These are one-hour long slots before and after the monument is open to the public during the day, and a maximum of 30 people are allowed inside at a time.

You can book as an individual, or via a tour company who may (or may not) provide a well-informed guide to show you some of the hidden features that you might otherwise miss.

Once inside, if the light’s right you can pick out some of the hundreds of examples of wrencarved initials and names on the stones. One of them might even be that of Christopher Wren – a local lad who made good and went on to design the new St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

One thing that a lot of people fail to notice is the sound of the place – there’s a definite sense of entering into an enclosed, peaceful space a soon as you come in through the primary entrance beneath the central lintel of the three on the northeast side of the circle.

It’s only when you’re up really close to the monument that the epic scale of the stones really strikes you – the tallest one is over 7m from grass to top, and there’s a further 2.5m in the ground. Weighing in at over 40 tons it’s a beautifully shaped monolith that was part of the tallest trilithon on the site. Sadly its partner upright fell and broke long ago, leaving the lintel they both supported lying on its side in the southwest part of the central area.

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The bluestones, though much smaller than the sarsens, are still impressive rocks – the tallest one stands leaning in front of the highest sarsen stone and has a wide groove worked all the way down one edge. No-one knows why.

There are a few rules – no standing on the stones, no touching them, no smoking – but apart from that you’re free to wander around and properly appreciate both the enormity of the large sarsen blocks, the elegance of the bluestone pillars and the ingenuity of the builders who created the monument over 4,500 years ago.

If you have the chance, by far the best way to see Stonehenge is through a Stone Circle Access visit.  

Stonehenge Guided Tours pioneered these Stonehenge access tours and offer frequent scheduled coach tours at sunrise and sunset. They can often arrange private custom inner circle tours with expert guides.  The Stonehenge Travel Company are based in nearby Salisbury and are considered the local Stonehenge experts.
Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

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‘Incredible’ Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge to be excavated: Open Day 15th July 2017

13 07 2017

A Neolithic burial mound near Stonehenge could contain human remains more than 5,000 years old, experts say.

The monument in a place known as Cat’s Brain in Pewsey Vale, halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire, was identified in aerial photographs.

cat

The site in a farmer’s field was identified in aerial photographs

Archaeologists and students from the University of Reading are due to excavate the site.

It is the first time such an archaeological site in the county has been excavated for 50 years.

The site is made up of two ditches and an apparent central building, which may have been covered by a mound, that has now been flattened due to centuries of ploughing.

The site, in the middle of a farmer’s field, was assessed in a geophysical survey. It is believed it could contain human remains buried there in about 3,600 BC.

‘Incredible discovery’

Dr Jim Leary, director of the university’s archaeology field school, said: “Opportunities to fully investigate long barrows are virtually unknown in recent times and this represents a fantastic chance to carefully excavate one using the very latest techniques and technology.

“Discovering the buried remains of what could be the ancestors of those who built Stonehenge would be the cherry on the cake of an amazing project.”

Dr Leary’s co-director, Amanda Clarke, said: “This incredible discovery of one of the UK’s first monuments offers a rare glimpse into this important period in history.

“We are setting foot inside a significant building that has lain forgotten and hidden for thousands of years.”

Members of the public will be able to visit the site to see the archaeologists at work during an open day on Saturday.  Note: Reading University Field School Open Day, Saturday 15th July 2017

Nearest Town: Pewsey
Map Ref: SU1185057889
Latitude: 51.319986N  Longitude: 1.831342W

Source: BBC

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Drowning in the swamp of bad TV: Unearthed at Stonehenge

10 07 2017

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

Skeletons of StonehengeThe Science Channel posted a link to a film clip a couple of days ago, to promote a new film, apparently called Skeletons of Stonehenge. The piece is headed, “Clues found in ancient skeletons buried at Stonehenge reveal a series of murders.” (Hint as to where this is going: the bone above is not from Stonehenge.)

Many readers of this blog will already smell something wrong. We have only two skeletons from Stonehenge. Both men (as they were) died violently, so we might very broadly say they were murdered. But they died 3,000 years apart. Two deaths separated by three millennia suggests a very strange serial killer.

The programme is in a strand called Unearthed. The clip is three minutes long. It’s worth quoting the narrative at length.

“The body of a man dumped in a shallow grave in the middle of Stonehenge

“Could this man’s bones reveal a sinister…

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