Stonehenge team wins project of the year

9 03 2010

The team which discovered the site of a second stone circle, 500 years older than the nearby Stonehenge has won a prestigious archaeology award.
The sensational discovery of a 5000 year-old “Blue Stonehenge” was made by a team led by archaeologists from Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol Universities on the West bank of the River Avon last year.
The Stonehenge Riverside Project – as they are known – won the Research Project of the Year award at the Current Archaeology awards held at the British Museum.

The Stonehenge Riverside Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Royal Archaeological Institute.

The award was given following an online vote by readers of Britain’s biggest archaeology magazine.
The new circle was 10m in diameter and was surrounded by a henge – a ditch with an external bank.

However, the stones were at some point removed, leaving behind nine uncovered holes. The team believe they were probably part of a circle of 25 standing stones.

The outer henge around the stones was built around 2,400 BC, but distinctive chisel-shaped arrowheads found in the stone circle indicate that the stones were put up as much as 500 years earlier.
When the newly discovered circle’s stones were removed by Neolithic tribes, they may, according to the team, have been dragged to Stonehenge, to be incorporated within its major rebuilding around 2500 BC.

Archaeologists know that after this date, Stonehenge consisted of about 80 Welsh stones and 83 local, sarsen stones. Some of the bluestones that once stood at the riverside probably now stand within the centre of Stonehenge.
Professor Julian Thomas, from The University of Manchester and a co-director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, said: “We are delighted to win this award – and it’s a tribute to the team who have done such a great job.
“We are still coming to terms with this truly sensational discovery: it’s amazing the circle of bluestones were dragged from the Welsh Preseli mountains, 150 miles away around 5,000 years ago.

“It adds weight to the theory that the River Avon linked a ‘domain of the living’ – marked by timber circles and houses upstream at the Neolithic village of ‘Durrington Walls’ – with a ‘domain of the dead’ marked by Stonehenge and this new stone circle.

“The Stonehenge Riverside Project also discovered a Late Neolithic settlement outside the enormous henge at Durrington Walls, upriver from Stonehenge, and a series of contemporary timber buildings and other structures in and around Durrington which may have been ceremonial in character.”
Notes for editors

The Stonehenge Riverside Project is run by a consortium of university teams. It is directed by Prof. Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University, with co-directors Dr Josh Pollard (Bristol University), Prof. Julian Thomas (The University of Manchester), Dr Kate Welham (Bournemouth University) and Dr Colin Richards (The University of Manchester). The 2009 excavation was funded by the National Geographic Society, Google, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Society of Northern Antiquaries.

Most of the circle remains preserved for future research and the 2009 excavation has been filled back in.

Stoneheneg Stone Circle





Stonehenge Funny Picture – Its not all serious…….

5 03 2010




New Stonehenge Tour

4 03 2010

Evan Evan Tours have just launched a new tour that includes Stonehenge Private access. In my opinion its a little ambitious (see below) but thats my opinion. There is a link below if you want to book
Their itinerary is as follows:

A PRIVATE VIEWING OF THE INNER CIRCLE AT STONEHENGE – an early start gives the opportunity to visit the inner circle of Stonehenge at sunrise, a walking tour of Oxford and visit to the state apartments at Windsor Castle.
Included Highlights
•Private Viewing at Sunrise of the Inner Circle at Stonehenge
•Walking tour of Oxford
•Visit Christ Church college (where Harry Potter was filmed)
•Entrance to Windsor Castle and a tour of the State Apartments and St George’s Chapel
•First-class luxury Motor-coach and the services of a Professional Guide

Private Viewing of Stonehenge
Most visitors to Stonehenge are not allowed direct access to the stones. On this special day trip from London, you’ll be invited to enter the stone circle itself, and stand beside the mysterious rocks towering above you. Your guide will unlock the secrets of this ancient World Heritage site. Enjoy the peace, away from the crowds, as you experience Stonehenge at its atmospheric best at sunrise.

Oxford
The colleges in Oxford date back to the 13th century and among its famous students were Bill Clinton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. We take you on a fascinating walking tour, which includes visiting the Great Hall in Christ Church, where many scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. We’ll also see the Bodleian Library and the picture perfect college courtyards for which Oxford is famous.

Windsor Castle
Our day continues with a visit to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world, and home of the Royal Family for 900 years. Its proud, strong walls dominate the delightful town that has grown around the castle over the years. You’ll see the lavishly decorated State Apartments containing priceless furniture in glorious colours and St George’s Chapel, home to the 14th Century Order of the Royal Garter, our senior chivalric order.

Evan Evans Coach Tours – Click Here

The Stonehenge Tour Company

Histouries UK





Syria’s Stonehenge: Neolithic stone circles, alignments and possible tombs discovered

3 03 2010


Just read this in my morning newspaper – wow. I will do some more reserach and update you all.
For Dr. Robert Mason, an archaeologist with the Royal Ontario Museum, it all began with a walk last summer. Mason conducts work at the Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi monastery, out in the Syrian Desert. Finds from the monastery, which is still in use today by monks, date mainly to the medieval period and include some beautiful frescoes.

Photo courtesy Dr. Robert Mason. One of the corbelled stone structures found in the Syrian desert. Archaeologists suspect that its an ancient stone tomb. In the front of it are the remains of a stone circle.

Dr. Mason explains that he “went for a walk” into the eastern perimeter of the site – an area that hasn’t been explored by archaeologists. What he discovered is an ancient landscape of stone circles, stone alignments and what appear to be corbelled roof tombs. From stone tools found at the site, it’s likely that the features date to some point in the Middle East’s Neolithic Period – a broad stretch of time between roughly 8500 BC – 4300 BC.

It is thought that in Western Europe megalithic construction involving the use of stone only dates back as far as ca. 4500 BC. This means that the Syrian site could well be older than anything seen in Europe.

At a recent colloquium in Toronto, Canada, Mason described his shock at discovering the apparent tombs, stone circles and stone alignments: “I was standing up there thinking, oh dear me, I’ve wandered onto Salisbury Plain,”

At the southern end of the landscape there are three apparent tombs. They are about eight metres in diameter and each of them “actually has a chamber in the middle”. The roof is corbelled which suggests that beneath them is “something you would want to seal in.” Each of these corbelled structures had a stone circle beside it, which is about two meters in diameter.

Dr. Mason cautioned that the team did not have the chance to do more than survey the area, so it’s still possible that these corbelled structures could have a purpose other than burial. More work also needs to be done to get a precise date of construction.

Dr. Mason set out to look for more stone circles and chambered structures. This time he brought a monk with him, from the monastery:

“Lurking around in the hills above a Syrian military base with a digital camera in one hand and a GPS unit in the other is the sort of thing that makes you want to have a monk in your presence,” he explained.

The two of them went to a rock outcrop – a place that would have been a good source of flint in ancient times – where he found the remains of several corbelled structures. In the valley below they found another corbelled structure with a stone circle right beside it.

The monk who travelled with him sensed that this high outcrop would have been of great importance to the people who lived here. “This is a high place” he told Mason.

As Mason gazed at the landscape, from the height of the outcrop, he saw stone lines, also known as alignments, going off in different directions. Dr. Mason has a strong background in geology, and knew immediately that these could not be natural features.

“I know what rocks look like, where they belong – these rocks don’t belong in that.”

One of stone lines was “very bizarre,” snaking its way up a hill. Mason followed the line and found that it led to the “biggest complex of tombs of all.”

This particular stone structure has three chambers and was probably the burial place for “the most important person.” In the front of the tomb are the remains of a stone circle. Dr. Mason can’t confirm for sure that this was used as a tomb, until further archaeological work takes place.

The lithics the team found in the landscape are also quite unusual – they don’t seem to be made from local material. Mason explained that local flint is white or dark red, but the material they found is “very good quality brown chert.”

The Neolithic period is a time period when people in the Middle East were beginning to grow crops and adopt farming. They didn’t live in settlements larger than a village. There were no cities in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.

Professor Edward Banning is a University of Toronto anthropology professor and Neolithic period expert, and has done extensive fieldwork in the Middle East, including Jordan. He said that we need to be careful about drawing conclusions before more fieldwork is done.

“Virtually all the burials that archaeologists have ever discovered from Neolithic sites in that part of the world come from inside settlements – in fact even below floors and houses,” he said. If the corbelled structures are confirmed as burial structures, then this site will represent something new.

“It’s possible that this landscape that Dr. Mason has identified could be an example of off-site burial practices in the Neolithic which would be very interesting.”

This would help settle a mystery that archaeologists have long faced. Banning said that while burials have been found in Neolithic settlements, “Those burials are not high enough in number to account for the number of people who must have died in those settlements. So a number of us for many years have assumed that there must have been off-site mortuary practices of some kind.”

Dr. Mason goes a step further. He says that this site “sounds like Western Europe” and he wonders if this could be an early example of the stone landscapes seen at places like Stonehenge.

Dr. Julian Siggers of the Royal Ontario Museum, another Neolithic specialist, pointed out that it has been argued that agriculture spread from the Near East to Europe. This find creates a question – could these stone landscapes have travelled with them?

“It’s such an important hypothesis if it’s right that it’s worth telling people about now,” said Mason. “We’ve found something that’s never been found in the Middle East before.”

Professor Banning is sceptical about this idea. He said that stone structures are found throughout the world, pointing to the dolmens found in East Asia. He claims that people in Western Europe could have developed the techniques independently of the people who built the landscape near the Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi monastery.

Prof. Banning also said that Mason’s site may not be entirely unique in the Near and Middle East. He said that archaeologists have detected, via satellite photos, what appear to be cairns and stone circles in other areas, including the deserts of Jordan and Israel. However, he admits that most of these things have not received a lot of archaeological investigation.

That situation is about to change. Dr. Mason plans to return to the Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi site this summer with a team of Neolithic experts. The results of their investigations may well put Britain’s Stonehenge in the shade.

Tour Guide
Stonehenge Stone Circle





Avebury Stone Circle – Wiltshire

2 03 2010


Avebury is the largest stone circle in the world and often overlooked. Its only 30 minutes north of Stonehenge and well worth exploring:

Situated in southern England in the county of Wiltshire the village of Avebury is close to two small streams….the Winterbourne and the Sambourne which unite to form the source of the River Kennet. After being re-inforced by a number of springs this beautiful English river rapidly gains in stature as it passes through the North Wessex Downs on its way to Reading where it eventually flows into the River Thames of which it has become the main tributary. The waters of the Kennet therefore pass through London before reaching their ultimate destination in the North Sea.

Around 4,500 years ago, when the site of England’s capital was a thinly inhabited marshland, the area around Avebury almost certainly formed the Neolithic equivalent of a city. By coincidence this waterway has become a link between the two largest cultural centres of their day to have ever existed in the British Isles. As London now contains most of England’s largest buildings Avebury is the location of the mightiest megalithic complex to have ever been constructed in Britain. This henge with its enormous ditch, bank, stones and avenues survives in a much depleted state but the nearby Silbury Hill which is the largest man-made mound in pre-industrial Europe still dominates the surrounding landscape. The two largest surviving British long barrows of West Kennet and East Kennet are also prominent a short distance away and in recent years the remains of two massive palisaded enclosures have also been found. The quote that antiquarian John Aubrey made of Avebury……”it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church” recognises the true importance of what has now been largely absorbed into the modern landscape of Wiltshire. If we could return to the time when the Romans occupied the British Isles it is a sobering thought that we would have to go back as far again to find an Avebury that was already several centuries old.

The history of the modern village is inevitably linked to the prehistoric monuments that surround it. Abandoned for several thousand years the land around the stones became occupied oncemore when people of the Saxon period began to settle in the area. Their arrival and subsequent development of the present village was to have a dramatic effect on the history of the stones. The relationship between the local inhabitants and the monuments has now added an unfortunate dimension to the Avebury story that helps make it one of the most fascinating historical sites to be found in the British Isles if not the world.

It remains a magical place as so many who have been there will agree. A visit to Avebury is a very personal event. It still seems to retain, somehow, the spirits of all those who laboured in its creation or whatever it was that led them to create it. If you have never been there a visit will not be an empty experience. You will come away with a head full of questions and probably a realisation that somewhere over the years modern society has lost something important.

If you cant make your own way there try this company:
HISTOURIES UK
They are based in Salisbury and opearate quality private tours of Stonehenge and Avebury








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