Archaeologists debate Stonehenge future

5 10 2010

LEADING archaeologists got together at Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum on Saturday for a Solve Stonehenge debate.

Professor Tim Darvill, Professor Mike Parker Pearson, Mike Pitts and Julian Richards, who have all directed work within the Stonehenge landscape over the last 30 years, were kept in order by Andrew Lawson as they shared their expertise, discussing such questions as Did Stonehenge have a roof?, Which is more important, Durrington Walls or Stonehenge? and Who built Stonehenge?.

The debate was part of a weekend conference to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Virtual Stonehenge with Google Streetmap

5 10 2010

Ancient Streetview: Now Google can take you to the historic pavements of Pompeii and Stonehenge

They are some of the most spectacular and unique places on the planet.

Now Google has taken tourism to the next level by allowing people from around the world to see monuments like Stonehenge, the streets of Pompeii and the remote landscapes of Antarctica from the comfort of their own living room.

But instead of the usual Google Streetview cars which have become a familiar sight on British streets, the new snaps were taken using a special Google tricycle.

The Street View trike, as it is known, was sent around the world to photograph some of the hardest to reach places on the planet.

The trike carries a mounted Street View camera, and a specially decorated unit with imaging & GPS technology.

Google’s Brian McClendon, head of Engineering, Google Earth and Maps, introduced the new feature by saying how thrilled he was that all seven continents could now be accessed using the technology.

He said: ‘We introduced Street View back in May 2007, enabling people to explore street-level imagery in five U.S. cities. We were excited to share a virtual reflection of the real world to enable armchair exploration.

‘Since then, we’ve expanded our 360-degree panoramic views to many more places, allowing you to check out a restaurant before dining there, to explore a neighbourhood before moving there and to find landmarks along the route of your driving directions.’

Many of the image have not yet been added to the Google Streetview program – but will appear in the near future.

Mr McClendon said: ‘Three years later, we’re happy to announce that you can now explore Street View imagery on all seven continents, with the addition today of Brazil, Ireland and Antarctica.

‘You can now see images from around the world spanning from the beaches of Brazil, to the moors of Ireland, to the icy terrain in Antarctica.

Some of the images show a group of penguins grouped together on an island in Antarctica and the remote dusty roads of the Australian Outback.

He said: ‘We often consider Street View to be the last zoom layer on the map, and a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person—whether you’re checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Druids as an official religion? Stones of Praise here we come

4 10 2010

This article written by Malanie Philips (Daily Mail) is sure to anger Pagans and the Druid Order

Will someone please tell me this is all a joke. Until now, Druids have been regarded indulgently as a curious remnant of Britain’s ancient past, a bunch of eccentrics who annually dress up in strange robes at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.

However, according to the Charity Commission, they are to be recognised as a religion and, as a result, afforded charitable status, with the tax exemptions and other advantages that follow.

After a four-year campaign, the Commission says it accepts that the Druids worship nature and that they also believe in the spirits of places such as mountains and rivers, as well as in ‘divine guides’.

 This, apparently, makes them qualify as a religion.

Can it be long before the BBC transmits Stones Of Praise, or solemnly invites listeners to Radio 4’s Thought For The Day to genuflect to a tree?

Some might shrug this off. After all, the Druids don’t do any harm to anyone. What skin is it off anyone else’s nose how they are categorised?

CULT ?

Well, it actually matters rather a lot. Elevating them to the same status as Christianity is but the latest example of how the bedrock creed of this country is being undermined. More than that, it is an attack upon the very concept of religion itself.

This is because Druidry is simply not a religion. Now, it’s true that religion is notoriously difficult to define. But true religions surely rest on an established structure of traditions, beliefs, literature and laws.

Above all, they share a belief in a supernatural deity (or more than one) that governs the universe

By these standards, Druidry is surely not a religion but a cult — a group defined merely by ritual practices but which stands outside mainstream religion.

Nor does it seem to conform to the definition of a religion according to charity law.

When Radio 4’s Sunday Programme suggested yesterday morning to Phil Ryder, chairman of the Druid Network, that the legal definition of religion included a ‘significant belief in a supreme being or entity’, he saw no contradiction. Druids, he said cheerfully, might venerate many gods, inanimate objects or nature.

How very inclusive of them! But the key point is surely that none of these beliefs involves a ‘supreme’ being that exists beyond the Earth and the universe. On the contrary, Druids worship what is in or on the earth itself.

When asked further how Druidry benefited the public interest — the key test for charitable status — Mr Ryder burbled that its ethical framework consisted of forming ‘honourable and sustainable relationships’ with everything in the world, including animals, people and nature.

But there are many who subscribe to no belief system at all and who would say they, too, want to live in harmony with the earth and everything in it. Are they, therefore, also to be regarded as religious folk and given charitable status?

Maybe Prince Charles, who famously talks to his plants, could register himself on that basis as the founder of a new religion? Duchy Devotions, anyone?

If the Druids qualify as a religion, can other cults such as the Scientologists be far behind?

Can it be long, indeed, before the wise and learned theologians of the Charity Commission similarly grant charitable status to sorcery, witchcraft or even the Jedi — the fictional Star Wars ‘religion’ which the 2001 census recorded as having no fewer than 390,127 adherents in England and Wales.

The whole thing is beyond absurd. But it is also malevolent. For it is all of a piece with the agenda by the oh-so politically correct Charity Commission to promote the fanatical religious creed of the Left — the worship of equality.

The Commission was primed by Labour for this attempt to restructure society back in 2006, when charity law was redrawn to redefine ‘public benefit’ as helping the poor.

This put the independent schools in the front line of attack, since education was no longer itself considered a benefit — as it had been since time immemorial — but only insofar as it furthered the ideology of ‘equality’.

Extraordinary

Thus, we have arrived at the extraordinary situation where some of these schools, which have delivered such inestimable benefit to the nation, face the loss of their charitable status, which is to be given instead to people who dance naked around stones and worship the sun.

But the new respectability of paganism cannot be laid entirely at the Charity Commission’s door. For in recent years, pagan practices have been rapidly multiplying, with an explosion of the occult: witchcraft, parapsychology, séances, telepathy and mind-bending cults.

Astonishingly, around 100 members of the Armed Forces now classify themselves as pagans, and a further 30 as witches.

There are thought to be about 500 pagan police officers. A Pagan Police Association has even been set up to represent officers who ‘worship nature and believe in many gods’.

They have been given the right to take days off to perform rituals, such as leaving food out for the dead, dressing up as ghosts and casting spells, or celebrating the sun god with ‘unabashed sexuality and promiscuity’.

Britain’s prison authorities are equally hospitable to the occult: under instructions issued to every prison governor, pagan ‘priests’ are allowed to use wine and wands during ceremonies in jails. Inmates practising paganism are allowed a hoodless robe, incense and a piece of religious jewellery among their personal possessions.

Political correctness gone mad or what? As one disgusted police officer exploded: ‘What has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?’

Barking

How on earth has our supposedly rational society come to subscribe to so much totally barking mumbo-jumbo?

In part, it developed from the New Age embrace of Eastern beliefs in the inter-connectedness of everything in the universe. The defining characteristic of such faiths is a spirituality which is concerned with the self rather than the world beyond the individual.

These beliefs were, therefore, tailor-made for the ‘me society’ which turned against Biblical constraints on behaviour in the interests of others. They were subsequently given rocket fuel by environmentalism, at the core of which lies the pagan worship of ‘Mother Earth’.

And they were then legitimised by the doctrines of equality of outcomes and human rights — which, far from protecting the rights of truly religious people, aim to force Biblical morality and belief out of British and European public life altogether.

This is because human rights and equality of outcomes are held to be universal values. That means they invariably trump specific religious beliefs to impose instead equal status for all creeds.

But if all creeds, however absurd, have equal meaning then every belief is equally meaningless. And without the Judeo-Christian heritage there would be no morality and no true human rights.

There is nothing remotely enlightened about paganism. It was historically tied up with both communism and fascism, precisely because it is a negation of reason and the bedrock values behind Western progress.

The result is that, under the secular onslaught of human rights, our society is reverting to a pre-modern era of anti-human superstition and irrationality. From human rights, you might say, to pagan rites in one seamless progression.

Anyone who thinks radical egalitarianism is progressive has got this very wrong. We are hurtling backwards in time to a more primitive age**

 **Is that such a bad thing ?  Food for though!

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Druids Recognized As Religion For First Time In UK

3 10 2010
 

 Druids have been worshipping the sun and earth for thousands of years in Europe, but now they can say they’re practicing an officially recognized religion.

The ancient pagan tradition best known for gatherings at Stonehenge every summer solstice has been formally classed as a religion under charity law for the first time in Britain, the national charity regulator said Saturday. That means Druids can receive exemptions from taxes on donations — and now have the same status as such mainstream religions as the Church of England.

The move gives an old practice new validity, said Phil Ryder, the chairman of the 350-member Druid Network.

“It will go a long way to make Druidry a lot more accessible,” he said.

Druids have practiced for thousands of years in Britain and in Celtic societies elsewhere in Europe. They worship natural forces such as thunder and the sun, and spirits they believe arise from places such as mountains and rivers. They do not worship a single god or creator, but seek to cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world.

Although many see them as robed, mysterious people who gather every summer solstice at Stonehenge — which predates the Druids — believers say modern Druidry is chiefly concerned with helping practitioners connect with nature and themselves through rituals, dancing and singing at stone circles and other sites throughout the country believed to be “sacred.”

Ancient Druids were known to be religious leaders, judges and sages among the Celts during pre-Christian times, although little evidence about their lives survived. There are now various Druid orders and about 10,000 practitioners in Britain — and believers said the numbers are growing because more people are becoming aware of the importance to preserve the environment.

The Druid Network fought for nearly five years to be recognized under the semi-governmental Charity Commission, which requires proof of cohesive and serious belief in a supreme entity and a moral framework.

After initially rejecting the Druid Network’s application, the Charity Commission decided this week that Druidry fit the bill.

“There is sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law,” the commission said.

Adrian Rooke, a Druid who works as a counselor, said Druidry appeals to people who are turning away from monotheistic religions but still long for an aspect of spirituality in their lives.

“It uplifts the spirit,” he said. “The world is running out of resources, and in that context it’s more important to people now to formulate a relationship with nature.”

2_Britain_Druids_Recognized.sff.jpg

Associated Press Druids performing pagan rituals as part of the Summer Solstice ceremonies at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, before dawn, Monday June 21, 2004. The stone circle at Stonehenge is believed to be at least 4,500 years old. Druidry has been officially recognized as a religion in Britain under charity law. The Charity Commission has granted the Druid Network charitable status, giving it tax breaks and equal status to mainstream religions like Christianity. The commission said Saturday Oct. 2, 2010, that druidry has a coherent and serious set of beliefs and that it offers a beneficial ethical framework.

1_Britain_Druids_Recognized.sff.jpg

 Associated Press This Tuesday Aug. 10, 1999 photo from files shows Arch Druid Ed Prynn as he calls down the sun during his sun dance around a ring of stones, in St. Merryn, England. The druid dance is to celebrate the total eclipse of the sun, which is due in this part of southwest England on August 11. Druidry has been officially recognized as a religion in Britain under charity law. The Charity Commission has granted the Druid Network charitable status, giving it tax breaks and equal status to mainstream religions like Christianity. The commission said Saturday that druidry has a coherent and serious set of beliefs and that it offers a beneficial ethical framework.

More information try these links:

British Druid Order

The British Druid Order (BDO) teaches and practices a shamanic, mystical, celebratory form of Druidry, inspired by the past but deeply relevant to the
www.druidry.co.uk/

The Official Website Of The Council Of British Druid Orders – (CoBDO)™

The Council of British Druid Orders, CoBDO, would like to recommend one of our initial co-founders, who at present is not a member, the Order of Bards,
http://www.cobdo.org.uk/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Historic sites consultation – Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property

1 10 2010

A consultation has been launched to find out what people think about a document which will help manage and protect the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property Consultation Draft

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

This consultation is being hosted on behalf of the Stonehenge and Avebury Steering Committees of which Wiltshire Council is a member.

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property is one of Wiltshire’s greatest assets.  This consultation provides an opportunity for local people, community groups and other organisations to comment on its Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.  This Statement sets out formally why Stonehenge and Avebury are internationally important and what qualifies them to appear on the World Heritage List.  It also sets out how requirements for management and protection of these qualities are being met. 

This document is important for the protection of what makes Stonehenge and Avebury internationally significant.  It defines the World Heritage Site’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).  The United Kingdom signed up to protect the OUV of its World Heritage Sites when it ratified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). 

The planning system has a very important role in this protection.  Planning Circular 07/2009 states clearly the need to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Sites, while the guidance accompanying the new Planning Policy 5 on the Protection of the Historic Environment (2010) identifies the Statement of OUV as a critical resource for local planning authorities in plan-making and reaching decisions relating to the significance of World Heritage Sites.  The document will also inform all management decisions which should prioritise the protection OUV as defined in the Statement.  Your comments on the Statement of OUV could therefore contribute to protecting the very special qualities of Stonehenge and Avebury for this and future generations. 

Since 2007 UNESCO has required a Statement OUV for all new World Heritage Properties.  Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed in 1986.  All sites inscribed prior to 2007 are now required to submit retrospectively a Statement of OUV. This must be based on the original reasons for inscription set out in evaluation and decision documents from 1986.  The process of producing the Statement of OUV is not an opportunity to change or add to the reasons for inscription but a chance to distil them into a single document which will be key the World Heritage Property’s protection. It is however possible to reflect challenges which have emerged over the last 25 years as well as changes in the management and protection context. 

The original documents submitted to UNESCO during the nomination of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property in 1986 can be accessed via this link to the UNESCO website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/documents/ 

The Statement of OUV consists of four sections:The first section, the Statement of Significance, was agreed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2008 after a period of consultation and sign off by the Stonehenge and Avebury Steering Groups representing key local and national stakeholders. 

We are now due to submit the final three sections:

2. Statement of Integrity

3. Statement of Authenticity

4. Requirements for  Management and Protection

We would appreciate your comments to assist us in shaping a robust and comprehensive document.  

Please note comments are sought only on the last three sections: integrity, authenticity and management and protection.  The first section, the Statement of Significance, has already been agreed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

Guidance on the UNESCO definitions of authenticity and integrity can be found the World Heritage Operational Guidelines (paras 79 – 89 and Annex 4) which can be found at http://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines/ Further background information can be found in the management plans for the two halves of the World Heritage Site.  They include sections summarising integrity and authenticity as well as the provisions for management and protection

You can access the Stonehenge Management Plan on the English Heritage website via this link http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/world-heritage-sites/stonehenge-management-plan/

You can access the Avebury Management Plan on the Wiltshire Council website via this link http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisureandculture/museumhistoryheritage/worldheritagesite/aveburyworldheritagesitemanagementplan.htm

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge a monumental attraction since prehistory

1 10 2010

Stonehenge may have been a top international tourist attraction in prehistoric times – just as it is today.

 Ongoing scientific research suggests that around 30 per cent of the wealthiest individuals buried around the neolithic and Bronze Age temple came from hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.

 Recent isotopic tests carried out by the British Geological Survey and announced yesterday reveal that one very high-status individual – a teenage boy – found buried near Stonehenge, had in fact come from somewhere along the north coast of the Mediterranean, potentially Spain, southern France or Italy.

 Another individual, whose origins were revealed a few years ago, came from the Alps – and others came from Brittany (or possibly Wales).

 The Alpine individual suffered from a painful leg condition and the Mediterranean teenager died aged 14 or 15 and is likely therefore to have also suffered from serious illness.

 Some archaeologists have therefore begun to speculate that Stonehenge attracted health tourists who went there to be cured – and ended up being buried there instead.

 Interestingly, a healing function for Stonehenge is hinted at by Arthurian legend, which holds that the monument was indeed an ancient healing centre. Even as late as the 18th century, the stones of Stonehenge were regarded as having magical healing powers – and visitors to the site often chipped bits off to take away as talismans.

 Certainly the monument was internationally known in ancient times – and appears to have been described by a fourth-century BC Greek geographer, centuries after it had actually gone out of use.

 Stonehenge’s international visitors were extremely wealthy. The Alpine man was buried with gold and copper objects – including three copper daggers and a pair of gold hair clasps.

 The Mediterranean teenager was buried wearing a necklace of around 90 amber beads.

 “Isotopic analyses of tooth enamel from both these people shows that the two individuals provide a contrast in origin, which highlights the diversity of people who came to Stonehenge from across Europe,” said Professor Jane Evans, head of archaeological science at the British Geological Survey.

 Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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