Ancient UK standing stone guided people through sacred landscape

29 11 2010

Archeologists say Trefael, a standing stone near Newport south-west Wales, was used as a ritual marker to guide communities through a scared landscape.

Studies showed that the cupmarks gouged onto the solitary stone represent a section of the night sky that includes the star constellations of Cassiopeia, Orion, Sirius and the North Star.

There are more than 75 cupmarks on the stone, which were revealed through complete exposure of the stone during recent excavations, Archeo News reported.

Until 40 years ago archaeologists assumed that the stone was part of a capstone covering a small burial chamber.

Later geophysical surveys unveiled the remains of a kidney-shaped anomaly, looking like remnants of the cairn that once surrounded the chamber, with an entrance to the east.

Excavations confirmed the site to be a portal dolmen, also exposing a cairn deposit within the eastern and northern sections of the trench.

A clear vertical cut was also found in section, which was parallel with the dip of the former capstone. This showed that the cairn had been excavated into and the capstone set and packed within the existing cairn, probably used as a standing stone during the Early Bronze Age when new burial-ritual monuments were introduced in Western Britain.

Archeologists found medieval and post-medieval pottery shards and two Mesolithic shale beads. They are planning to conduct further excavations in the area to assess the later prehistoric landscape setting and a contour survey of the monument.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





University student sparks new Stonehenge theory

29 11 2010

Stonehenge

A REVOLUTIONARY new idea on the movement of big monument stones like those at Stonehenge has been put forward by an archaeology student at the University of Exeter.

While an undergraduate, Andrew Young saw a correlation between standing stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and a concentration of carved stone balls, which may have been used to help transport the big stones by functioning like ball bearings.

Young discovered that many of the late Neolithic stone balls had a diameter within a millimetre of each other, which he felt indicated they would have been used together in some way rather than individually.

By plotting on a map where the carved balls were found, he realised they were all within the vicinity of Neolithic monuments known as recumbent stone circles.

These stone circle monuments in Aberdeenshire share an equivalent form to Stonehenge, yet with some much larger stones.

To test his theory Young built a model using small wooden balls which were placed in a grooved pieces of wood moulding, similar to a railway track but with a groove rather than a rail.

The balls were spread apart and a mirror image of the track was placed on top supporting a wood platform.

He then placed concrete slabs on the tracks, to replicate a heavy weight.

Young said: “I then sat on top of the slabs to add extra weight. The true test was when a colleague used his index finger to move me forward, a mere push and the slabs and I shot forward with great ease.

“This proved the balls could move large heavy objects and could be a viable explanation of how giant stones were moved, especially in relation to where the stone balls were originally found.”

A further experiment on a much larger scale was arranged with the financial assistance of Gemini Productions and WGBH, Boston for NOVA, an American documentary TV programme.

They were focusing on Stonehenge and wanted to see if a team of archaeology students directed by Professor Bruce Bradley, a lead archaeologist at the University of Exeter could build and test a life size model using wood that might reflect how massive stones could have been moved across the landscape.

Previous experiments, which others have carried out to move large stones had not been particularly effective.

The building of a hardened surface to roll logs on and the trench experiments only moved the stone with great effort and if they had been moved in this way the hardened surface or trench would show up in the archaeological record, however these have not been found.

In the large scale experiment, green wood was used for cost purposes. Neolithic people would have had access to much better materials, such as cured oak, which is extremely tough and was in abundance due to the great forests at the time.

They also had the technical ability to cut long timber planks, known through archaeological evidence of planks used as a way of creating tracks for people to walk on through bogs.

The experiment used hand shaped granite spheres as well as wooden spheres.

Professor Bradley said: “Our experiment had to go for the much cheaper option of green wood, which is relatively soft, however, we successfully moved extremely heavy weights at a pace.

“The demonstration indicated that big stones could have been moved using this ball bearing system with roughly ten oxen and may have been able to transport stones up to ten miles per day.

“This method also has no lasting impact on the landscape, as the tracks with the ball bearings are moved along leap-frogging each other as the tracks get moved up the line.”

He added: “It demonstrates that the concept works. It does not prove that Neolithic people used this method, but it was and is possible.

“This is a radical new departure, because previous ideas were not particularly effective in transporting large stones and left unanswered questions about the archaeological record they would have left behind.”

The next stage in the project is to collaborate with the engineering experts at the University who can calculate the loads which could be transported using various combinations of variables such as hard wood and U-shaped grooves.

This will provide the mathematical evidence to see how much force would be needed to get the stone moving and to keep it moving.

This will enable the project team to gain an even greater understanding of how stones may have been transported across huge distances and even up hills.

The ultimate goal is for a full-scale experiment in Aberdeenshire using more authentic materials, stone balls and a team of oxen.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





New Stonehenge book launched – Stonehenge Times Square BC

26 11 2010

New Stonehenge book

New Stonehenge book

Discover the Ultimate Function and Purpose of Stonehenge
Where would you be without your diary to check your appointments for the week, or your calendar to work out dates?

We are all ruled by hours, days, weeks and months – from getting up in the morning, to working out schedules, to planning holidays and important functions. In addition to this, most of us have heard of the mysterious, starkly beautiful monument, Stonehenge, and have wondered as to its construction. Be this as it may, how often have we given any thought as to how (and why) this Heritage Site was originated? Are we at all aware of the key role it has played in the concept of ‘time’ and in our New Year celebrations?

Once you have an understanding of the four ancient calendars, revealed and explained in this fascinating window to the past, you will realise that Stonehenge was a site of enormous importance and significance to the ancients. The monument was in fact a device or tool, for revealing the exact date of the year.

More importantly, we are given a glimpse of how the ancients discovered and designed their calendars with little more than sticks and stones to work with. Discover too, the accuracy of their calendars, which were accurate to within a day. Their solar calendar consisted of 365 days had 52 weeks, with 3 seasons of 91 days and 1 season of 92 days. Discover how 12, 30 day months were introduced around 3600 years ago with 5 tagged on days at the end of the year. This last calendar is known to have been used by both the Babylonians and Egyptians.

About the BookThe key points in any solar calendar are alignments with both midsummer and midwinter. Very early on, an important discovery made at Stonehenge was that certain of the megaliths would have aligned perfectly with the midsummer and midwinter solstices approximately 5000 years ago, when the monument was built.

Stonehenge, as it is seen today, is impressive and has fostered many theories as to its original function and purpose. However, this megalithic monument, impressive as it is, is not the full story. Archaeologists have discovered that before the Megaliths (Sarsen stones) were erected, there were earlier structures dating back to as far as 5000 years ago. The area at Stonehenge was in use long before the Sarsen megaliths were erected.

The author of Stonehenge: Times Square BC, Faith Booysen, realized that although some theories held for certain of the structures, taken as a whole, most theories did not explain the older structures.

Working on the assumption that these structures were calendars, her calculations proved that this was, indeed, so.

Her book, Stonehenge: Times Square BC sets out in detail the remarkable calculations and details of four calendars at Stonehenge. The brilliance of the ancient designers and builders are reflected in these calendars. With little more than primitive tools, they designed and built calendars that lasted for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The calendars formed the basis of the calendar we use to this day. Discover how the calendars evolved over a period of 1650 years from a circle of 56 wooden posts to the massive monument we see today.

Extract from the BookWe might never truly know whether the designers were local or foreign to Britain. What we do know is that designing and building calendars with primitive tools, required genius. Civilisation, it can be said, is built upon such genius, dedication and persistence.

These stone structures were built to last and because of this, crucial knowledge was passed down to future generations. Everything from a simple coffee in the morning to space exploration, testifies to this. Sadly, with the advent of written language, these structures fell into disuse and disrepair. Even so, after 5000 years and with little more than holes in the ground, scattered stones and a few remaining megaliths, we are able to reconstruct and understand their calendars.” Extract from Stonehenge: Times Square BC

About the AuthorThe author, Faith Booysen, has always had an overwhelming interest in the stone structures of the ancient world. Stonehenge in particular, held a strong fascination and in 2006, while watching a TV program on “Foamhenge” (a precise model of Stonehenge in polystyrene), she realized that the monument was only part of an equation and that the ancients would have used either loose stones or logs to mark their calendars daily.

It soon became obvious that the ruin of the Stonehenge monument seen today was preceded by other calendars. Stonehenge: Times Square BC is the result. Once the author had resolved the oldest calendar (the Aubrey Posts), she studied the remaining structures at Stonehenge and Woodhenge and these were revealed to be precise solar calendars. Mount Pleasant, a Neolithic henge in Dorset that supported wooden posts, proved to be a precise solar calendar as well.

Merlins CommentIt is obvious that the author knows and loves her subject and she has done some meticulous research to compile this fascinating account of the origins of our modern-day calendars and traditions behind our New Year celebrations.

Even those who are not ruled by the clock, or who are science buffs, will find that this absorbing account of the early designers who built one of the most fascinating monuments known to man and who made time and motion as we know it today all possible, makes you forget all about the time.

Link to TimeHenge book – http://www.timehenge.com/Link to Stonehenge Book Shop

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge was ‘part of crazy golf course for race of giant humans’ claims archaeologist

26 11 2010

The ancient mystery of the Bronze Age monument known as Stonehenge was finally unlocked this week, after Britain’s most eminent archaeologist announced that his exhaustive twelve-year study conclusively proved that the monument was part of an ancient crazy-golf course that covered much of Wiltshire and was used by holidaying giant humans ‘who were taller than a really big tree’.

Professor Arnold Cockburn of Cambridge University, has devoted much of his life to this study of Europe’s greatest Bronze Age monument, and several colleagues looked a little uneasy as he made the announcement at a press conference for the science journal Nature.

‘Look at the shaft of this massive nine-iron golf club, that at the time was dismissed as section of old gas pipe.’ He said. ‘It proves that our ancestors were about a hundred feet high and built Stonehenge as the final hole in a novelty mini-golf range that stretched from Salisbury Plain to Maiden Castle’ he declared.

At this point his former colleague Sir Bryan Peterson interjected to say ‘Arnold has worked very hard on this research project, and I think the strain of it all may have clouded his usually razor-sharp mind. Especially with Deirdre leaving him like that. Arnold, why don’t we go and have a drink, I could help you redraft the research project?’

But Professor Cockburn was undaunted by the discomfort of the attendant journalists, adding that the hundred foot hunter-gatherers were also into Swingball, ping-pong and bike polo. ‘Although they were very tall, they had really small heads, and spoke with a marked Scandinavian accent, like that chef on the Muppets’ continued Britain’s leading academic on ancient European anthropology.

Chalk hill figureProfessor Arnold was recently arrested for trying to run over his wife’s lesbian lover while under the influence of alcohol and was offered paid leave by Cambridge University on condition that he sought medical help. But he claimed that his studies were the only thing that were keeping him sane, and resolved to see the project through to the end.

‘Arnold has had a pretty rough time of recently’ said another Cambridge don ‘and has clearly gone off his mind with this ‘crazy golf for giants’ theory. You only have to look at Stonehenge to realize that the giants obviously built it for croquet.’

History can’t always be serious, hope you liked this Stoonehenge spoof…….

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Did Stonehenge’s Builders Use Ball Bearings?

24 11 2010

When it comes to mystical places on Earth, few can rival Stonehenge — the enigmatic stone monument sitting on the Salisbury Plain of southern England. And now comes a new theory that suggests the Neolithic builders who erected Stonehenge may have used ball bearings to move the giant stones into place.

Aligned in a circle and made up of 30 vertical standing stones — called megaliths — over 10 feet tall and weighing many tons, Stonehenge is believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 years old.

An archaeological study, the Stonehenge Riverside Project, suggested in 2008 that the original purpose of Stonehenge was as a burial ground.

Stonehenge

 
Researchers say the massive stones of Stonehenge could have been moved 10 miles a day using ball bearings.

But other questions raised about the structure have led scientists to wonder whether there wasn’t a more mystical or scientific reason for its existence, including the speculation that Stonehenge was built as a sophisticated astronomical observatory. Researchers have thought that the Stonehenge stones were aligned in such a way to accurately observe the heavens.

One of the lingering questions about Stonehenge is how the ancient builders were able to transport the huge stone slabs a distance of 150 miles from their quarry to the Salisbury Plain.

Now, scientists believe they’ve solved that mystery, the Daily Mail reports. In ongoing experiments, researchers from the University of Exeter have used wooden ball bearings placed in long grooves dug from wood planks.

When they put heavy concrete slabs onto a platform — resting above the balls — they found it was easier to move them.

Archaeologist Andrew Young added his own weight to the experiment by sitting on top of the slabs.

“The true test was when a colleague used his index finger to move me forward. A mere push and the slabs and I shot forward,” Young said. “This proved the balls could move large heavy objects and could be a viable explanation of how giant stones were moved.”

The researchers believe that, using this ball bearing technique along with several oxen, Stonehenge’s builders could have transported the massive stones 10 miles a day, or approximately two weeks from the quarry to their final destination.

All that’s known for certain is that the builders of Stonehenge left no explanation of how they did it or why.

An upcoming National Geographic special, “Stonehenge Decoded,” will consider the various theories to explain the purpose of Stonehenge: prehistoric computer, celestial observatory, place of worship, burial ground and, even, extraterrestrial origin.

Read more at the Daily Mail and National Geographic.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





English Heritage Gift of Membership makes the ideal Christmas present

24 11 2010

Gift of Membership
For the person who has everything.  Why not buy them an English Heritage membership
English Heritage Membership
English Heritage Gift of Membership makes the ideal Christmas present – free entry to over 400 English Heritage properties for a whole year! The gift of membership comes as a beautifully branded card, plus we offer felixible delivery options. 

Your Gift of Membership also includes:

  • exclusive members’ magazine Heritage Today
  • free English Heritage Handbook worth £8.95
  • free entry for up to six accompanying children (under 19 – within the family group)
  • free or reduced price entry to 100s of special events
  • free or reduced price entry to over 100 associated attractions

Please bear in mind that the last order dates for Christmas delivery are: delivery to UK: Friday 17th December, delivery to Western Europe: Thursday 9th December, delivery to Rest of World: Thursday 2nd December.

External Link: http://www.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/overseas-visitor-pass.htm

Thats my Mum and Dad sorted!

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





£10m investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund for Stonehenge

19 11 2010

Today, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced confirmed funding¹ of £10m for Stonehenge in Wiltshire. 

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

 

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said:

“Stonehenge is one of the archaeological wonders of the world. It demonstrates the vital role heritage plays within the UK’s tourism industry as well as being a great example of our fascinating history. This Heritage Lottery Fund investment will help transform this site and give people a much greater understanding of why it is so significant.”

Stonehenge, described as ‘the most architecturally sophisticated pre-historic stone circle in the world’², was constructed and in use between 3,000BC to 1,600BC. It is thought to have been used for a variety of religious ceremonies and the surrounding landscape – a World Heritage Site -contains over 700 known archaeological features. Stonehenge attracts 900,000 visitors every year from across the globe.

Stonehenge visitor centre

New Stonehenge visitor centre design

Neil Oliver, archaeologist, historian and broadcaster, said:

“Stonehenge is one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in the world – right up there with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Colosseum in Rome.  Just the sound of the word makes us wonder about our ancient past and our ancestors.” 

“It’s therefore fantastic news that thanks to this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, visitors will have an even better experience than before.  Perhaps more importantly, the money will help ensure the magic of that special place will be retained, and looked after into the future.  Stonehenge has always been a mind- blowing experience.  With this kind of support, it hopefully always will be.”

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said,

”We are tremendously grateful for this generous grant. Not only does it help to narrow the funding gap for the project considerably, it also sends out a message of confidence about the transformational benefits that the project will bring – to tourism,  local economy, and the conservation and public enjoyment of Stonehenge and its landscape. “

HLF’s grant will support work to remove the existing visitor facilities allowing the experience of the stones to be more naturally integrated with its ancient processional approach and the surrounding landscape. These much-needed wider improvements will give people the chance to explore what the site would have been like thousands of years ago. The project aims to improve the visitor experience, including the creation of a new carefully designed visitor centre which will include education and exhibition spaces to help people learn more about Stonehenge’s history. The project will also support training opportunities and a new volunteering programme.

-Ends-

Notes to Editors

  • ¹ A confirmed award means that money had already been earmarked by HLF for the project in question and that the full amount has now been secured. 
  • ²The World Heritage Committee described Stonehenge as ‘the most architecturally sophisticated pre-historic stone circle in the world.’
  • Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK. 

    Website:
    www.hlf.org.uk 
    www.English-Heritage.org.uk

    Progress, at last……………………… £10 million should do the job nicely!

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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