Neolithic New Year walk – Stonehenge Landscape

30 12 2010

Welcome in 2011 by discovering the astonishing Stone Age on a walk around the ancient monuments of the Stonehenge landscape. Why did people start to build massive monuments 6,000 years ago? Discover the astonishing Stone Age on a relaxed ramble around Stonehenge Down. Our six mile route will take us to Neolithic enigmas including Durrington Walls and the Stonehenge Cursus.

  • Wrap up warm against the January weather – we recommend plenty of layers and stout footwear. Bring a packed lunch and a hot drink.
  • Meet at the Stonehenge car park (not NT) by the bright green National Trust information panel on the grassy area of the main car park.
  • Dogs on leads welcome
  • Accompanied children welcome, free.
  • Light refreshments provided.
  • Access is by pedestrian and farm gates; the terrain is grassland and trackways, often uneven underfoot. Cattle and sheep graze the gently sloping downs.
  • More Information: Lucy Evershed, 01980 664780,

    Walk in the steps of our ancestors at one of the world’s best-preserved prehistoric sites
    Don’t miss
    • Great views of the famous Stonehenge circle
    • Mysterious ceremonial landscape of ancient burial mounds, processional walkways and enclosures
    • Haven for wildlife, from brown hare and butterflies, to birds such as the skylark
    • Colourful displays of downland wildflowers in June and July
    Or do it yourself any day of the year……………
    Stonehenge Down
    The long grassland shrouded in mist at Stonehenge Down. © NT / Margriet van Vianen
    Home to skylark and brown hare, Stonehenge Down is a wide open landscape with fine views of the famous stone circle. From here you can also explore Bronze Age barrow cemeteries and prehistoric monuments, such as the Stonehenge Avenue and the mysterious Cursus. SU125425
    King Barrow Ridge
    Here Bronze Age burial mounds stand among impressive beech trees, with views of Stonehenge and the downs. The hazel coppice provides shelter for wildlife along the ridge, while in summer, chalk downland flora attracts butterflies such as the marbled white. SU134423
    King Barrow Ridge on a beautiful summer's day. © NT / Lucy Evershed
    Normanton Down
    Normanton Down on a bright summer's day, showing a field of daisies in the foreground. © NT / Margriet van Vianen
    Normanton Down offers one of the best approaches to the stone circle. The round barrow cemetery dates from around 2600 to 1600BC and is one of the most remarkable groups of burial mounds in the Stonehenge landscape. The downland and arable fields here are home to a variety of farmland birds such as corn bunting and stonechat. SU117415
    Durrington Walls
    In 2005 Durrington Walls was revealed to be the site of a rare Neolithic village, with evidence of shrines and feasting. You can still see some of the banks of this circular earthwork, the largest complete ‘henge’ in Europe. Post holes show that there were large timber structures here, like those at nearby Woodhenge. SU150437
    The red and gold hues of autumn at Durrington Walls. © NT / Stephen Fisher
    Winterbourne Stoke Barrows
    The Chalkhill Blue, common to chalk grassland, can be seen in the summer months. © NT / Margriet van Vianen
    Another fascinating example of a prehistoric cemetery. The wide range of barrow shapes found here show that this site was used over a long period of time for burials of people of high status. Newly sown chalk downland flora covers the landscape – look out for brown hares too. SU101417

    External link:

    Happy New Year!
    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2010

    23 12 2010

    Snow and ice failed to stop people visiting Stonehenge to watch the

    Stonehenge Solstice

    Stonehenge Solstice

    sunrise on the winter solstice, 22nd December 2010

    Almost 2,000 people gathered at the stones which were surrounded by a thick blanket of snow.

    As well as the traditional druid and pagan ceremonies, a spontaneous snowball fight erupted as people enjoyed the cold weather.  A good time was had by all.

    I will be uploading photos and videos later today – can you see yourself? 

    Many thanks for all the helpful tweets over the solstice –

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website (sponsor) (sponsor)

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic pictures

    21 12 2010

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2010 Panoramic

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic (Copyright)

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice Panoramic (Copyright)

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    More Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2010 images – click here
    Merlin @ Stonehenge

    Stonehenge Winter Solstice 21stDecember 2010

    21 12 2010

    I went to Stonehenge this morning hoping to witness the Lunar eclipse between 7.30am and 8am.  Sadly there was freezing fog and a snowy sky?  It was a pleasant surprise to find that English Heritage decided to grant access into Stonehenge today as well as tomorrow (22nd)  There were a few hundred ‘happy’ people, a pagan wedding and a small Druid ceremony.  It was extremely cold but well worth it. 
    I have uploaded these photos for your perusal – hot off the press!  They anticipate 2-3000 people for tomorrows Solstice celebrations – See you there!

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Happy Solstice
    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

    Winter Solstice Celebrations at Stonehenge

    20 12 2010

    THE winter solstice will be celebrated at Stonehenge on Wednesday. Sunrise is at 8.09am on December 22 and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely.

    Entrance is free and will be available from roughly 7.30am until 9am, when the site will close to visitors before re-opening as per usual at 9.30am.

    This photo was emailed to me yesterday ?

    Peter Carson from English Heritage said: “We are delighted to offer people a warm welcome to Stonehenge this Winter Solstice. Over the years, the event has grown from a handful of people to a celebration enjoyed by a couple of thousand of people. We work very closely with the Druid and Pagan community to ensure that the event is a success.”

    A date for the diary, that is if you are prepared to face the winter snow, but perhaps in the circumstances it would be wiser to stay at home and celebrate the Winter Solstice safely there!

    THE winter solstice will be celebrated at Stonehenge on Wednesday.

    Sunrise is at 8.09am on December 22 and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely.

    Entrance is free and will be available from roughly 7.30am until 9am, when the site will close to visitors before re-opening as per usual at 9.30am…….

    There is no public transport to Stonehenge at that time of the morning and parking is limited – you have been warned!  Avebury Stone Circle could be a safer alternative ?

    Happy Solstice!
    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    I will upload images to this blog on the 22nd

    Geminid meteor shower set for clear skies

    13 12 2010

    With cloudless skies possible over Stonehenge and many parts of Britain, this year’s shooting stars could be particularly memorable

    Lovers of the night sky could be in for a treat tonight as clear conditions are predicted for one of the best astronomical shows of the year.

    Some experts believe the annual Geminid meteor shower is becoming more spectacular – though if it is, nobody is sure why – and with cloudless skies possible in many parts of the country, this year’s event could be a particularly memorable one.

    At its peak and in a clear, dark sky, up to 100 meteors – or shooting stars – may be seen every hour. The best time to see it is expected to be late on Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday after the moon has set.

    In comparison with other showers, Geminid meteors travel fairly slowly, at about 22 miles per second. They are bright and have a yellowish hue, making them distinct and easy to spot.

    Meteors are the result of small particles entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, burning up and super-heating the air around them, which shines as a characteristic short-lived streak of light. In the case of the Geminids, the debris is associated with the asteroidal object 3200 Phaethon, which many astronomers believe to be an extinct comet.

    National Trust list of the best places to watch the shower

    • Stonehenge area in Wiltshire – chalk downland and crystal clear skies.

     Teign Valley in Devon, within Dartmoor national park.

    • Penbryn Beach, on the Ceredigion coast in west Wales.

    • Wicken Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire – dark skies and nocturnal wildlife.

    • Mam Tor in Derbyshire, an escape from the bright lights of cities such as Sheffield.

    • Friar’s Crag in Cumbria, jutting out into Derwentwater.

    See you at Stonehenge tonight

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle website

    Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology…or a simple farmer’s fence?

    12 12 2010

    The discovery of a wooden version of Stonehenge – a few hundred yards from the famous monument – was hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds for decades.

    But now experts are at loggerheads after claims that what was thought to be a Neolithic temple was a rather more humble affair – in fact the remains of a wooden fence.

    One leading expert on Stonehenge criticised the announcement of the ‘remarkable’ find in July as ‘hasty’ and warned it could become a ‘PR embarrassment’.

    The site, ringed, in a Seventies chart, which experts say shows a fenceMapped: The site, ringed, in a Seventies chart, which experts say shows a fence


    The radar image said to reveal the post holes of a Neolithic temple‘Evidence’: The radar image said to reveal the post holes of a Neolithic temple

    The discovery of what appeared to be a previously unknown ‘henge’, or earthwork, by a team of archaeologists conducting a multi-million-pound study of Salisbury Plain was widely reported amid great excitement.

    The team said they had found evidence of a ring of 24 3ft-wide pits that could have supported timber posts up to 12ft tall, surrounded by an 80ft-wide ditch and bank.

    They explained that, just like Stonehenge, the entrances to the site were aligned so that on the summer solstice the sun’s rays would enter the centre of the ring. Holes where the wooden posts once stood were identified below the ground using the latest high-resolution geophysical radar-imaging equipment.

    An artist's impression of how Woodhenge may have been 5,000 years agoCircle of confusion: An artist’s impression of how Woodhenge may have been 5,000 years ago

    Team leader Professor Vince Gaffney of Birmingham University said the ritual monument had been built about 5,000 years ago, making it roughly the same age as its stone counterpart 980 yards away, and it could have been used for Stone Age feasts or elaborate funerals.

    He said the find showed Stonehenge had not existed in ‘splendid isolation’ and he predicted further discoveries during the three-year survey of five square miles of countryside around Stonehenge.

    But sceptics have now suggested that the evidence is far from conclusive, especially as it appears from images of the plot produced by the Birmingham team that the ring of post holes was not arranged in a circle but was angular and more like a hexagon.

    How a Neolithic visitor may have lookedHow a Neolithic visitor may have looked

    Mike Pitts, editor of the magazine British Archaeology and an acknowledged expert on Stonehenge, said he had been prompted to study maps of the area after receiving a letter from an American reader.

    In the spot where Prof Gaffney had claimed to have uncovered his post holes, Mr Pitts said he and
    colleagues examined a Seventies Ordnance Survey map – and saw a fence marked out.

    He thought it probably was an early 20th Century construction, erected by the then Government’s Office of Works or a local farmer to protect what was thought to have been the most important site in a cluster of burial mounds that were ancient but later than Stonehenge.

    Mr Pitts said: ‘Vince Gaffney says his discovery encircles a burial mound within its circumference, but unless he has some unpublished material to substantiate his discovery, I am in no doubt that this was a modern fence line.

    ‘If I’m right then the post holes contained modern fencing stakes and they are actually in a hexagonal shape, not a circle.’

    He added: ‘I think that perhaps what has happened is that the professor’s field workers have presented him with the wrong picture and he’s shot from the hip and made an over-hasty announcement. He’s generally known for the high quality of his work and his enthusiasm which, on this occasion, may have let him down.

    ‘The full publication of his results and small-scale excavations of the site would clinch the matter.’

    But Prof Gaffney said: ‘We have mapped numerous fences and we know what they look like. The features appear to be 3ft across and as deep as 3ft. I have never seen a fence line that required holes that are 3ft across and 3ft deep.’

    He said that in the fuzzy, black-and-white radar image the post holes appeared angular but that was partly due to the poor resolution of the picture and because such monuments were not perfect circles.

    He went on: ‘The poles that would have stood in them would have been more like telegraph poles. You would not use them to build a fence.’

    Prof Gaffney added that no metal such as old nails had been found in the holes, which would have
    been expected.

    ‘On balance, we would still suggest this is a ritual monument of the late Neolithic period.’

     I love it when the ‘experts’ use the term ‘ritual‘ – in other words they do not know!
    Related artile: New Woodhenge found

    Read more:–simple-farmers-fence.html#ixzz1Dj4rwwBM

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

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