Put those bones back! Future of archaeology threatened by law forcing scientists to rebury ancient remains

12 02 2011

A controversial law that requires all human remains unearthed at ancient settlements to be reburied within two years threatens the future of archaeology, it is claimed today.

Under legislation introduced in 2008, bones and skulls found at sites in England and Wales, such as Stonehenge, have to be put back where they were found after 24 months.

A group of leading archaeologists has writt

en to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to protest that this will vastly diminish their ability to research the history of humans in Britain.

Scientists search an area at Starr Carr, North Yorkshire, last year after locating Britain's earliest house. Leading archaeologists today protested a law that requires all human remains unearthed at ancient settlements to be reburied

Scientists search an area at Starr Carr, North Yorkshire, last year after locating Britain's earliest house. Leading archaeologists today protested a law that requires all human remains unearthed at ancient settlements to be reburied

Forty archaeology professors wrote to express their ‘deep and widespread concern’ in a letter published in today’s Guardian newspaper.

‘The current licence conditions are impeding scientific research, preventing new discoveries from entering museums, and are not in the public interest,’ their letter states

‘Your current requirement that all archaeologically excavated human remains should be reburied, whether after a standard period of two years or a further special extension, is contrary to fundamental principles of archaeological and scientific research and of museum practice.’

The 2008 legislation applies to any piece of bone of historical interest found at around 400 archaeological sites across England and Wales; the 1857 Burial Act applies to more recent remains.

‘The current licence conditions are impeding scientific research, preventing new discoveries from entering museums, and are not in the public interest’

Scientists working at Stonehenge who discovered 60 bodies in 2008 have been granted an extension before they have to return the remains to the ground.

Their colleagues at the Happisburgh site in Norfolk are currently digging after finding the oldest stone age tools that date back 950,000 years.

Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology who signed the letter, said: ‘If human remains were found at Happisburgh they would be the oldest human fossils in northern Europe and the first indication of what this species was.

‘Under the current practice of the law those remains would have to be reburied and effectively destroyed.

‘This applies to everything. If we were to find a Neanderthal fossil or a Roman skeleton, it would all have to be reburied.’

Among the high-profile signatories are Barry Cunliffe, from University of Oxford; Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum; Graeme Barker, from University of Cambridge; and Stephen Shennan, director

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Barrows of the Bronze Age – Stonehenge Landscape Tour

11 02 2011

Explore the Bronze Age monuments of the Stonehenge landscape with Sonia Heywood ‘ you’ll soon discover that they’re much more than simple burial mounds. Investigated by curious antiquarians in the last 300 years, they have a 4,000 year history that tells us much about our past. On our four mile walk we’ll be visiting the Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows and the Monarch of the Plain. We’ll also have fine views of the King Barrows and Normanton Down Barrows.

26th February 2011

  • Please wrap up warm and bring stout footwear. The open landscape of the downs can be very exposed. You may like to bring a hot drink and a snack.
  • Meeting at the Stonehenge car park (not NT) by the bright green National Trust information panel.More Information: Lucy Evershed, 01980 664780, stonehenge@nationaltrust.org.uk
    http://www.Nationaltrust.org.ukHighly recommended!
    Merli @ Stonehenge Stone Circle




  • STONEHENGE MODEL IS TOURING THE UK!

    7 02 2011

    To celebrate the new BBC Two series on the Ancient Britons, a Stonehenge model is touring the UK. 

    English Heritage policy researchers, archaeological investigators, surveyors and historians have all been keen to join forces and investigate a variety of archived information, including 3D data from a previous survey of the monument in 1993, old plans and photos of the 1958 re-erection, in order to supply correct dimensions.

    Others have also helped to supply images, information and check details for a series of popular, jointly branded learning resources as part of an ongoing partnership between BBC Learning and English Heritage Education.

    Resources on the Normans went down well at English Heritage properties last year and prehistory timelines and group activity guides are currently being handed out free of charge to families and learning groups visiting Stonehenge.

    All these can also be downloaded from the BBC Hands on History website where teachers, parents and students can also find events, a map of sites to visit, animations featuring the Hands on History mini-time traveller, Eric and more.

    The Stonehenge road show will challenge families to help solve the mystery of how the stones were moved and also feature interpretation boards and an interactive mini drama led by historical interpreters. It is scheduled to visit shopping centres in five locations from 11.00am – 15.30pm:

    • Monday 21 February: Queen’s Arcade, Cardiff
    • Tuesday 22 February: thecentre:mk, Middleton Hall, Milton Keynes 
    • Wednesday 23 February: Swindon Designer Outlet
    • Thursday 24 February: Westfield Derby
    • Friday 25h February: MetroCentre, Gateshead

    Stonehenge model is touring the UK. 

    English Heritage experts are helping BBC Hands on History make the most of a new BBC Two TV series, ‘A History of Ancient Britain’, scheduled to start on 9 February. They are pulling out all the stops to get an inflatable scale model of one Stonehenge trilithon (two uprights and a lintel) as accurate as possible before it goes on a whistle-stop tour of five city centre shopping centres from 21-25 February

    English Heritage policy researchers, archaeological investigators, surveyors and historians have all been keen to join forces and investigate a variety of archived information, including 3D data from a previous survey of the monument in 1993, old plans and photos of the 1958 re-erection, in order to supply correct dimensions.

    Others have also helped to supply images, information and check details for a series of popular, jointly branded learning resources as part of an ongoing partnership between BBC Learning and English Heritage Education.

    Resources on the Normans went down well at English Heritage properties last year and prehistory timelines and group activity guides are currently being handed out free of charge to families and learning groups visiting Stonehenge.

    All these can also be downloaded from the BBC Hands on History website where teachers, parents and students can also find events, a map of sites to visit, animations featuring the Hands on History mini-time traveller, Eric and more.

    The Stonehenge road show will challenge families to help solve the mystery of how the stones were moved and also feature interpretation boards and an interactive mini drama led by historical interpreters. It is scheduled to visit shopping centres in five locations from 11.00am – 15.30pm:

    • Monday 21 February: Queen’s Arcade, Cardiff
    • Tuesday 22 February: thecentre:mk, Middleton Hall, Milton Keynes 
    • Wednesday 23 February: Swindon Designer Outlet
    • Thursday 24 February: Westfield Derby
    • Friday 25h February: MetroCentre, Gateshead

    English Heritage – http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

    Has anyone got a photo of the model they can send me ?
    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





    Stonehenge Druids – The mysterious guardians of the ancient Celtic knowledge.

    7 02 2011
    Druids_celebrating_at_Stonehenge

    Druids_celebrating_at_Stonehenge

    The Druids were the priests of the Celtic religion during the Iron Age

    The Druids were the priests of the Celtic religion during the Iron Age which was before the Romans invaded Britain.

    The Druids has been popularly associated with Stonehenge ever since an earlier researcher John Aubrey said in 1666 that stone circles were built and used by Druids as places where they conducted their rituals.

    Today we know that this ancient Druid connection to Stonehenge is not true.

    Druids and most of what we know of them today have been written about by Julius Ceasar and Pliny during the Gaelic wars.

    According to Ceasar Druids chose to conduct their rituals in densely wooded areas and did not built special places to perform their ceremonies. Druid comes from the Celtic word for “knowing the oak tree

    Pliny writes mostly about the Druids practicing medicine and sorcery.

    According to him the Druids held the mistletoe plant in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. Mistletoe grows on the oak trees and a priest dressed in a white robe would cut it with a golden knife. It was the custom that two white bulls were to be sacrificed on the spot.

    Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses to be learned by heart and a novice would apparently train for up to 20 years to prepare for his duties as a guardian of the sacred knowledge.

    It is interesting that many Druids were women. Celtic woman enjoyed more freedom and rights than women in any other contemporary society. They had the right to enter a battle and even divorce their husbands.

    The modern version of the Druids is known as The Ancient Order of Druids and was formed in 1781. Neo Druidism is apparently based on Freemasonry.

    The Ancient Order of Druids was not able to hold a ceremony at Stonehenge until 1905 and at this occasion 650 of them arrived for a mass initiation.

    They erected their own marquee and were well stocked with food and drink.

    Druids Autumb Equinox

    Druids Autumb Equinox

    Apparently they used a secret password to keep outsiders outside. Sir Edmund Antrobus the then owner of Stonehenge was also one of the 258 novices present to be initiated.

    After the feasting the initiates were blindfolded and led into the stone circle while an anthem which was especially composed for the event was played.

    The ceremony was lead by GA Lardner, Most Noble Grand Arch Brother of the Order who waved his battleaxe over a so called sacred fire. After he recited the sacred oath the blindfolds were removed and everyone apparently had a hearty singsong of the anthem.

    Over the years a number of famous names have had involvement with the Druids.

    Here are some of their members;

    Winston Churchill – Prime Minister

    Ludwig van Beethoven – Composer.

    Benjamin Franklin – Politician and American President.

    Salvador Dali –Artist.

    More recently Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the head of the Anglican Church was initiated as a member.

    Today Druids mostly gather at Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstice days.

    which was before the Romans invaded Britain. The Druids has been popularly associated with Stonehenge ever since an earlier researcher John Aubrey said in 1666 that stone circles were built and used by Druids as places where they conducted their rituals. Today we know that this ancient Druid connection to Stonehenge is not true. Druids and most of what we know of them today have been written about by Julius Ceasar and Pliny during the Gaelic wars. According to Ceasar Druids chose to conduct their rituals in densely wooded areas and did not built special places to perform their ceremonies. Druid comes from the Celtic word for “knowing the oak tree” Pliny writes mostly about the Druids practicing medicine and sorcery. According to him the Druids held the mistletoe plant in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. Mistletoe grows on the oak trees and a priest dressed in a white robe would cut it with a golden knife. It was the custom that two white bulls were to be sacrificed on the spot. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses to be learned by heart and a novice would apparently train for up to 20 years to prepare for his duties as a guardian of the sacred knowledge. It is interesting that many Druids were women. Celtic woman enjoyed more freedom and rights than women in any other contemporary society. They had the right to enter a battle and even divorce their husbands. The modern version of the Druids is known as The Ancient Order of Druids and was formed in 1781. Neo Druidism is apparently based on Freemasonry. The Ancient Order of Druids was not able to hold a ceremony at Stonehenge until 1905 and at this occasion 650 of them arrived for a mass initiation. They erected their own marquee and were well stocked with food and drink. Apparently they used a secret password to keep outsiders outside. Sir Edmund Antrobus the then owner of Stonehenge was also one of the 258 novices present to be initiated. Image Credit After the feasting the initiates were blindfolded and led into the stone circle while an anthem which was especially composed for the event was played. The ceremony was lead by GA Lardner, Most Noble Grand Arch Brother of the Order who waved his battleaxe over a so called sacred fire. After he recited the sacred oath the blindfolds were removed and everyone apparently had a hearty singsong of the anthem. Over the years a number of famous names have had involvement with the Druids. Here are some of their members; Winston Churchill – Prime Minister Ludwig van Beethoven – Composer. Benjamin Franklin – Politician and American President. Salvador Dali –Artist. More recently Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the head of the Anglican Church was initiated as a member. Today Druids mostly gather at Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstice days.

    External links:
    The British Druid Order – http://www.druidry.co.uk/
    The Council of Druid Orders – http://www.cobdo.org.uk/
    The Druid Network – druidnetwork.org
    Stonehenge Guide – stonehengeguide.com
    Stonehenge Tours – StonehengeTours.com

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone circle Website





    Sarsen stones – Shaped like wood 42 centuries ago

    5 02 2011

    Sarsen stones are the very large stones that forms the outer circle at Stonehenge.

    These stones are a very hard type of sandstone. Now to give one a clear idea as to how hard this particular stone is we will take a look at the Mohs scale.

    The Mohs scale is simply a measurement used to measure the surface resistance to abrasion of any hard substance.

    That just means that if we take a hammer and bash the stone how much will it resist before we can knock a chunk off it.

    Sarsen stone measures a seven (7) on the Mohs scale.

    Now, if we compare the surface resistance of sarsen stone to that of steel we find that steel measures 6,7 on the same scale.

    So, we now know that sarsen stone is a very hard stone and we can appreciate how difficult it must have been to shape the stone with ancient tools.

    Sarsen stones were worked and dressed with other sarsen stone which were round balls of stone known as mauls. The mauls were of various sizes and can today be viewed at the Salisbury museum.

    From exploration at Stonehenge it would appear that there were 30 stones that were used as “uprights”.

    Of these “uprights” 29 of them were shaped to the same basic size.

    When the sarsen “uprights” were placed into position they were then capped with a line of sarsen stone lintels.

    The lintels weighs up to seven tons ( 7,000kg.) each.

    To fix the lintels securely in position thirteen feet or 4m. above the ground these lintels were locked together like pieces in a jigsaw.

    The lintels were held in place on the upright sarsen stones by mortice-and-tenon joints which was carved out of the solid stone.

    The lintels in the circle were then locked end-to-end by a method known as vertical tongue and groove joints.

    The vertical tongue and groove jointing techniqueThe jointing techniques used on the sarsen stones are all from the wood joiners craft.

    Another amazing feature is that the lintel circle of sarsen stones were shaped to follow the curve of the circle which is both a design and engineering feature.

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





    A new henge discovered at Stonehenge

    5 02 2011

    An archaeology team led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria discovered a major ceremonial monument less than one kilometre away from the iconic Stonehenge.

    History is set to be rewritten after an archaeology team led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria discovered a major ceremonial monument less than one kilometer away from the iconic .

    The incredible find has been hailed by Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University’s IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre, as one of the most significant yet for those researching the UK’s most important prehistoric structure.

    Professor Gaffney says: “This finding is remarkable. It will completely change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge. “People have tended to think that as Stonehenge reached its peak it was the paramount monument, existing in splendid isolation. This discovery is completely new and extremely important in how we understand Stonehenge and its landscape.”

    The new “henge-like” Late Neolithic monument is believed to be contemporaneous to Stonehenge and appears to be on the same orientation as the World Heritage Site monument. It comprises a segmented ditch with opposed north-east/south-west entrances that are associated with internal pits that are up to one metre in diameter and could have held a free-standing, timber structure.

    The project, which is supported by the landowner, the National Trust, and facilitated by English Heritage, has brought together the most sophisticated geophysics team ever to be engaged in a single archaeological project in Britain.

    Provided by University of Birmingham.  Find out more about the latest discoveries, join a guided tour of Stonehenge – book through ”The Stonehenge Tour Company

    Merlin @ Stonehenge
    THe Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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