Stonehenge and Avebury Small Group Guided Tour.

28 10 2011

A new tour operating from London gives the  unique opportunity to explore the awe inspiring world famous Stonehenge and Avebury Prehistoric Landscapes with an expert service, guided by a qualified archaeologist.
avebury-guided-tour
The tour includes –

  • Return travel from London in a luxury coach 
  • Entrance in to Stonehenge
  • Visit Stonehenge Cursus, Stonehenge Avenue and several Bronze Age Round Barrows (burial mounds)
  • A visit to one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Bath. Nourished by natural hot springs, stunning architecture, great shopping and iconic attractions
  • Guided coach tour around some of the most beautiful and stunning architectural works in Bath
  • Visit Woodhenge and Durrington Walls
  • Visit West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill
  • Visit Avebury Stone Circle and Henge 

 You will enjoy the passion and enthusiasm expressed by our professional,  archaeologist tour leaders.
The Avebury Landscape

West Kennet Long Barrow
– One of the largest Neolithic burial tombs in Britain. The West Kennet Long Barrow was constructed about 3700 BC, and was in continual use for well over 1000 years.

Silbury Hill – The largest man-made mound in ancient Europe, Silbury Hill was constructed c2800 BC. Even after centuries of research, archaeologists have still not discovered the original purpose of the Hill – ideas include it use as a territorial marker, burial mound and as a cenotaph.

Avebury Henge, Stone Circle and West Kennet Avenue – The largest stone circle in Europe, Avebury formed the centre of one of the most impressive Neolithic ceremonial landscapes in Britain. The great circles, 200 standing stones arranged in an outer and 2 inner circles, surrounded by a massive bank and ditch, were the focal point of the area. They were connected by the West Kennet Avenue of standing stones to other locales in the region, including the Sanctuary on Overton Hill – the site of a postulated temple. Hundreds of great sarsen stones from the downland around, often weighing over 20 tonnes, were used in the construction of the site, some 2500-2200 BC.

 

Visit Bath for Lunch, Guided coach tour and ‘Free Time’

 

The Stonehenge Landscape

 

Durrington Walls is the site of a large Neolithic settlement and later henge enclosure. It is 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge. Recent excavation at Durrington Walls, support an estimate of a community of several thousand, thought to be the largest one of its age in north-west Europe. At 500m in diameter, the henge is the largest in Britain and recent evidence suggests that it was a complementary monument to Stonehenge

 

Woodhenge – Neolithic monument, dating from about 2300 BC, six concentric rings, once possibly supported a ring-shaped building.

 

Stonehenge Cursus –  (sometimes known as the Greater Cursus) is a large Neolithic cursus monument next to Stonehenge. It is roughly 3km long and between 100 and 150m wide. Excavations by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2007 dated the construction of the earthwork to between 3630 and 3375 BC. This makes the monument several hundred years older than the earliest phase of Stonehenge in 3000 BC.

 

Bronze Age round barrows The Stonehenge UNESCO world heritage site is said to contain the most concentrated collection of prehistoric sites and monuments in the world. One monument type missed by the casual observer is that of the Bronze Age round barrow (burial mounds). As we walk through this landscape, you will come into contact with these intriguing ancient burial sites and through the expertise of our tour leaders, you will come face to face with the customs and people of Bronze Age society buried in close proximity to the unique stone circle of Stonehenge.Stonehenge Avenue – Walk along the Stonehenge Avenue and approach this unique stone circle as was the intended route experienced by the Stonehenge’s contempories.

 

Admission to Stonehenge – The great and ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is an exceptional survival from a prehistoric culture now lost to us. The monument evolved between 3000 BC – 1600 BC and is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices.

 

Evening: Return 19.00 (winter schedule 18.00)

 

 These are Archaeology Tours, and as a result we believe we offer an excellent up-to-date specialist service; giving you the opportunity to learn in great detail about these amazing prehistoric sites, but also leaving you time to explore your surroundings by yourself.

This exclusive tour operates all year and can be booked through:
‘The Stonehenge Tour company’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Henge for Sale £250k – 1 previous owner

20 10 2011




Stanton Drew stone circles yield more clues to the past

18 10 2011

 A geophysical survey at the three stone circles at Stanton Drew near Bath, England, has uncovered more details about the prehistoric monuments.

This is Bath reports that subsurface imaging has added to a similar survey done in 1997. That survey revealed that the largest of the three circles was surrounded by a ditch with a wide entrance. The new survey, done with more modern equipment, discovered a second, smaller entrance. Archaeologists also found that one of the smaller stone circles stood on a leveled platform.

Stanton Drew’s main circle is more than 110 meters in diameter, making it the second largest stone circle in the UK, bigger than Stonehenge and second only to Avebury. The main entrance of its surrounding ditch faced a smaller stone circle to the northeast. Further away to the southwest was a third circle. Inside the main circle were nine concentric rings of wooden posts. These rings may have served as a sort of calendar marking important celestial events such as solstices and equinoxes. The megaliths of the three stone circles served a similar function.

Local folklore says the stones are a wedding party tricked by the Devil into celebrating on a Sunday. Stone circles have accumulated lots of folklore and several are said to be petrified people, including the Rollright Stones.

The complete archaeological reports are available here.
Sean McLachlan

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour’ Company www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge





Aboriginal Stonehenge: Stargazing in ancient Australia

12 10 2011

An egg-shaped ring of standing stones in Australia could prove to be older than Britain’s Stonehenge – and it may show that ancient Aboriginal cultures had a deep understanding of the movements of the stars.
Australian Stonehenge

Fifty metres wide and containing more than 100 basalt boulders, the site of Wurdi Youang in Victoria was noted by European settlers two centuries ago, and charted by archaeologists in 1977, but only now is its purpose being rediscovered.

It is thought the site was built by the Wadda Wurrung people – the traditional inhabitants of the area. All understanding of the rocks’ significance was lost, however, when traditional language and practices were banned at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Now a team of archaeologists, astronomers and Aboriginal advisers is reclaiming that knowledge.

They have discovered that waist-high boulders at the tip of the egg-shaped point along the ring to the position on the horizon where the sun sets at the summer and winter solstice – the longest and shortest day of the year.

The axis from top to bottom points towards the equinox – when the length of day equals night.

At Stonehenge, the sun aligns instead with gaps in the stones on these key dates in the solar calendar.

The probability that the layout of Wurdi Youang is a coincidence is minuscule, argues Ray Norris, a British astrophysicist at Australia’s national science agency, who is leading the investigation.

Prof Norris and his Aboriginal partners used Nasa technology to measure the position of each rock in relation to the sun, and to demonstrate the connection with the solstices and equinox.

This photo of the emu in the sky, above an aboriginal rock carving, was sent to every school in Australia

This photo of the emu in the sky, above an aboriginal rock carving, was sent to every school in Australia

It’s truly special because a lot of people don’t take account of Aboriginal science,” says Reg Abrahams, an Aboriginal adviser working with Prof Norris.

As happened with Stonehenge, the discovery could change the way people view early societies. It is only recently that it has been demonstrated that Aboriginal societies could count beyond five or six.

Songs and stories

“This is the first time we have been able to show that, as well as being interested in the position of the sun, they were making astronomical measurements,” says Prof Norris, who is also a faculty member at the School of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney.

“It is interesting to know how far back people were doing astronomy – if it is 5,000 years old it would predate Stonehenge”

Quote Prof Ray Norris Astrophysicist

Other studies by Prof Norris, of Aboriginal songs and stories, have also indicated a clear understanding of the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

Indigenous customs vary among groups across Australia, but one story that appears in many local traditions is the tale of a great emu that sits in the sky.

The emu, which can be seen in the southern hemisphere during April and May, is a shape made by the dark patches of the Milky Way.

Its appearance coincides with the laying season of the wild emu and for the storytellers it is a sign to start collecting eggs.

Prompted by historian Hugh Cairns, Prof Norris examined and photographed an emu-shaped rock carving in Kuring-Gai Chase National Park, near Sydney, which cleverly mirrors the celestial animal-like shape.

During the southern autumn, the constellation is positioned above the rock with the bird shape almost perfectly reflected by the engraving.

Intellectual leap

Other stories show more complex, intellectual understanding of the universe.

In the case of the solar eclipse, the Walpiri people in the Northern Territory tell the story of a sun-woman who pursues a moon-man. When she catches him the two become husband and wife together causing a solar eclipse.

The idea that the solar eclipse is caused by the moon moving in front of the sun is something only widely accepted by western scientists in the 16th Century.

“This is not about balls of flames going out, it’s about one body moving in front of the other,” says Prof Norris. “That is a giant intellectual leap.”

Since solar eclipses are rare, the survival of this story, passed down through generations, also shows a remarkable continuity of learning.

These discoveries play a crucial role in helping Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians understand just how intellectually advanced their ancient society was.

“This discovery has huge significance for understanding the amazing ability of this culture that is maligned,” says Janet Mooney, head of Indigenous Australian Studies at Sydney University.

“It makes not only me, as an Aboriginal person, but a lot of Aboriginal people around Australia very proud.”

She hopes to be able to tell her students of an aboriginal site more ancient than Stonehenge.

Until it is dated however, Wurdi Youang could be anywhere from 200 to 20,000 years old.

Aboriginal stone structures in the region have a vast age range and are very difficult to date. Many of the smaller rock sites that have been found, such as shelters and cooking areas, have been moved over time by natural and human forces.

But given the size of the stones at Wurdi Youang and how deeply they are entrenched in the ground it is more likely they have been there for thousands of years, archaeologists say.

Dating requires archaeologists to test the soil under the rocks to see when it was last exposed to sunlight and the team hope to be able to do this in the next few months.

But Prof Norris believes he has already proven the real value of the stone circle.

“It is interesting to know how far back people were doing astronomy, if it is 5,000 years old it would predate Stonehenge,” he says.

“But it is not quite as interesting to my mind as whether the Aboriginal people were doing real astronomy before British contact. That really tells us a lot about what kind of culture it is.”

Reach for the Stars – Aboriginal Astronomy was produced by Robert Cockburn and broadcast by Discovery for BBC World Service. Listen to the radio documentary via iplayer or download the podcast.

By Stephanie Hegarty BBC World Service
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15098959

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





How students found evidence to change the way we think about Stonehenge

4 10 2011

Stonehengeholds many mysteries, but although there are plenty of competing

The Stonehenge area was important to people before the stones were erected

The Stonehenge area was important to people before the stones were erected

theories about its purpose, experts agree that the site chosen for such a monumental construction project must have held a very special significance for our ancestors. Now evidence is emerging that the Stonehenge area could have been an important centre for prehistoric people several thousand years before the giant stone circle was actually built.

The revelation emerged from a small-scale excavation undertaken by Open University archaeology students, which has uncovered a huge cache of artefacts belonging to hunter-gatherers from the middle of the Stone Age, including the remains of a gargantuan Mesolithic-era feast, which took place close to Stonehenge.

The site has also yielded what are believed to be the oldest carved figurines yet found in the UK, indicating a continuity of human presence in what seems to have been a sacred spot for thousands of years.

The shoestring project has been led by David Jacques, a tutor at the Open University, since 2005. After getting permission from the landowners, Sir Edward and Lady Antrobus, to survey a site just north-east of a previously unexcavated Iron Age hill fort known as Vespasian’s Camp, he was awarded a research fellowship by the university’s classical studies department with a small three-year grant. Jacques chose to dig in a number of areas along the bed of a spring and recruited students from his Open University course on culture, identity and power in the Roman Empire, to do the excavation work.

“Last year, we dug a trench in the south-east area of the spring, and as we went down the trench we found a late Roman layer, then Iron Age, then early Bronze Age – then we found all these flint tools packed together in a 12cm layer,” says Jacques. “We thought it was probably a mixed cache of early prehistoric tools, and assumed some were contemporary with Stonehenge. When we took them back to Cambridge and a number of experts suggested they were all Mesolithic, we started to get very excited.”

With the tools were animal remains, including what Jacques and his team thought was a cow’s tooth, which they sent away for radiocarbon dating. The result was an astonishingly early date of around 6250BC, firmly in the Mesolithic period and more than 3,000 years before construction on Stonehenge began. Further excavations ensued and, by the end of September 2011, the team had uncovered a rare Mesolithic hoard of more than 5,500 worked flints and tools from just two small trenches 35m away from each other. As well as the tools and tool production debris, large quantities of burnt flint were found, indicating a fire, and more than 200 cooked animal bones, which came not from a cow, but from at least one aurochs – a gigantic creature resembling a buffalo that is now extinct. “An aurochs was something like a large minivan in size, to catch an animal this big would have been a major feat. It would have fed a lot of people. It’s likely there was a large gathering, possibly as many as 100 people, who cooked and feasted on the aurochs,” says Jacques.

“Mesolithic people were nomadic hunter-gatherers who would have had temporary settlements. Salisbury Plain would have been something like the Serengeti with herds of animals roaming across it, and people could have used the hills that sort of create a basin around it as vantage points from which to see the movement of animals.”

The discovery was especially significant since only a few small scatterings of Mesolithic material have ever been found in the Stonehenge area. Tom Lyons, one of two field archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology East supervising the project, says: “It’s really exciting to get such a cache of material. This certainly makes this find nationally important, if not internationally important.”

He and the team are linking the finds to the mysterious Stonehenge “totem poles”, three colossal Mesolithic post holes found during the excavation of the Stonehenge car park some years ago, which indicate the area was important to people in the Mesolithic era. He said what has been lacking until now is evidence of the people who used them.

The flint hoard is being analysed by Barry Bishop, an independent lithic specialist, who will publish his findings in a 2012 report co-authored with Jacques. He believes the size and nature of the assemblage of tools suggest that Mesolithic people kept returning to this one site over a long period of time, probably attracted by the spring water.

“Springs are very rare in this chalk landscape, and the spring would have probably seemed unique and quite mysterious,” explains Bishop. “People in Mesolithic communities saw the world as a very spiritual place, and even saw the landscape as being alive in itself, and they would have been very attuned to any differences and sensed great significance in this. “These might have been the very conditions which gave rise to Stonehenge – people seeing certain places in the landscape as being more spiritual in some way could have led to the creation of monuments thousands of years later.”

Evidence that the spring was considered sacred in the Bronze Age comes from other objects found by Jacques’ team that the archaeologists believe were deposited there as offerings to a particular god or goddess. They include a ceremonial dagger, dated to 1400BC, and two stone carvings in the shape of ducks, dated to around 700BC. This makes them the oldest figurines yet found in the UK, says Dr David Barrowclough, director of studies in archaeology at Wolfson College Cambridge, who is writing a research paper with Jacques about these objects. “In Europe in the Bronze Age and the start of the Iron Age, there was a cult, associated with the Celtic people, of making models of waterfowl and throwing them into ponds and springs. These are the first ones ever found in Britain, and the oldest figurines ever to come out of the UK,” he explains.

Jacques’ team’s findings could be a major boost for the local town, Amesbury, which is currently developing a historic tourist trail as part of a regeneration programme. In the best Open University tradition, Jacques has made a point of engaging the public on the dig and by giving talks to local people, who have traditionally had little involvement with the archaeology taking place on their doorstep.

The town mayor, Andy Rhind-Tutt, who is spearheading the regeneration campaign, says: “I hope we can secure funding to create our own museum/exhibition centre to showcase Amesbury’s heritage and this remarkable find.”

The local unitary and town council, English Heritage and the cash prize Jacques received as part of his 2010 Open University teaching award, have provided financial support for the work, but Jacques says more funding is now a priority. “We have done all of this on a shoestring budget of a few thousand pounds. We urgently need to get funds that reflect the stature of the finds.”

For Open University courses information, call 0845 300 6090; or see www.open.ac.uk/courses

 By Yvonne Cook http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/open-eye-you-never-know-what-you-might-unearth-2365369.html

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





‘Standing Stones’ at Famous Wiltshire Site to be moved to London!

2 10 2011

Following discussions with the government the famous ancient standing stones of Wiltshire’s ‘Stonehenge‘ are not going to have to be destroyed after all. Instead they are to be carefully taken down from there present site at Amesbury then relocated to a new permanent site on East London’s Hackney Marshes. The idea is to have the job completed in time for the start of next summer’s Olympic Games.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge megaliths to be moved to London

“Hackney Marshes is a stones throw from the Olympic park” said Prime Minister David Cameron after announcing the decision from number 10 yesterday, “so the many thousands of overseas visitors coming to watch the games next summer will also be able to visit the ancient stone circle and take some photos of them without having to take a long journey to Wiltshire. The M4 can also be hard going for drivers at that time of the year what with resurfacing work of the M4 usually taking place to coincide with Britain’s summer holiday period, and the many caravans being towed along the motorway as drivers head for the Devon and Cornish resorts with their families.”

Wiltshire’s councillors took the decision to order the removal of the large circle of standing stones from the hill at Amesbury after a sharp eyed official at their offices in Salisbury discovered they had no records to show planning permission had ever been granted for there erection.

The original purpose of erecting the stones is uncertain, though it is now thought most likely that they were intended just as the first few stones of what would then go on to become a giant pyramid, though Wiltshire council admit there is no evidence to show the construction was then abandoned when planning permission was turned down.

“The fact remains that there are no records to show planning permission was ever granted even for the stones that are there,” say Wiltshire council. “We feel that under the circumstances it would be wrong for us to make an exception in this case simply because of the long time they’ve already been there. Council rules clearly state that planning permission has to be obtained before erecting any intended permanent building or structure over six feet high. They are a lot higher than that, and the rules mean that these monstrous eyesores have to go.”

The first of the smaller standing stones was in the process of being removed from the hill near Salisbury this morning. It is expected to be standing on it’s new site on Hackney Marshes as early as tomorrow evening (Sunday). It should be clearly visible to people heading into work on Monday morning from the Essex side of London, and clearly visible to them from the flyover just after and on the opposite side from where the old Hackney greyhound stadium, now part of the Olympic Park, used to be.

Once all the old Stonehenge standing stones have been removed from the Wiltshire site the plan is to build a much needed new supermarket on the old Stonehenge hill.

“This will create much needed jobs in the area,” said a Wiltshire council spokesperson, “and the new supermarket will be erecting replica plastic standing stones for any tourists to admire and take some snaps of.”

Its not all serious…………..
Fictious story from ‘The Spoof’ website – http://www.thespoof.com/

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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