The Stonehenge Project – Phase 1

29 03 2013

An amazing opportunity to gain a rare and fascinating insight into the development of the famous World Heritage Site. The first in a series of exclusive Members’ Events to share with you the details of the high profile development of the new Visitors Centre, join Stonehenge Director Loraine Knowles and Programme Manager Richard Williams to discuss the project and gain insight at this early stage. With the help of a time lapse film you will see the stages of the construction process and discover the plans for the centre once completed.

Welcome refreshments are included. This event has been graded as Easy Access, as there are clear walkways and seating available.

event-stonehengeHow to Book

Ticket are available to book from 10am on Tuesday 26 March by calling our dedicated ticket sales team on 0870 333 1183. (Mon-Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm & Sat 9am – 5pm)

Prices

Welcome refreshments are included.

Members’ Only Event

    • Date: Mon 22 Apr 2013
    • Property:
      Watershed, Bristol
    • Children’s Event
      Time: 10am-12pm
    • Booking :
      Suitable for: Adults

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/the-stonehenge-project-phase-1-watershed-22-apr/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stoneheng News Blog





Stonehenge visitors to ‘experience’ standing in the ancient circle

25 03 2013

A 360 degree cinema is being developed so visitors to Stonehenge can experience standing inside the ancient circle.

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site Photo: Christopher Jones for the Telegraph

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site Photo: Christopher Jones for the Telegraph

Access to Stonehenge has been fiercely contested for decades, with campaigners arguing that they should be allowed into the stone circle.

Now, English Heritage has developed a possible solution, a virtual visit in a 360 degree cinema where visitors can “experience” standing in the ancient circle.

It will be the centrepiece of a new £27 million centre at the site and is one of a number of audio visual attractions being built to bring the prehistoric monument to life.

These will include a 32ft “landscape wall”, on to which computer generated images of the countryside around the circle and other ancient earthworks will be projected.

In addition, there will be five “people films”, shown on screens in one of the two vast pods being built to house the visitor centre. These will provide information about the monument and prehistoric items on display

There will also be films exploring the conflicting theories over the establishment and use of the circle.

Outside the centre, replica Neolithic dwellings are being built, where visitors will be able to see how early inhabitants of the sites lived.

The plans for the centre are revealed in a series of tender documents from English Heritage, seeking firms to provide the technological content for the audio visual displays. The documents describe the “immersive 360 degree projected film” as the “most important and high profile piece of audio visual ever undertaken by EH”.

The new auditorium’s 100ft circumference will compare with about 300ft in the actual stone circle.

Robert Campbell, the head of interpretation at the centre, said: “It’s meant to give people a sense of what it is like to stand in the middle of Stonehenge because most people just won’t be able to do that. It won’t feel like you are standing in a computer programme. The idea is to take our visitors back in time.”

The virtual visits may not win over all campaigners including Pagans and Druids who want open access to Stonehenge, which was created about 5,000 years ago.

When it was first opened to the public, it was possible to walk among and even climb on the stones. However, they were roped off in 1977 due to problems with erosion.

Visitors are now kept a short distance away, although English Heritage does permit access during the summer and winter solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox. Some access visits early in the morning or late in the evening can also be booked.

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site. The multi-million project is being built 1.5 miles from the stones.

By , and David Barrett (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehnege News Blog

 





Time to rethink the annual free bash at Stonehenge?

21 03 2013

The Heritage Journal

Times are tough. Another £2.5 billion of cuts are to be announced today. Heritage spending has already been slashed across the board yet in exactly 3 months from today another £200,000 is due to be spent to facilitate the annual, inflation-proofed knees-up at Stonehenge. Should it be examined or is it sacrosanct, in contrast to pensioners’ benefits and museums? Here are some actual figures of the costs it involves:

Security & Stewarding  £54k  (inc all security and stewarding, car park management and St John Ambulance)
Event Management £13k  (inc risk management, health and safety and operation set up, dismantling and clear up)
Temporary Equipment  £56k   (inc lighting and technical production, tracking, fencing, toilets and event accommodation)
Land Lease Charges £10k (inc hire of land for car parking)
Signage & Printing  £2k (inc signage production and installation and conditions of entry leaflets)
Waste Management  £11k (inc litter picking, recycling…

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Stonehenge remains a mystery as scientists ask: was it a health spa, or a cemetery?

17 03 2013

Archaeologists back conflicting theories on Britain’s greatest prehistoric monument

It already attracts more than a million visitors a year. Yet these numbers could be dwarfed once Stonehenge, one of the world’s greatest prehistoric monuments, completes its radical facelift

Stonehenge, the prehistoric site whose purpose is still not fully understood by archaeologists. Photograph: Steve Allen/Getty Images

Stonehenge, the prehistoric site whose purpose is still not fully understood by archaeologists. Photograph: Steve Allen/Getty Images

Over the next year, the nearby A344 will be closed and grassed over. A new visitor centre will be built a mile and a half from the monument and tourists will be encouraged to explore the ancient landscape around the 5,000-year-old complex.

The makeover falls short of plans, since scrapped, that would have seen all major thoroughfares in the area diverted through tunnels. Nevertheless Stonehenge should be returned to something like its past glory, it is hoped, and then attract even greater numbers of visitors seeking to understand the purpose of this vast, enigmatic edifice.

For centuries, historians and archaeologists have speculated about the reason for the monument’s construction. Suggestions have ranged from the proposal that it was built by Merlin to commemorate knights slain in a battle against Saxon invaders to the idea that Stonehenge was a highly sophisticated astronomical observatory.

Earlier this month, the latest salvo in the debate was fired by archaeologists, led by Professor Michael Parker Pearson, of University College London, who published research indicating that the original Stonehenge was a graveyard for a community of elite families. “This was a place for the dead,” Parker Pearson said.

The notion – that Stonehenge is essentially a large funerary temple created between 3000 and 2500BC – does not find favour with every scientist, however. Indeed, the other main group of UK researchers investigating the site – archaeologists led by Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University – believe the place was an ancient Lourdes. The sick and wounded would come here for cures from the monument’s great bluestones, which had been dragged from Wales to Wiltshire because of their magical healing properties. “This was a place for the living,” Darvill said.

Such divergence of views would seem to suggest we are as far from understanding the purpose of Stonehenge as we have ever been. English Heritage historian Susan Greaney counselled caution, however. We should not place too much emphasis on our ignorance about the monument, she said. “We know who built it and when they built it and have a good idea how they built it. It is only its ultimate purpose that still remains unresolved,” she said.

Detailed radiocarbon dating of Stonehenge has shown that work on its construction probably began with the huge circular ditch that still surrounds the monument. Inside several dozen bluestones were erected along with various timber posts and other structures. It was a relatively modest construction by the standards of the remains we can see today. Then, around 2600BC, the site was transformed. A ring of giant upright stones called sarsens were erected and capped with huge rock lintels. Inside five huge trilithons – pairs of rock columns capped with a single slab – were erected and many of the magical bluestones from Wales that had been erected near the edge of the monument were moved inside this inner sanctum. Crucially, the rays of the setting midwinter sun and the rising midsummer sun would shine through the heart of the monument and down the avenue that leads into it.

Over succeeding centuries, the bluestones were rearranged for purposes that still mystify scientists. In short, Stonehenge is not one monument, built at one moment in history, but many built and rebuilt over many centuries. By that definition, it had no single purpose but had many. Even today it performs many functions – as a tourist attraction, a religious site (for Druids), and a place for scientific study, for example.

As to the identity of the builders of Stonehenge’s great rings of sarsens and trilithons, that appears to be far less of a mystery. Work at the nearby site of Durrington Walls indicates it was occupied by thousands of individuals at exactly the time the great stone rings of Stonehenge were being erected. The remains of the cattle they slaughtered have been studied and by careful analysis of the chemical makeup of their teeth, their place of origin in Britain has been determined. Remarkably, the animals appear to have been brought to Wiltshire from almost every part of the country. Even more intriguingly, most were killed during two peak periods: midwinter and midsummer.

“People were coming from all over the country at these times,” said Parker Pearson. “It was partly a religious festival and partly a construction site: a combination of Glastonbury and a motorway building camp. The crucial point is that this was the first and only time in British prehistory that the country was united in a common cultural activity.”

The issue is: what was that common cultural activity? Parker Pearson believes Stonehenge was erected as a monument to the ancestors of all Britons. The aim was to unify the different peoples of the British Isles by honouring all their dead. Stones were taken from west and east and erected together to solidify alliances that had been struck up between these different people. “Stone is eternal and was used to represent the dead,” said Parker Pearson. “That is the purpose of Stonehenge.

Darvill does not agree. “I think that very early on Stonehenge was a burial ground but after 2600BC these burials stop. So how can this be a place of the dead?” By contrast, Darvill points to the quarries in the Preseli Hills in Wales, the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones. “These are all associated with sacred springs today,” he said.

“That association is a very ancient one. These stones were brought to Stonehenge because they were thought to have healing properties. That is why all that effort went into its construction. It was a place where people thought their illnesses might be cured and their lives saved.”

AND THE OTHER THEORIES ARE…

According to the 12th-century cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth, Stonehenge was built by Merlin to mark the place where knights, slain in the fight against Saxons, were buried.

Other historians have argued that the Romans or Danes built it.

In more recent times, scientists have argued that Stonehenge’s alignment suggests it could have been used to calculate astronomical movements and to predict lunar eclipses. However, the feasibility of performing such measurements in prehistoric times has been questioned.

In 2003, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, University of British Columbia researcher Anthony Perks claimed the great stone circles were erected as a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ.

In 2008 the Telegraph columnist Oliver Pritchett argued, tongue-in-cheek, that Stonehenge was really built to house Britain’s first public inquiry.

Link soyrce: Robin McKie The Observer,

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonhenge News Blog  





Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox 2013

16 03 2013

Four times a year the public can access the stone circle to celebrate the seasons: the Winter and Summer Solstices and the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. Staff at English Heritage manage these events.

Seasonal festivals

It is generally accepted that Stonehenge was an ancient spiritual centre. Today, many people come to Stonehenge to welcome the sun and the seasons. There are four events each year when the stone circle is open to the public free of charge for a limited amount of time. These events are the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

equinox-druidsEnglish Heritage has opened the stone circle to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes for the last ten years. These events are open to anyone and everyone for a limited time period. Pagans and Druids attend and run the ceremonies. These events attract large audiences who come to Stonehenge for many reasons:

  • # to watch the ceremony
  • # for a celebratory experience
  • # to welcome the seasons.

People come from all over the country as well as from the local area. Local Pagan and Druid groups are heavily involved in the planning of these events.  The spring equinox access is a small peaceful gathering without facilities, parking is not available in the Stonehenge Car Park

The exact time for the 2013 Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge is 11.02am ; Sunrise on the March 20th at 6.09am.

Open Access for Stonehenge on the Spring Equinox 2013 is expected to be on the 20th of March 2013.

Expect a short period of access, from approximately 5.45am to 8.00am.

This is the second of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens.

At the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. So all over the world, at this special moment, day and night are of equal length hence the word equinox which means ‘equal night’.

Of course, for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it is this equinox that brings us out of our winter.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking you in to your winter. And this is very much how I think of the equinoxes – as the ‘edges’ of winter. This is why they can be quite hard on our bodies as it is a major climatic shift, so it is a good time to give a boost to your immune system with natural remedies and cleansing foods.

Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.

As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning!

This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer.

As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility.

This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility).

Her name is also the root of the term we give to the female hormone, oestrogen.By now, you may be beginning to see the Christian celebration derived from this festival – Easter.

And this is the reason why the ‘Easter Bunny’ brings us coloured eggs (and if you’re lucky chocolate ones!) at this time of year.

So, as nature starts to sprout the seeds that have been gestating in her belly throughout the winter, maybe you can start to think about what you want to ‘sprout’ in your life now and start to take action.

Solstice Events UK have been offering ‘non obtrusive’ small group guided tours of the solstice and equinox events for many years and we welcome their approach and ‘thought provoking’ trips.  It works out much cheaper and certainly more convenient at that time of the morning. London departures can be booked here

Link: http://pagancalendar.co.uk/
Link: http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/longest-day/
Link:  http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-spring-equinox-tour-2013.htm
Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/education/resources/stonehenge/business-management/events/

Merlin says “See you there and remember – RESPECT THE STONES!”

Stonehenge on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehnege News Blog





Antiquarians: John Aubrey 1626-1697

12 03 2013

The Heritage Journal

John Aubrey was born on this day, 12th of March, 1626 in Easton Piercy, a couple of miles north of Chippenham in Wiltshire, and was educated at Trinity College, Oxford.

From an antiquarian perspective, he is probably best known for including in a plan of Stonehenge a series of slight depressions immediately inside the enclosing earthwork. These depressions, 56 in all and excavated in the 1920’s, were found to be post holes for timber uprights, and were named ‘Aubrey Holes’ in honour of his original observations. There is however some doubt as to whether the holes that he actually observed are the same as those that currently bear his name.

As a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, his most important contribution to the study of British antiquities was the lengthy “Monumenta Britannica”, which was never actually published…

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Stonehenge and Avebury: Ruskin at Avebury

12 03 2013

The Heritage Journal

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Ruskin

In July 1882, the year in which Sir John Lubbock introduced the Ancient Monuments Protection Act, his friend, the highly influential John Ruskin, was to be found staying with Nevil Story Maskelyne and his wife Thereza at Basset Down House. Enjoying a picnic on the downs, Ruskin had visited Avebury:

“the day was delicious and there was a Druid circle and a British fort, and tumuli as many as you liked like molehills, and a Roman Road and a Dyke of the Belgae all mixed up together in a sort of Antiquary’s giblet pie it was like dreaming of the things, they were so jumbled up.”

B.E.

________________________________________________

This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here”…

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