New Stonehenge tourist attraction planned in Wiltshire

29 06 2013

Plans have been unveiled for another Stonehenge stone circle to be built in Wiltshire using different-coloured stones from around the world.

Organisers of the £50m project want it to become another major tourist destination in the county, and one which will last for thousands of years.

Archaeologists believe the original Stonehenge was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC

Archaeologists believe the original Stonehenge was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC

New Stonehenge would include yurt huts for visitors to stay in, a planetarium and an observatory.

It would be located about four miles (6 km) from the existing stone circle.

The land is close to Fugglestone Red where Wiltshire Council has proposed a major new housing development as part of its 2009 Core Strategy.

“For tourism in Wiltshire, it will be a huge boost. The new Stonehenge will compliment the old one”
Graham Gould Salisbury City Centre Management

The project is currently in the planning stages while the team behind it seeks funding for consultation on the environmental impact of the proposed structure.

Private investment for the build is currently being sought, with organisers expecting the attraction to make back the outlay within 6-10 years of it opening.

‘Homage’ to original circle

Project leader Colin Shearing said it will be an “homage” to the original Stonehenge.

He said: “You can’t really experience how it was when it was new because it’s old, so a new one would give you an opportunity to experience what our ancestors experienced when they went to the original one.”

Archaeologists believe the original Stonehenge was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

Mr Shearing said the new Stonehenge circle would be built with stones imported from different countries around the world, with each one matching a colour of the spectrum.

He said the entire structure will be polished and set into a floor of white quartz granite and surrounded by a white stone wall.

It is planned for the attraction to host events such as summer concerts and festivals as well as conferences and weddings.

Graham Gould, of Salisbury City Centre Management, described it as a “fantastic idea”.

He said: “For tourism in Wiltshire, it will be a huge boost. The new Stonehenge will compliment the old one.

“The two can work together, without a doubt.”

An English Heritage spokesperson said it is an “ambitious and interesting” project, and the organisation will be watching its development “with interest.”

Following a full environmental impact study, organisers hope to apply for planning permission to Wiltshire Council in 2014.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-23094202

More info: http://www.newstonehenge.co.uk/

Merlin says “Great idea”
The Stonehenge News Blog





Mission to save Stonehenge gets underway to reclaim its ancient natural landscape

25 06 2013

STONEHENGE yesterday began reclaiming its ancient natural landscape with the closure of a busy road running through the World Heritage site.

Stonehenge is undergoing a massive renovation

Stonehenge is undergoing a massive renovation

The A344, which carried 6,000 cars a day past the monument’s Heel Stone, will now be turfed over and the high fences removed  to recreate the traditional downland pasture.

The closed section of the A344 is between the junction with the A303, the main road to the southwest,  and Byway 12 which  severs Stonehenge from  its ancient processional approach, the Avenue.

The move is part of a £27million English Heritage programme to protect the site and improve the experience for visitors.

This includes a new visitor’s centre, due to open in December,  which will be 1.5 miles form the monument instead of on its doorstep.

The remaining section of the A344 will become  the route of a new visitor shuttle service to and from the Stones.

The closure fulfils a pledge   given by the  Government to UNESCO 27 years ago to remove the A344 where it crosses the Avenue.

And this time next year, once the landscaping is complete, visitors will be able to walk in the footsteps of ancient Britons and approach  the monument from the Avenue.

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage, said: “The Stones have never failed to impress visitors, but for too long their setting has marred people’s appreciation and enjoyment of this special place. At last, this is going to change. For the first time in centuries, when all the works are complete, people will be able to experience this complex and extraordinary monument in a more tranquil, natural setting.”

Jan Tomlin, the National Trust General Manager for Wiltshire Landscape, said: “We welcome the closure of the A344 past Stonehenge – it is an important step towards the vision for the future of the monument. We have worked over the past decade to restore much of the land we own around Stonehenge to grassland and this is an important step in linking Stonehenge to the ancient landscape.”

John Ingham (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/409933/Mission-to-save-Stonehenge-gets-underway-to-reclaim-its-ancient-natural-landscape)

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge road closed permanently today

24 06 2013
A stretch of road running next to Stonehenge will close permanently from today. Part of the A344 in Wiltshire almost touches the heel stone. English Heritage which manages the monument says the road spoils the visitor experience.

A major landscaping project should be finished by next summer, and traffic will be diverted onto nearby roads instead.

Existing A344 and junction with A303 at Stonehenge Bottom

Existing A344 and junction with A303 at Stonehenge Bottom

Link: http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2013-06-24/stonehenge-road-closed-permanently/

TRAFFIC NEWS:
A344 Stonehenge, both ways between B3086 and A303

A344 Wiltshire – A344 in Stonehenge closed in both directions between Airmans Cross and Stonehenge Fork, because of development of the Stonehenge site – permanent closure. Diversion in operation – via A360 Longbarrow roundabout.

Main Changes at Stonehenge

  • The A344/A303 junction will be closed
  • The A344 from Stonehenge Bottom to Byway 12 near the stones will be closed
  • Vehicular traffic on the A344 between Byway 12 and the new visitor centre at Airman’s Corner will be restricted

Modifications to Existing Routes   

Alongside these changes there will be measures to mitigate the impact of the closure of the A344. Traffic removed from the 344 will be directed along the A360 via Longbarrow Roundabout and Airman’s Corner junctions, both of which will be modified to accommodate the re-directed traffic.

The A303/A344 junction is a renowned accident black-spot; its closure will reduce the risk of accidents in this location and was strongly supported by local residents in the public consultation of 2008.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/our-plans/our-proposals/transportation-and-safety/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge and Avebury: RIP A344!

24 06 2013

The Heritage Journal

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Today at 7:00am, 27 years after the Government promised UNESCO it would happen, the southern half of the A344 road that runs immediately past Stonehenge, over The Avenue and down to the junction with the A303 was closed forever. It’s the first tangible step in the project to bring an element of “splendid isolation” to the stones.

Over the rest of the summer the road surface will be removed and grassed over, the high fences will be taken down and the monument will at last be reunited with its ceremonial landscape.

[Incidentally, all this week there is a recruitment drive for volunteers to work at the new visitor centre and elsewhere under the auspices of the various organisations concerned. Those interested can sign up at Amesbury Library. More details are available from the Salisbury Journal.]

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This is…

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Stonehenge revealed: Why Stones Were a “Special Place”

22 06 2013

Lead archaeologist at Stonehenge discusses his team’s discoveries in new book

The eerie megaliths of Stonehenge have inspired speculation for centuries.

Druids—and sometimes aliens—have been suspected of planting the 4,500-year-old stones. Is Stonehenge an astronomical calendar or a place of healing or a marker for magical energy lines in the ground? For a long time, no one really knew, though some theories were more grounded in reality than others.

Each year revelers like these travel to Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice. Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic

Each year revelers like these travel to Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic

But now, we may be a little bit closer to understanding the monumental Neolithic site. Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues at the Stonehenge Riverside Project, whose research was funded in part by the National Geographic Society, spent seven years excavating Stonehenge and its surroundings. This month, Parker Pearson published the project’s findings in a new book, Stonehenge—A New Understanding: Solving the Mysteries of the Greatest Stone Age Monument.

National Geographic writer Rachel Hartigan Shea spoke with Parker Pearson about what he and his colleagues discovered and how modern celebrants greeting the summer solstice at Stonehenge may have gotten the wrong day.

What got you first interested in researching Stonehenge?

Well, I have to say I didn’t actually have any interest at all in Stonehenge. I was working with Ramilisonina, a Malagasy archaeologist. He comes from a megalith-building culture, so I thought he’d be interested to see Stonehenge. I took him to take a look, and he said, “What do you mean you don’t know what it’s for? It’s obvious.” Then he said, “Mike, have you learned nothing in all of our work together with standing stones in Madagascar?”

He explained to me it was surely built for the ancestors. In Madagascar, they build in stone for the ancestors because it is a permanent medium—permanent like the ancestors—whereas they live in wooden houses because those will perish just like human life will end. I laughed initially and said, “Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily really going to have anything to do with Britain 5,000 years ago.”

But I realized that actually we did have timber circles very close to the stone circle of Stonehenge. That was quite a bombshell for me.

How were the excavations that you worked on at Stonehenge different from previous excavations there?

I think the important thing was not to dig just at Stonehenge but to actually investigate the wider landscape around it and to begin by looking at this area of the timber circles close by. It was there that we found that the place of wood had indeed to do with the living. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

When we came back to Stonehenge and dug there, we recovered some 60 cremation burials inside Stonehenge. What we now know is that Stonehenge was the largest cemetery of its day.

Ramilisonina’s ideas about a place in stone for the dead and a place in wood for the living started as a theory but has actually become a fact as a result of our investigations.

The timber circles were located at a site called Durrington Walls. How was that the place of the living?

At Durrington Walls, we have two of these great timber circles—a bit like Stonehenge in wood—at the center of an enormous village. From where we’ve excavated, you’re looking at a fairly dense settlement of houses.

We discovered that they’d been feasting there on a very large scale. We estimate that about four to five thousand people may have gathered there at the time they were building Stonehenge. (Take a Stonehenge quiz.)

We also know that there were seasonal influxes into the settlement at Durrington Walls. Through analysis of the age patterns on the teeth of pigs, we can see that there are particularly high points in the slaughtering patterns. The pigs had given birth in spring, and what we’re seeing is a culling in the middle of the winter.

Here we are on the summer solstice, but this evidence suggests that people were gathering in large numbers at the winter solstice. We’ve been getting it wrong in modern times about when to gather at Stonehenge.

So Stonehenge was built to commemorate the dead?

Stonehenge wasn’t built in order to do something, in the same way you might build a Greek temple to use it for worship. It seems much more likely that everything was in the act of building—that you’d construct it, then you’d go away. You’d come back 500 years later, you’d rebuild it in a new format, and then you’d go away.

I think we have to shake off this idea of various sorts of priests or shamans coming in every year over centuries to do their thing. This is a very different attitude to religious belief. It’s much more about the moment. It’s about what must have been these upwellings of religious—almost millennial—belief, and once the thing is done, then everyone disperses and goes back to their lives.

What do the summer and midwinter solstices have to do with where Stonehenge is located?

One of our discoveries in 2008 was on the avenue that leads out of Stonehenge. As you are moving along the avenue away from Stonehenge, you are looking toward where the sun rises on the midsummer solstice. If you turn 180 degrees and look back toward Stonehenge, that’s where the sun sets on the midwinter solstice. Underneath the avenue, we discovered a natural landform, formed in a previous ice age, where there are grooves and ridges that by sheer coincidence are aligned on that solstitial axis.

Right next to this landform are pits dug to hold posts that were put up 10,000 years ago, much older than Stonehenge. Another archaeological team has discovered down by the river next to Stonehenge a huge settlement area for hunters and gatherers, which seems to have been occupied on and off for something like 4,000 years before Stonehenge itself was ever built.

We think that long before Stonehenge this location was already a special place. These hunters and gatherers may have been the people who first recognized this special feature in the land where the earth and the heavens were basically in harmony.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
Full Article: : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130621-stonehenge-summer-solstice-archaeology-science/

Follow Rachel Hartigan Shea on Twitter.
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Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge gathering marks summer solstice.

22 06 2013

Summer solstice: thousands descend on Stonehenge to greet longest day

‘Reincarnated king’ among 20,000 revellers gathered at ancient monument to watch sun ascend over misty Wiltshire plain

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

They came in their thousands. Some worshipped, others partied. Many were there simply to enjoy the atmosphere of the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

More than 20,000 people were at the ancient monument to greet the sunrise at 4.52am at the start of the longest day of the year. After a warm, moonlit night the mist and mizzle descended, making it impossible to judge the moment when the sun rose over the Wiltshire plain without an accurate watch.

But it did not matter much. “I’ve had a lovely time,” said Belle Gay, a 21-year-old pagan from Exeter who was on her first pilgrimage to Stonehenge. “It doesn’t concern me that we couldn’t actually see the sun rise. That’s how nature is – you can’t control the elements and that’s why it’s all so special. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place.”

Arthur Pendragon, who claims to be a reincarnation of the once and future king and is a poster boy of the pagans at solstice, was keen to make peace his key message

As the sun ascended, invisibly, he called for peace in the east, west, north and south. “That’s what it’s all about, we want peace and fairness for all,” he said.

Pendragon, who sports long white robes, set about knighting new followers to his druidic order, the Loyal Arthurian Warband, which he described as the political wing of the religion. “We’re the ones who get into trees to stop roadbuilding and take on people like English Heritage over access to the stones. We’re sworn to fight for truth, for honour and for justice.”

It was a busy time for the king. Overnight he had also carried out around a dozen “handfasting” ceremonies – the pagan equivalent of weddings. Husband and wife vow that they will stay together “for a year and a day, eternity and beyond or for however long love will last”.

The 21st century is proving a good time to be a druid or pagan. Almost 60,000 people in England and Wales described themselves as pagan in the 2011 census.

Professor Ronald Hutton, a leading expert on paganism based at Bristol University, said he believed there were at least 100,000 practising pagans in Britain. He pointed out that only a million Church of England devotees go to mass every Sunday, “so paganism matters”

Rollo Maughfling, who answers to the grand title archdruid of Stonehenge and Britain, said he believed the religion’s green credentials were attractive to many younger people. “More and more people, especially younger ones, are being attracted to our way of doing things,” he said. “People realise that we see the divine in nature and that is attractive to more and more people in these troubled times.”

Steve Harris, 20, from Manchester, had different priorities. “I’ve lost my mates,” he said. He admitted to having drunk an evil-sounding mixture of lager, cider and brandy as well as having smoked “something a bit herbal”.

He had been dancing away the early hours in the stone circle, where drummers took turns in keeping the beat going through the night. “We danced for a few hours, we drank for a few hours. Now I think I may have missed my lift.”

Harris said he intended to stay “pretty sozzled” between now and next week when he would be at Glastonbury. The solstice at Stonehenge used to be a staging post for many hippy types heading to the music festival but Glastonbury and Stonehenge have changed over the years. Gone are the ugly clashes between revellers and police that resulted in the stones being closed at solstice.

In the 14 years since so-called managed access has been taking place, tensions have eased and the head of Stonehenge for English Heritage, Peter Carson, said he had noticed a greater variety of people attending the solstice. “We’re getting more families coming and more overseas visitors. Not everyone is happy at the access but there is much less hostility.”

By this time next year major changes at Stonehenge will be complete. On Monday, one of the roads that runs close to the stones will be closed and by this time next year it should be grassed over as part of a project to restore one of the key approaches to the site. A new visitor centre is to be opened in December.

Meanwhile Wiltshire police were delighted with the night and morning. Superintendent Matt Pullen said: “Solstice 2013 has been a great success, with approximately 21,000 people celebrating in the positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for sunrise. This year there have been a lower number of arrests compared with previous years, 22 were taken into custody mainly in relation to drugs offences.”

As the sun rose higher (and, oddly, the temperature dropped) Steve and Debbie Jones, who had made the trek from Hertfordshire, were pushing their one-year-old baby, Stan, in a buggy away from the stones. “We’re not pagans, we’re not hippies, we just wanted to come and have a look,” said Steve. “It was a lovely evening, warm, peaceful, memorable. We’ll come back.”

This article was by  guardian.co.uk,

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Summer Solstice Celebrations at Stonehenge 2013

20 06 2013

English Heritage is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice on 20-21 June 2013. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on these pages. The full Conditions of Entry can also be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page. 

Stonehenge during sunrise at midsummer

English Heritage  have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for protecting  Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments. If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge 

Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site and has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice since time immemorial.

During Managed Open Access for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, we support all individuals and groups conducting their own forms of ceremony and celebration providing that they are mutually respectful and tolerant of one another. It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending.

English Heritage continues to work closely with the many agencies and people from all sectors of the community and we would like to thank them for their help and support.

Parking and entry to the Monument will be free, subject to the Conditions of Entry.  Please do not arrive at the Solstice Car Park or Stonehenge in advance of the opening times listed below:

    Timings for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

  • SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS  1900 hours (7pm) Thursday 20th June
  • ACCESS TO STONEHENGE 1900 hours (7pm) Thursday 20th June
  • LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK   0600 hours (6am) Friday 21st June
  • STONEHENGE CLOSES  0800 hours (8am) Friday 21st June
  • SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED  1200 hours (12 Noon) Friday 21st June – see Travel and Parking for further information on travel and parking arrangements.

We hope the weather will be kind and wish you a peaceful and celebratory solstice.

    Sunset and Sunrise

Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:

  • Sunset on Thursday 20th June 2013 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)
  • Sunrise on Friday 21st June 2013 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)

Travelling to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/travel-to-stonehenge/

Parking for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/parking/

Conditions of Entry for Summer Solstice: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/conditions-entry/

Solstice Traffic Bulletin: http://www.highways.gov.uk/news/press-releases/traffic-bulletin-stonehenge-summer-solstice-advice-for-drivers/

Other stuff about Stonehenge

Hopefully it will be warm and clear at Stonehenge for the Solstice, but it might be worth stating:

  • there’s no shelter at Stonehenge. If it rains you will get wet and muddy
  • it typically feels colder in Salisbury than it does in London, and it feels colder at Stonehenge than it does in Salisbury. It’s not going to be winter-solstice-cold but you might want to bring an extra layer or two
  • the English Heritage info is worth reading
  • be careful of your personal safety – it’s easy to assume Stonehenge will be full of mystics and gentle hippies. It’s not! (Link source: http://salisburyandstonehenge.net/stonehenge-2/stonehenge-summer-solstice-2013)

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for all the latest Solstice News: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin says ” Happy Solstice Folks, lets make it a peaceful gathering.  Respect the Stones and Respect each other!”

The Stonehenge News Blog








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