What have we been up to?

17 06 2013

Well worth a visit……………..

Stonehenge Neolithic Houses

Since construction work on the houses ended in May, we’ve been using the Neolithic houses at Old Sarum for all kinds of activities, including the education workshops we’ve been explaining in the few previous posts. We’ve been busy!

Open days

We hosted two hugely successful open weekends over the two May bank holidays, helped by some lovely sunny weather. We had lots of visitors coming to see the houses, ask questions and find out about the project. As well as showing off our lovely houses, we’ve been using these open days to collect information about how visitors move around the houses, what sort of questions people are asking, and also asking people to fill in a survey about how they’d like to see the houses presented at the Stonehenge visitor centre. If you’ve received a survey in your e-mail inbox, please respond!

The good news is that we will be…

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Stonehenge Solstice Ancient Celebration. June 21st 2013

16 06 2013

With the Summer Solstice fast approaching we start to see our visitor numbers increase in Wiltshire. It is a bumper time for our tourist industry as people from all over the world descend upon our county and join in with this ancient celebration.

The Summer Solstice is known to Pagans as ‘Alban Hefin’ which means ‘Light of the Shore’. It occurs on the 21st June when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and the days are at their longest. The nights begin to draw in after this date, which is a scary thought as summer has only just got going. The Druids celebrate this event with special ceremonies and rituals that are believed to date back several millennia. Although the 4000 year old monument of Stonehenge has been the centre stage for these ceremonies; Avebury, Woodhenge and the Kennet long barrow have also attracted worshippers at this special time of year.

Looking into our local studies archives I have discovered that the Solstice festivities have not always been peaceful as the Druids would wish.

In 1901, Salisbury Police invoiced the landowner of Stonehenge, Colonel Sir Edmund Antrobus ‘for police services rendered’ for the night of 20th June. He was charged for one Superintendent, one Inspector, two Sergeants and seven Constables a total of £3. 4s.2d. presumably this would have been for crowd control or public order duties.

During the 1950s the Druid procession was accompanied by the Military Police and members of the Army. The security operation was overseen by the Ministry of Works (a government department responsible for building projects). Public gatherings at Stonehenge increased not only by the number of people but also in disorder. There were reported to be many barrels and crates on site, presumably of beer. The ‘high jinks’ was quashed in 1956 when young officers threw ‘thunderflashes’ in to the unruly crowd.

By the early 1970s a small music festival was conceived, which took place in woods near Amesbury during the days leading up to the 21st June. This was the beginning of the Free Festival which continued to grow in popularity and controversy throughout the ‘70s until 1984 when it ended abruptly.

During the early 80s a new wave of ‘new age travellers’ replaced the ‘hippy’ label of the ‘60s. Large numbers of travellers would congregate on private land and were reported to have committed trespass, criminal damage and public order offences.

On June 1st 1985, events came to a head culminating in the infamous ‘Battle of the Beanfield’. It wasn’t until June 2000 that a truce was finally made between the authorities and members of the public; 5000 people were given the privilege of entering the sacred circle.

On Thursday 5th September, one of our archaeologists, Rachel Foster, will be giving a talk on ‘Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Sites’ at the History Centre, contact the centre for further details. Alternatively, records are available to view by members of the public. We have copies of newspapers on microfilm, newspaper articles in our ephemera collection and also scrapbooks on ‘The Battle of Stonehenge’. We also hold the book ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’, edited by Andy Worthington, published by Enabler Publications in 2005 and utilised for this article.

Article by: Anna Ervine Local Studies Assistant
Source: http://www.wshc.eu/blog/item/the-summer-solstice.html

Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2013/06/01/stonehenge-summer-solstice-celebrations-2013/
Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2013/06/10/summer-solstice-2013-stonehenge-managed-access/

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Inside Stonehenge – From Rubble to Riches

15 06 2013

When dealing with prehistory (before the written word) arguments will abound as to ‘who, when and why’, and no more so than the famous monument on Salisbury Plain, the circle of stones known the world over as Stonehenge. 5,000 years ago, give or take a decade, work began here with an initial earth bank and ditch with some form of wooden structure within. Debate continues as to what exactly was placed within the earth circle and further debates are put forward about the various phases of constructing the stone circle, where the stones came from and the importance of the Moon and Sun in the process of worship at the site. For a lot of day trippers it’s Stonehenge’s iconical status that brings them here in their thousands whether they are familiar with the documentaries churned out by travel channels, read Tess of the D’Urbervilles or have watched National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

Stonehenge inner circle tourMost visitors will arrive by private car, organised tour bus or public transport. In the latter case the local Wilts and Dorset bus service provides an easy link with Salisbury railway station and connections from London and other parts of Britain. Most people feel they’ve ‘done’ Stonehenge in an hour. For some, there is surprisingly little else around and the visitor centre itself seems inadequate for the amount of tourists that travel here. There is a good explanation for that – it’s a sensitive site. It isn’t always possible, nor often allowed, to create large permanent structures such as a restaurant and museum in an area where evidence of Neolithic and Bronze age cultures lay buried within every square foot of ground. Discussions have been under way for over a decade as to improving the site, building a visitor centre a mile east near the main road and burying that very road under a two mile tunnel. These discussions continue. [April 2010 update – a new Visitor Centre is planned, and should be open by summer 2012.] You can find out more about Stonehenge, and see important collections from the World Heritage Site, at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.]

For the time being visitors will have to make do with very little shelter if the weather proves inclement. Restrooms (including disabled) are available at the foot of the car park and there are others at top of the car park to the right of the entrance, before one walks down the ramp to purchase tickets. These are accessible by going down steps. Before heading down to the ticket booth, two stones are standing to the left. The smaller one is a Bluestone (Dolerite) used in first phase of stone circle building at Stonehenge and possibly from the Preselli Mountains in South Wales. The larger one is a Sarsen (Quartzite Sandstone) used in the later phase of construction. These sample stones are not taken from the circle and you are able to stand next to, touch or drape yourself across them for photographic purposes. Down at the foot of the ramp is the ticket kiosk and a small cafe. Only a somewhat limited collection of outdoor seating is provided, complete with flocks of starlings ready to swoop down on any crumb or morsel dropped by a hungry day tripper. Cheese and bacon scones, rock cakes, ice cream and hot and cold drinks are available. As the site has a captive audience sandwiches are priced higher than the average shop, ditto the plastic cups of grapes or strawberries.

The gift shop is only available to those that have paid the entrance fee and entered the site. Here you can purchase calendars, books, paperweights, fridge magnets, T-shirts and all things of a Neolithic nature.

A free audio tour for paying visitors is available but during summer weekends they can be hard to get hold of, especially if you find yourself arriving just after a couple of coach loads of day visitors from London sandwiching Stonehenge between a morning at Windsor Castle and an afternoon in Bath. Access to the inner circle is available prior to the main site opening or just after closure. Arrangements for a ‘Special Access’ visit can be made through English Heritage or one of London’s day trip tour companies that pre-book inner circle visits on a daily basis. Other than that regular visitors are kept behind a small rope fence, which helps keep other tourists from walking in front of that all important shot.

While circumnavigating the site and listening to the audio tour one may be left wondering how many people visit this site and pay their £6 to get in. 800,000 people, rising to possibly one million by the end of the decade, make the journey to Stonehenge every year boosting the turnover of English Heritage and helping the conservation of other historically important places. One may also be left wondering, what if someone wrote down “today I’m going to build one of the best stone circles in the country” would we still be debating the purpose and timeline of this impressive site?

Full article: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g528762-d188527/Amesbury:United-Kingdom:Stonehenge.html

Stonehenge





Summer Solstice 2013 – Stonehenge managed access

10 06 2013

English Heritage is once again welcoming people to Stonehenge to celebrate the 2013 Summer Solstice. Sunrise will occur at 4.52am on Friday 21 June, on what is the longest day of the year.
Summer Solstice

Peter Carson, Head of Stonehenge at English Heritage, said: “This is the 14th year that English Heritage has provided free access to the stones and we are looking forward to a peaceful celebration enjoyed by thousands of people. This ongoing success is due to English Heritage working closely with the key partners and communities and together delivering an enjoyable and safe solstice. And, as with every year, we will balance the needs of those attending the solstice with our duty to protect the Stone Circle and its surrounding monuments.”

“The opening of the new Stonehenge visitor centre in December this year with its museum-quality exhibitions, a spacious café, and dedicated education space, will herald an exciting new era for Stonehenge. The way in which people visit Stonehenge in the future will change: we will be uplifting the whole experience to a level that befits this extraordinary and important monument.”

Over the night, people have the opportunity to celebrate the Solstice and this includes spontaneous drumming within the stone circle, playing of acoustic instruments and dancing in the performance area.  There will be a number of druid, pagan and other spiritual ceremonies throughout the night and especially at sunset and sunrise at various places around the monument, in particular the Heel Stone.

 For an idea of what to expect, view the Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2012 photo gallery.

Stonehenge will be open from 7pm on Thursday 20 June to 8am on Friday 21 June. The solstice car park, just off the A344 near Airman’s Corner, will open from 7pm on Thursday 20 June, with last admission at 6am on Friday 21 June.

Access to the stones and the car park is free of charge and subject to ‘Conditions of Entry’ which are published on the English Heritage website http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/summersolstice

Posted on June 5th, 2013 by in Stonehenge
InsideWiltshire: http://www.insidewiltshire.co.uk/2013-summer-solstice-stonehenge-managed-access/

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations 2013

1 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

Stoneheng Summer Solstice Tour 2013

We 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.

    Stonehenge 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)

STONEHENGE LINKS::

Conditions of entry: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/imported-docs/p-t/summer-solstice-coe13.pdf
More info: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for Solstice News, traffic updates, photos on the day: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin says “Please respect the Stones!”

The Stonehenge News Blog








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