“Free Stonehenge”, Sir Cecil Chubb and two dead horses

30 08 2013

The Heritage Journal

Calls for “Free Stonehenge” are legion, usually citing that the donor, Sir Cecil Chubb, stipulated that “the public shall have free access to the premises”. It’s a bit academic as his covenants are no longer enforceable but let’s pretend they are and consider if the campaigners have a moral case at least. Their wish for “free access” can mean one or both of the following:

1. Access for free
In other words, free of charge. But look what the Deed actually says: “the public shall have free access to the premises on the payment of such reasonable sum per head not exceeding one shilling for each visit.” So it wasn’t access for free, it was access for payment, up to a maximum of 1 shilling – at a time when the average weekly wage was 30 shillings. Nowadays, a thirtieth of average weekly earnings is about £16. People can…

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Where was the Stonehenge Festival?

29 08 2013

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper


All over the place really. On my first summer solstice visit in 1971 it was little more than a gaggle of people sleeping in the ditch around the stones. These two photos from Julian Richards’ excellent collection published by English Heritage show where it went from there: first immediately outside the earthwork to the south-west, so that it faced the rising sun on June 21; then across the road into what we call the Cursus field, National Trust land between Byway 12 and the Fargo Plantation. At its greatest extent it did run onto the Cursus itself (thanks for the comment, Francis Stoner), and spread eastwards into the Avenue field. Damage was reported at the time to the woodland at Fargo and to some of the barrows.

It’s high time a proper academic study was done of this story. There must be a great deal of information out there…

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A344 memories: Real archaeology at Stonehenge, as work continues to remove the road and car park

29 08 2013

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

car park panorama small

If you visit Stonehenge now – as huge numbers did in August – you’ll really see signs that things are changing. Work continues in the car park to prepare a turning circle at the end of what will be the stub of the old A344. The road itself as it once continued eastwards to Stonehenge Bottom has now all but gone, exposing the chalk below. Wessex Archaeology has been monitoring it, and has excavated parts of the two parallel Avenue ditches, and a small part of what looks like the lip of the Heelstone ditch, as Ollie Good kindly showed me.

My interest in this was naturally strengthened by my excavations immediately beside the road there in 1979 and 1980. We had several advantages over the modern archaeologists.

The team were almost all volunteers, archaeology students and staff from Southampton University, so brought considerable skill, but at no cost to…

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Stonehenge Autumn Equinox 2013

22 08 2013

The Autumn Equinox occurs at 8.44pm on Sunday 22 September 2013. 

Celebration of the Autumn Equinox will take place at Stonehenge at sunrise on Monday 23rd September 2013.

Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Visitors wishing to celebrate the Autumn Equinox at Stonehenge will be given access into the monument when it is considered sufficiently light and therefore safe to do so. This is likely to be from approximately 6.15am.

Sunrise that morning will be at approximately 6.56am. Visitors will be asked to vacate the site by 8am.

Please note that access to Stonehenge might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is considered that access might result in severe damage to the monument.   Limited facilities are available at Stonehenge for the duration of the access although these facilities will not be open prior to the access commencing.

If you require disabled parking, please email Sally Gardner at sally.gardner@english-heritage.org.uk.

Lin: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/autumn-equinox-sh-23-sep/

The Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon or Harvest Home) is celebrated when day and night are of equal duration before the descent into increasing darkness and is the final festival of the season of harvest.

In nature, the activity of the summer months slows down to the hibernation for the winter. For many Pagans, now is time to reflect on the past season.

It is also a time to recognise that the balance of the year has changed, the wheel has turned and summer is now over.

Astrologers will recognise this as the date the sun enters the sign of Libra – the Scales of Balance.

This is one of the least celebrated of the Pagan festivals although a harvest festival may be held to thank the Goddess for giving enough food to last the winter.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

Telling the story of prehistoric Wiltshire.

18 08 2013

The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes is opening new prehistory galleries in the autumn.

The centrepiece of the stunning new displays are the objects buried with the Bush Barrow Chieftain almost 4,000 years ago. He was buried close to Stonehenge with the objects that showed his power and authority– a gold lozenge, a ceremonial mace and a gold-decorated dagger.These are just some of the rich Bronze Age objects that are on display for the first time in new high security showcases. Gold ornaments, amber necklaces, ritual costume, polished stone axes and bronze daggers tell the story of the people who lived at the time when Stonehenge, Avebury and Marden henges were great ceremonial centres.

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum


The displays feature models and full-size reconstructions that bring archaeology to life. There is lots for children to do, with trails and quizzes, a chance to build Stonehenge and Bronze Age clothes to try on.

Some of the important Bronze Age gold finds from the museum will be on loan for display at the new Stonehenge visitor centre. This is part of an integrated strategy to encourage visitors to Stonehenge to explore Wiltshire and to visit the museums in Devizes and Salisbury. These new displays have been developed with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the North Wessex Downs AONB

More details here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/imported-docs/k-o/megalith-jul2013.pdf

Museum link: http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog


Peek behind the scenes of Stonehenge’s new visitors centre

17 08 2013

RESIDENTS of Wiltshire can peek behind the scenes of Stonehenge’s new visitors centre next month.The main contractor for the development, VINCI Construction UK, will host an Open Doors Weekend on September 27 and 28, for people to learn about the project.


The centre is a £27million project led by English Heritage, which aims to achieve the vision set out in the Stonehenge World Heritage Management Plan to restore the dignity of Stonehenge.

The new building is at Airman’s Corner, 11/2 miles from the stone circle, and will include exhibition, education and cafe space.

Low-impact vehicles, carrying up to 900 visitors an hour, will operate a 10-minute shuttle service from the visitor building to the stones.

The centre is due to open in late 2013, when the current facilities will be dismantled and the landscape around the stone circle restored.

The Open Weekend is a nationwide initiative, which invites members of the public to go around a construction site in their area.

It aims to demonstrate the range of career opportunities construction has to offer and the wide variety of skills that come together to make buildings and infrastructure.

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UK Construction Group, one of the partners in the Open Doors project, said: “It is a unique opportunity for the industry to display the complexity, excitement and scope of modern construction projects.”

Article Source: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10612283.Stonehenge_insight_promotes_modern_building/

Follow Stonehenge News on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

A petition calls for an annual public picnic at Stonehenge!

4 08 2013

The Heritage Journal

An interesting e-petition has just appeared on the Government website: Open Access to Stonehenge – Annual Midsummer Day Picnic.

Some bits of it are problematic from our viewpoint. For instance, what it says by way of justification is unlikely to be accepted nor is the principle of extending the access time ever going to find favour – see here. This bit is also a problem: “we now ask that there be a freely accessible, without charge, Annual Midsummer Day Picnic between the hours of Dawn to Dusk”. That implies people arriving in the dark so all the same cost, safety and conservation difficulties would remain and no way are the authorities going to agree to carrying on paying £200,000 a year to make it happen and  forego another £50,000 in lost visitor income and let the people who want them to do all that come in for…

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