A NEW DAWN: STONEHENGE TRANSFORMED

12 09 2013

A PRACTICAL PLANNER for Groups & Travel Trade Professionals

The new guide from English Heritage provides tour operators, group travel organisers, guides and other professionals with step-by-step information to help plan visits to Stonehenge, following its transformation when superb new facilities open from the end of 2013. Split into three easy-to-read colour coded sections, it provides practical information, tips and ideas to smooth your way through advance planning and procedures to the day of the visit and beyond.

Stonehenge-visitor-centre

PLANNING AHEAD:
Turn to the yellow section to discover other attractions to build into a Stonehenge itinerary, plus details in brief on English Heritage services and products for travel trade professionals and group travel organisers and how to obtain them.

THE NEW VISIT
With so much more to see at the transformed Stonehenge, the bronze section is a step-by-step guide on the new facilities and how to make the best of a visit, with an at a glance map, images and suggested timings for a two hour stay.

INFORMATION AND SUPPORT
Giving essential planning information, the green section explains pre-booking and ticketing procedures, contains prices and admission times and handy hints on reaching and arriving at Stonehenge.

Download the full guide here: http://gallery.mailchimp.com/4f19fb7ce76ee0800348d53d5/files/EH_Stonehenge_A6_PocketBook_LRPDF.PDF

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The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge was built on solstice axis, dig confirms

9 09 2013

English Heritage excavations show site has nothing to do with sun worshipping, and find evidence circle was once complete

Archeologists found ridges, formed by Ice Age meltwater, that align Stonehenge with the solstice axis. Photograph: Francis Dean/Rex

Archeologists found ridges, formed by Ice Age meltwater, that align Stonehenge with the solstice axis. Photograph: Francis Dean/Rex

English Heritage says it has discovered a “missing piece in the jigsaw” in our understanding of Stonehenge, England’s greatest prehistoric site. Excavations  along the ancient processional route to the monument have confirmed the theory that it was built along an ice age landform that happened to be on the solstice axis.

The Avenue was an earthwork route that extended 1.5 miles from the north-eastern entrance to Wiltshire’s standing stones to the River Avon at West Amesbury. Following the closure of the A344 road, which cut across the route, archaeologists have been able to excavate there for the first time.

Just below the tarmac, they have found naturally occurring fissures that once lay between ridges against which prehistoric builders dug ditches to create the Avenue. The ridges were created by Ice Age meltwater that happen to point directly at the mid-winter sunset in one direction and the mid-summer sunrise in the other.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, a leading expert on Stonehenge, said: “It’s hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices. It’s not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it’s about how this place was special to prehistoric people.

“This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land.”

The findings back theories that emerged in 2008 following exploration of a narrow trench across the Avenue. Parker Pearson said: “This is the confirmation. It’s being able to see the big picture.”

Dr Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s Stonehenge curator, said: “The part of the Avenue that was cut through by the road has obviously been destroyed forever, but we were hopeful that archaeology below the road would survive. And here we have it: the missing piece in the jigsaw. It is very exciting to find a piece of physical evidence that officially makes the connection which we were hoping for.”

The excavation was conducted by Wessex Archaeology for English Heritage.

The A344 will be grassed over next year as part of English Heritage’s £27m transformation of the World Heritage Site, which receives more than 1m visitors annually. There will be a new visitor centre, 1.5 miles away out of sight, to allow Stonehenge to reconnect with the surrounding landscape.

Sebire, who likens the Avenue to The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace, said that the latest findings should prompt vigorous academic debate.

The excavations have also uncovered three holes where missing stones would have stood on the outer sarsen circle, evidence, it is believed, that the circle was indeed once complete. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated surveys failed to spot them. Two members of staff noticed dry areas of grass, or parchmarks.

Susan Greaney, an English Heritage historian, said: “The discovery … has certainly strengthened the case for it being a full circle.”

Asked why no one noticed them until now, Parker Pearson said: “The problem is we’ve not had a decent dry summer in many years. Stonehenge is always regularly watered, and the only reason these have shown up is because – for some reason this year – their hose was too short … So we’re very lucky.”

Article source: : The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/sep/08/stonehenge-ice-age-solstice-axis

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog  





Fascinating “Facts”: When is a stone circle not a stone circle?

6 09 2013

The Heritage Journal

FactIt is well known that the vast majority of stone circles in the British Isles are not actually circles. In fact, there are very few that are truly ‘circular’ in the sense of having a regular, circular ground plan. The shapes can vary from circular, through regular ovals to ovoid, to flattened version of any of these. But there is one form of stone circle that doesn’t fit into any of these categories, that of the ‘Four Poster’.

Four Poster ‘circles’, as their name suggests usually consist of just four uprights, laid on the plan of a circle, sometimes with a fifth recumbent stone. The majority of this type can be found in Scotland, though there are several examples throughout England and some in Ireland. The stones in a true Four Poster are generally placed at the cardinal compass points. Those that have been dated were constructed in the Bronze…

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Discovery of 5,000-year-old skull ‘in fabulous condition’ on side of river sparks mystery as archaeologists claim it would not have survived in water

1 09 2013
  • Skull is  believed to be of a middle aged woman living in 3,300 BC
  • Unbroken  skull found on the banks of the River Avon in Worcestershire
  • Carbon  dating technology places the piece between 3,338BC and 3,035  BC
  • The  ‘exceptional’ find suggests there is an undiscovered burial site  nearby

A 5,000-year-old human skull in ‘fabulous’  condition has been discovered on the banks of a river in Worcershire by a walker  who thought it was a coconut.

Remarkable discovery: Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist with Worcestershire Archaeology holds the 5,000-year-old skull which has baffled experts

Remarkable discovery: Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist with Worcestershire Archaeology holds the 5,000-year-old skull which has baffled experts

Experts said the piece of ancient skull is an  ‘exceptional find’ as the intricate marks  from blood vessels are still visible on the inner surface.

The smooth dark outer side gives only a  tantalising glimpse as to what the person may have looked like, although there  are ‘tentative’ suggestions it may have belonged to a woman in middle age living  in the Neolithic period – around the time Stonehenge was built.

The skull is not only prompting questions  about the person it belonged to, but where it may have come.

A dog walker first stumbled across the skull  piece, which is about 15cms (6ins) in length and 10cm (4ins) in width, earlier  this year but initially thought it was a ball or a coconut shell.

Detectives from West Mercia Police  investigated the scene and contacted experts at Worcestershire Archaeology, who  sent the skull to be radiocarbon dated.

‘When I first saw the skull, I thought it may  have been Anglo-Saxon or Roman but I knew that it was not recent due to the  colour,’ said Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist.

‘But we were all surprised when the  radiocarbon dating put it at between 3,338 BC and 3,035 BC, or about the middle  Neolithic period.’

‘It is so well preserved, it is unthinkable  that this had been in the river for any length of time which begs the question  as to where it has come from.

‘We know of Roman, Saxon and medieval burials  along the river, but this is very rare – it is an exceptional  find.

‘What it suggests is that we have a Neolithic  burial site very near here – we just don’t know where.’

He said: ‘I don’t think it was found where  the remains were buried, I think we’ve got a riverside burial and then flooding  has brought this down the river.

‘Finding that burial site though would be  like finding a needle in a haystack.’Who was neolithic man

Mr Daffern said that without the rest of the  skeleton it was difficult to draw conclusions about the person found, and  certainly there is no clue as to how they met their death.

‘Both myself and a forensic anthropologist  believe it is a woman due to the slightness of the skull and the lack of any  brow ridges although our conclusions are very tentative because we’re dealing  only with the top of a skull,’ he added.

‘There’s no trauma to the bone, and where it  has broken those are natural breaks, nor is there any sign of disease so we’ve  no idea as to cause of death.

‘The natural fusion of the bone in the skull  leads me to believe it may be an older woman, possibly in her 50s, but that is  very tentative again.

‘Unfortunately, it remains a bit of a  mystery.’

The find is a few miles from Bredon Hill,  which has been a scene of human activity down the ages and still boasts the  earthen ramparts of what was an Iron Age hill fort, however finds of Neolithic  remains are rare.

‘Whenever we come across Neolithic remains,  there seems to be a solid dividing line between where they buried their dead,  and where they lived and that is no accident,’ he said.

‘But it is frustrating as an archaeologist  because although we have the physical evidence, we still don’t have the answers  as to why.’

The skull is only the second set of Neolithic  remains to be found in the county, although two large 6,000-year-old ‘halls of  the dead’ were found in nearby Herefordshire this year but without any human  remains present.

Article source: By  Daily Mail Reporter – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2407337/Discovery-5-000-year-old-skull-fabulous-condition-sparks-mystery.html

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 

 

 








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