The Path to Stonehenge from Avebury: Walking Guide

24 11 2013

Wiltshire is home to arguably the greatest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Europe, if not the world!

The 45 mile route begins at Windmill Hill before heading south to spend the first day walking amongst the stone circles of Avebury.

                Stonehenge walking map                   

DOWNLOAD: The Path to Stonehenge walking guide (PDF 883kb)

The download includes full day by day walking instructions with accompanying history guide.

Discover how the famous monuments of the area are connected and what they can tell us about life, and death, in Neolithic Britain. The walk takes us across some of the most beautiful landscape in the south west, as we uncover the actions of our ancestors here between 4000 and 2000BC.

Day 1


Avebury Stone Circle
                Avebury Stone Circle                   

A gentle first day with plenty of time for admiring the monuments encountered along the route.

  • Windmill Hill to Avebury via Avebury Stone Circle and the Sanctuary

Distance: 6.5 miles

Day 2


                West Kennet Long Barrow                   

We up the pace as we hunt for hard evidence of our elusive ancestors at Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow. We skirt the Marlborough Downs and head up and over Milk Hill for some more modern mysteries, like crop circles.

  • Avebury to Honeystreet, via Silbury Hill, Swallowhead Springs, West Kennet Long Barrow, Field of Sarsen Stones, Milk Hill and the Alton Barnes White Horse, and Adam’s Grave.

Distance: 15.5 miles

Day 3


The Avenue
                The Avenue                   

We follow our ancestors down the River Avon to the greatest prehistoric monument of them all – Stonehenge.

  • Honeystreet to Stonehenge via: Durrington Walls, West Amesbury Henge and the Avenue

Distance: 23.5 miles


The Map

OS Explorer Maps 157, 130 (1:25k) or OS Landranger 173, 184 (1:50k)

All distances are approximate so allow plenty of time

Link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/walking-through-history/articles/all/walking-guide-the-path-to-stonehenge

Please share your Stonehenge / Avebury pics on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Unravelling the mysteries of Stonehenge

22 11 2013

5th December 2013. You can watch it live online at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lhl/streamed

FragmeNTs

If you’re hooked on Stonehenge and its landscape this may be just the thing for you. On Thursday 5 December between 1.15pm – 1.55pm Professor Mike Parker Pearson of UCL Institute of Archaeology will be giving a free public lecture as part of UCL’s  Lunch Hour Lecture series .

 The lectures are free and open to everyone on a first-come first-served basis and don’t have to be  pre-booked (you’ll find details of the venue and the lecture below). But don’t despair if you can’t make it to London, you can watch it live online at www.ucl.ac.uk/lhl/streamed or after the event on UCL’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/UCLLHL 

LectureUnravelling the mysteries of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the great mysteries of archaeology. Since 2003 there has been a major programme of research into this enigmatic monument, revealing entirely new findings about its date, its purpose and its context within its surrounding landscape. This lecture will…

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The case for making Stonehenge bigger

22 11 2013

The Heritage Journal

SHKites

Now that millions of pounds worth of new infrastructure is in place at Stonehenge is it time to consider if the way it is used should be expanded? It’s going to remain a mass tick-box for the world’s tourists of course, plus it will host Solstice and Equinox gatherings, but is that it? Shouldn’t it now be used for a whole range of events and interactions?

We’ve previously suggested some new ways Stonehenge could be used. However, as Sarah May has pointed out there’s always a tension at heritage assets between the need for conservation and the perceptions and aspirations of the many groups that see them as theirs: There is a process by which buildings, places and objects come to take this more distant role permanently. They are extracted from the lived landscape. No longer available for the kind of rough and tumble interactions they may have…

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Another piece in Stonehenge rock source puzzle.

20 11 2013

Research to be published this month may bring us a step closer to understanding how bluestones from Pembrokeshire ended up at Stonehenge. A team of geologists have identified a hill in the Preseli Hills as the site from which 11 stones known as spotted dolerites were transported to Stonehenge

Scientists from Aberystwyth University, University College London and National Museum of Wales have located the specific outcrop, Carn Goedog, in the Preseli Mountains.

The chances of Stonehenge's spotted dolerites not coming from Carn Goedog are 'infinitesimally small'

The chances of Stonehenge’s spotted dolerites not coming from Carn Goedog are ‘infinitesimally small’

This is where the distinctive spotted dolerites originated.

The findings are to be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Geologist Herbert Henry Thomas first proposed in 1923 that the rocks which form the giant inner ring were specifically quarried for Stonehenge by Neolithic man around 5,000 years ago, and were hauled to Wiltshire via land and sea.

However, other geologists theorise that they were carried east on an ice-age glacier 20,000 years ago.

“Trying to match the rocks at Stonehenge to a specific outcrop is considerably more complicated than looking for a needle in a haystack”

End Quote Dr Richard Bevins National Museum Wales

While the new discovery will not answer the debate, according to Dr Richard Bevins, of the National Museum Wales, it may eliminate some of the unknown variables.

“I’m not here to come down on one side of the argument or the other,” he explained.

“But our research is aimed at better informing the debate.”

Dr Bevins, keeper of natural sciences, added: “Trying to match the rocks at Stonehenge to a specific outcrop is considerably more complicated than looking for a needle in a haystack but the more we can trace them back to their original source, the closer archaeologists and geologists can hunt for clues to back-up their theories.

Rock sample The research has brought together archaeologists and geologists

“Archaeologists can now search an area of hundreds of metres rather than hundreds of kilometres for evidence of Neolithic quarrying.

“While geologists supporting the glacier theory know exactly where to hunt for the scarring they’d expect to find on the landscape if enormous chunks of the stone had indeed been swept east on a glacier.”

As the name suggests, the spotted dolerites have highly distinctive markings created by the elements contained within, cooling at different rates in the minutes after they were spewed out of an underwater volcano 450 million years ago.

In 2011, Dr Bevins’s team located the source of another of Stonehenge’s Pembrokeshire Bluestones – the rhyolites – 3km away from the spotted dolerites at Craig Rhos y Felin.

Although the relative proximity of the two discoveries offers evidence to both camps.

“Three kilometres is both closer and farther away than expected, depending on which theory you support.

“From a geologist’s point of view, 3km is nothing, and the rocks which ended up close to each other in Wiltshire could easily have been carried on the same glacier.

“However, for the archaeologists a distance of 3km between the potential quarries could be seen as evidence of planning and forethought, and a suggestion that the different types of stone were chosen for some specific purpose.”

‘Each piece of the puzzle’

Dr Bevins’s team are able to say so categorically that they have discovered the source of the spotted dolerites thanks to a range of laser mass spectrometry techniques which analyse both the chemical composition of the rock and the microbiology present when it was formed.

He says that the chance of them having originated anywhere other than Carn Goedog is “statistically-speaking, infinitesimally small”.

And while he is the first to admit that this discovery on its own gets us no closer to solving the riddle, he believes a definitive answer will come eventually.

“I’ve been studying the bluestones for over 30 years now, and I’m no closer to finding an answer which convinces me either way. But the one thing which I am increasingly sure of is that each piece of the puzzle we find brings us another step closer to the truth.

“We’ve located two of the sources, and there’s another five or possibly six to go.”

He added: “By the time we have identified those then I’m certain we’ll have an answer either way. Whether that happens in my career, or even my lifetime, who knows?”

By Neil Prior BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-25004282

Link:http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/origin-stonehenges-blue-stones-pinpointed-6317230

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonhenge News Blog





Avebury to Stonehenge. Walking Through History with Tony Robinson.

17 11 2013

Tony Robinson embarks on spectacular walks through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes in search of the richest stories from our past

Tony heads off for a 45-mile walk across Wiltshire to tell the story of life and death in the last centuries of the Stone Age. His route over chalk downlands and Salisbury plain takes him through the greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe.

Tony Robinson at StonehengeFrom Avebury to Stonehenge and from spirituality to engineering, this is a journey through our ancestors’ remarkable development in the latter days of the Neolithic Age.

Windmill Hill near Avebury is the start of his route; with earthworks dating to 4500BC, it’s one of the most ancient sites in Wiltshire. From here, Tony moves on through 2000 years of the ‘New Stone Age’, encountering increasingly complex burial sites and processional routes that have helped make this area both captivating and intriguing.

As he heads south Tony can’t escape the eccentric characters and weird phenomena that have accompanied Wiltshire’s ancient history. Mysterious crop circles and unexplained underground energy sources enliven his visit, but his mind is firmly fixed on the extraordinary array of monuments in his path.

That means listening to the fanciful notions of 18th-century antiquarians, which have a grain of truth at their heart, and grasping the cutting edge of scientific archaeology around Stonehenge, which is finally offering up some astounding answers.

CHANNEL 4: 8PM: Saturday 23rd November 2013

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/walking-through-history/episode-guide

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Winter Solstice Managed Open Access 2013

14 11 2013

The celebration of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge will take place at sunrise on Saturday 21 December 2013 (approximately 08:09 hrs).

English Heritage is pleased to be offering ‘Managed Open Access’ for those who wish to celebrate the Winter Solstice peacefully

Visitors will be allowed into the Monument when it is considered sufficiently light to ensure safe Stonehenge Winter Solsticeaccess. Entry will be available from approximately 07:30 hrs until 09:00 hrs when visitors will be asked to vacate the site. All vehicles must vacate the area by 09.30.

Access might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is felt that access might result ¡n severe damage to the Monument.

Toilets are available at Stonehenge for the duration of the access although these facilities will not be available prior to access commencing.

Public car parking will be made available on Byway 12, the old Visitor Centre Car Park and along the A344.

Disabled parking will be in the old Visitor Centre Car Park, and will require a special permit.

TRANSPORT FROM LONDON: Our friends at Solstice UK events are offering their usual transport from London and can be booked here: http://www.stonehengetours.com/html/stonehenge-winter-solstice-tour.htm(mention us for a £20 discount)

New theory of a Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment – Stonehenge and the Winter Solstice leaflet (ISBN 9780957093010)
(Background on the Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment theory is here)

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for Solstice updates and Stonehenge news:

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Antiquarians: Dr William Stukeley 1687-1765

7 11 2013

The Heritage Journal

Described by Professor Ronald Hutton as “probably… the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology”, William Stukeley was born this day in 1687 at Holbeach in Lincolnshire.

Although his father was a lawyer, medicine was William’s initial preferred area of study, which he followed at St Thomas’ Hospital in London after taking a degree at Cambridge. He returned to Lincolnshire to practice in 1710, where he forged friendships with the likes of Isaac Newton and William Wake (who was later to become Archbishop of Canterbury). At this time he also began his long distance travels around Britain, before returning to London once more in 1717. In London he joined several societies, including the Royal College of Physicians the Freemasons and the Society of Antiquaries – where he served as it’s first Secretary, a post he held for nine years. He also continued his travels in this…

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The Best Stonehenge Tour Operators

3 11 2013

2014 will be a vintage year to visit Stonehenge and Wiltshire

The removal of a nearby road and the construction of a new, off-site, visitor center will return England’s prehistoric stone circle, Stonehenge, to a more tranquil, natural setting. Until now, facilities to welcome visitors to the World Heritage Site have been limited and outdated. But the project led by English Heritage to transform Stonehenge not only provides world-class facilities, but also returns a sense of context and dignity to this ancient marvel of human endeavour.

Before and after aerial views of Stonehenge

Before and after aerial views of Stonehenge

After removal of the road and high ugly fencing right next to the Stone Circle the old parking area and visitor buildings will be cleared and is currently being grassed. Eventually, the road, car park and visitor buildings will be gone – leaving Stonehenge surrounded by grass and reunited with its ancient approach, the Avenue. Visitors will be able to enjoy the special atmosphere of the Stone Circle with fewer distractions from modern–day sights and sounds.  English Heritage will open the new visitor centre in the winter of 2013.The past year has seen epic improvements. Over £40 million pound has been invested to offer the best experience since Neolithic times.

Stonehenge Tours

Stonehenge Tour BusBy far the easiest and most convenient way to experience Stonehenge is by joining a guided tour from London, Salisbury or Bath.

Stonehenge is in a remote area of the West Country and can be difficult and costly via public transport. There are many operators (some better than others) offering half and full day tours that include Stonehenge and other popular attractions in the West county.  Typical itineraries from London include;

  • Stonehenge, Bath, and Lacock Village in the Cotswolds
    Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and Avebury Stone Circle
    Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor Castle

 

Stonehenge Special Access Tours

Most tours enter Stonehenge during public opening hours of Stonehenge. 2014 will see the introduction of a ‘monorail’ travelling someinner-circle-tour 2km from to the monument which will be a greatly improved experience to previous years. If you are able to plan ahead we strongly recommend booking a ‘private access inner circle tour’ which offer guided trips outside of public opening hours but there are very limited sessions where you can actually walk among the stones and demand is great. These sessions are very early morning  or evening on a tour its either a very early start from London or a late return in the evening.  These viewings are called ‘special access’ or ‘inner circle’ tours.  Some operators even go to the length of gaining access during the actual sunrise or sunset and we highly recommend this if you are able to book in advance.
Stonehenge’s orientation on the rising and setting sun has always been one of its remarkable features. Whether this was simply because the builders came from a sun-worshipping culture, or because – as some scholars believe – the circle and its banks were part of a huge astronomical calendar, remains a mystery.

By far the best way to experience Stonehenge is on a sunrise / sunset guided tour.

Stonehenge Guided Tours from London

The highly recommended ‘Stonehenge Guided Tour’ Company, known as the ‘Stonehenge Experts’ have been offering daily scheduled coach tours and exclusive ‘special access’ tours since the early 1990’s and have the best reputation by far – visit their website here:  Stonehenge Guided Tours

Premium tours, Golden Tours, Welcome2Britain and Evan Evans also offer coach or mini bus tours from London on limited dates and can be booked through the established discount sightseeing tour website BestValueTours

Local Stonehenge tour Operators.

There are also local operators offering tours from Salisbury, Bath and the port of Southampton.  Staying close to Stonehenge gives the opportunity to absorb local culture and its rich history and get a taste of the real England that many tourists miss whilst staying in the tourist capital of London.

Stonehenge Guided Tours from Bath

Mad Max Tours and Lion Tours  are on hand to offer day trips from Bath to Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circle, Lacock (as seen in the Harry Potter films) and the Wiltshire Cotswolds.  Wessex Guided Tours offer private guided tours from Bath for families and small groups wishing to experience Stonehenge and explore ancient Wiltshire

Stonehenge Guided Tours from Salisbury

For expert knowledge on the history of Wiltshire, local guides can help you discover the myths, the history and the legends behind this county:

The Stonehenge Tour Bus is an ideal way to learn about the history of Stonehenge if you are travelling by public transport. The hop-on hop-off service stops at Stonehenge and Old Sarum and gives a recorded commentary on the history of Salisbury.

The Stonehenge Travel Company based in Salisbury offer scheduled small group guided tours including the popular Stonehenge sunset special access tours and can often arrange additional dates for private groups. Their exclusive tours; half and full day options are also available. There popular tours also visit the other Neolithic sites like Woodhenge, Durrington Walls, Avebury Stone Circle, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, Chalk Hill Figures and also get you off the tourist trail seeing some of the delightful English countryside in the area.

There’s also Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum tours with their minibus and tour in several languages.

Visit Wiltshire

The official ‘Visit Wiltshire’ tourism association also have a list of approved tour local operators and transport providers: Click here

Wiltshire is a perfect all-year destination for groups with plenty to see, do and experience. Extend your day visit to an overnight stay and see more of what Wiltshire has to offer. With a history spanning over 6,000 years, we have Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, Britain’s tallest Cathedral spire in Salisbury and the Magna Cartta, magnificent stately homes and gardens and some great shopping experiences. Download the Visit Wiltshire and Visit Salisbury Apps and have up to date information at your fingertips!

Whether you are travelling from overseas or live in the UK, make 2014 the year to visit Stonehenge and explore historic Wiltshire

The Stonehenge News Blog








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