No picnic at Stonehenge

26 12 2013

The Heritage Journal

It’s all very well English Heritage selling cute little furry birdies at their new Visitor Centre but what is to become of the REAL ones?

Jackdaws that have been gathering on the stones for many a year, regularly nesting in the crevices, certainly as far back as the 18th century. In recent times every night when the site closes they’ve been flying down to feast on bits of food left by the visitors but since the old visitor centre and carpark closed a week ago they have been having to go without their supper.


combined 3.

Legend has it that if ever the ravens leave the Tower of London the kingdom will fall. Does the same apply to the jackdaws of Stonehenge? What arrangements have English Heritage made to feed them so they stay at Stonehenge? The public should be told!!

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Stonehenge: good job!

19 12 2013

The feedback from the new visitor centre yesterday was nearly all positive

The Heritage Journal

good job.

The feedback from the new visitor centre yesterday was nearly all positive. The architecture works well (whatever happened to the holes in the roof?!), the exhibits are impressive (although rather limited in scale) and of course the location, just out of sight from the stones, is a huge relief. It still remains to be seen how things will work out when maximum tourist numbers turn up but the general consensus seems to be: so far, so good ….

One issue did seem to keep coming up though – the fact that as from February it will be necessary to book in advance. A lot of people are complaining about that, saying an  element of spontaneity has been removed. They have a point, so the question arises, why? There’s plenty of room inside the visitor centre and at the stones so if there’s any lack of capacity it must be…

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Gallery: New multimillion-pound visitor centre at Stonehenge opens

18 12 2013

More snapshots at Stonehenge

18 12 2013

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

SH hats

There were people down at the new centre yesterday, adding more interest, and here are some more views. The reaction there seems to be overwhelmingly positive – to the building, which is alive to the landscape, to the displays, which are both beautifully done and bravely informative, and to the facilities. The land train may take a bit more bedding in, and of course the old car park and facilities are still there out at the monument.

Normanton Down

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The new Stonehenge centre

17 12 2013

Opening tomorrow. 18th December 2013

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

SH teddy

Here’s a first peek at the visitor centre, which opens its doors tomorrow. I guess it won’t often look like this again in mid morning.


SH Airman's Cross

SH entrance 1

SH entrance 2


SH cafe

SH shop 1

SH shop 2

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SH shop 5

SH shop 6


SH entrance

Smaller of the two circular video screens:

SH panorama

Video panorama on left, museum cases on right:

SH gallery 1

SH gallery 2

SH gallery 3

Lobby area with pull quotes and talking videos:

SH gallery 4

SH gallery 5

A temporary exhibition room, with some lovely large display cases, currently showing “Set in Stone?”, featuring the 14th century Scala Mundi that illustrates the stones, and other treasures:

SH gallery 6

Leaving into the area where the reconstructed neolithic houses will be, and the train pick-up:

SH gallery 7

SH gallery 8

Back inside, the panoramic video is truly spectacular. Here are some random grabs:

SH panorama 1

SH panorama 2

From today to the beginning, with an earthwork and ring of bluestones:

SH panorama 3

SH panorama 4

SH panorama 5

Meanwhile, up at the site work continues. A marker is being laid to show the solstice alignment. Waiting beside the new path, on left (look…

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Protests expected in run up to opening of £27m Stonehenge visitor centre

17 12 2013

Two different protests are to be staged at Stonehenge in the run up to the opening of a new £27 million visitor centre on Wednesday.


One protest will involve people living in villages near the A303 who are worried about extra traffic using rural lanes while the other is about the display of human remains in one of the exhibitions in the soon to be open centre.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “The display of human remains at the exhibition has caused some people who feel very strongly about it to protest on site.

“We respect their views and their right to peaceful demonstration, and have had useful discussions with them about how these protests can be accommodated.

“English Heritage believes that authenticity is important to tell England’s story. We use real objects and artefacts because we believe they are the best way for people to come close to history.

“We only use replicas when the real item is not available. Research shows that the vast majority of museum visitors are comfortable with, and often expect to see, human remains as part of displays.

“Stonehenge is the focus of a ceremonial and ritual landscape shaped by prehistoric people for over 1,500 years. The exhibition puts at its centre the people associated with it and as such, the remains have a rightful place in the exhibition.

“Our position is consistent with current museum practice across the UK and the presentation of human remains in the new gallery will follow strict guidelines set out by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.”

English Heritage Commissioners considered druid leader Arthur Pendragon’s request to use replicas very carefully in September 2013 but decided that the original plan should go ahead.

“The three sets of human remains on display have been in the care of scholarly institutions for at least 10 years and do not include any freshly excavated material,” the spokesman added.

“All the three sets of remains have been scientifically dated: two sets are over 5,000 years old, one set is about 4,500 years old.”

English Heritage says it also respects people’s rights to protest about traffic issues. A spokesman said: “The project has widespread support but traffic problems on the A303 have caused concern in a few local villages.

“We respect people’s right to peaceful demonstration. Together with the police, we have had discussions with the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group (STAG) about how these protests can be accommodated.

“Their main concern is the congestion on the A303 near Stonehenge and the impact this has on nearby villages. Some people consider closing the A344 (a key part of the English Heritage scheme) has made the situation worse, so much so that drivers are abandoning the A303 in search of a faster route through local villages.

“We understand and sympathise with these frustrations, but the reality is that the A303 has long been a very busy road, even before the A344 was closed.

“The majority of traffic congestion on the A303 is caused by the year on year increase of cars using the road and by the bottleneck where the dual-carriageway becomes a single carriageway near Stonehenge.

“We agree that something needs to be done about the A303 but the decision rests with the Department for Transport. We have met with STAG, have discussed the matter with Wiltshire Council and will join with them in urging the Department for Transport to tackle this long standing problem.”

Article source By Joanne Moore:

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Stonehenge Audio Tour: Free Download from English Heritage

14 12 2013

The free audio tour for use when visiting Stonehenge. Avoid any queues for audio guides onsite and use your own device and headphones to explore the most famous prehistoric monument in the world and the ancient landscape that surrounds it.

Stonehenge Audio Tour Download

Stonehenge Audio Tour

English Heritage Website:
Stonehenge Audio Tour Apple Download Link:

Stonehenge News

Hurrah for the Winter Solstice celebrations!

13 12 2013

See you on the Solstice!

The Heritage Journal


Harmless, simple, elegant and inclusive. It’s a shame that it won’t be going to Stonehenge this year. But next year it will. Surely?

(Incidentally, the Disabled ramblers’ Winter Solstice ramble at Stonehenge has also been called off – due to parking problems. That’s two highly worthy, harmless Stonehenge solstice events cancelled this year.)

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1913-2013: 100 Years of Protecting the Past.

11 12 2013

This year, the centenary of the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act, will culminate in the opening of English Heritage’s new Stonehenge exhibition galleries and visitor centre on 18th December.

“A Monumental Act”

2013 is the centenary of a landmark moment for England’s heritage.


The passing of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act in 1913 recognised for the first time that there are physical remains of the nation’s history which are so special and so significant that the state has a duty to ensure their continued survival.

Preservation Orders and Scheduling

The Act did three new things. It introduced a system whereby the Office of Works could issue a compulsory ‘Preservation Order’ when a monument or building of sufficient ‘historic, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archaeological interest’ was at risk of demolition by a private owner.

Each order would need an Act of Parliament to confirm it, making it an unwieldy instrument, but the Act did at least establish the principle that some buildings in private ownership might, if they were important enough, warrant the intervention of the state to save them.

The second major innovation was the ‘scheduling’ of monuments. This involved compiling a list, or schedule, of monuments which were deemed by an expert board to be of ‘national importance’. Once a site was on the list and the owner informed, it became a crime to damage it.

Under the Act, the Office of Works could give free advice to an owner regarding the treatment of an ancient monument on their land and could oversee any works free of charge. Scheduling considerably widened the scope of protection to the thousands of monuments on private land rather than just those in Government or local authority care.

These two initiatives – the preservation order and scheduling – established the statutory protection of those parts of the nation’s heritage in private hands. It would develop in future years through the listing system and a rapidly evolving planning system.

Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge – whose culture?

10 12 2013

The Heritage Trust

Merlin Building Stonehenge
Manuscript illustration, England, second quarter of the 14th century (British Library, MS Egerton 3028, fol 30)
The International Council on Monuments and Sites UK has announced details of its Annual Christmas Lecture and Reception for 2013. This year’s event will take place in London on the 12 December with a lecture entitled Stonehenge – whose culture? delivered by Julian Richards, archaeologist, writer and broadcaster –
Stonehenge is the most important and studied prehistoric site in Europe, yet still remains an archaeological enigma. But it is also an international cultural icon, its stones instantly recognizable, providing inspiration for medieval manuscript illuminators, artists such as Turner and Constable, among others, and generations of writers, photographers and craftsmen. It seems as if everyone has wanted a piece of Stonehenge, literally so in past centuries, and today the question of ‘Stonehenge – whose culture?’ is as passionately argued…

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