View the sky above Stonehenge LIVE now with Skyscape. See how this ancient monument relates to the skies above it.

24 06 2019

A new website has been created by English Heritage to enable people around the world to experience the skies above the iconic stone circle, to learn about movements of the sun, moon and planets and to see the solar alignment at Stonehenge.

sky

The visuals are a representation of the view from within Stonehenge, a composite from various sources, not the literal view. Visit the skyscape website here

Day view
The view of the daytime sky is accurate to within a window of approximately five minutes, with the position of the sun accurate to a similar margin. You can use the highlighted squares at the top to view the last sunrise and sunset. Weather conditions are accurate – you may sometimes see raindrops on the camera!

Night view
After dark we switch from a photographic depiction to a computer generated one, which accurately displays the live location of the stars and the five visible planets. Neptune, Uranus and Pluto (as a dwarf planet) are consciously not included, as, being invisible to the naked eye, they remained undiscovered until the 18th century or later, and were consequently unknown to the builders of Stonehenge. As the night sky is a computer model it does not reflect weather conditions at the site.

Enjoy the experience!
Aside from the technical and informational aspects of Skyscape it’s also our hope that you’ll enjoy it from a more human perspective. We’ve created a webpage which offers a small escape, a pleasant place to visit, to which you can return frequently, even within a single day, and connect with the land, the stones and the skies above.

To capture the sky, a custom Raspberry Pi based, solar powered camera equipped with a 220° Fish Eye lens was built. You can see the status of the camera at freeboard.io .

How to use the site
Skyscape makes use of many modern web standards, so performs best with a modern browser and operating system. Older software, such as Internet Explorer, cannot always provide a good experience. Latest versions of browsers such as FirefoxChrome, Edge and Safari will perform best.

Visit the Skyscape website  here

If you are experiencing issues, try updating your system and graphics drivers to the latest version.

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Thousands of people gathered to greet the sun as it rose over Stonehenge for the summer solstice.

23 06 2019

About 10,000 people gathered at the Stonehenge to greet the start of the longest day of the year, according to Wiltshire Police. The celebrations at Stonehenge came as people descended on sites across the UK to celebrate the first day of summer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kate Logan, from English Heritage, said: “There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere, the sun shone and the dawn was greeted with loud cheers.”  For the first time, people from around the world were also able to join in from the comfort of their homes as English Heritage launched a live feed from a camera set up close to the stones.

The crowds encountered a chilly morning accompanied by clear skies as the sun rose at 4.52am. 

On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

Summer solstice takes place as one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, ensuring the longest period of daylight in the year.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

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RELEVANT LINKS:
Evening Standard
BBC
TIME MAGAZINE
MSN





Merlin and the Making of Stonehenge

8 06 2019

The archaeologists have their ideas about how and why Stonehenge was built. The annals of legend have another story, one that involves Merlin the magician plus the uncle and father of King Arthur.

The story begins not in Neolithic times but in the troubled years of the fifth century, after

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21st Century Merlin at Stonehenge

the Roman legions had withdrawn from Britain. The Saxons had invaded and were advancing rapidly across the land. The native British sought to resist them and to sustain the remnants of Romano-British civilisation. So there was terrible fighting between Saxon and Briton. So much bloodshed that their respective leaders agreed to meet at a spot on Salisbury Plain to try to negotiate a peace treaty.

The thing is, some people take a more hardball approach to ‘negotiation’ than others do. It had been agreed that the leaders should meet together unarmed, but the Saxon chieftains treacherously smuggled in their knives. The leaders stood in a circle in which Saxon and Briton alternated. They began to parlay. But not for long. At a signal, all the Saxon chieftains drew out their knives and each stabbed the Briton standing immediately to his left.

So the Saxons had the upper hand for some time. Till a British prince in exile in France, Aurelius Ambrosius, returned to Britain with his brother Uther Pendragon. Ambrosius won a major victory against the Saxons. Having done so, he desired to honour the British chiefs who’d been murdered on Salisbury Plain, by building a monument in the exact spot where the atrocity had occurred.

He called for advice from a wise man of prodigious repute, Merlin, who told him of a fabulous stone circle that had been built by giants – hence its name ‘the Giants’ Dance’ – on a mountain in Ireland. Ambrosius sent Merlin with Uther Pendragon to lead an expedition to Ireland to steal the Giants’ Dance. There was fighting of course, because the Irish quite understandably wanted to keep the structure in Ireland. But Uther’s warriors prevailed.

There was then the problem of how to transport this huge stone circle. Merlin applied his esoteric knowledge to uproot the stones, transport them on ships, and then re-erect the monument on Salisbury Plain – at the very spot where the Saxon chieftains had so treacherously slain the British leaders.

When, in due course, Aurelius Ambrosius died, he was buried in the Giants’ Dance – or Stonehenge, as it became known. So too was Uther Pendragon. Uther was the father of the future King Arthur. According to the legend, Arthur was expected to be buried there too. But Arthur never dies and is instead transported, badly wounded, to the Isle of Avalon, there to sleep and dream, waiting to return in his country’s hour of need. That being so, perhaps we ought to hope he might return quite soon!

We have this story from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, written in Oxford in the 12th century. You can find a fuller telling of the tale in Kirsty Hartsiotis’s Wiltshire Folk Tales.

One doesn’t want to pull the rug out from beneath a lovely, enchanting legend, but of course there’s no easy way to match up this story with the archaeological knowledge that Stonehenge was built in Neolithic times. But there are elements that do fit. For one thing, the use of Stonehenge as a burial ground. For another, the likely transportation of the bluestones on watercraft from what is now Pembrokeshire in West Wales. An intriguing observation is that sea communications between Ireland and West Wales throughout antiquity mean that this western extremity of Wales could have been colonised by people from Ireland and therefore might, in a cultural rather than narrowly geographical sense, have been regarded as part of ‘Ireland’. Finally, although legend presents Merlin as a magician, the esoteric skills he demonstrates in the story in uprooting, transporting, and erecting the megaliths invite us to view him as symbolic of the engineering experience that some individuals must have possessed in the age of Stonehenge’s construction.

Article by guest blogger and author/storyteller Anthony Nanson

Recent Blog: Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon, Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband.

English Heritage: The King Arthur Story and links to Arthurian locations

BBC HistoryKing Arthur, ‘Once and Future King’

Stonehenge Guided Tours offer King Arthur Tours including Stonehenge and associated sites in the South West of England.

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