Stonehenge stories on Twitter

10 10 2021

How to Build Stonehenge by Mike Pitts. Draws on a lifetime’s study and a decade of new research to address the first question that every visitor asks: how was Stonehenge built?

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

How to Build Stonehenge comes out on February 17 2022. Published by Thames & Hudson, it has lots of illustrations (including new photos and diagrams by me) and is the first book to focus exclusively and comprehensively on this theme, since… the nearest equivalent I know is Herbert Stone’s The Stones of Stonehenge, published in 1924. I conceived it as a light, lockdown project (a short book with no illustrations, it’ll be done in three months, I assured my family) but once I began I got sucked in; there was a lot to say: to a lay readership, I suspect, most of it is new. I’m very excited about it.

When it was finished I put a Stonehenge photo in my Twitter profile, and now I’m changing it every week. Here they are with their stories, the most recent at the top – all photos taken by me.


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Hundreds of druids and pagans descend on Stonehenge to celebrate the 2021 Autumn Equinox which marks the official start of autumn.

23 09 2021
  • Visitors headed to famous 5,000-year-old site in Wiltshire to see the sun rise this morning
  • Autumn equinox is one of four public annual events when people can get so close to stones
  • Hundreds of attendees sang and wore variety of extravagant outfits as onlookers watched on

Hundreds of druids and pagans descended on Stonehenge today to celebrate the equinox as autumn began.

Visitors headed to the famous 5,000-year-old site in Wiltshire in the dark to ensure they got to see the sun rise. And they made the most of one of only four public annual events that allows people to get so close to the stones. Photographs showed attendees singing and wearing a variety of extravagant outfits as onlookers watched on

Equinox Links:
See the stunning Autumn Equinox sunrise at Stonehenge – Salisbury Journal
Stonehenge autumn equinox gathering first since start of pandemic – BBC
Stonehenge Spring and Autumn Equinox Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
What is the Autumn equinox? Here’s what you need to know. National Geographic
Stonehenge and the Druids – Who are the Druids? Stonehenge News Blog
Walk amongst the stones of Stonehenge. (Equinox Tour exeperience) Blue Sky Traveller
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – Stonehenge News Blog
Stonehenge Summer and Winter Solstice Tours – Solstice Events U.K

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For two weeks during September, English Heritage is carrying out repairs to the lintels at Stonehenge.

15 09 2021
  • Restoration work at Stonehenge has begun, with scaffolding erected inside ancient Salisbury monument
  • Strong winds buffeting the 4,500-year-old stone circle have taken their toll on its horizontal stones
  • Large-scale restoration this morning, with conservators seen scaling 22ft high scaffolding 
  • The last major job was conducted in 1958, when several stones were hauled back into place by Aubrey Bailey 
  • His son Richard Woodman-Bailey is being asked to place a £2 coin within Stonehenge at a ceremony 

For two weeks during September, English Heritage is carrying out repairs to the lintels at Stonehenge, replacing old degraded cement mortar that was used in the late 1950s to prevent weathering and secure the stones in position. The work will be heavily scrutinised by those on the project, in stark contrast to the work carried out in the 1950s.

Why are the stones being repaired?

Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s senior curator for the site, said: “Four-and-a-half-thousand years of being buffeted by wind and rain has created cracks and holes in the surface of the stone, and this vital work will protect the features which make Stonehenge so distinctive.”

Orientated towards the sunrise on the summer solstice, the sacred site includes several hundred burial mounds across the complex.

Scaffolding has been erected next to Stonehenge this morning as the ancient monument undergoes the first major repairs in more than six decades so cracks and holes in the stones can be refilled 

However, Stonehenge is showing its age, with laser scans showing the lintel stones, joints and concrete mortar that balance across the vertical pillars have heavily eroded.

The concrete mortar used in the most recent project is not breathable, leaving the ancient stones vulnerable from moisture. This moisture can freeze in winter, then when it thaws, leaves deep cracks.

Instead of using concrete, conservators and engineers are to use a more forgiving material, lime mortar.

This type of mortar keeps water out more efficiently and, when moisture does enter, it allows it to escape.

Unsheltered from the elements, Stonehenge is at the mercy of what ever nature throws its way. Thrashed by wind and rain, the UK’s every increasingly extreme weather is bound to take its toll on the ancient moment.

Visitors to Stonehenge will get a unique opportunity to see conservation in action while the work takes place. Stonehenge Guided Tours offer tours from London and can include the special access experience allowing you to enter the inner circle and get a closer look. The Stonehenge Travel Company offer guided tours from nearby Salisbury and Bath.

Relevant Stonehenge news Links:
Stonehenge restoration work begin. Daily Mail
Conservation project starts at Stonehenge – Salisbury Journal
Stonehenge project launched to repair deep lintel cracks – The Guardian
Stonehenge: English Heritage to repair cracked lintels – BBC News
Why is Stonehenge being repaired? – Wales Online
From Restoration to Conservation – English Heritage
Stonehenge to undergo first major repairs in 60 years to fill cracks and holes in monument – The Independent

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Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Managed Open Access Arrangements: 23rd September 2021

4 09 2021

The Autumn Equinox (Mabon) is rapidly approaching as the last days of summer slowly come to an end. English Heritage are expected to offer a short period of access, from first light or safe enough to enter the monument field (approximately 06.15am until 08:30am) on the 23rd September. This is subject of course to any changes in the coronavirus guidance.

Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site which has been a place of worship and celebration for thousands of years.

The Autumn Equinox is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the stones for public access. Equinox open access attracts fewer people than the Solstices – in the several hundreds rather than tens of thousands – and there are modern Druid ceremonies which are held in the circle around dawn, so if you prefer a quieter experience then attending the Autumn Equinox is a good choice.

English Heritage has facilitated Managed Open Access (MOA) to Stonehenge for the celebration of the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring and autumn equinox (spring and autumn equinox fall outside of this contract). English Heritage provides access to the stone circle and the monument field, free of charge to anyone who wishes to attend, but asks all those attending to comply with conditions of entry to ensure the safety of all visitors and to protect the monument. To safely provide MOA across the year, English Heritage works in partnership with Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council and engages experienced event managers and health and safety experts.

Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.

What is the Equinox?
The equinox is when day and night are actually the same length. It happens several days before the spring equinox, and a few days after the autumn one.

The reason day and night are only almost equal on the equinox is because the sun looks like a disk in the sky, so the top half rises above the horizon before the centre

The Earth’s atmosphere also refracts the sunlight, so it seems to rise before its centre reaches the horizon. This causes the sun to provide more daylight than many people might expect, offering 12 hours and 10 minutes on the equinox.

The word ‘equinox’ itself actually mean ‘equal’ (equi) and ‘night’ (nox).

Respecting the Stones
Stonehenge is protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act and you must adhere to the regulations outlined in the act or face criminal prosecution. No person may touch, lean against, stand on or climb the stones, or disturb the ground in any way. The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it then was). It was introduced by John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, recognising the need for a governmental administration on the protection of ancient monuments – more information. View the conditions of entry and respect the Stones

If you or anyone else in your household feels unwell, or has been asked to self-isolate, we ask that you do not attend Stonehenge. Also if you plan to travel on one of our shuttle buses, or visit our toilets or café, we encourage you to bring and wear a face covering.

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Autumn Equinox and do not have transport or simply want a hassle free experience you can join a specialist organised tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions of entry – Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company offering discreet tours from London or Bath, view their exclusive Autumn Equinox tour and save 25% by using discount code and Solstice EQUINOX21. You could also try Solstice Events U.K who offer small group Equinox tours.

Equinox Links:
What is the autumnal equinox? Royal Museums Greenwich
What is the Autumn equinox? Here’s what you need to know. National Geographic
Stonehenge and the Druids – Who are the Druids? Stonehenge News Blog
Walk amongst the stones of Stonehenge. (Equinox Tour exeperience) Blue Sky Traveller
Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – Stonehenge News Blog

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Study provides first glimpse inside one of the giant sarsen stones at Stonehenge.

7 08 2021
  • Scientists analysed a sample from one of the standing stones taken in the 1950s
  • The sample is made up of sand-sized quartz grains cemented tightly together 

Stonehenge may have lasted so long because of the unique geochemical composition of the standing stones, a new study suggests.  

Geochemical analysis shows Stonehenge may have survived so long due to sand-sized quartz grains that are cemented tightly together by an interlocking mosaic of crystals

An international team of scientists analysed wafer-thin slices of a core sample from one of the great sandstone slabs, known as sarsens, under a microscope.

The 3.5-foot-long sample, called Philip’s Core, was extracted more than 60 years ago and only returned to Britain two years ago after being kept souvenir in the US for decades.

In 1958, Robert Phillips, a representative of the drilling company helping to restore Stonehenge, took the cylindrical core after it was drilled from one of Stonehenge’s pillars — Stone 58. Later, when he emigrated to the United States, Phillips took the core with him. Because of Stonehenge’s protected status, it’s no longer possible to extract samples from the stones. But with the core’s return in 2018, researchers had the opportunity to perform unprecedented geochemical analyses of a Stonehenge pillar, which they described in a new study.

The researchers used CT-scanning, X-rays, microscopic analyses and various geochemical techniques to study fragments and wafer-thin slices of the core sample – such testing being off-limits for megaliths at the site.

They found that Stonehenge’s towering standing stones, or sarsens, were made of rock containing sediments that formed when dinosaurs walked the Earth. Other grains in the rock date as far back as 1.6 billion years.

How Stonehenge’s stones have lasted so long: 20-tonne blocks are made up of interlocking quartz crystals that have stopped the monument weathering over the last 5,000 years, analysis reveals – Daily Mail
Long-lost fragment of Stonehenge reveals rock grains dating to nearly 2 billion years ago – Live Science
Stonehenge breakthrough as lost fragment of monument uncovers two billion-year-old secret – Daily Express
Petrological and geochemical characterisation of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge – Plos One
Researchers analyze rock grains from Stonehenge – Reuters
Specialist tour operator offering guided tours of the inner circle of Stonehenge – Stonehenge Guided Tours
The origin of the giant sarsen stones at Stonehenge has finally been discovered with the help of a missing piece of the site which was returned after 60 years. – Stonehenge News Blog

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BREAKING NEWS: Stonehenge A303 tunnel campaigners win court battle.

30 07 2021

High Court rules Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acted unlawfully when granting permission for the Stonehenge tunnel scheme.

  • Campaigners challenged Grant Shapps’ decision to approve controversial plans
  • He gave go-ahead in November despite concerns it would damage UNESCO site
  • But a judge said there was no impact assessment or alternative proposals 
  • The tunnel is part of a £27billion masterplan to improve the nation’s roads 
Campaigners have won a court battle to prevent the “scandalous” construction of a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The £1.7bn Highways England project aims to reduce A303 congestion but campaigners said it would detrimentally affect the world heritage site.

The government approved plans in 2020 for a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel to be created near the Wiltshire monument.

Those opposed to the plans brought a judicial review on the basis the project had been approved unlawfully.

Highways England said it wanted to build the tunnel to reduce traffic and cut journey times on the A303, which is the most direct route for motorists travelling between the South East and South West and is used by thousands of people daily.

The SSWHS Judgement published today can be read on the Stonehenge Alliance website here


Stonehenge tunnel campaigners win court battle – BBC News
Campaigners WIN High Court battle over ‘unlawful’ £1.7 billion two-mile Stonehenge tunnel project – Daily Mail
A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme ‘unlawful’ High Court rules – Salisbury Journal
Campaigners win High Court victory over Stonehenge tunnel project – MSN
Stonehenge road and tunnel decision unlawful, rules judge – Leigh Day
High court victory for Stonehenge campaigners as tunnel is ruled unlawful – The Guardian
Stonehenge tunnel project blocked as campaigners win High Court battle – ITV

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Stonehenge’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status is under threat.

25 07 2021

Stonehenge could become the latest heritage site in the UK to lose its UNESCO status as a £1.7bn Government plan to build a new road and tunnel there could threaten its history, ministers have been told.

Stonehenge could be on the verge of losings its World Heritage status, if a planned £1.7bn road tunnel goes ahead.

The news comes just days after Liverpool was stripped of its Unesco status, one of just three places to have the ranking removed in almost 50 years.

The world’s most recognisable rock monument, near Salisbury, is expected to be next in line to face the axe from the UN-backed agency who are said to be considering placing it on its ‘in danger list’.

Stonehenge Avebury and Associated Sites was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1986, meaning has cultural, historical, or scientific value ‘considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Internationally, Stonehenge is revered as one of the wonders of the world and is viewed alongside global treasures including the Taj Mahal, Pyramids of Giza and Machu Piccu. 


Stonehenge may be next UK site to lose world heritage status – The Guardian
Stonehenge could lose world heritage status following Liverpool – The Independent
Stonehenge ‘could lose World Heritage status’ due to £1.7bn road tunnel plan – The Mirror
Stonehenge could be next to lose Unesco world heritage status due to £1.7bn tunnel – The Daily Mail
A303 Stonehenge Tunnel | Court case has begun to determine lawfulness of planning decision – Stonehenge News Blog
The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge.- Stonehenge News Blog
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly – Stonehenge News Blog

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A303 Stonehenge Tunnel | Court case has begun to determine lawfulness of planning decision

24 06 2021

A three day court hearing to scrutinise the planning approval of the £1.7bn Stonehenge Tunnel road scheme began on the 23rd June and ends on 25th June.

The legal challenge has been brought by campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS), which believes the proposals will have a detrimental impact on the ancient site and is seeking permission for a judicial review of the project.

Mr Justice Holgate said the court would not be considering the merits of the tunnel itself, but only whether the transport secretary had acted unlawfully.

Campaigners supporting SSWHS’s legal challenge lined up outside the court buildings carrying banners and playing drums. Senior druid Arthur Uther Pendragon said he was there to “show druid support” for the challenge.

The Stonehenge site, together with Avebury, which is also in Wiltshire, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986.

The proposed tunnel is part of a major investment in the A303, between Amesbury and Berwick Down, which is a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the south west and runs within a few hundred metres of the site.

Highways England said its plan for the tunnel will remove the sight and sound of traffic passing the site and cut journey times.

The project is classified as nationally significant, which means a development consent order from the Transport Secretary is needed for it to go ahead.


Stonehenge Tunnel Judicial Review: High Court case – Salisbury Journal
Stonehenge tunnel: Minister acted ‘unlawfully’ – BBC News
‘Vigil for Stonehenge’ held outside Royal Courts of Justice – Salisbury Journal
Court case begins to determine lawfulness of planning decision – New Civil Engineer
Unesco warns that Stonehenge will go on its danger list unless plans to build tunnel beneath it are modified – The Art Newspaper
Outrage as High Court denies NCE journalists access to hearing – New Civil Engineer
Stonehenge road tunnel go-ahead unlawful, high court told – The Guardian
Wiltshire people share thoughts on A303 Stonehenge tunnel benefits.- Stonehenge News Blog
The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge.- Stonehenge News Blog
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly – Stonehenge News Blog

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Unauthorised gathering at Stonehenge this morning and live feed of summer solstice sunrise ‘pulled for safety reasons’

21 06 2021

There was an unauthorised gathering in the stone circle this morning. Security and police were extremely patient and understanding to avoid any unnecessary trouble. English Heritage pulled a live feed of the summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge after people disregarded advice not to travel to the site.

We have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning

Druids did not enter the Stone Circle, respected the restrictions and remained on National Trust property close to the monument. Normally, up to 30,000 people would gather to watch the sun rise over the stones on the longest day of the year, but it was a virtual event for the second consecutive year. The monument was preparing to welcome visitors in person until the Government delayed the easing of lockdown into July, with English Heritage calling on people to watch their live-streams.

Live feed of summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge ‘pulled for safety reasons’ – Evening Standard
Summer solstice Stonehenge feed ‘pulled for safety reasons’ – BBC News
Police called to summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge – Evening Standard
Summer Solstice event at Stonehenge pulled as people ignore Covid rules – Wales Online

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations Cancelled. The sunset and sunrise will now be live-streamed.

16 06 2021

The 2021 summer solstice celebrations at Wiltshire’s Stonehenge have been cancelled as England’s ‘Freedom Day‘ is delayed by four weeks due to the rise in cases of the Indian variant. In a bid to control the spread of the new strain, the Government has now pushed back stage 4 of its roadmap.


With this week’s news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June and following discussions with Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year.


Stonehenge summer solstice event cancelled for a second year – BBC News
‘Left with no choice’ – Solstice event cancelled second year in a row – Salisbury Journal
Summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge officially cancelled – This is Wiltshire

The sunset and sunrise will be live-streamed for free as the virtual celebrations proved very popular last year.

Traditionally about 10,000 people have gathered at the Neolithic monument in Wiltshire, on or around 21 June, to mark midsummer, however English Heriatge were expecting numbers to exceed 40,000 this year as many festivals and events have already been cancelled due to coronavirus restictions.

Please do not travel to Stonehenge this summer solstice, watch it online instead. The National Trust has also closed Avebury and asked visitors “not to travel to the area”. Wiltshire Police said officers would have a “presence in the areas of both Stonehenge and Avebury” and local authorities warned people to stay away.

Visit the English Heritage website for updates.

Celebrations take place every year on or around June 21 at Stonehenge, a monument built on the alignment of the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset.

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.

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

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 of the year.

Summer Solstice 2021 – National Trust facilities at Avebury closed overnight – National Trust
Summer solstice 2021: everything you need to know about the longest day of the year – The Telegraph
The Legendary Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebration. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. Stonehenge News
Stonehenge: Summer Solstice 2021 to go ahead as normal. Salisbury Journal
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. Stonehenge New Blog
Attending the Stonehenge 2021 Summer Solstice. English Heritage
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours and Transprort – The Stonehenge Tour Company
Why Thousands Of Pagans Gather At Stonehenge For The Solstice Stonehenge News Blog
Respect the Stones: Stonehenge News Blog

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