Lasers at Stonehenge. British Archaelogy

12 10 2012

At last, after all these years, we’ve got the very first comprehensive study of the actual stones at Stonehenge. As part of its research into Stonehenge and its landscape that will feed into displays at the new visitor centre, English Heritage commissioned Greenhatch Group surveyors to produce the first complete, high resolution 3D digital model of Stonehenge and its immediate landscape, using lasers and a bit of photogrammetry. (http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/)

At last, after all these years, we’ve got the very first comprehensive study of the actual stones at Stonehenge

Then Marcus Abbott (ArcHeritage) and Hugo Anderson-Whymark (freelance lithics specialist) analysed the data, created new digital images and news ways of seeing them, added some of their own photos and spent time amongst the real stones.

In one sense the results are not surprising: it was obvious to anyone with eyes that that we could learn a lot about Stonehenge with a proper study of the stones. And yes, we have learnt a lot. But just about all the details are revelatory.

There are four different areas where new things are really going to change the way we think about the monument:

  • how the stones were dressed and what the original monument looked like
  • prehistoric carvings – difficult to see and unknown to visitors: the new discoveries have doubled the number of such carvings known in the whole of Britain
  • damage by tourists: the scale of damage done by souvenir collectors in the 18th and 19th centuries had not been recognised before
  • graffiti: dates range between 1721 and 1866, though most were carved 1800–1850 – and they’re almost everywhere.

And this must be just the beginning. There are more details yet to see (there is still scope for new and higher resolution survey), and new things to think about in the vast data set.

http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/

If you know Stonehenge, from this alone you can see at once how much new information has been revealed. Amongst other things, it seems fair to draw from this (and other new data) that the sarsen circle probably WAS complete; and that the whole thing was designed to be seen from the north-east, approaching up the Avenue – so the implication follows that the setting midwinter sun you’d be facing to the south-west was the key alignment.

British Archaeology also published the pioneering Stonehenge laser study done in 2002.

Please follow Mike Pitts excellent archaelogy Blog: http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/
L
ink: http://www.archaeologyuk.org/ba/ba73/index.shtml
L
ink: http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/

 

British Archaeology magazine

 

The Council for British Archaeology’s award-winning bi-monthly magazine is the authoritative, in-depth source of information and comment on what’s new, interesting and important in UK archaeology.
Link: http://new.archaeologyuk.org/british-archaeology-magazine

Blog sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTours.com

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge – New Evidence for its Solstitial Function and Approach

9 10 2012

Using the latest 3D laser scanning technology, an English Heritage analysis of Stonehenge has found new evidence of the importance of the two solstices to its creators, including that of the midwinter sunset.

Approach and View from North East Important
The laser scan has revealed significant differences in the way the stones were shaped and worked. These differences show that Stonehenge was not only aligned with the solstices, but that the view of the monument from the Avenue, its ancient processional way to the north east, was particularly important. To approach and view the stone circle from this direction means that the midwinter sunset had special meaning to prehistoric people, and that they made deliberate efforts to create a dramatic spectacle for those approaching the monument from the north east.

The view of Stonehenge as seen from the north east, a view now found to be most important to the creators.

The view of Stonehenge as seen from the north east, a view now found to be most important to the creators.

Stones in the North East Segment Larger and More Uniform

A detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge reveals that those stones on the outer sarsen circle visible when approaching from the north east have been completely pick dressed – that is, the brown and grey crust on the surface has been removed exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface. By contrast, the outer faces of surviving uprights in the south-western segment of the circle were not pick dressed.

These stones facing north-east are also the largest and most uniform in shape, unlike the south-western segment of the monument where there are several smaller and more irregular stones. The lintels are also exceedingly well worked and finished, compared to those that survive elsewhere in the monument.

Stones on Solstitial Axis most Carefully Shaped and Dressed

The study also shows that the techniques and amounts of labour used vary from stone to stone. These variations provide almost definitive proof that it was the intent of Stonehenge’s builders to align the monument with the two solstices along a north-east/south-west axis.

The sides of the stones that flanked the solstice axis were found to have been most carefully worked to form very straight and narrow rectangular slots. These stones include two of the north-east facing sarsens in the outer circle, the Great Trilithon in the inner sarsen horseshoe, and a now isolated upright stone in the south-west segment of the outer circle.

Since all other stones have visibly more natural, less neat outlines, this strongly suggests that special effort was made to dress those that flank the NE/SW axis to allow a more dramatic and obvious passage of sunlight through the stone circle on midsummer and midwinter solstices.

Laser scan of the Great Trilithon reveals its extremely straight, neat outline and smooth surface, compared with all the other trilithons. It suggests that Stonehenge creators made deliberate efforts to shape and dress it more carefully due to its special position on the solstice axis, just as they did for other stones that flank this axis.

Laser scan of the Great Trilithon reveals its extremely straight, neat outline and smooth surface, compared with all the other trilithons. It suggests that Stonehenge creators made deliberate efforts to shape and dress it more carefully due to its special position on the solstice axis, just as they did for other stones that flank this axis.

Solstitial Alignment Currently Severed by Road to be Restored

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director at English Heritage, said: “The new presentation of Stonehenge will enable visitors to appreciate the importance of the solstitial alignment far better. It’s why we are closing the A344 – which severs the alignment – to enable the stone circle to be reunited with the Avenue.”

The new Stonehenge visitor centre at Airman’s Corner, 1.5 miles west and out of sight of Stonehenge, is scheduled to open in late 2013.

Findings Exceed Expectations

Analysis of the laser scan has also led to the discovery of many more prehistoric carvings, including 71 new Bronze Age axeheads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known at Stonehenge to 115.

Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “We didn’t expect the results to be so revealing about the architecture of Stonehenge. It has given further scientific basis to the theory of the solstitial alignment and the importance of the approach to the monument from the Avenue in mid winter.

“Analysis of the different techniques used to dress the stones may even help to refine the chronology of the construction. Disappointing to some, the scan has also ruled out many poorly defined lines and hollows previously thought to be possible prehistoric carvings.”

English Heritage commissioned the first comprehensive laser survey on Stonehenge in 2011. Archaeological analysis was then carried out to examine the high-resolution data that was produced for all the stone surfaces.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/stonehenge-solstitial-function/

Blog sponsored bt ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTour.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge 3D app launched for 2012

10 01 2012

Stonehenge Solstice? There’s an app for that – Stonehenge Experience lets you explore 3D site in peace

Pulling across screen lets you explore site in 3D
Can ‘walk through’ the fenced-off area around stones
Lets you ‘dig up’ relics such as the Amesbury Archer

On the Winter Solstice, the stones at Stonehenge align perfectly with the sun. ‘Pagan’ worshippers gathered this year – as they do every year – at Salisbury Plain to mark the occasion.

The application offers virtual 3D 'tours' of the site - but also lets you 'dig through' layers of artefacts such as the gold breastplate found at the site

The application offers virtual 3D 'tours' of the site - but also lets you 'dig through' layers of artefacts such as the gold breastplate found at the site

But those of us who missed it can explore Stonehenge in considerably more comfort – and detail – using a new iPhone and iPad app, the Stonehenge Experience.

The app not only lets users explore Stonehenge in 3D, but also lets you ‘rub’ the screen to reveal different layers of prehistoric artefacts from the site – and recreates the sounds of when Stonehenge was constructed.

The site uses 3D digital ‘models’ so users can do things that visitors simply can’t – such as excavating down through layers of the site to reveal artefacts such as a ‘flesh hook’ and a solid gold breast plate found at the site.

All the 3D views of the site can be controlled via pinching and zooming on screen to let you ‘walk’ through Stonehenge – without the fences that usually keep visitors far from the stones.

You can stand in the middle of the stones, and an ‘acoustic model’ also captures what it sounds like to stand there.

Rupter Till of Huddersfield University – who ‘modelled’ the sounds of the app, said,

‘Creating the sound of Stonehenge as it was when it was first built was a really interesting challenge. When put together with the Ribui app it makes for an absorbing immersive experience and allows people to see and hear Stonehenge as it was five thousand years ago.’

The app incorporates some of the latest archaeological findings, providing you with up to date explanations of the site’s purpose, based on  respected academic theory.

The Stonehenge Experience works on the iPhone 3GS and later and the iPad

The app incorporates some of the latest archaeological findings, providing you with up to date explanations of the site’s purpose, based on  respected academic theory.

The Stonehenge Experience works on the iPhone 3GS and later and the iPad

This year will see mpre than one Stonehenge app being launcehed – watch this space for details.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2077499/Missed-Winter-Solstice-Theres-app–Stonehenge-Experience-lets-explore-peace.html

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin says: “Novel idea, however you cant beat physically walking the Stonehenge landscape at sunrise or sunset with an expert local guide”

Merlin @ Stonehenge Stone Circle








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