Amesbury – including Stonehenge – is the UK’s longest continually-occupied settlement

6 05 2014

Amesbury in Wiltshire confirmed as oldest UK settlement.

A Wiltshire town has been confirmed as the longest continuous settlement in the United Kingdom.

Amesbury - including Stonehenge - is the UK's longest continually-occupied settlement

Amesbury – including Stonehenge – is the UK’s longest continually-occupied settlement

Amesbury, including Stonehenge, has been continually occupied since BC8820, experts have found.

The news was confirmed following an archaeological dig which also unearthed evidence of frogs’ legs being eaten in Britain 8,000 years before France.

Amesbury’s place in history has also now been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.

David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, said: “The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways.

“It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself.

“The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people. For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers.”

Mr Jacques said the River Avon, which runs through the area, would have been like an A road with people travelling along it.

“They may have had the equivalent of local guides and there would have been feasting,” he added.

“We have found remains of big game animals, such as aurochs and red deer, and an enormous amount of burnt flint from their feasting fires.”

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The dig unearthed the largest haul of worked flints from the Mesolithic period

Previously, Thatcham in Berkshire, 40 miles from Amesbury, held the record for the longest continuous settlement in the country.

The dig in Amesbury also uncovered 31,000 worked flints in 40 days as well as animal bones such as frogs’ legs.

Mr Jacques said our ancestors were eating a “Heston Blumenthal-style menu”.

The find was based on a report by fossil mammal specialist Simon Parfitt, of the Natural History Museum.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, the founder of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, said there was “something unique and rather special about the area” to keep people there from the end of the Ice Age, to when Stonehenge was created and until today.

“The fact that the feasting of large animals and the discovery of a relatively constant temperature spring sitting alongside the River Avon, may well be it,” he said.

The dig was filmed and made into a documentary by the BBC, Smithsonian, CBC and others to be screened later in the summer.

The project was led by the University of Buckingham

Article source: BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-27238503

Historic Amesbury – the Home of Stonehenge

Nestling within a loop of the River Avon alongside the A303 just 1.5 miles from Stonehenge, Amesbury is a destination not to be missed. With recent evidence of continuous settlement since before 7500BC and a breath-taking Mesolithic collection that is greater in quantity (from one single location) than any other found in this country, the town’s new Museum at the Melor Hall, Church Street will amaze visitors with its story of life before the Stones and its mind blowing artefacts from the Town where History began.

Visit Wiltshire Website: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/amesbury-museum-and-heritage-centre-p1536253

Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust: https://www.facebook.com/AmesburyMuseum

Salisbury Reds (transport to and from Amesbury): http://www.salisburyreds.co.uk/ptv-amesbury.shtml

Local Tour Operators including Amesbury and Stonehenge:
Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum Audio Tours: http://www.salisburystonehengetours.co.uk/
The Stonehenge Travel Company: http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Archaeologists uncover Pagan skeletons at housing development near Stonehenge

21 05 2013

Archaeologists have discovered six Pagan Saxon skeletons dating back over 1,000 years on a housing development site just a few miles from Stonehenge.

Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology

The discoveries, which also include round barrows dating back to the Bronze Age 4,000 years ago, were unearthed at a redundant brownfield development site in Amesbury, Wiltshire, which is also famous for the Amesbury Archer – an early Bronze Age man found buried among arrowheads.

The remains are thought to be those of adolescent to mature males and females. Five skeletons were arrayed around a small circular ditch, with the grave of a sixth skeleton in the centre. Two lots of beads, a shale bracelet and other grave goods were also found, which suggest the findings are Pagan.

The site is now being excavated for other artefacts by Wessex Archaeology, led by Phil Harding, known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team, while colleagues back at the unit’s laboratory examine the remains and jewellery, which have already been removed.

Phil said: “Given that the Stonehenge area is a well-known prehistoric burial site, it was always very likely some interesting discoveries would be made here. The fact that these round barrows were previously unknown makes this particularly exciting.

“Finding the skeletons also helps us to get a clearer picture of the history of this area. To my knowledge these are the first Pagan Saxon burials to be excavated scientifically in Amesbury. “

Landowner Aster Group is building 14 affordable homes at the redundant brownfield site, which will be available to rent from 2014.

Anna Kear, Aster’s regional development director for Hampshire and Wiltshire, said: “Wiltshire is a treasure trove of archaeology, drawing people from across the world.

“Discovering a burial site in this beautiful county is always a possibility when building affordable homes. We’re working with everyone involved to ensure Phil and his team can investigate this exciting find while the build continues.”

Contractor Mansell, a Balfour Beatty brand, was preparing the site for the build when it made the discovery.

Site manager Brian Whitchurch-Bennett, of Mansell, said: “When we’re working in an area of historical importance we always undertake archaeological investigations to make sure that our construction works don’t damage hidden remains or artefacts. The findings within this particular site really are a one off, we’ve been amazed by the number of discoveries and the level of preservation. It’s certainly a project to remember.”

The archaeologists are expected to be on site for six weeks in total. Footage from the site may also be included in an archaeological production for ITV’s History Channel, due to be aired in January 2014.

Source: Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2013-05-17-Archaeologists-uncover-Pagan-skeletons-at-housing-development-near-Stonehenge

Merlin @ Stonehenege
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge occupied 5,000 years earlier than previously thought

19 04 2013

Stonehenge may have been occupied five thousand years earlier than previously thought, archaeologists claim.

The people occupying the site would likely have been responsible for erecting the first monument at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts, between the 9th and 7th millennia BC.  Photo: REX

The people occupying the site would likely have been responsible for erecting the first monument at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts, between the 9th and 7th millennia BC. Photo: REX

Excavation of a site just a mile from the stone structure provided what researchers claim is the first firm evidence of continuous occupation from as early as 7,500BC.

Earlier evidence had suggested that humans were present at the site, known as Vespasian’s Camp, around 7,500BC but there were no signs anyone had lived there until as late as 2,500BC.

By carbon-dating materials found at the site, the archaeologists identified a semi-permanent settlement which was occupied from 7,500 to 4,700BC, with evidence that people were present during every millennium in between.

The people occupying the site would likely have been responsible for erecting the first monument at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts, between the 9th and 7th millennia BC.

Instead of being seen as a site which was abandoned by Mesolithic humans and occupied by Neolithic men thousands of years later, Stonehenge should be recognised as a place where one culture merged with the other, researchers said.

Dr David Jacques of the Open University, who led the study, said he identified the settlement after deciding to search for evidence around a spring on the site, which he reasoned could have attracted animals.

“My thinking was where you find wild animals, you tend to find people,” he said. “What we found was the nearest secure watering hole for animals and people, a type of all year round fresh water source. It’s the nearest one to this place [Stonehenge]. I think it’s pivotal.”

Dr Josh Pollard of the Stonehenge Riverside Project added: “The team have found the community who put the first monument up at Stonehenge.

“The significance of David’s work lies in finding substantial evidence of Mesolithic settlement in the Stonehenge landscape [which was] previously largely lacking, apart from the enigmatic posts, and being able to demonstrate that there were repeated visits to this area from the 9th to the 5th millennia BC.”

Source: , Science Correspondent – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

The findings will be broadcast in an episode of The Flying Archaeologist on BBC One on Friday evening.

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 

 





OU students’ Stonehenge dig put to the vote for award

19 12 2012

Excavations by Open University students that could point to the origins of Stonehenge, have been nominated for Research Project of the Year by Current Archaeology magazine.

http://www.open.ac.uk/platform/news-and-features/ou-students-stonehenge-dig-put-to-the-vote-for-awardYou can vote for the project, which is called Vespasian’s Camp: Cradle of Stonehenge? on the Current Archaeology website here.

The project is led by OU tutor David Jacques who has recruited more than 100 OU students to work on the site, alongside volunteers from the nearby town of Amesbury, since the dig began in 2005.

The ongoing dig, at a previously unexplored site 1.5 km east of Stonehenge, is uncovering evidence which suggests the area was an important centre for Stone Age hunters several thousand years before the famous stone circle was built.

“Many experts are now wondering if Stonehenge is where it is because of this new site, because radiocarbon dates obtained from it show a continued use of the site from the 8th millennium BC through to the 5th millennium BC,” says David Jacques.

“This is the longest continually used place yet found in the Stonehenge landscape, and it connects the hunter-gatherer Mesolithic period to close to the Neolithic period, when Stonehenge starts to be constructed.

“It must have been a very special place to be used for 3000 years, a point confirmed by Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University, who also described it as ‘the most important discovery at Stonehenge in many years’.”

The excavation team have uncovered the largest cache of Mesolithic tools ever found in the area, together with evidence of gargantuan Stone Age feasts.

They’ve also found weapons and other objects left as offerings to a god or goddess during the much later Bronze or early Iron Age, suggesting the site had a sacred tradition stretching over thousands of years.

The dig has also inspired the local community to create a museum at Amesbury to house the finds.

To find out more see the story here where you can watch a video and follow links to press reports.

Stonehenge News Blog sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’

Merlin @ Stonehenge





1st Exhibition of Mesolthic Amesbury – 3000 years before the Stones

24 03 2012

Resulting from the Amesbury 2012 initiative lead by Mayor Andy Rhind-Tutt and supported by Amesbury Town Council, local people and our Druids we are pleased to announce that Amesbury Town Council, have completed the purchase of the Melor Hall in Amesbury (Opposite the Antrobus Arms) and will now move to the process of planning and building the Town its first ever Museum and interpretation centre.

This will tell the Story of Amesbury and interest a percentage of those millions of tourists that visit our Stonehenge, bolstering the local economy and mutually supporting the two existing museums of Salisbury and Devizes and Stonehenge.
Amesbury Museum

On the Easter weekend, the existing hall will be used for an exhibition highlighting the Mesolithic rich heritage that is being found. This will feature live archaeology taking place locally at one of the most exciting dig sites in Britain today.

Meet the archaeologists, ask questions, handle finds and discover for yourselves the wonders of the Mesolithic Salisbury Plain.

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

Merlin says “This is great news for Stonehenge, Amesbury and Wiltshire Tourism 2012.  See you at the Easter Weekend event”

The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Community bus could take tourists from Amesbury to Stonehenge

27 01 2012

AMESBURY’S community minibus will be used to ferry tourists from the town centre to Stonehenge as part of a move to improve the connection between the town and the world heritage site.

Stonehenge signAs the Journal reported last week, Amesbury Town Council has called for public transport links to be restored after the town was rebranded as Historic Amesbury and signs were put up welcoming people to the home of Stonehenge.

Visitors have been arriving in Amesbury expecting to see the ancient stone circle to be told the only way to reach it is to walk or go by taxi as the Wilts & Dorset operated Stonehenge Bus Tour does not stop at Amesbury bus station.

Now mayor of Amesbury Andy Rhind-Tutt has put forward plans for the community bus to be used to take people to Stonehenge.

He hopes to trial the scheme on Wednesdays, which is market day in Amesbury.

“It would be great for both tourists and local people,” he said.

“People could come and park in Amesbury and then the bus will take them up Countess Road, to Woodhenge, along Fargo Road, through Larkhill and on to Stonehenge.

“They could spend a couple of hours there and then get the bus back to Amesbury for lunch or some shopping.

“It will also provide a service for the people of Countess Road and Larkhill who lost out when Wilts and Dorset changed its bus routes.

“We are a historic town and we do have a lot to offer but we need to help people to get into Amesbury from Stonehenge.”

Initially it is hoped the service will be free while the new bus route is publicised.

It will travel a circular route and run on an hourly basis, and Mr Rhind-Tutt hopes to get it up and running before the Easter holidays.

“We hope that it will increase footfall in Amesbury which will boost local businesses,” he said.

“I understand the difficulty that Wilts a& Dorset would have running a service along the A303 due to the traffic, but this way we could use our community bus to further benefit Amesbury.”

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

Merlin says “At last, tranport from Amesbury – save me walking”

Merlin at Stonehenge








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