STONEHENGE: UNCOVERED – February 24th 2012

22 02 2012

Unlock the secrets of Stonehenge and the surrounding sites in this exclusive walking tour led by English Heritages’ Properties Historian Susan Greaney.Visit the World Heritage Site and key archaeological areas in this fascinating landscape. Along the way, gain an exclusive insight into the new and exciting discoveries made by recent research projects carried out in the area and discover for yourself more about this special landscape.
Stonehenge HOW TO BOOK

Purchase your tickets today by calling our dedicated Ticket Sales Team on            0870 333 1183       (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30 Sat 9am – 5pm). Please note: Booking tickets for this event is essential as places are limited

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/stonehenge-uncovered-s-24-feb/

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

Merlin say “You have to be an English Heritage member for this tour but its well worth joining”

Merlin @ Stonehenge 





Mystery of Britain’s Largest Meteorite Solved. Found at Druids burial site near Stonehenge

10 02 2012

With a weight that rivals a baby elephant, a meteorite that fell from space some 30,000 years ago is likely Britain’s largest space rock. And after much sleuthing, researchers think they know where it came from and how it survived so long without weathering away.

Likely the largest meteorite found in Britain, this one spans about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) across and has been on Earth some 30,000 years.

Likely the largest meteorite found in Britain, this one spans about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) across and has been on Earth some 30,000 years.

The giant rock, spanning about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) across and weighing 205 pounds (93 kilograms), was likely discovered by an archaeologist about 200 years ago at a burial site created by the Druids (an ancient Celtic priesthood) near Stonehenge, according to said Colin Pillinger, a professor of planetary sciences at the Open University.

Pillinger curated the exhibition “Objects in Space,” which opens today (Feb. 9th) and is the first time the public will get a chance to see the meteorite. The exhibition will explore not only the mystery that surrounds the origins of the giant meteorite, but also the history and our fascination with space rocks.

As for how the meteorite survived its long stint on Earth, researchers point to the ice age.

“The only meteorites that we know about that have survived these long ages are the ones that were collected in Antarctica,” said Pillinger, adding that more recently, some ancient meteorites have been collected in the Sahara Desert. This rock came from neither the Sahara Desert nor Antarctica, but rather the Lake House in Wiltshire.

“Britain was under an ice age for 20,000 years,” Pillinger told LiveScience, explaining the climate would have protected the rock from weathering.

At some point, the Druids likely picked up the meteorite when scouting for rocks to build burial chambers. “They were keen on building burial sites for [the dead] in much the same way the Egyptians built the pyramids,” Pillinger said.

Then, years later, an archaeologist with ties to other, famous archaeologists, likely found the rock while excavating the Druids’ burial sites, he said. The archaeologist then brought the rock back to his house in Wiltshire, where its more recent residents took notice and alerted researchers.

“The men whose house this was found at spent a lot of time opening these burial sites 200 years ago for purposes of excavating them,” Pillinger said. “Our hypothesis is that the stone probably came out of one of those burial chambers.”

The meteorite is called a chondrite, a group that includes primitive meteorites that scientists think were remnants shed from the original building blocks of planets. Most meteorites found on Earth fit into this group.

The much smaller meteorite on display at the Royal Society's exhibit was excavated from a grain pit where ancient peoples of the Iron Age stored their crops.

The much smaller meteorite on display at the Royal Society's exhibit was excavated from a grain pit where ancient peoples of the Iron Age stored their crops.

Other objects on display include a much smaller meteorite, weighing about an ounce (32 grams), and excavated from a grain pit where ancient peoples of the Iron Age stored their crops. It was discovered in the 1970s at Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire, though it wasn’t until the 1980s when scientists analyzed metal in the walnut-size object did they realize its extraterrestrial origin.

The exhibition will also include a Damien Hirst “spot painting,” which features the famous Beagle 2 spacecraft as its center spot. In addition, part of Newton’s apple tree will be on display.

The story of how researchers are uncovering the origins of these impressive specimens will astonish and delight visitors to this remarkable exhibition, which also contains letters and books charting the history of scientific interest in meteorites.  

The Royal Society’s London headquarters will house the exhibit through March 30.

Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescienceand on Facebook.
Sore: http://www.livescience.com

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

Merlin says “Out of this world”

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Archaeologists and pagans alike glory in the Brodgar complex

2 02 2012

Let’s not jump to conclusions about ritual significance, but this site is clearly immensely important to ancient British history

The Ring of Brodgar ancient standing stones in Orkney, Scotland, flank the Brodgar complex, now thought to be older than Stonehenge. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

The Ring of Brodgar ancient standing stones in Orkney, Scotland, flank the Brodgar complex, now thought to be older than Stonehenge. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Archaeologists are notoriously nervous of attributing ritual significance to anything (the old joke used to be that if you found an artefact and couldn’t identify it, it had to have ritual significance), yet they still like to do so whenever possible. I used to work on a site in the mid-1980s – a hill fort in Gloucestershire – where items of potential religious note occasionally turned up (a horse skull buried at the entrance, for example) and this was always cause for some excitement, and also some gnashing of teeth at the prospect of other people who weren’t archaeologists getting excited about it (“And now I suppose we’ll have druids turning up”).

The Brodgar complex has, however, got everyone excited. It ticks all the boxes that make archaeologists, other academics, lay historians and pagans jump up and down. Its age is significant: it’s around 800 years older than Stonehenge (although lately, having had to do some research into ancient Britain, I’ve been exercised by just how widely dates for sites vary, so perhaps some caution is called for). Pottery found at Stonehenge apparently originated in Orkney, or was modelled on pottery that did.

The site at the Ness of Brodgar – a narrow strip of land between the existing Stone Age sites of Maeshowe and the Ring of Brodgar – is massive: the size of five football pitches and circled by a 10ft wall. Only a small percentage of it has been investigated; it is being called a “temple complex”, and researchers seem to think that it is a passage complex – for instance, one in which bones are carried through and successively stripped (there is a firepit across one of the doors, and various entrances, plus alcoves like those in a passage grave, which are being regarded as evidence for this theory – but it’s a bit tenuous at present). Obviously, at this relatively early stage, it’s difficult for either professional archaeologists or their followers to formulate too many firm theories.

When it comes to the pagan community, I don’t think that its sounder members will be leaping to too many conclusions too soon; as discussed in a previous column, some of us would prefer to rely on the actual evidence rather than rushing off at a tangent. I cannot help wondering whether the relatively muted response across the pagan scene to the Brodgar findings has to do with the fact that the central artefact discovered so far – the “Brodgar Boy” – is apparently male rather than female. I am cynical enough to wonder whether, if it had been a northern Venus, there would be much more in the way of rash speculation about ancient matriarchies. Will we see the pagan community flocking to Orkney at the solstices? I doubt it. Orkney is a long way off and rather difficult to get to, whereas Stonehenge and Avebury are with a reasonably easy drive if you happen to live in the south of the country. In the days when the site was at its peak, most traffic would have been coastal, and remained so for hundreds of years to come. (And to be fair, many modern pagans aren’t actually too keen on trampling over ancient sites, sacred or otherwise, due to awareness of their relative fragility).

With regard to the “boy” himself, and other ancient representations of the human form, we simply don’t know why people made them. Maybe they are gods, goddesses, spirits. Maybe they’re toys, or lampoons of particular individuals, or just someone doing some carving in an idle moment. It’s hardly a startling theory that, throughout history, people have made stuff for fun: I’ve always been very amused by Aztec pots made in the shape of comical animals, looking for all the world like the early precursor to Disney and somewhat at variance with the sombre bloodiness of other aspects of that culture.

 

As soon as the Bronze Age arrived, Brodgar was completely abandoned. There was apparently a mass slaughter of cattle, which would have fed as many as 20,000 people on the site; this is being taken by some experts as evidence of a complete and sudden cultural replacement. But whether it has ritual significance or not, the sheer size, age and numbers involved with the Orkney site make it of immense importance to the history of ancient Britain.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk

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

Merlin @  Stonehenge 





Scientists locate exact source of Stonehenge stone but how did they get there?

19 12 2011

Scientists have located the exact source of the rock believed to have been used to create some of Stonehenge’s first stone circle.

Researchers have been able to match fragments of stone from around the 5,000 year old monument with an outcrop of rock in south-west Wales.

Stonehenge Bluestone

Photo: ALAMY

The work – carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales – has identified the source as a site called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire.

It is the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.

The discovery has re-invigorated a long running debate as to whether the smaller standing stones of Stonehenge were quarried and brought from Pembrokeshire by prehistoric humans or whether they were carried all or part of the way to Wiltshire by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years earlier.

Archaeologists tend to subscribe to the ‘human transport’ theory, while geomorphologists often favour the glacial one.

The debate is solely about Stonehenge’s smaller standing stones which are sometimes known collectively as bluestones. The larger stones, or sarsens, are accepted to have been incorporated into the monument several centuries later.

The remarkable find has been reported in the journal Archaeology in Wales and opens up the possibility of finding archaeological evidence of quarrying activity at Craig Rhos-y-Felin which would indicate humans rather than glaciers were responsible for transporting the stone.

Research over recent years by Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University and Geoffrey Wainwright, a former chief archaeologist at English Heritage, suggests that the Pembrokeshire stones may have had a particular ideological significance.

The outcrops where some of the stones come from are thought to have been associated with sacred springs and local Welsh stone circles.

By bringing those particular rocks the 160 miles from Pembrokeshire to Wiltshire, the builders of Stonehenge may have thought they were obtaining more than just plain rock.

Experts have suggested they may have regarded the stone as having supernatural powers.

By DailTelegraph Reporter – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/8964899/Scientists-locate-exact-source-of-Stonehenge-stone.html

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

Merlin says: “Surely experts can establish if they were moved by glaciers or man power?”

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Book Gift Guide

3 12 2011

As Mid-Winter approaches, it’s time to consider the accompanying consumerfest. Whether you’re buying gifts for someone else, or just giving yourself a year-end treat, the following is a list of books, in no particular order, that we have enjoyed throughout the year. You may too.

Note that not all of these are new books by any means, but they are books we’ve read, enjoyed and can recommend.

  • Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland Before the Romans – Francis Pryor. The first in a four-part opus spanning athe Ice Age to Modern Times, this books concentrates on the birth of Farming and Agriculture in Britain, a subject close to Pryor’s heart.
  • A History of Ancient Britain – Neil Oliver. A companion to the TV series, this book spans half a million years of human occupation, through several Ice Ages to the Romans, looking at the various objects left behind for us to interpret. A thoughtful read.
  • A Brief History of the Druids (Brief Histories) – Peter Berresford Ellis. Forget the romantic antiquarian view of the Druids, this books tells it like it is, using the latest research into classical sources to give a good general overview of life and society in the pre-Roman period.
  • A Brief History of Stonehenge – Aubrey Burl. Although titled ‘A Brief History’, the scope and detail in this book is remarkable. casting aside the more lunatic fringe ideas, this book deals purely in facts, but is no less readable for all that. The ‘Brief History’ series generally is to be recommended, whatever your historical period of interest.
  • The Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain – Julian Cope. First written in the 1990′s and recently re-printed, this book spawned a website of the same name that has gone from strength to strength. A series of extraordinary essays followed by a decent gazetteer of some 300 ancient sites to visit in Britain.
  • Standing with Stones: A Photographic Journey Through Megalithic Britain and Ireland –  “Across the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland lies an unsurpassed richness of prehistoric heritage. Standing with Stones is a personal voyage of discovery, taking the reader to over a hundred megalithic sites in a photographic journey through the British Isles.” Stunning photography and an easily accessible text make this book a must-have. A companion DVD is also available.
  • A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany – Aubrey Burl. A superb gazetteer of stone circles. Provides what it says on the cover. In our view, an indispensible item.

Any of the above should provide a decent background to our ancient heritage. There are of course many more academic books we could recommend which go into fine detail about specific sites or time periods, but those above are targetted to a more general readership. If you think we’ve left anything important off our list, please add a comment to let us know.

Thanks to Heritage Action for the recommendations

Stonehenge Bookshop:
Please take the time to visit our online shop: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/stonetours-21

Sponsored by The Stonehenge Tour Company – www.StonehengeTours.com

Melin @ Stonehenge








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