Ancient Stonehenge ceremonial landscape midwinter Walk

11 12 2012

Ancient ceremonial landscape of great archaeological and wildlife interest

Within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the National Trust manages 827 hectares (2,100 acres) of downland surrounding the famous stone circle.

Stonehenge Landscape ToursWalking across the grassland, visitors can discover other prehistoric monuments, including the Avenue and King Barrow Ridge with its Bronze Age burial mounds.

Nearby, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows is another fascinating example of a prehistoric cemetery. While Durrington Walls hides the remains of a Neolithic village.

The best approach to the famous stone circle is across Normanton Down, a round barrow cemetery dates from around 2600 to 1600BC.

National Trust Link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehengelandscape/
More Stonehenge Landscape Tours: http://stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-prehistoric-wessex-walking-tour.htm

 

Stonehenge news blog sponosred by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours

Merlin @ Stonehenge





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 up close: digital laser scan reveals secrets of the past

9 10 2012

Most detailed analysis yet of prehistoric stone circle shows how masons spent more time making key areas look the best

Like any corner-cutting modern builder, the ancient stonemasons who built Stonehenge lavished the most work and best materials where they would be first seen –shining in the last light of the setting winter solstice sun, or at dawn on the longest day.

Stonehenge: a digital laser scan has revealed tool marks from 4,500 years ago, and graffiti made by Victorian visitors. Photograph: Yoshihiro Takada/Corbis

Stonehenge: a digital laser scan has revealed tool marks from 4,500 years ago, and graffiti made by Victorian visitors. Photograph: Yoshihiro Takada/Corbis

The first complete 3D laser scan of the stone circle has also revealed tool marks made 4,500 years ago, scores of little axehead graffiti added when the enormous slabs were already 1,000 years old, and damage and graffiti contributed by Georgian and Victorian visitors.

The survey, carried out for English Heritage, exposes numerous details now invisible to the naked eye and will be used in displays for the long-awaited new visitor centre, due to open late next year. It shows the stones in unprecedented precision, from the double-decker bus height sarsens from Salisbury Plain that give the monument its unmistakable profile, to the smaller bluestones brought from west Wales by means still hotly debated, and the stumps of stones that have almost been destroyed.

It also confirms the importance of the prehistoric monument’s alignment on the winter and summer solstice. The largest, most uniform and most imposing stones, carefully shaped and dressed through hundreds of hours of work with stone hammers, were set where they would be seen first by people approaching the monument from north-east along the Avenue, a processional way that would have been particularly spectacular at the midwinter sunset.

In an epic piece of work, the stones facing in that direction were laboriously shaped to appear straight and regular, their original rough brown surfaces hammered away, or pick-dressed, to expose the lighter inner layer of stone, which when newly worked would have shone in the sunlight. The gigantic lintels that bridge the uprights were also elaborately worked to even their size and height.

In contrast, on the opposite side of the circle the builders only bothered to pick-dress the inner faces of the surviving uprights. The backs, they clearly reckoned, would never be studied in detail.

Clive Ruggles, emeritus professor of archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, said it was already clear that Stonehenge was one of the earliest examples of a monument aligned on the winter and summer solstices.

“Now we can see how the utmost care and attention was devoted to ensuring the pristine appearance of Stonehenge for those completing their final approach to the monument along the solstitial axis. The effect would have been especially powerful at the two times of year when the sunlight itself shone along the alignment – when those approaching had the midsummer rising sun behind or the midwinter setting sun ahead.”

Some hollows, cracks and lines interpreted in the past as carvings have been revealed as natural features, but what astonished Susan Greaney, an English Heritage historian and expert on Stonehenge, is the extent of surviving tool marks.

“Some are quite visible, and have long been noted, but the surprise to me was that everywhere we looked, on every surface, even on very weathered faces of stones which have been lying on the ground for centuries, we could see evidence of the stone working. On some you can see where different groups worked on different areas of the same stone – and with varying skills.”

Long after the monument was built, when Bronze Age burial mounds rich in grave goods began to be scattered across the plain around Stonehenge, and the archaeological evidence suggests those who could make or trade in metal goods had an almost shamanic status, people carved little images of daggers and axes, many now invisible to the naked eye, into the stones. Scores more have been revealed by the scan, including 71 new axe heads, bringing the total to 115 – doubling the number ever recorded in Britain.

“It is wonderful to have discovered so many more, but what is fascinating is that they are carved without regard to the importance or the siting of the stones – almost as if the people who carved them could no longer quite remember the significance of the monument and how it worked,” Greaney said.

Writing about the project in the new issue of British Archaeology, Marcus Abbott, head of geomatics and visualisation for ArcHeritage, and Hugo Anderson-Whymark, an Oxford based expert on ancient worked stone, note that the 850 gigabytes of data covering hundreds of faces of the stones were equivalent to 750m pages of printed text or 200,000 music files.

“Over the months we have recorded and scrutinised every square centimetre of Stonehenge in unparalleled detail, revealing over 700 areas of stoneworking, rock art, graffiti, damage and restoration.”

They processed the data digitally to strip away weathering and surface texture, and as well as revealing carved details, were able to show that some stones that now appear insignificant were originally much more imposing, but have either broken naturally or been quarried for building stone.

“Fallen stones were particularly vulnerable – the analysis suggests that six have lost tens of tons of stone – and as Stonehenge became a major tourist attraction in the 19th century visitors could actually hire chisels to hack away their own souvenirs.

For Greaney their work answers one of the Stonehenge mysteries – but leaves another unsolved. Some had suggested because some stones are so much less imposing and others are missing, that Stonehenge was never finished.

“I think we can say now that the monument certainly was finished – but where the stone went is still a puzzle. At Avebury you can readily see stone reused in nearby buildings from medieval times on, but Stonehenge is some distance from the nearest village, so it’s much less easy to see where the stone would have been taken – although we have looked far and wide, we have not succeeded in finding evidence of the re-use of the missing stones.”
Source: Maev Kennedy The Guardian,       

Sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle News Blog

 





Moving the Stonehenge Bluestones: At last a successful method is demonstrated!

3 10 2012

Without a single archaeologist in sight, a couple of boat builders and an inspired TV company show just how easy it can be to load a full-size bluestone onto a replica Bronze-Age boat. Robin Heath was there and took some photographs
Stonehenge Bluestone experimentOn the 15th August, near Poppit Sands, in Cardigan, West Wales, several skilled artisans showed how they would load a boat with a multi-ton bluestone. They did this with a force 7 on-shore gale battering the shore-line. In the time it took for the tide to come in, a flawless lowering took place of a large bluestone onto a prepared cradle within a near-replica of the boat found at Ferriby during the early 70s.
Moving the BluestonesThe Ferriby boat has been dated around 2000 BC, making it much too late for the period of bluestone moving (given at around 2700 – 2400 BC depending on which source one reads). But the boat is entirely believable as a design possible within the known technology of that period. Basically, if one can make Stonehenge, replete with mortice and tenon joints and tongue and grooving in stone, then one can make planks and joints in wood!. The remains of timber roundhouses reveal how timber was strung and stitched together.
On the 15th August, near Poppit Sands, in Cardigan, West Wales, several skilled artisans showed how they would load a boat with a multi-ton bluestone. They did this with a force 7 on-shore gale battering the shore-line. In the time it took for the tide to come in, a flawless lowering took place of a large bluestone onto a prepared cradle within a near-replica of the boat found at Ferriby during the early 70s.

Under the direction of a film crew working for the state-side Discovery Channel, not a single multicoloured pullover bearded archaeologist was harmed during this risky undertaking, primarily because none were employed. Instead, the company wisely sought out highly skilled local craftpeople, Nick, Dougie and Paul, time-served in the construction and repair of wooden boats including one (www.Keewaydin.com) weighing in at over 100 tons, and having much experience of building large wooden structures for maneuvering seemingly unfeasibly heavy weights. They delivered the goods with utter confidence and without fuss. The spectacle was a joy to behold.

The history of replicating aspects of how the bluestones were moved from sites in the Preseli mountains of West Wales is colourful, to say the least.  In 1923, Dr H H Thomas, a petrologist, wrote a seemingly innocent paper indicating that most of the Stonehenge bluestones had originated from just a very few outcrops around Carn Meini, near the village of Mynachlog ddu in North Pembrokeshire. Ever since a series of vitriolic and quite emotional arguments have periodically flared up to either applaud Dr Thomas on finally nailing this vital question for Stonehenge researchers, or to completely rubbish his experimental methodology because the stones “must have got there by the action of glaciation.”

The question is an important one, because if moved by the hand of man, it poses some humdinger other questions about the capabilities and intentions of the Stonehenge builders. These are uncomfortable to mainstream archaeologists, many of whom lie awake at night racked with anxiety whenever the present rather cosy model of Neolithic life is threatened by increased reality.

This ‘bluestone argument’ has recently been reactivated through the work of a team of geologists and archaeologists whose most well-known spokesperson, the amiable Professor Mike Parker-Pearson (Sheffield), oversaw the excavation of a buried and large megalith from a lowland outcrop on the northern side of the Preselis near Pont Saeson, near Brynberian, in 2011.Although not a classic spotted bluestone, this beast’s geology exactly matched that of the nearby outcrop and also matched the chemistry of several others of the “non-bluestone bluestones” at Stonehenge. The theory is put forward that, based on the evidence so far, no ice-age could have moved this stone or other ones from this site over the Preselis to Stonehenge. That the outcrop lies adjacent to a tributary of the Nevern river also supports the theory of transport by river, then the sea, as per the now traditional theory first promoted in the 1950s by Professor Richard Atkinson (Cardiff) and described within his still remarkably comprehensive book Stonehenge (Unwin, 1956). A later edition of his book has a Byronic illustration ( by Alan Sorrell) of a raft holding a doomed bluestone and crewed by savages being lashed by a Pembrokeshire so’westerly.

Now Atkinson really was old school archaeologist. Never far from a cigarette holder and always sporting a bow-tie, ‘Dickie’ Atkinson produced a classic 1950s TV re-inactment of bluestone moving using ‘multiple punts’ and other supposedly neolithic craft on a stretch of the Bristol Avon, using public schoolboys as stone-age stone movers. It was all rather Enid Blyton and Eton mess.

This may appear laughably naïve to us today, yet later attempts have been far more dangerous to life and limb than this first filmed effort. Perhaps it was the lashings of ginger beer that fortified the crews on the Atkinson boats, or perhaps it was just that folk had far more common sense than today, for since then, two attempts have sent bluestones tumbling to the bottom of Milford Haven, or Neyland, and at least four people have been hospitalized with crushing and fracturing injuries as a result of attempting to lift or move these heavy monoliths.

During the heady days of the new millennium, a lottery funded attempt to take a bluestone from Carn Menyn to Stonehenge became part of local folklore, and is a story that will be told to grandchildren by their grandparents for a while yet, as it contains all the tragedy, farce and comedy of a good narrative. The fated single stone now languishes in 70 feet of water opposite Pembroke Dock, where it lends support to the dangerous theory that suggests, perhaps, we have actually devolved in our abilities as a species since the Stone Age.

Those who have taken the trouble to read my own contributions to the matter of Stonehenge (in books, presentations and via http://www.skyandlandscape.com) will appreciate that another question needs to be asked concerning the monument. Once they are seen to have been moved to Salisbury Plain by the hand of man, it goes beyond how the bluestones arrived there and becomes why they were so important in the monument? It is 135 miles (as the crow flies) from Preseli to Stonehenge, and these stones were not moved without some powerful driving motivation. What might that be, eh? If the glaciation theory is attenuated by this new evidence, then ipso facto the argument for the bluestones having been moved by human intent is fortified. And this then begs a really tricky ‘geomantic’ question: Might the location of the bluestones, rather than their geological composition, be a significant reason for their required presence at Stonehenge?

No one in academia presently wants to get anywhere near this question, yet today’s successful positing of a fat bluestone into the bowels of a believable neolithic boat scores an important point in supporting the theory that the moving of the bluestones occurred through human intent. That being the case, why the Neolithic culture should have been compelled to undertake such a task now surely commands our utmost attention.

Watch the increasing thrumming emanating from various blogs and websites manned 24/7 by researchers, zealots, seekers, bigots and unemployed folk sporting archaeology degrees. Finally, watch the documentary on the Discovery Channel when it comes out!

Written by
Source Link: http://www.matrixofcreation.co.uk/megalithic-sciences/item/93-moving-the-bluestones-at-last-a-successful-method-is-demonstrated

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

Merlin says “The BIG  debate continues – Glacier V Bronze Age Boat”

 The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge. Henge Diggers – Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum

8 09 2012

Saturday 8 September 2012 – Saturday 12 January 2013. This photographic exhibition captures the actions and emotions of archaeologists from universities across Britain whilst they carried out ground-breaking new work to reinterpret the Stonehenge landscape.  Bill Bevan was resident photographer on site for three years during the excavations of the internationally important Stonehenge Riverside Project (2004-2010).  His photographs and the accompanying text offer the visitor an unusual and revealing vantage point from which to view the archaeologists at work. 

Stonehenge Riverside Project is a joint collaboration between archaeologists at the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol, UCL and Bournemouth.   This exhibition has been funded by Arts Council England and Manchester University in partnership with Salisbury Museum.

Henge Diggers

An exhibition of how archaeologists work on-site, Themes of the exhibition include the working practices of archaeologists, the brief deposition of tools that mimic the ancient tool deposits they excavate, the repetitive nature of excavation and notions of time and space. All photographs are from the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Thank you to the directors of the project for generously given access to the excavations. More information about the project can be found here –www.shef.ac.uk/archaeology/research/stonehenge

Check out http://www.billbevanphotography.co.uk/ for more information about Bill’s projects.

picture credit: In The Shadow 1 by Bill Bevan, 95 x 70 cms, (c) Bill Bevan


Booking:  No booking required.


 

 

Sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin says: “Went today with the kids, well worth a visit!”

Merlin @ Stonehenge Stone Circle
The Stonehenge News Blog

 

 





MEGALITHOMANIA TOURS 2012

28 03 2012

The Ultimate Conference for Megalithomaniacs 2012

Join us for an incredible selection of outdoor Antiquarian delights this May. Megalithomania invites you to explore, ponder, dowse, and be captivated by the incredible stones from antiquity. Over the years we have increased our tour schedule around the conference and now in 2012 we have eight days of tours and other activities for you to enjoy. From the heights of Glastonbury Tor, to the remote stone avenues of Dartmoor, the Olde English landscape still has lots to offer. With special guest experts joining us for each tour, who know their landscape well. For this year we introduce our new ‘Megalithic Cornwall‘ Tour with Glenn & Cameron Broughton. Save £42 if you book the ‘Full Ticket’ that includes the Cornwall Tour….

NEW: Megalithic Cornwall Tour Here


Coach travel included in price of all tours. Meet at Abbey Car Park. Bring packed lunch
. Info & Booking:             07779 113452

Friday 11th May: £55 (SOLD OUT)
Stonehenge with Robin Heath – 4pm – 9pm

Private Access to Stonehenge, with excursion to the Cursus, several Tumuli, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. (inc private access to Stonehenge)

Monday 14th May:£50
Avebury & the Valley of the White Horse – 9am – 5pm

An exclusive tour around megalithic Avebury, the largest stone circle in the world, West Kennett Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and more with Peter Knight.

Tuesday 15th May: £50
Sacred Avalon Walking Tour – 9am – 1pm
with Anthony Thorley
Visiting the Tor, Glastonbury Abbey, Michael & Mary energy lines
Tuesday Afternoon: (inc in above price)
Cadbury Castle & Burrow Mump – 2.30pm – 6pm
A guided visit to two of the most impressive earthworks in Somerset

Wednesday 16th May: £50
Dartmoor Stone Circles and Avenues – 8am – 6pm

A five-hour walk around the incredible landscape of megalithic Dartmoor, Devon, visiting stone circles, megalithic avenues, menhirs and tracking earth energies. 90 min drive both ways. Bring packed lunch.
(NOTE: if you are going on the Cornwall Tour, you must be on this tour)

Link: http://www.megalithomania.co.uk/

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

Merlin says “This conference is wirth every penny and a good excuse to spend a couple of days in Glastonbury”

Merlin at 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





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 





Hidden dimension of Stonehenge revealed

8 12 2011

A project directed by academics at the University of Sheffield has made the archaeology of the world-famous Stonehenge site more accessible than ever before.

StonehengeGoogle Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge is the first application of its kind to transport users around a virtual prehistoric landscape, exploring the magnificent and internationally important monument, Stonehenge.

The application used data gathered from the University of Sheffield´s Stonehenge Riverside Project in conjunction with colleagues from the universities of Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and London. The application was developed by Bournemouth University archaeologists, adding layers of archaeological information to Google Earth to create Google Under-the-Earth.

The unique visual experience lets users interact with the past like never before. Highlights include taking a visit to the Neolithic village of Durrington Walls and a trip inside a prehistoric house. Users also have the opportunity to see reconstructions of Bluestonehenge at the end of the Stonehenge Avenue and the great timber monument called the Southern Circle, as they would have looked more than 4,000 years ago.

The project is funded through Google Research Awards, a program which fosters relationships between Google and the academic world as part of Google’s ambition to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Professor Mike Parker-Pearson from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology said: “Google Under Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge is part of a much wider project led by myself and colleagues at other universities – the Stonehenge Riverside Project – which began in 2003. This new Google application is exciting because it will allow people around the world to explore some of the fascinating discoveries we’ve made in and around Stonehenge over the past few years.”

Archaeological scientist Dr Kate Welham, project leader at Bournemouth University, explained that the project could also be the start of something much bigger:

“It is envisaged that Google Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge could be the start of a new layer in Google Earth. Many of the world’s great archaeological sites could be added, incorporating details of centuries’ worth of excavations as well as technical data from geophysical and remote sensing surveys in the last 20 years.” she said.

Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist at Stonehenge said: “The National Trust cares for over 2,000 acres of the Stonehenge Landscape. Seeing Beneath Stonehenge offers exciting and innovative ways for people to explore that landscape. It will allow people across the globe, many of whom may never otherwise have the chance to visit the sites, to share in the thrill of the discoveries made by the Stonehenge Riverside team and to appreciate the remarkable achievements of the people who built and used the monuments.”

You can download the application from the Google Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge site. The tool is easy to use and requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer.

Notes for Editors:
Google Under-the-Earth: Seeing Beneath Stonehenge was created at Bournemouth University by Dr Kate Welham, Mark Dover, Harry Manley and Lawrence Shaw. It is jointly directed by Dr Kate Welham and Professor Mike Parker Pearson at the University of Sheffield.

To find out more about the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology, visit: Department of Archaeology

The Stonehenge Riverside Project was a joint collaboration between Universities of Bournemouth, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and University College London. It was led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, University of Sheffield, and co-directed by Professor Julian Thomas, University of Manchester, Dr Joshua Pollard, University of Southampton (formally University of Bristol), Dr Colin Richards, University of Manchester, Dr Chris Tilley, University College London and Dr Kate Welham, Bournemouth University.

This project has been supported by: The Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Royal Archaeological Institute, the Society of Antiquaries, the Prehistoric Society, the McDonald Institute, Robert Kiln Charitable Trust, Andante Travel, University of Sheffield Enterprise Scheme, the British Academy, the National Geographic Society, with financial support from English Heritage and the National Trust for outreach. The project was awarded the Bob Smith Prize in 2004 and the Current Archaeology Research Project of the Year award for Bluestonehenge in 2010.
Links: www.shef.ac.uk/

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

Merln says: The tool is easy to use and requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer.

Melin @ Stonehenge Stone Cirle
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Secret history of Stonehenge revealed

26 11 2011

 Ancient site may have been place of worship 500 years before the first stone was erected

Extraordinary new discoveries are shedding new light on why Britain’s most famous ancient site, Stonehenge, was built – and when.

Current research is now suggesting that Stonehenge may already have been an important sacred site at least 500 years before the first Stone circle was erected – and that the sanctity of its location may have determined the layout of key aspects of the surrounding sacred landscape.

What’s more, the new investigation – being carried out by archaeologists from the universities’ of Birmingham, Bradford  and Vienna – massively increases the evidence linking Stonehenge to pre-historic solar religious beliefs. It increases the likelihood that the site was originally and primarily associated with sun worship

The investigations have also enabled archaeologists  to putatively reconstruct the detailed route of a possible religious procession or other ritual event which they suspect may have taken place annually to the north of Stonehenge.

That putative pre-historic religious ‘procession’ (or, more specifically, the evidence suggesting its route) has implications for understanding Stonehenge’s prehistoric religious function – and suggests that the significance of the site Stonehenge now occupies emerged earlier than has previously been appreciated.

The crucial new archaeological evidence was discovered during on-going survey work around Stonehenge in which archaeologists have been ‘x-raying’ the ground, using ground-penetrating radar and other geophysical investigative techniques. As the archaeological team from Birmingham and Vienna were using these high-tech systems to map the interior of a major prehistoric enclosure (the so-called ‘Cursus’) near Stonehenge, they discovered two great pits, one towards the enclosure’s eastern end, the other nearer its western end.

When they modelled the relationship between these newly-discovered Cursus pits and Stonehenge on their computer system, they realised that, viewed from the so-called ‘Heel Stone’ at Stonehenge, the pits were aligned with sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year – the summer solstice (midsummer’s day). The chances of those two alignments being purely coincidental are extremely low.

The archaeologists then began to speculate as to what sort of ritual or ceremonial activity might have been carried out at and between the two pits. In many areas of the world, ancient religious and other ceremonies sometimes involved ceremonially processing round the perimeters of monuments. The archaeologists therefore thought it possible that the prehistoric celebrants at the Cursus might have perambulated between the two pits by processing around the perimeter of the Cursus.

Initially this was pure speculation – but then it was realized that there was, potentially a way of trying to test the idea. On midsummer’s day there are in fact three key alignments – not just sunrise and sunset, but also midday (the highest point the sun reaches in its annual cycle). For at noon the key alignment should be due south.

One way to test the ‘procession’ theory (or at least its route) was for the archaeologists  to demonstrate that the midway point on that route had indeed a special relationship with Stonehenge (just as the two pits – the start and end point of the route – had).  The ‘eureka moment’ came when the computer calculations revealed that the midway point (the noon point) on the route aligned directly with the centre of Stonehenge, which was precisely due south.

This realization that the sun hovering over the site of  Stonehenge at its highest point in the year appears to have been of great importance to prehistoric people, is itself of potential significance. For it suggests that the site’s association with the veneration of the sun was perhaps even greater than previously realized.

But the discovery of the Cursus pits, the discovery of the solar alignments and of the putative ‘processional’ route, reveals something else as well – something that could potentially turn the accepted chronology of the Stonehenge landscape on its head.

For decades, modern archaeology has held that Stonehenge was a relative latecomer to the area – and that the other large monument in that landscape – the Cursus – pre-dated it by up to 500 years.

However, the implication of the new evidence is that, in a sense, the story may have been the other way round, i.e. that the site of Stonehenge was sacred before the Cursus was built, says Birmingham archaeologist, Dr. Henry Chapman, who has been modelling the alignments on the computerized reconstructions of the Stonehenge landscape

The argument for this is simple, yet persuasive. Because the ‘due south’ noon alignment of the ‘procession’ route’s mid-point could not occur if the Cursus itself had different dimensions, the design of that monument has to have been conceived specifically to attain that mid-point alignment with the centre of Stonehenge.

What’s more, if that is so, the Stonehenge Heel Stone location had to have been of ritual significance before the Cursus pits were dug (because their alignments are as perceived specifically from the Heel Stone).

Those two facts, when taken together, therefore imply that the site, later occupied by the stones of Stonehenge, was already sacred before construction work began on the Cursus. Unless the midday alignment is a pure coincidence (which is unlikely), it  would imply  that the Stonehenge site’s sacred status is at least 500 years older than previously thought – a fact which raises an intriguing possibility.

For 45 years ago, archaeologists found an 8000 BC Mesolithic (‘Middle’ Stone Age) ritual site in what is now Stonehenge’s car park. The five thousand year gap between that Mesolithic sacred site and Stonehenge itself meant that most archaeologists thought that ‘sacred’ continuity between the two was inherently unlikely. But, with the new discoveries, the time gap has potentially narrowed. Indeed, it’s not known for how long the site of Stonehenge was sacred prior to the construction of the Cursus. So, very long term traditions of geographical sanctity in relation to Britain’s and the world’s best known ancient monument, may now need to be considered.

The University of Birmingham  Stonehenge area survey – the largest of its type ever carried out anywhere in the world – will take a further two years to complete, says Professor Vince Gaffney, the director the project.

Virtually every square meter in a five square mile area surrounding the world most famous pre-historic monument will be examined geophysically to a depth of  up to two metres, he says.

It’s anticipated that dozens, potentially hundreds of previously unknown sites will be discovered as a result of the operation.

The ongoing discoveries in Stonehenge’s sacred prehistoric landscape – being made by Birmingham’s archaeologists and colleagues from the University of Vienna’s Ludwig Boltzmann Institute – are expected to transform scholars’ understanding of the famous monument’s origins, history and meaning.

Full Article: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/secret-history-of-stonehenge-revealed-6268237.html

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








%d bloggers like this: