Druid calls for fake human remains to be displayed at Stonehenge

8 05 2013

A druid leader is calling for fake, rather than real, human remains to be put on display at Stonehenge.

English Heritage plans to display the remains at the new Stonehenge visitor centre

English Heritage plans to display the remains at the new Stonehenge visitor centre

In an open letter, King Arthur Pendragon has criticised English Heritage for the “macabre manner” it plans to display “ancestral remains”.

In 2011 he lost a High Court bid to have bones, found in 2008, reburied.

English Heritage said the remains are not from the 2008 excavation and their “presentation, treatment and storage” will follow strict UK guidelines.

The cremated remains of more than 40 bodies, thought to be at least 5,000 years old, were removed from a burial site at the ancient stone circle five years ago.

According to Mr Pendragon, the bones were the remains of members of the “royal line” or “priest caste” who could have been the “founding fathers of this great nation”.

“There are cremated remains and a full skeleton from one of the barrows, which they’re planning to put on display,” he said.

“This is not only out of step with the feelings of many of the peoples and groups that I represent but is surely against the driving cultural principles of a Unesco World Heritage Site.”

The £27m scheme to build a new visitor centre and close the road alongside the ancient monument, is due to be completed by the end of the year.

Mr Pendragon said visitors would be “appalled” and unless “models and replicas” were used he could “not rule out non-violent direct action against the proposals”.

‘Visitors expect remains’

But a spokeswoman for English Heritage said visitor research showed the “vast majority of museum visitors are comfortable with, and often expect to see, human remains”.

“The remains of three human burials found in the landscape will be displayed with ample explanation along with archaeological objects, providing visitors with a direct connection to the people who lived and worked there,” she said.

“As such, we believe they have a rightful place in the exhibition and their presentation, treatment and storage will follow strict guidelines set out by the UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-22438232

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge visitors to ‘experience’ standing in the ancient circle

25 03 2013

A 360 degree cinema is being developed so visitors to Stonehenge can experience standing inside the ancient circle.

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site Photo: Christopher Jones for the Telegraph

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site Photo: Christopher Jones for the Telegraph

Access to Stonehenge has been fiercely contested for decades, with campaigners arguing that they should be allowed into the stone circle.

Now, English Heritage has developed a possible solution, a virtual visit in a 360 degree cinema where visitors can “experience” standing in the ancient circle.

It will be the centrepiece of a new £27 million centre at the site and is one of a number of audio visual attractions being built to bring the prehistoric monument to life.

These will include a 32ft “landscape wall”, on to which computer generated images of the countryside around the circle and other ancient earthworks will be projected.

In addition, there will be five “people films”, shown on screens in one of the two vast pods being built to house the visitor centre. These will provide information about the monument and prehistoric items on display

There will also be films exploring the conflicting theories over the establishment and use of the circle.

Outside the centre, replica Neolithic dwellings are being built, where visitors will be able to see how early inhabitants of the sites lived.

The plans for the centre are revealed in a series of tender documents from English Heritage, seeking firms to provide the technological content for the audio visual displays. The documents describe the “immersive 360 degree projected film” as the “most important and high profile piece of audio visual ever undertaken by EH”.

The new auditorium’s 100ft circumference will compare with about 300ft in the actual stone circle.

Robert Campbell, the head of interpretation at the centre, said: “It’s meant to give people a sense of what it is like to stand in the middle of Stonehenge because most people just won’t be able to do that. It won’t feel like you are standing in a computer programme. The idea is to take our visitors back in time.”

The virtual visits may not win over all campaigners including Pagans and Druids who want open access to Stonehenge, which was created about 5,000 years ago.

When it was first opened to the public, it was possible to walk among and even climb on the stones. However, they were roped off in 1977 due to problems with erosion.

Visitors are now kept a short distance away, although English Heritage does permit access during the summer and winter solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox. Some access visits early in the morning or late in the evening can also be booked.

Stonehenge receives one million visitors a year and is a World Heritage Site. The multi-million project is being built 1.5 miles from the stones.

By , and David Barrett (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehnege News Blog

 





Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox 2013

16 03 2013

Four times a year the public can access the stone circle to celebrate the seasons: the Winter and Summer Solstices and the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. Staff at English Heritage manage these events.

Seasonal festivals

It is generally accepted that Stonehenge was an ancient spiritual centre. Today, many people come to Stonehenge to welcome the sun and the seasons. There are four events each year when the stone circle is open to the public free of charge for a limited amount of time. These events are the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

equinox-druidsEnglish Heritage has opened the stone circle to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes for the last ten years. These events are open to anyone and everyone for a limited time period. Pagans and Druids attend and run the ceremonies. These events attract large audiences who come to Stonehenge for many reasons:

  • # to watch the ceremony
  • # for a celebratory experience
  • # to welcome the seasons.

People come from all over the country as well as from the local area. Local Pagan and Druid groups are heavily involved in the planning of these events.  The spring equinox access is a small peaceful gathering without facilities, parking is not available in the Stonehenge Car Park

The exact time for the 2013 Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge is 11.02am ; Sunrise on the March 20th at 6.09am.

Open Access for Stonehenge on the Spring Equinox 2013 is expected to be on the 20th of March 2013.

Expect a short period of access, from approximately 5.45am to 8.00am.

This is the second of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens.

At the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. So all over the world, at this special moment, day and night are of equal length hence the word equinox which means ‘equal night’.

Of course, for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it is this equinox that brings us out of our winter.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking you in to your winter. And this is very much how I think of the equinoxes – as the ‘edges’ of winter. This is why they can be quite hard on our bodies as it is a major climatic shift, so it is a good time to give a boost to your immune system with natural remedies and cleansing foods.

Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.

As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning!

This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer.

As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility.

This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility).

Her name is also the root of the term we give to the female hormone, oestrogen.By now, you may be beginning to see the Christian celebration derived from this festival – Easter.

And this is the reason why the ‘Easter Bunny’ brings us coloured eggs (and if you’re lucky chocolate ones!) at this time of year.

So, as nature starts to sprout the seeds that have been gestating in her belly throughout the winter, maybe you can start to think about what you want to ‘sprout’ in your life now and start to take action.

Solstice Events UK have been offering ‘non obtrusive’ small group guided tours of the solstice and equinox events for many years and we welcome their approach and ‘thought provoking’ trips.  It works out much cheaper and certainly more convenient at that time of the morning. London departures can be booked here

Link: http://pagancalendar.co.uk/
Link: http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/longest-day/
Link:  http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-spring-equinox-tour-2013.htm
Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/education/resources/stonehenge/business-management/events/

Merlin says “See you there and remember – RESPECT THE STONES!”

Stonehenge on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehnege News Blog





Crowds see in winter solstice at Stonehenge

22 12 2012

Thousands of people have gathered at Stonehenge to watch the sun rise over the ancient monument for the winter solstice

Stonehenge-Winter-Solstice-2012 (35)

Around 5,000 people are thought to have converged on Stonehenge in Wiltshire, to celebrate the 2012 winter solstice, which is around five times the number at last year’s festivities.

This year’s winter solstice coincided with the Mayan Apocalypse, so an “End of the World Party” was held at the monument.

During the winter solstice, the sun is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights.

The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June.

Watch a video here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraphtv/9760577/Crowds-see-in-winter-solstice-at-Stonehenge.html

A good time had by all…………

Merlin at Stonehenge

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Arthur Pendragon, Stonehenge and the Solstice

12 10 2012

THE RAVING OUTLAW BIKER-DRUIDS AND THEIR 1575-YEAR-OLD KING

Visit Stonehenge on the summer solstice of any year and you’ll see 20,000 people partying in and around the ancient rock formation. The crowd is usually made up of around one third tourists, one third pilled-up teenagers in sportswear, and one third neo-druids. It’s a genuinely bizarre sight. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy chewing my own face off at archaeologically significant sites as much as the next guy, but in a time when British disobedients seem to spend more time in police kettles than they do in squats, you have to wonder how all of this is, y’know, allowed.

Turns out, it has to do with the guy pictured above, who used to be the leader of an outlaw biker gang, but now claims to be the legendary monarch, King Arthur. Arthur, formerly known as John Rothwell, rose to fame in the 90s when he won his case at the European Court of Human Rights to allow open access to Stonehenge for religious festivals like the summer solstice.

Today, as the elected “Battle Chieftain” of the Council of British Druid Orders, King Arthur and his Loyal Arthurian Warband represent the political wing of Britain’s neo-druid community. I headed down to Stonehenge to visit the only living 1575-year-old king.

Please take the time to read the full article by By Matt Shea, Photos by Andrea Herrada
http://www.vice.com/read/all-hail-king-arthur-uther-pendragon

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

Merlin says “Always great see Arthur up at the stones doing his bit”

Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge enjoys a moment in the sun at summer solstice

21 06 2012
Crowds at Stonehenge at dawn for the summer solstice. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

Crowds at Stonehenge at dawn for the summer solstice. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

As worshippers and revellers descend, the Wiltshire landmark is thriving – inspiring bouncy art and more wild theories than ever

In the 1930s there was an advertisement for an oil company that went: “Stonehenge Wilts, but Shell goes on forever.” In 2012, with oil supplies falling and the remnants of the iconic slabs indomitable on the windswept plains of Wiltshire, the truth is surely otherwise.”The stones themselves still stand, enduring in a society which is not,” argues Christopher Chippindale, of the University of Cambridge’s museum of archaeology and anthropology, who is also author of the book Stonehenge Complete. Today the World Heritage’s foremost lintelled sarsen structure is not just enduring but thriving, spawning more academic research, wild theorising, bouncy art, and pagan robe sales than ever.

Just consider some of the Stonehenge activities that will take place in the next few weeks. At sunrise on Thursday, the 14,500 transcendence questing druids and varied revellers may have been outnumbered only by world weary media drones as they tried to celebrate the summer solstice at the 4.52am sunrise (ideally in line with English Heritage’s stringent Conditions of Entry document, which might be downloaded by socially responsible pagans). Heavy rain overnight reduced the number of people who camped out or arrived early to witness the dawn compared with previous years, which have seen numbers of around 20,000.

And in Wales there was also a chance to get excited about mid-summer – for Stonehenge’s inflatable simulacrum has arrived at the National Botanic Garden in Carmarthenshire. Although the rain may have dampened spirits.

Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, first placed in public on Glasgow Green, will be inflated to pop up in the capital as part of what sceptics would call that oxymoron the Cultural Olympiad.

Is there anything more fun than a 35-metre bouncy castle that looks like Stonehenge, you ask? Not until they make a bouncy Warwick Castle with water slide into a moat laced with gin, I reply.

What is Deller, the Turner prize-winning artist, up to? “It’s a very entry-level way into thinking about ancient history for five-year-olds,” he says. True, but several bouncing Glaswegians were at least 45 years older than that target demographic. “It’s good to play with our history and culture. Stonehenge is part of British identity but no one knows what it was for.”

Good point. Ever since King Arthur’s dad, Utherpendragon, invaded Ireland, defeated an army and shipped Stonehenge from Ireland to Salisbury with the help of the wizard Merlin, the stones have sunk themselves ever deeper into British national consciousness.

In chapter 58 of Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, for instance, slimy Angel Clare and the dopey heroine are walking fugitively through darkling Wessex when “on a sudden, Clare became conscious of some vast erection close in his front [Oh grow up!], rising sheer from the grass … ‘It is Stonehenge!’ said Clare. ‘The heathen temple, you mean?'”

Tess lies down on a sun-warmed stone. “‘Did they sacrifice to God here?’ asked she. ‘No,’ said he. ‘Who to?’ ‘I believe to the sun. That lofty stone set away by itself is in the direction of the sun that will presently rise behind it.'”

Victorians wrote yards of this stuff: anybody who was anybody in 19th-century fiction got arrested, died, or got it on on those stones.

Incidentally, if you are Irish and thinking that the paragraph above suggests Stonehenge is like the Elgin Marbles and should be repatriated immediately, think again; according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s marvellously unreliable 12th-century History of the Kings of Britain (the leading medieval account of Stonehenge’s origin), Irish giants transported the stones from Africa to Ireland earlier and used them as a curative bath until they were nicked by King Arthur’s dad.

Part of Stonehenge’s appeal is that it’s a riddle wrapped in mythology, swathed in druidical vestments and draped in a dodgy, if grand, relationship to the cosmos. Over the millennia, intellectuals have cast it as vast cosmic clock wound up by woad-daubed neolithic nudists (a theory embellished recently by archaeologists at Birmingham University’s Ludwig Boltzman Institute).

Other thinkers, like the 17th -century architect Inigo Jones, maintained ancient Britons were too thick to have created such a sophisticated edifice, and concluded it must have been Roman.

Today we aren’t sure who built it or why. Was it a burial ground, a magnet for crusty rave-ups, a sacred zone where our bearded forebears chillaxed old school, or a mystic portal to the celestial superhighway?

“Stonehenge sets a puzzle that has never been solved,” notes Chippindale.

Could Stonehenge have functioned as a helipad for Lord Sugar’s neolithic ancestors? It’s not impossible. More likely it resembled a lecture theatre with uncomfortable seating and no power sockets. Archaeo-acoustic researchers at Salford and Huddersfield universities suggested as much recently after examining the 5,000-year-old-structure’s acoustic properties.

Their work, at the site and at a concrete replica in Washington, indicates that Stonehenge had the sort of acoustics desirable in a lecture hall.

It wasn’t only the sight of Stonehenge that would have blown ancient visitors away.

Bruno Fazenda, professor at the University of Salford, says: “As they walked inside they would have perceived the sound environment around them had changed in some way.” Lucky them: all you can hear nowadays is the traffic howl from the A303.

Ever since those ancient days of magic stones shipped from Ireland, Stonehenge has satisfied a yearning among the citizens of these lands for mystic grandeur. That yearning will be kindled in July when the flaming French move in to Stonehenge.

Compagnie Carabosse will turn the site into a “fire garden” with flaming pots animating the stones, and cascades of candles lining the pathways. Think: rows of tea lights running down your garden path as you sink a sundowner, but much, much, more poncy.

Shortly afterwards, in the culmination of Stonehenge’s 2012, diggers will move in to right one of the most grievous historic wrongs in modern Britain. The stones will be moved slightly to the right away from the A303 and into proper alignment with the sun.

I’m kidding. In fact, the bulldozers will rip up the inadequate car park and visitor centre that have been a national disgrace since 1968.

Simon Thurley, English Heritage’s chief executive, said of the £27m makeover: “These are crucial steps which bring closer the transformation of the currently blighted Stonehenge landscape.” The centre will be moved 1.5 miles away and visitors will get to the stones on a low-key transit system or, as others call it, a Noddy train. Noddy Goes To Stonehenge – what a film!

There have been films, indeed. In National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), Mr Griswold gives an affecting speech on the monument’s indomitability before climbing into his rental car and (can you see the gag yet?) reversing and toppling the thing like dominoes. Hilarious: in reality an Austin Maxi couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.

In the no less amusing Shanghai Knights (2003), this gag is reprised when the two main characters crash their car into Stonehenge. One says: “Who the hell would put a pile of stones in the middle of a field?” Somewhere someone’s writing a PhD on Hollywood’s symbolic castration of British heritage by means of such movie demolition jobs.

Stonehenge’s image reached its mock-heroic apogee in the rocku/mocku-mentary This is Spinal Tap (1984). Picture the scene: the band’s plotting a comeback tour involving a lavish stage show featuring a replica of the monument as a backdrop to their pomp rock classic, Stonehenge. Only one problem, the order for the prop goes wrong and instead of being 18ft high it’s 18in tall, making the band a laughing stock.

Did Deller consider this pitfall in making his scaled-down bouncy version? You’d think.

He never thought, though, of emulating Steven Moffat’s insanely elaborate cosmological topography in the 2010 two-part special of Doctor Who, The Pandorica Opens. All the doctor’s many enemies hover above Stonehenge, while below in Underhenge lies the fabled prison of Pandorica holding the universe’s most detested and feared prisoner, Jeremy Clarkson at the co-ordinates of a worrying fissure in the universe’s frankly baffling structure.

Actually, it wasn’t Clarkson but some being even more unimaginably evil.

Most of the filming took place at Foamhenge, a lightweight replica set up near Port Talbot. It was there that the doctor battled an army of cybermen and others in what proved to be a critic-slaying, award-winning and discombobulatingly mytho-metaphysical fuss. Very Moffat, very Stonehenge.

It was also indicative of what Stonehenge really is: an open text, endlessly interpretable and readily bendable to our times and imagination. “It is a mirror which reflects back, more or less distorted, that view of the past which the onlooker takes there,” Chippindale says. Long may that continue.

Link Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/jun/21/stonehenge-moment-sun-summer-solstice?newsfeed=true

Merln says “Good time had by all!”
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Merlin @ Stonehenge

 





SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE 2012 – CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

9 06 2012

Stonehenge is an ancient pre-historic site. It has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice since time immemorial.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice

Stonehenge Summer Solstice

English Hege is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on the following pages. We have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for the protection of Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments. If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.

CELEBRATING THE SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE
During the Summer Solstice access to Stonehenge, we support all individuals and groups conducting their own forms of ceremony and celebration providing that they are mutually respectful and tolerant of one another. It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending. English Heritage continues to work closely with the many agencies and people from all sectors of the community and we would like to thank them for their help and support. Parking and entry to the Monument will be free, subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please do not arrive at the Solstice Car Park or Stonehenge in advance of the opening times listed below:

TIMINGS FOR SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE

SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June
LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK
0600 hours (6am) Thursday 21st June
STONEHENGE CLOSES
0800 hours (8am) Thursday 21st June
SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED
1200 hours (12 Noon) Thursday 21st June – see the pages on Travel and Parking for further information on travel and parking arrangements.

WE HOPE THE WEATHER WILL BE KIND AND WISH YOU A PEACEFUL AND CELEBRATORY SOLSTICE.
Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:
Sunset on Wednesday 20th June 2012 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)
Sunrise on Thursday 21st June 2012 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)
ADMISSION TO STONEHENGE

Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Please remember that you will not be allowed access to the Monument with the following items:
– Large quantities of alcohol
– Drugs
– Large bags or rucksacks (or similar items)
– Sleeping bags or duvets
– Flaming torches, Chinese lanterns or candles
– Dogs (with the exception of registered assistance dogs), pets or other creatures
– Camping equipment, including foldaway chairs, garden furniture
– BBQs or gas cylinders
– Glass/bottles or other glass objects
– Trolleys, wheel barrows or any other form of porterage
– Pushchairs or buggies that are not exclusively used for a child

GLASS
Glass is not allowed at the Monument as many people walk barefoot and, in addition, livestock and wildlife also graze in the area. If you bring any glass items with you, they will be confiscated.

ALCOHOL
Drunken, disorderly, and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; ejection, possibly by the Police without return, will be the outcome. Only small amounts of alcohol for personal use will be permitted on to site. Alcohol is limited to no more than the equivalent of four 500ml cans of beer/cider or 75cl of wine. No further alcohol will be permitted on subsequent re-entry. Be warned, drug/alcohol cocktails can be lethal, so please be fully of aware of what you are doing.

DRUGS
Illegal drugs are still illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else. The police will be on site during the access period and will take immediate action against anyone breaking the law. Summer Solstice is not a good time to experiment with drugs – the crowd, the noise and the sheer size of the place are likely to make any bad reaction much, much worse. As much of the access is at night, if you had a bad reaction it may be difficult to locate you to administer treatment.

MUSIC
Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and it is seen by many who attend as a sacred site. Amplified Music is inappropriate and will not be permitted.

CAMPING AND FIRES
Camping, fires, chinese lanterns, flaming torches, BBQs and fireworks are NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the Solstice Car Park, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land. Please see Useful information for further details of local campsites.

SAFETY
Do not climb or stand on any of the stones – this includes the stones that have fallen. This is in the interest of personal safety, the protection of this special site and respect for those attending. As well as putting the stones themselves at risk, climbing on them can damage the delicate lichens. In order to ensure personal safety, random searching may be undertaken, but we hope that self-policing and personal responsibility will prevail. Any items that might be used in an illegal or offensive manner will be confiscated.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/conditions-entry/

Merlin says “Stonehenge is  a sacred site – please respect it and please respect each other “

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Merlin @ Stonehenge








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