Wiltshire: Land of mystery and home to Stonehenge

1 04 2013

Home to Stonehenge and packed with active opportunities for all ages, Wiltshire is a beautiful county

The Unesco world heritage site of Stonehenge was erected more than 4,000 years ago and is open to the public Photograph: Frank Lukasseck

The Unesco world heritage site of Stonehenge was erected more than 4,000 years ago and is open to the public Photograph: Frank Lukasseck

Best known for its myths and legends, Wiltshire offers the setting for a perfect break – a mixture of ancient history and outdoor pursuits. It is home to Stonehenge and Avebury, two breathtaking sites erected more than 4,000 years ago. But mysterious artefacts aside, you can also cycle, skydive, canoe, golf and horse-ride your way around this part of the world.

Speculation on the reason Stonehenge was built ranges from human sacrifice to astronomy, and the world heritage site is a must-see. Unless you visit on the summer or winter solstice there’s a charge to walk around the magnificent stones. However you can visit the world’s largest stone circle at Avebury for free. If you want to see Stonehenge from a unique vantage point, Heritage Cycle Tours’ accompanied ride from Salisbury arrives over the crest of a hill, for a stunning view of the stones, before passing through the iron age settlement of Old Sarum.

For an even bigger thrill, see Stonehenge from 3,500ft with Skydive Netheravon, located between Salisbury and Marlborough. Beginners can experience freefall in tandem, jump with an automatic parachute or take a learners’ skydive course.

You don’t have to head skywards to experience Wiltshire in a special way. Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Pewsey Vale Riding Centre provides a horse ride to remember. And at Peddles and Paddles you can hire kayaks or Canadian canoes to travel down the canal to Devizes Wharf, where you’ll find the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Museum.

Alternatively, experience this fine region at a slower pace. Climb the 332 steps to the base of Britain’s tallest spire at the gothic Salisbury Cathedral. You’ll be treated to views of the medieval scaffold of the spire and across the Wiltshire countryside. Don’t leave without visiting the cathedral’s Chapter House: it’s home to one of the four original Magna Cartas.

And if you judge an area by its golfing opportunities, Wiltshire may be your dream destination: Cumberwell Park Golf Club offers rolling countryside, lakes and woodland; North Wilts Golf Club encourages players of all abilities with no tee booking required; and Tidworth Garrison Golf Club, a tree-lined, downland course for private members, was described by golfing legend Peter Alliss as “a gem of a course on the edge of Salisbury Plain”.

So whether you spend your Wiltshire trip investigating the ancient past, or trying an exciting activity or two, a break in this outstanding part of the country will make an unforgettable impression.

Where to revive

Eat: The Harrow at Little Bedwyn boasts accolades including AA Restaurant of the Year (2011) and a Michelin star. The focus is on food from artisan growers, fishermen and farmers.

Drink: Savour a pint in atmospheric surroundings at the charming Cloisters, an “olde worlde” pub minutes from Salisbury Cathedral. Or, for a more rural experience, head to the village of Market Lavington for a real ale at the Green Dragon.

Sleep: Extend your Stonehenge experience by spending the night in a luxurious “glamping pod” at Stonehenge Campsite in Salisbury (and enjoy eight real ale and foodie pubs within a four mile radius), or chill out at Whatley Manor, a beautifully restored Cotswold manor house hotel and lavish spa.

visitwiltshire.co.uk

Full article and soure: guardian.co.uk





The Stonehenge Project – Phase 1

29 03 2013

An amazing opportunity to gain a rare and fascinating insight into the development of the famous World Heritage Site. The first in a series of exclusive Members’ Events to share with you the details of the high profile development of the new Visitors Centre, join Stonehenge Director Loraine Knowles and Programme Manager Richard Williams to discuss the project and gain insight at this early stage. With the help of a time lapse film you will see the stages of the construction process and discover the plans for the centre once completed.

Welcome refreshments are included. This event has been graded as Easy Access, as there are clear walkways and seating available.

event-stonehengeHow to Book

Ticket are available to book from 10am on Tuesday 26 March by calling our dedicated ticket sales team on 0870 333 1183. (Mon-Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm & Sat 9am – 5pm)

Prices

Welcome refreshments are included.

Members’ Only Event

    • Date: Mon 22 Apr 2013
    • Property:
      Watershed, Bristol
    • Children’s Event
      Time: 10am-12pm
    • Booking :
      Suitable for: Adults

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/the-stonehenge-project-phase-1-watershed-22-apr/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stoneheng 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





Stonehenge may have been burial site for Stone Age elite, say archaeologists

9 03 2013

Dating cremated bone fragments of men, women and children found at site puts origin of first circle back 500 years to 3,000BC

Centuries before the first massive sarsen stone was hauled into place at Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument may have begun life as a giant burial ground, according to a theory disclosed on Saturday.

Theories of what Stonehenge was include a temple, observatory, calendar, a site for fairs or ritual feasting, or a centre for healing. Photograph: Eyebyte/Alamy

Theories of what Stonehenge was include a temple, observatory, calendar, a site for fairs or ritual feasting, or a centre for healing. Photograph: Eyebyte/Alamy

More than 50,000 cremated bone fragments, of 63 individuals buried at Stonehenge, have been excavated and studied for the first time by a team led by archaeologist Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who has been working at the site and on nearby monuments for decades. He now believes the earliest burials long predate the monument in its current form.

The first bluestones, the smaller standing stones, were brought from Wales and placed as grave markers around 3,000BC, and it remained a giant circular graveyard for at least 200 years, with sporadic burials after that, he claims.

It had been thought that almost all the Stonehenge burials, many originally excavated almost a century ago, but discarded as unimportant, were of adult men. However, new techniques have revealed for the first time that they include almost equal numbers of men and women, and children including a newborn baby.

“At the moment the answer is no to extracting DNA, which might tell us more about these individuals and what the relationship was between them – but who knows in the future? Clearly these were special people in some way,” Parker Pearson said.

A mace head, a high-status object comparable to a sceptre, and a little bowl burnt on one side, which he believes may have held incense, suggest the dead could have been religious and political leaders and their immediate families.

The team included scientists from the universities of Southampton, Manchester, Bournemouth, Sheffield, London, York and Durham. Their work is revealed for the first time in a documentary on Channel 4 on Sunday night, Secrets of the Stonehenge Skeletons.

Archaeologists have argued for centuries about what Stonehenge really meant to the people who gave hundreds of thousands of hours to constructing circles of bluestones shipped from Wales, and sarsens the size of double-decker buses dragged across Salisbury plain. Druids and New Age followers still claim the site as their sacred place. Others have judged it a temple, an observatory, a solar calendar, a site for fairs or ritual feasting or – one of the most recent theories – a centre for healing, a sort of Stone Age Lourdes.

The latest theory is based on the first analysis of more than 50,000 fragments of cremated human remains from one of the Aubrey holes, a ring of pits from the earliest phase of the monument, which some have believed held wooden posts. Crushed chalk in the bottom of the pit was also revealed, suggesting it once supported the weight of one of the bluestones. Dating the bones has pushed back the date of earliest stone circle at the site from 2500BC to 3000BC.

Parker Pearson believes his earlier excavation at nearby Durrington Walls, which uncovered hut sites, tools, pots and mountains of animal bones – the largest Stone Age site in north-west Europe – is evidence of a seasonal work camp for the Stonehenge builders, who quarried, dragged and shaped more than 2,000 tons of stone to build the monument. Analysis of the animal bones shows some of them travelled huge distances – from as far as Scotland – and were slaughtered at Durrington in mid-summer and mid-winter: “Not so much bring a bottle as bring a cow or a pig,” Parker Pearson said.

Mike Pitts, an archaeologist, blogger and editor of the British Archaeology journal, who has excavated some of the cremated human remains from Stonehenge, says the new theory proves the need for more research and excavation at the site.

“I have now come to believe that there are hundreds, maybe many times that, of burials at Stonehenge, and that some predate the earliest phase of the monument,” Pitts said. “The whole history of the monument is inseparably linked to death and burial – but I believe that there are hundreds more burials to be found across the site, which will tell us more of the story.”

Almost all the prehistoric human remains come from the eastern side of the circle, and many had been excavated by earlier archaeologists including William Hawley in the 1920s, who regarding them as unimportant compared with the giant stones, reburied them jumbled together using one of the Aubrey holes as a convenient pit.

“There must be more, in the western quadrant, or buried outside the enclosure ditch. A new excavation could clinch it,” Pitts said.

This autumn visitors to Stonehenge will see more interpretation of its complex history than ever before, when English Heritage finally opens its long-awaited visitor centre – originally planned to usher in the new millennium in 2000.

Link Source:  The Guardian

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge to appear on One Show

15 02 2013

A HUNDRED years ago landowner Cecil Chubb bought Stonehenge for £6,600 and donated it to the nation.

And the iconic stones are set to feature on the BBC’s The One Show as Ben Marshall from Salisbury-based chartered surveyors Woolley & Wallis talk to presenter Giles Brandreth about one of the biggest deals in the firm’s history.

salisbury-stonhenge Current Woolley & Wallis partner John Woolley – great grandson of the original John Turton Woolley involved in the sale – said: “It is a great honour that our firm was involved in this purchase.

“I can’t see anything quite like it coming under the hammer today.”

The firm’s original partner John Turton Woolley acted for Shrewton landowner Chubb when he was the successful bidder of lot 15 on September 21, 1915.

Mr Chubb became Sir Cecil three years later when he was knighted by then prime minister Lloyd George after he gave the monument to the nation.

The Stones had been in private hands since the middle ages but when the heir to the Amesbury estate, Edward Antrobus, was killed in the First World War, the estate was put up for sale at an auction run by Knight Frank at The Palace Theatre, Salisbury.

Chubb is said to have bought the stones on a whim for his wife, who was reportedly not overly pleased that he had spent the equivalent of £392,000 in today’s money on the gift.

In 2010 a survey of 500 estate agents valued the 30-acre site at £51million

Full Article: By Morwenna Blake (Salisbury Journal) – http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk

Conditions of the Deed: Free admission into Stonehenge

For Sir Cecil, however, Stonehenge belonged to the nation, and in 1918 after owning it for just three years he formerly handed it over to the country with a number of conditions.

His conditions were that the entrance fee should never be more then a shilling (5p) and that local residents should have free access.

“The 1918 deed of gift didn’t actually specify free access for local residents,” says Joy Kaarnijoki at English Heritage, “it was an agreement with the Parish Council.

“The road passed very close to the stones. The Council agreed that the rights of way could be diverted further from the stone circle on condition that local residents would be granted free access.”

Whether it was stipulated by Sir Cecil Chubb himself, or not, it’s an agreement that has continued to the present day.

According to English Heritage, the 30,000 local residents living in and around Stonehenge can still take up the offer of free access to one of England’s most famous monuments.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Chubb

Merlin @ Stonehenge





Row over Stonehenge visitor centre continues

15 01 2013

A TOUR operator has waded into the row over the £27million improvement project at Stonehenge, saying that while some operators may bypass the stones the “vast majority” are welcoming the transformation.
Stonehenge-Private -Viewing-Access-Tours-2012 (25)

The new development – involving a ten-minute shuttle from the new visitor centre being built 2km from the stones – will require a significantly extended visit time for tour operators.

Some guides fear the plans have been ill-thought out and that the two-hour stop recommended by English Heritage will put tourists off as many have limited time and want to “see as much as possible” in their packed daily itineraries.

But Ralph Bennett, director of Tours International, who has brought visitors to the iconic site for the last 25 years, said they only spend a short while at the site because the current facilities are inadequate.

He said: “Parking is problematic, our clients have to queue and there is nowhere to sit and eat under cover. Yes, we currently fit two or three destinations into a one-day tour, but Stonehenge is most definitely the star attraction.

“The transformation being made by English Heritage will address these problems and enable us to offer Stonehenge either as a day out in its own right or as part of a two-stop tour; and a two-hour visit will be about right.

“The vast majority of us are embracing the future, which will at long last mean we can properly showcase one of our most iconic and fascinating visitor attractions to tourists from around the world.”

Article by our local experts: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk

Merlin @ Stonehenge





Stonehenge project under fire

10 01 2013

TOUR guides who bring thousands of visitors to Stonehenge every year have blasted the £27million improvement project currently under way. (Salisbury Journal)

Stonehenge They predict it will mean some tours will bypass the stones in favour of visiting elsewhere.

The new development will see tourists arriving at the visitor centre, 2km away, and either taking a ten-minute shuttle to the stones or walking there.

English Heritage says visitors will enjoy a “much quieter and greener experience”

and are recommending tour operators plan a “dwell time” of at least two hours for groups to “fully appreciate and enjoy the enhanced experience”.

But tour guides say they only allow for an hour at the site, and extending this would prevent them from offering tours that take in visits to three or four places, such as Windsor, Bath and Salisbury, on the same day.

Don Cross, managing director of Wessexplore, said: “Tourists from all over the world often have limited time on their expensive programmes and wish to see as much as possible in their visit.

“This system with ‘landtrains’ will physically not be able to deliver this kind of service.”

Other concerns include the lack of shelter by the stones and the “escape back to the coach” option no longer being available if the weather is bad.

Chief executive of VisitWiltshire, David Andrews, said that while visitor numbers may drop in the short term, there was a “fantastic opportunity” for Wiltshire and Salisbury to encourage people to stay in the county for longer.

He said: “At present, coach tours stay for as little as a couple of minutes at Stonehenge but with the much bigger and richer experience being offered by English Heritage, there’s a much greater chance that people will visit Wiltshire and Salisbury and stay. Stonehenge is iconic enough that coach operators have to include it and they will have to change their programme.”

Full article in the Salisbury Journal:  http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/

Merlin says ” I have many tour guides across the country making the same comments”

Merlin @ Stonehenge





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

mpu-bottom advertisement





A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge. The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings

13 12 2012

The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings

‘The Pilgrims Guide to Stonehenge‘ has been developed as a guide for anyone wanting to visit Stonehenge during the four annual times of Managed Open Access, the summer solstice celebrations, winter solstice and equinox dawn gatherings. Its aim is to provide information for anyone wanting to know more about what goes on and how the quality of the experience can be enhanced through ritual and understanding. As a result, this book focuses on ideas, suggestions and information about what to expect. This pilgrim’s guide has been clearly designed to help the modern visitor to become more of a proactive participant. Apart from wandering freely amongst the stones, much of the information can also be applied to the normal visiting times throughout the rest of the year. Also included is an overview of the historical context, a proposal to reveal the Altar Stone and an examination of how the summer solstice could potentially be developed in the future. Contains over seventy photographs and illustrations.

pilgrims-guide-stonehenge“The notion of people gathering together under their own terms is in some ways a lost art in Britain outside the confines of major sporting occasions, concerts, weekend shopping trips and nights out on the town. Major royal and civic events could also be added to this list. The festival scene however, has given more alternative gathering a real boost. The nature of celebration is to have a joyous time and it is interesting to note that the United Kingdom has amongst the least number of public holidays in Europe. We work increasingly long hours and stresses of modern living can take a toll on the body, as well as the mind. There is certainly a market for a successful summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge for people intending to free their spirits in a communal gathering at an age-old and identifiable site.”

A Pilgrims Guide to Stonehenge (book review)

 Its aim is to provide information for anyone wanting to know more about what goes on during Managed Open Access (Summer Solstice Celebrations, Winter Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings) and how the quality of the experience can be enhanced through ritual and understanding. Much of the information can also be applied throughout the rest of the year. Includes photographs, illustrations, visitor information, ritual guide, historical context, solstice chart and discussion on the future.

This has come from Jim Raynor’s experience of having attended MOA. He felt there was a need for a pilgrim’s guide that enabled the modern visitor to become more of a proactive participant. As a result, this book focuses on ideas, suggestions and information about what to expect. Apart from wandering freely amongst the stones, much of the information can also be applied to normal visiting times throughout the rest of the year. Also included is an overview of the historical context, a proposal to reveal the Altar Stone and an examination of how the summer solstice could potentially be developed in the future.

Search Amazon “Pilgrims-Guide-Stonehenge-Celebrations” to find and buy a copy.
Historical link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/category/pilgrims-guide-to-stonehenge/

Merlin says” This book has been developed as a guide for the modern day Stonehenge pilgrim.”

Winter Solstice updates: Follow Stonhenge on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonhenge








%d bloggers like this: