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





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





Visiting Stonehenge for the 2012 Summer Solstice ? Use it, Don’t abuse it!

19 06 2012

Respect the Stones and Respect each other!

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.   Use it ! Dont abuse it!

WE HOPE THE WEATHER WILL BE KIND AND WISH YOU A PEACEFUL AND CELEBRATORY SOLSTICE. 

Get off our Stones!

Get off our Stones!

English Heritage 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

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.

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)

CAMPING:
Please remember camping is NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the Solstice Car Park, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land.   There are four local campsites. Please check availability and entry conditions in advance.   Stonehenge Touring Park Orcheston, Nr Shrewton, Salisbury SP3 4SH 01980 620304

Salisbury Camping & Caravanning Club Site Hudson’s Field, Castle Road, Salisbury, SP1 3RR 01722 320713

Coombe Caravan Park Coombe Nurseries, The Race Plain, Netherhampton, Salisbury, SP2 8PN 01722 328451

Stonehenge Campsite Berwick Road, Berwick St James, Salisbury, SP3 4TQ 017880 746514

Tourist Information Centres  

Tourist Information Centres for local area are:
Amesbury Tel: 01980 622833
Salisbury Tel: 01722 334956 www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/salisbury
Devizes Tel: 01380 800400
Andover Tel: 01264 324320 www.touruk.co.uk/hamp/ham_and.htm

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Information Hotline  

For further information about the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, please telephone English Heritage Customer Services Solstice Information Hotline on 0870 333 1186

Travelling to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice

Stonehenge is approximately 2½ miles (4 kms) from the town of Amesbury. The nearest bus and railway stations are in Salisbury, which is 12 miles (19 kms) away from Stonehenge.   As the roads around Stonehenge will be very busy, it is recommended that you leave your car at home and travel to Stonehenge using public transport.

Stonehenge by bus  

The bus service will commence at 1830 hours (6.30pm) on Wednesday 20th June and run regularly until 0115 hours (1.15am) on Thursday 21st June. A service taking people back to Salisbury will start again at 0400 hours (4am) and run frequently until 0945 hours (9.45am). The collection point for the return service is in the same location as the drop-off point.   The walk to Stonehenge from the bus drop-off/collection point is 1½ miles (approximately 2½ kms) – about a 20-30 minute walk and is through National Trust farmland. Sensible footwear might not be fashionable but is definitely advisable as the land is agricultural and the route includes some sloping ground. Also the route is not lit and you may wish to bring a small torch (not naked flame though!!).   To help you plan your journey to Stonehenge, bus timetables and fares are available from the following links:

For bus service information:

Wilts & Dorset Bus Company www.wdbus.co.uk Tel: 01983 827 005

 

Stonehenge by train and bus  

Trains run regularly to Salisbury from London, Bristol/Bath and Southampton and the local bus company, Wilts & Dorset, will be running a special service, from Salisbury railway and bus stations to a drop-off point near Stonehenge. The buses will also stop at any recognised bus stop along the line of the route, which is via Amesbury.   For train information:

South West Trains www.southwesttrains.co.uk Tel: 0845 6000 650

First Great Western www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk Tel: 0845 7000 125

National Rail Enquiries www.nationalrail.co.uk Tel: 08457 48 49 50

 

Stonehenge by car  

A high volume of traffic is anticipated in the Stonehenge area on the evening of Wednesday 20th June. The Summer Solstice parking facilities close to Stonehenge are extensive but also finite.   Although traffic, as you approach Stonehenge, maybe slow, please do not be tempted to abandon your vehicle and park it either on the A303 or other neighbouring roads and public rights of way. Cars parked illegally will be towed away by the Police or Wiltshire Council.   Please also be aware that a number of road closures will be in operation to ensure safe pedestrian passage to Stonehenge and to allow unimpeded access in the event of an emergency. As you approach Stonehenge, signage will be in place to direct you to the Solstice Car Park.   Please see Parking for further information.

 

Cyclists  

It is not advisable to bring cycles to Stonehenge as they cannot be accommodated at the Monument and they will not be permitted beyond the Solstice Car Park (which is located approximately 1 km west of Stonehenge). Please bring your own locking device and park your cycle in the designated area in the Solstice Car Park. Ask a steward at the Solstice Car Park entrance for assistance.

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

 Merlin says “Happy Solstice and respect the Stones!  See you there”
Follow me on Twitter for updates and pics:  http://twitter.com/#!/st0nehenge
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 “

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge





STONEHENGE SUMMER SOLSTICE 2012

25 04 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 2012

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2012

English Heritage 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.

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:

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)TRANSPORT FROM LONDON: As usual our friends at The ‘Stonehenge Tour Company’ will be providing tours and transport from London – click here

ENGLISH HERITAGE CONDITIONS OF ENTRYCLICK HERE

Helpful links

For directions, click here.
For bookings, dog policy etc., you need to contact English Heritage, click here, the custodians of the site.
For special access to the Stones (not during the Solstice), click here.
The Avebury complex is a must on your itinerary and only a short journey, north, from Stonehenge. There is free, open access to the whole of this huge site. click here for more information.
Stonehenge and Solstice News / updates: https://twitter.com/#!/ST0NEHENGE 

Link Source: http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/stonehenge/2012/
Link source: http://www.visit-stonehenge.org/2012/04/summer-solstice-celebrations-at.html

Merlin says “Respect the Stones and see you there”






Romance in the stones as Stonehenge monument tops poll

14 02 2012

It may have been a site of ritual slaughter and Druidic practices but a new poll of the UK’s top romantic locations puts Stonehenge in second place overall but top in England, beating Windermere and King Arthur’s Seat.

Stonehenge Handfasting

Despite its Druidic history Stonehenge has topped a poll of most romantic place in England to propose

The Welsh coastline tops the poll with 24 per cent of those surveyed voting the secluded beaches of the principality as the perfect leap year proposal spot. The Cotswolds, with its picturesque stone cottages and countryside comes third.

The survey, by PCH Prizes, also revealed that twice as many men as women voted for the turf of Wembley as their most romantic location.

Stonehenge has been attracting the spiritual and the curious for 5,000 years and while it may now be deemed romantic for Dorset novelist Thomas Hardy it was a symbol of isolation. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles Tess falls asleep on an ancient stone altar at Stonehenge after murdering Alec d’Urbeville, not the kind of future that leap-year brides are planning.
Source: http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour’ www.StonhengeTours.com

Merlin says “Happy Valentines Day, remember it is actually a Pagan festival!

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge stone Circle website





The Celtic Festival of Imbolc – 1st / 2nd February

1 02 2012

Imbolc is traditionally regarded as the first day of Spring.
Life is beginning to stir again. The Celtic festival of Imbolc or Imbolg – pronounced without the ‘b’ sound – is sometimes known as Oimelc, means ‘ewe’s milk’ – named due to the birth of the first lambs at this time, and celebrates the return of fresh milk. Sheep are earlier with their offspring than cattle, because they could crop lower for grass and so thrive on the sparse vegetation in late winter. Cattle would calf around March. Bulbs are beginning to shoot and new lambs are born – the cycle of new life returns to the earth. Imbolc marks the rebirth of nature and fertility. It is the celebration of the gradual dawning of increasing light, bringing nature to life again. Nature is awakening from her winter rest – the long winter darkness begins to break as the daylight hours begin to get longer. Christians celebrate this festival as Candlemas.Stonehenge maidens - Imbolc

“As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens”

Maidens
Imbolc focuses on the Goddess, both as Mother – as she gave birth to the Sun God at the Winter solstice, and as the Maiden. Brigit was originally considered a form of the Triple Goddess.
Imbolc is a feast dedicated to the Goddess in her maiden aspect, in her guise as Brigid, Bridget, Bride, Brighid, Brigit or Brig – goddess of learning, poetry, prophesying, craftmanship, agriculture and healing. Imbolc is considered a traditional healing time and it is a good time to consider ways to improve your health.

Brigid is the virgin goddess who brings new life to the earth. She is known as Bride in Scotland – pronounced Breed – which is the origin of the word ‘bride’. Imbolc is also known as Bride’s Day. She was christianised as St. Bridget of Kildare, the patroness of sheep and fertility, and she was also known as the ‘Mother of Ireland’.
Briget’s Cross is woven from corn and consists of four arms that meet to form a square centre – a fire wheel.
Traditionally, on this day candlelit processions were led to St. Bridget’s holy shrines – wells

Imbolc Traditions

Imbolc is a ‘fire festival’. particular attention was paid to the hearth fire and keeping it alight.
A celebratory dish used to be made from the new lambs’ docked tails.

Bridie dolls are made out of a sheaf of oats and dressed in women’s clothing, and then ritually buried in the earth as a fertility rite. Another custom was to place the doll in a ‘Bride’s bed’ of woven wheat, like a basket, which was placed near the front door, or sometimes near the hearth. A white candle was burnt nearby all night.

Spring cleaning comes from the habit at Imbolc of getting rid of unwanted clutter and preparing for the new season, physically and mentally.
Now is the time to finish old habits and make a fresh start, and realise the world is full of new opportunities.

Imbolc is a time of optimism and for making new plans for the sunny days ahead. Plant the seeds of your plans now and tend them so they mature into your hopes and dreams. Now is the time to renew your New Year resolutions.

Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centred around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed ‘Candlemas’ when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.

Imbolc is still a special time for Pagans. As people who are deeply aware of what is going on in the natural world they recognise that there is strength in cold as well as heat, death as well as life. The Horned God reigns over the Autumn and Winter and although the light and warmth of the world may be weak, he is still in his power.

Many feel that human actions are best when they reflect the actions of nature, so as the world slowly springs back into action it is time for the small tasks that are neglected through the busy year. Rituals and activities might include the making of candles, planting spring flowers, reading poetry and telling stories.

Links: http://www.druidry.org/obod/intro/festivals.html
Link: http://www.new-age.co.uk

Merlin says “It is called Imbolc in the Druid tradition, or sometimes Oimelc. Although we would think of Imbolc as being in the midst of Winter, it represents in fact the first of a trio of Spring celebrations, since it is the time of the first appearance of the snowdrop, and of the melting of the snows and the clearing of the debris of Winter. It is a time when we sense the first glimmer of Spring, and when the lambs are born. In the Druid tradition it is a gentle, beautiful festival in which the Mother Goddess is honoured with eight candles rising out of the water at the centre of the ceremonial circle.”

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

Merlin@ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Website





Stonehenge Winter Solstice is on 22nd December 2011

19 12 2011

For us in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of 2011 and falls on Thursday, 22nd DecemberAfter the winter solstice, the days will get longer. Celebration time!

Stonehenge Winter Sunrise

Stonehenge Winter Sunrise

December 2011 solstice will occur on Wednesday, 21st December  at 11:30 p.m or 05:30am Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on December 22, 2011. It is also known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.

The date varies from December 20 to December 23 depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar. The 2012 December solstice will be on December 21, 2012, which is a speculated date for “the end of the world”.

Use the Seasons Calculator to find December solstice date in other time zones or other years.

Solstice and Stonehenge

At Stonehenge  on this day, people watch as the sun sets in the midst of three great stones – known as the Trilithon – consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third, horizontal stone across the top.

In the case of Stonehenge, this great Trilithon faces outwards from the center of the monument, with its smooth flat face turned toward the midwinter sun. In fact, the primary axes of Stonehenge seems to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.

This Stonehenge monument – built in 3,000 to 2,000 BC – shows how carefully our ancestors watched the sun. Astronomical observations such as these surely controlled human activities such as the mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the metering of winter reserves between harvests. Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous of of the ancient astronomical monuments found around the world.

Stonehenge on Twitter.  For the latest Solstice information and all the latest Stonehenge news (including images live from the Stones) follow: http://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Stonehenge snow

Will it snow at Stonehenge this year ?

The December Solstice Explained

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight.

The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.

On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.

What is the Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice is a magickal event, yet sadly, it is in the main a forgotten celebration. At this time, Christmas preparations are taking place, and the focus is primarily on ‘what colour scheme to go for?  Will the wrapping paper co-ordinate?  Have I forgotten anyone?  What shall we eat?  Will my funds stretch!’

The Solstice is however, the complete antithesis of what has now become Christmas in contemporary society. Also known as ‘Yule’, the Solstice is generally celebrated on the 21st of December, (although the astronomical date changes from year to year – this year the actual Solstice takes place on the 22nd, at 00.22a.m). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day, and longest night of the year, and is the traditional time to celebrate the truly important things in life: your family, your children, your home and looking forward to a wonderful year to come.

Yule is a time throughout time that honours love and new birth, as well as the collective unity of man. Just as Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Yule celebrates the birth of the Sun God – child of the Goddess in the Pagan belief system. Yule is primarily the celebration of the rebirth of the Sun. Many people associate the Winter Solstice, or winter itself with death, as it is the season in which nature is dormant, and in which many plants die off and crops are scarce. Conversely, the Winter Solstice, although it is the longest night, (boasting more than 12 hours of darkness), it is also the turning point of the year, as following this night the sun grows stronger in the sky, and the days become gradually longer once more. Thus the Winter Solstice is also a celebration of rebirth, and there are many traditions that stem from this perspective.

Traditions:  Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe

The Holly and the Ivy

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

Chorus:
Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The shining of the winter stars
As the longer days draw near.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as any flower
As our Mother bears the infant Sun
In the winter’s darkest hour.

Chorus

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
As our Father bears the hunter’s spear
for His hungry children’s good.

Chorus

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
As we shall bear our song of hope
On triumphant Yuletide morn.

Adapted by Hilda Marshal.

The tradition of bringing sprigs of Holly and Ivy into the home pays homage to the masculine and feminine elements. Both of these powerfully magickal plants are evergreen, a reminder in itself that the earth never dies, but merely sleeps during the winter months, (a tradition which was the precursor to our modern tradition of the evergreen Christmas tree). The male element is represented by the prickly holly; with its sexually potent red berries. The mistletoe is the female; entwining, gentle yet powerful. An alternative view of Holly is that the leaves of the plant represent the male, whereas the red berries symbolise the resting Mother Goddess, and life returning to the land.

The symbolism of Holly is especially potent. The Holly King and the Oak King are part of Celtic/Pagan mythology, and they represent two sides to the Greenman, or Horned God. Since the Summer Solstice, the Holly King has ruled the half-year of waning light, yet on this night the Oak King will take his throne to rule. In other words, the Oak King rules over the lighter half of the year, (Yule to Litha), and the Holly King over the darker half (Litha to Yule).

Another account of the Holly King and Oak King imagery is that they do not directly switch places twice a year, but rather both exist concurrently. The Oak King is born of the Goddess at Yule, growing in power through the spring, peaking at Beltane and then weakening through autumn until he dies at Samhain.
The Holly King however lives a reverse existence, and is born at Midsummer (Litha), increasing in strength throughout summer and autumn, reaching his zenith at Samhain. His sway then diminishes until it is his turn to pass at Beltane. Thus the two Kings enjoy a more elaborate sense of duality in this account, and it is perhaps a better illustration of their twofold nature, and their varying levels of influence throughout the year. As such they both have their characteristics. The reign of the Oak King is a time for growth, development, healing, and new beginnings. The Holly King’s time is for rest, reflection, and learning. Thus the Holly King is honoured with the boughs of Holly, and the Oak King is honoured with Mistletoe – the belief being that Mistletoe is best grown on the Oak as Mistletoe’s most powerful host, (a belief strengthened by the opinion of the 17th century herbalist, Culpepper). Ivy is representative of the Goddess; mother of both Kings, both Kings also being her consort – again powerful ideas of duality.

Mistletoe has a most compelling and influential history. According to ancient Druid tradition, Mistletoe was the most sacred of all plants. Mistletoe was used by the Druid priesthood in a very special ceremony; held five days after the New Moon following winter solstice. The Druid priests would cut Mistletoe from a holy Oak tree with a golden sickle. The branches had to be caught before they touched the ground. The priest then divided the branches into sprigs and dispersed them to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection. The folklore, and the magickal powers of this plant, have blossomed over time, although most are now forgotten. It was believed it had miraculous properties that could cure illnesses, antidote poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft. It was also a sign of peace and goodwill. When warring tribes came across Mistletoe, a temporary truce would be observed until the next day.

However, although Mistletoe carries a broad array of customs, and benefits in ancient times, the tradition which has lived on is that concerning fertility and love. According to most current day traditions, a young woman stands under the mistletoe and awaits her lover’s kiss. But from where did this tradition spring? It is considered that Mistletoe and kissing tradition is borne of a Norse myth.

The Norse god Balder was son of Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son to such a degree that she had the four elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth- promise that they would not harm her son. However, Loki, an evil spirit, found the one thing that could defy this promise – mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood, which was shot at Balder’s heart, and he fell dead, and Frigga’s tears became the mistletoe’s white berries. Balder is however, restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant–making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.

In the true spirit of Yule, focus your celebrations as a family upon love, and the fact that every ending is a new beginning. There are many simple rituals that you can enjoy as a family, to seal your bonds and celebrate each other at this magickal time of year.

Link: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html
Link: http://brighterblessings.co.uk/articles/yule.htm
Link: http://earthsky.org
Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
Link: http://www.druidry.org/
Linj: http://www.phreak.co.uk/stonehenge/psb/stonecam.htm

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

Merlin says “Happy solstice everyone, see you at the Stones..”

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Aboriginal Stonehenge: Stargazing in ancient Australia

12 10 2011

An egg-shaped ring of standing stones in Australia could prove to be older than Britain’s Stonehenge – and it may show that ancient Aboriginal cultures had a deep understanding of the movements of the stars.
Australian Stonehenge

Fifty metres wide and containing more than 100 basalt boulders, the site of Wurdi Youang in Victoria was noted by European settlers two centuries ago, and charted by archaeologists in 1977, but only now is its purpose being rediscovered.

It is thought the site was built by the Wadda Wurrung people – the traditional inhabitants of the area. All understanding of the rocks’ significance was lost, however, when traditional language and practices were banned at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Now a team of archaeologists, astronomers and Aboriginal advisers is reclaiming that knowledge.

They have discovered that waist-high boulders at the tip of the egg-shaped point along the ring to the position on the horizon where the sun sets at the summer and winter solstice – the longest and shortest day of the year.

The axis from top to bottom points towards the equinox – when the length of day equals night.

At Stonehenge, the sun aligns instead with gaps in the stones on these key dates in the solar calendar.

The probability that the layout of Wurdi Youang is a coincidence is minuscule, argues Ray Norris, a British astrophysicist at Australia’s national science agency, who is leading the investigation.

Prof Norris and his Aboriginal partners used Nasa technology to measure the position of each rock in relation to the sun, and to demonstrate the connection with the solstices and equinox.

This photo of the emu in the sky, above an aboriginal rock carving, was sent to every school in Australia

This photo of the emu in the sky, above an aboriginal rock carving, was sent to every school in Australia

It’s truly special because a lot of people don’t take account of Aboriginal science,” says Reg Abrahams, an Aboriginal adviser working with Prof Norris.

As happened with Stonehenge, the discovery could change the way people view early societies. It is only recently that it has been demonstrated that Aboriginal societies could count beyond five or six.

Songs and stories

“This is the first time we have been able to show that, as well as being interested in the position of the sun, they were making astronomical measurements,” says Prof Norris, who is also a faculty member at the School of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney.

“It is interesting to know how far back people were doing astronomy – if it is 5,000 years old it would predate Stonehenge”

Quote Prof Ray Norris Astrophysicist

Other studies by Prof Norris, of Aboriginal songs and stories, have also indicated a clear understanding of the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

Indigenous customs vary among groups across Australia, but one story that appears in many local traditions is the tale of a great emu that sits in the sky.

The emu, which can be seen in the southern hemisphere during April and May, is a shape made by the dark patches of the Milky Way.

Its appearance coincides with the laying season of the wild emu and for the storytellers it is a sign to start collecting eggs.

Prompted by historian Hugh Cairns, Prof Norris examined and photographed an emu-shaped rock carving in Kuring-Gai Chase National Park, near Sydney, which cleverly mirrors the celestial animal-like shape.

During the southern autumn, the constellation is positioned above the rock with the bird shape almost perfectly reflected by the engraving.

Intellectual leap

Other stories show more complex, intellectual understanding of the universe.

In the case of the solar eclipse, the Walpiri people in the Northern Territory tell the story of a sun-woman who pursues a moon-man. When she catches him the two become husband and wife together causing a solar eclipse.

The idea that the solar eclipse is caused by the moon moving in front of the sun is something only widely accepted by western scientists in the 16th Century.

“This is not about balls of flames going out, it’s about one body moving in front of the other,” says Prof Norris. “That is a giant intellectual leap.”

Since solar eclipses are rare, the survival of this story, passed down through generations, also shows a remarkable continuity of learning.

These discoveries play a crucial role in helping Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians understand just how intellectually advanced their ancient society was.

“This discovery has huge significance for understanding the amazing ability of this culture that is maligned,” says Janet Mooney, head of Indigenous Australian Studies at Sydney University.

“It makes not only me, as an Aboriginal person, but a lot of Aboriginal people around Australia very proud.”

She hopes to be able to tell her students of an aboriginal site more ancient than Stonehenge.

Until it is dated however, Wurdi Youang could be anywhere from 200 to 20,000 years old.

Aboriginal stone structures in the region have a vast age range and are very difficult to date. Many of the smaller rock sites that have been found, such as shelters and cooking areas, have been moved over time by natural and human forces.

But given the size of the stones at Wurdi Youang and how deeply they are entrenched in the ground it is more likely they have been there for thousands of years, archaeologists say.

Dating requires archaeologists to test the soil under the rocks to see when it was last exposed to sunlight and the team hope to be able to do this in the next few months.

But Prof Norris believes he has already proven the real value of the stone circle.

“It is interesting to know how far back people were doing astronomy, if it is 5,000 years old it would predate Stonehenge,” he says.

“But it is not quite as interesting to my mind as whether the Aboriginal people were doing real astronomy before British contact. That really tells us a lot about what kind of culture it is.”

Reach for the Stars – Aboriginal Astronomy was produced by Robert Cockburn and broadcast by Discovery for BBC World Service. Listen to the radio documentary via iplayer or download the podcast.

By Stephanie Hegarty BBC World Service
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15098959

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Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Secrets of the Stones

30 05 2011

As the summer solstice will soon see thousands gather at Stonehenge, an archaeologist discusses his belief that the Wiltshire monument is evidence of a great civilisation which once thrived there

Sunrise at Stonehenge - June 21st

Sunrise at Stonehenge - June 21st

IN three weeks’ time, thousands of devotees will gather in the dark in a field in Wiltshire. They do this every year and each time their number grows.

They are there to celebrate the midsummer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and will wait until daybreak when the sun sends a piercing ray of light through Stonehenge, the ancient ruin they have come to venerate.

This primordial circle of stones, eight miles north of Salisbury in Wiltshire, exerts an extraordinary power over the people of Britain.

Some, like the Druids, claim it is the source of a mystical power while others, curious but sceptical, believe it to be the site of an ancient monument that has no relevance to the way we live today.

Whatever their conviction they are all missing the point according to one man who has studied the location for 30 years and believes he knows the real reason why Stonehenge is so special.

“Stonehenge is unique; it is already recognised as a World Heritage Site but it’s more than just an ancient curiosity, it is the place where civilisation began,” says writer and archaeologist Robert John Langdon.

“It’s simply the most amazing place in the world and we should all be celebrating the meaning of this incredible place.”

Robert fell under the spell of Stonehenge as a boy. He explored the massive stone monoliths and was intrigued by the official explanation of their origin. As the years passed and he learned more he was puzzled by contradictions in official explanation of its origins.

“The carbon dating of the stones is not consistent. I have discovered that stone post holes in what is now the car park for the site predate the accepted date for Stonehenge by 5,000 years. If this evidence is accepted, and it has been denied for years, it turns the conventional history of Stonehenge, and the rest of the world for that matter, on its head.”

If Robert is right, and he says he has the scientific evidence to prove he is, Stonehenge is the most important archaeological site in the world. It would mean Salisbury Plain is home to the first and most significant civilisation on earth. So how could this have happened?

“The geography and landscape of the site would have been very different. Britain would have been emerging from the last Ice Age, so much of the country we now recognise would have been under water. Stonehenge would have been on an estuary that led to the open sea. Too many important facts have been ignored,” says Robert.

“There is evidence that water was close, but that has been classified as a moat which I believe is wrong. It is also believed the stones were dragged over land from Wales which is misleading.

“The large sarsen stones came from an area close to Avebury which is not far from Stonehenge.  To have brought them overland all the way from Wales takes no account of the fact that according to the official time scale Salisbury Plain at that time would have been heavily forested which would have made that access all but impossible. The bluestones, which are the key to the secret of Stonehenge, were smaller and did come from Wales but they were brought there by boat.”

Robert’s hypothesis is based on his conviction that the men who built Stonehenge were much more skilled and sophisticated than is currently believed. In 10,000 BC, the Mesolithic period, he believes that men in ancient Britain developed the first recognisable civilisation and that Stonehenge was their greatest achievement.

“These were extremely capable people who found a way of drilling into stone and used sophisticated mortice and tenon joints to erect Stonehenge but most importantly they mastered the seas. These boat people, as we can call them, travelled widely and traded and these are the people I believe that Plato referred to in his writings on the origins of civilisation.”

So why did these people make such an effort to build Stonehenge? what was it intended to do?

“Stonehenge was accessible to boat people from  all over Europe and Mesolithic men and women came there to be cured of their ailments and to depart from this world. The alignment of the site to the sun and the moon is immensely significant but so is the presence of the bluestones in the circle.

“Bluestone turns blue in water, and was believed to have incredible powers of healing. Evidence from bones found close to Stonehenge suggests that the original inhabitants practised sophisticated medical procedures which included dentistry, limb removal and even brain surgery.

“These were not the fur-clad hunter gatherers living in mud huts that many mistakenly believe were the builders of Stonehenge. They were instead members of a great civilisation that moved out, leaving Stonehenge as the only surviving physical evidence of their genius.”

If Robert Langdon is right Stonehenge is much older than the Pyramids and there is a surprising connection between the two ancient stone monuments.

“Over the centuries the climate and landscape in Britain changed. Mesolithic men used their seafaring skills to move to a more sympathetic environment. They traded widely and sailed south to what is now the Mediterranean and moved in along the coast from Egypt to Greece and Italy. The ancient Egyptians’ skill at engineering and building with stone had its roots in the lessons learnt by the men who built Stonehenge.”

It is not only archaeologists with a theory about the significance of Stonehenge. The Druids regard it as a sacred place where they perform spiritual rituals.

Robert says: “I don’t have any disputes with the Druids and they don’t seem to mind me. I’ll be rubbing shoulders with lots of them at the midsummer solstice. The Druids may well have their beliefs but they came on the Stonehenge scene very late in the day.

“They would have discovered the site as an ancient and abandoned temple and taken it over but that’s all right. I get on pretty well with other archaeologists too although they do tend to dismiss my work, but that’s their loss. Stonehenge has a special hold on me and the more I learn about it the more fascinated I become. I’m already working on a new book which I think will ruffle quite a lot of feathers.

“In a sense what we know as Stonehenge is almost the foundations of a much bigger edifice. Stonehenge is, despite all the myths that have been fostered, a very special place. It is, I believe, the birthplace of civilisation and we all ought to give it the respect that it really deserves.”

Article from The Express Newspaper
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Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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