Prehistoric Wiltshire. Sites of Significance

1 05 2012

If you are in doubt about the key role Wiltshire plays in the long history of these Islands, and that it has done so since the time humans first set foot on our soil, this book joins the growing scholarly titles from the excellent ‘heritage; publisher Amberley Publishing will dispel it.

Prehistoric Wilsthire

Prehistoric Wilsthire

This attractive book is the latest in a successful series from the Stroud-based publisher Amberley. (Amongst others, their titles include Prehistoric Gloucestershire by Tim Darvill, and John Aubrey and Stone Circles: Britain’s First Archaeologist by Aubrey Burl.) It is well written by a knowledgeable local archaeologist in a style that is pleasingly free of jargon, and opens with a fitting tribute from Francis Pryor.

As with some other titles in the series, this pocket-sized book is specifically designed as a field guide (at 235 x 165mm it is slightly larger than A5), in this instance describing nearly 50 of the most visible and accessible prehistoric monuments within the county of Wiltshire. The selected sites are grouped by topographic region (the Marlborough Downs, the Vale of Pewsey and so on), the majority situated on the chalk uplands. All the familiar forms of earthwork from causewayed camps and long barrows to round barrow groups and hillforts are covered. Appropriately, they include the monuments of the World Heritage Site centred on Avebury and Stonehenge, but information from the latest fieldwork in those areas ensures up-to-date coverage.

An introductory section provides a brief outline of the conventional sub-divisions of later prehistory (the Mesolithic to the Iron Age). Thereafter, details are offered on how best to reach each site: although there are no maps, National Grid References and useful directions are offered. Some of the sites are on private land and hence the book judiciously warns ‘this guide does not infer rights of way’, deferring to the county’s highway authority for the latest information on footpaths and bridleways. Nonetheless, it describes what can be seen at each site from the best publicly-accessible vantage points. The entries briefly describe the history of investigation at each site and summarize current understanding of its function and date.

The book is beautifully illustrated. The majority of the figures are the author’s own fine colour photographs, although some monochrome archival images are also used where necessary. Arguably the best views are the excellent oblique aerial photographs. Their use as an invaluable aid to comprehension recalls the local tradition pioneered by O. G. S. Crawford and Alexander Keiller in their 1928 work, Wessex from the Air. Evidently, the author enlisted the help of several pilots, employing a range of micro-light and private aircraft to gain the necessary perspective. Because the book focuses on visible sites, most of the subjects are obviously upstanding earthworks. Nonetheless, the photographs include a few soil-marks, crop-marks and excavations to emphasis that even in an area which boasts some of the country’s best-known monuments, many others have been lost from normal view.

It is well known that Wiltshire contains a remarkable number of well-preserved field monuments of various forms, and hence the author is in the enviable position of being able to select the most impressive. Because of the quality and visibility of its ancient monuments, Wiltshire is an ideal region to serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with prehistoric remains, but equally it is an unceasing source of inspiration for the most experienced archaeologist. The field monuments are complemented by outstanding local museums whose displays reflect the long history of archaeological investigation within the county. Yet, despite the richness of their collections, these museums remain the responsibility of private trusts and societies that constantly struggle to find the necessary resources to conserve and exhibit their assets. It is most commendable, therefore, that Bob Clarke, the author, has written Prehistoric Wiltshire as a personal contribution to the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society’s fund raising effort to re-display the famous Bronze Age gallery at Devizes Museum. There are thus two compelling reasons to buy this excellent book – to guide you to some of the best prehistoric sites in Southern England, and to help display the spectacular objects found in some of those sites.

Sponsored by The Stonehenge Tour Companywww.StonehengeTourscm

Merlin says “Visiting Wiltshire ? Buy this book!”

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





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

19 12 2011

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

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

Stonehenge Bluestone

Photo: ALAMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Solstice Snow Globe, and other crap gifts

3 12 2011

Looking for that perfect ‘Stonehenge’ gift for a loved one this Christmas ? Look no futher I have sourced some real rubbish to waste your money on (see below)  My personal favourite is the tasteful  ‘Solstice Wall Mounted Sculpture.’  Tongue firmly in cheek

Stonehenge Solstice Sunset Snow Waterball Christmas Gift
Stonehenge Snow GlobePicture Print Of: A Fabulous Print of Stonehenge Solstice at Sunset…
Made from Clear Acrylic Wipe Clean Plastic with a Gold Coloured Base
Comes Filled with Water with Lot’s of Sparkly Silver & White Glitter Flec’s
When Shaken Will Give a Pretty Sparkling Snow Storm Effect
The Same Picture Image Can be Seen from Both Sides of Globe
This Waterball Would Make a Very Pretty Gift…

Merlin says: Every mantlepiece should have one (except mine)…………..


Mouse Mat
I Love Stonehenge Decorated Mouse Pad Click here:
Merlin says: How can you possibly use a comuter without one of these

 

 

 

STONEHENGE BELT BUCKLE

Stonehenge BeltHand painted buckle. Can also be used as an ornament with the supplied display stand. Suitable for detatchable snap-fit belts up to 1.5 inches wide (sold separately – of course) Click here

Merlin Says:  This will really pull the chicks (hmmm)

Its gets better…………………….
Stonehenge Wall hangingsStonehenge Summer Solstice Relief Wall Mounted Sculpture – Click here
This is a superb 3-dimensional wall sculpture portraying Stonehenge by Garry White. Measures 23cm by 21cm and stands off the wall by 5cm making a dramatic and eyecatching statement. This is a wall mounted plaque and comes ready to hang with a hook attached on the back. Made from poured stone which is stone dust bonded with resin resulting in a richly detailed piece with a high quality stone-like finish. Hand painted and individually finished by hand.

Merlin says: Hideous!  Losing the will to live

 

Stonehenge cuff linksStonehenge Cuff links – click here
Revisit the history with a unique cufflink with a picture of great historic landmark- Stone Henge on it. Stay connected to roots! Buy for yourself or present it to someone special. Comes wrapped in a beautiful gift box to add worth.

Merlin says: Classy!   Will match my Stonehenge socks (yes you can really buy Stonehenge socks)

 

Stonehenge Tax DiskStonehenge Solstice Sunset Car Tax Disc Holder – click here
Car Tax Disc-Licence Holder…
Design /Print: A Fabulous Print of Stonehenge Solstice at Sunset…
A Self Adhesive Top Quality PVC Vehicle Tax Disc /Licence Holder
Easy Peel Back Backing that Reveals a Clear PVC Outer Rim Around the Image When Removed
Photo /Image is Seen Inside the Vehicle As the Tax Must be Displayed & Seen from the Outside
Gift Packed in a Clear Polybag with Header Card at Top
All Our Licence Holders are Made Using the Highest Quality Materials Available and with Crystal Clear Images
A Perfect Gift… Or Your Own Special Treat!

Merlin says: Won’t be seen at the Solstice without one!

 STONEHENGE BIBBib with Stonehenge, boulders – Click here

  • Ergonomically designed for comfortable fit
  • Adjustable necklace for indivudual fit
  • Approved for food use
  • Washable

Size: 11.4″ x 7.8″

Merlin says: Whatever next – I give up…………….

Build Your Own Stonehenge (Running Press Mini Kits) – Click here
Build StonehengeAh Stonehenge. The mystical place where Tess is arrested in the heartbreaking climax of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. And of course where our colleague Simon passed out after a rather wild night at the Summer Solstice. Whatever your knowledge or experience of this legendary site, you can now own your own version of it.

Merlin says:
Got 60 seconds  and £5 to waste – nows your chance, buy one of these

Please visit our shop: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/stonetours-21
(there are also some good books etc avaialble – honest)

Any other tacky Stonehenge gift ideas ?

Merlin : Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Book Gift Guide

3 12 2011

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Heritage Action for the recommendations

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

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

Melin @ Stonehenge








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