Stonehenge remains a mystery as scientists ask: was it a health spa, or a cemetery?

17 03 2013

Archaeologists back conflicting theories on Britain’s greatest prehistoric monument

It already attracts more than a million visitors a year. Yet these numbers could be dwarfed once Stonehenge, one of the world’s greatest prehistoric monuments, completes its radical facelift

Stonehenge, the prehistoric site whose purpose is still not fully understood by archaeologists. Photograph: Steve Allen/Getty Images

Stonehenge, the prehistoric site whose purpose is still not fully understood by archaeologists. Photograph: Steve Allen/Getty Images

Over the next year, the nearby A344 will be closed and grassed over. A new visitor centre will be built a mile and a half from the monument and tourists will be encouraged to explore the ancient landscape around the 5,000-year-old complex.

The makeover falls short of plans, since scrapped, that would have seen all major thoroughfares in the area diverted through tunnels. Nevertheless Stonehenge should be returned to something like its past glory, it is hoped, and then attract even greater numbers of visitors seeking to understand the purpose of this vast, enigmatic edifice.

For centuries, historians and archaeologists have speculated about the reason for the monument’s construction. Suggestions have ranged from the proposal that it was built by Merlin to commemorate knights slain in a battle against Saxon invaders to the idea that Stonehenge was a highly sophisticated astronomical observatory.

Earlier this month, the latest salvo in the debate was fired by archaeologists, led by Professor Michael Parker Pearson, of University College London, who published research indicating that the original Stonehenge was a graveyard for a community of elite families. “This was a place for the dead,” Parker Pearson said.

The notion – that Stonehenge is essentially a large funerary temple created between 3000 and 2500BC – does not find favour with every scientist, however. Indeed, the other main group of UK researchers investigating the site – archaeologists led by Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University – believe the place was an ancient Lourdes. The sick and wounded would come here for cures from the monument’s great bluestones, which had been dragged from Wales to Wiltshire because of their magical healing properties. “This was a place for the living,” Darvill said.

Such divergence of views would seem to suggest we are as far from understanding the purpose of Stonehenge as we have ever been. English Heritage historian Susan Greaney counselled caution, however. We should not place too much emphasis on our ignorance about the monument, she said. “We know who built it and when they built it and have a good idea how they built it. It is only its ultimate purpose that still remains unresolved,” she said.

Detailed radiocarbon dating of Stonehenge has shown that work on its construction probably began with the huge circular ditch that still surrounds the monument. Inside several dozen bluestones were erected along with various timber posts and other structures. It was a relatively modest construction by the standards of the remains we can see today. Then, around 2600BC, the site was transformed. A ring of giant upright stones called sarsens were erected and capped with huge rock lintels. Inside five huge trilithons – pairs of rock columns capped with a single slab – were erected and many of the magical bluestones from Wales that had been erected near the edge of the monument were moved inside this inner sanctum. Crucially, the rays of the setting midwinter sun and the rising midsummer sun would shine through the heart of the monument and down the avenue that leads into it.

Over succeeding centuries, the bluestones were rearranged for purposes that still mystify scientists. In short, Stonehenge is not one monument, built at one moment in history, but many built and rebuilt over many centuries. By that definition, it had no single purpose but had many. Even today it performs many functions – as a tourist attraction, a religious site (for Druids), and a place for scientific study, for example.

As to the identity of the builders of Stonehenge’s great rings of sarsens and trilithons, that appears to be far less of a mystery. Work at the nearby site of Durrington Walls indicates it was occupied by thousands of individuals at exactly the time the great stone rings of Stonehenge were being erected. The remains of the cattle they slaughtered have been studied and by careful analysis of the chemical makeup of their teeth, their place of origin in Britain has been determined. Remarkably, the animals appear to have been brought to Wiltshire from almost every part of the country. Even more intriguingly, most were killed during two peak periods: midwinter and midsummer.

“People were coming from all over the country at these times,” said Parker Pearson. “It was partly a religious festival and partly a construction site: a combination of Glastonbury and a motorway building camp. The crucial point is that this was the first and only time in British prehistory that the country was united in a common cultural activity.”

The issue is: what was that common cultural activity? Parker Pearson believes Stonehenge was erected as a monument to the ancestors of all Britons. The aim was to unify the different peoples of the British Isles by honouring all their dead. Stones were taken from west and east and erected together to solidify alliances that had been struck up between these different people. “Stone is eternal and was used to represent the dead,” said Parker Pearson. “That is the purpose of Stonehenge.

Darvill does not agree. “I think that very early on Stonehenge was a burial ground but after 2600BC these burials stop. So how can this be a place of the dead?” By contrast, Darvill points to the quarries in the Preseli Hills in Wales, the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones. “These are all associated with sacred springs today,” he said.

“That association is a very ancient one. These stones were brought to Stonehenge because they were thought to have healing properties. That is why all that effort went into its construction. It was a place where people thought their illnesses might be cured and their lives saved.”

AND THE OTHER THEORIES ARE…

According to the 12th-century cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth, Stonehenge was built by Merlin to mark the place where knights, slain in the fight against Saxons, were buried.

Other historians have argued that the Romans or Danes built it.

In more recent times, scientists have argued that Stonehenge’s alignment suggests it could have been used to calculate astronomical movements and to predict lunar eclipses. However, the feasibility of performing such measurements in prehistoric times has been questioned.

In 2003, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, University of British Columbia researcher Anthony Perks claimed the great stone circles were erected as a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ.

In 2008 the Telegraph columnist Oliver Pritchett argued, tongue-in-cheek, that Stonehenge was really built to house Britain’s first public inquiry.

Link soyrce: Robin McKie The Observer,

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonhenge News Blog  





New Stonehenge visitor centre to be filled with never-before-seen artefacts

1 03 2013

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum will be lending around 250 objects to the new visitors centre at Stonehenge.

DSCF0076The facility will be home to a special exhibition area and is due to be completed before the end of the year.

The museum have all the finds from every 20th Century excavation.

Adrian Green is the Director of Salisbury and South Wiltshire, he says many have never been seen:

“We’ve got antler picks and bones and remains of people who were actually excavated at the monument it itself. These are things that people have never seen before and are thousands of years old, that’s what’s really going to blow people’s minds.”

The Museum’s collections span the history and archaeology of Salisbury and south Wiltshire, from prehistoric times to the present day. The Museum is Designated by the Arts Council as having archaeology collections of outstanding national importance

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Stonehenge & Prehistory
Stonehenge is a unique monument standing at the heart of an extensive archaeological landscape on Salisbury Plain. Finds from excavations at Stonehenge are held at the Museum, as well as important discoveries such as the Monkton Deverill Torc and the Amesbury Archer burial.

Art of Stonehenge
As well as collecting objects from Stonehenge, the Museum has an extensive range of paintings, prints and drawings of the monument. These include some of the earliest known depictions of the stone circle, as well as works by contemporary artists.

Link Article: http://www.spirefm.co.uk
Link: http://www.StonehenegTours.com
Link: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge transformation work well on schedule

20 02 2013

Work to transform Stonehenge, which officially started on site in July last year, is progressing well.

This year, the centenary of the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act, will culminate in the opening of English Heritage’s new Stonehenge exhibition galleries and visitor centre at the end of the year.

Work on the Stonehenge site is due to be completed by the end of this year

Work on the Stonehenge site is due to be completed by the end of this year

Building work is currently taking shape at Airman’s Corner, 1.5 miles to the west and out of view of the stones, where the new galleries and facilities will be located.

The sensitively designed building will comprise two “pods” which will house museum-quality exhibitions, a spacious café with indoor and outdoor seating, a bigger shop and dedicated education space

Main contractor Vinci Construction is about to erect a ’bird-cage’ scaffold which will be used to install the undulating canopy roof, a distinctive feature of the building’s design, while a visitor car park and coach park, with capacity for 500 and 30 vehicles respectively, have been laid out and are clearly visible.

Precious objects on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum are currently being conserved by English Heritage staff ready for display.

They will form the centrepiece of the permanent exhibition at the new building, helping to tell the story of Stonehenge in vivid detail.

Next month volunteers will help with an archaeological experiment at Old Sarum Castle near Salisbury where prototypes of Neolithic houses excavated at Durrington Walls will be built. The lessons learned from this experiment will inform the reconstruction of three Neolithic houses at the outdoor gallery of the new visitor centre in Spring 2014, offering visitors a glimpse of the lives of prehistoric people.

The A344 road between Stonehenge Bottom and Byway 12 will be closed at the end of June, once the new roundabout at Airman’s Corner is operational. Work will follow to remove the fences along this section of road and the road surface itself will be removed and grassed over.

No part of the Stonehenge operation will close while the works are being carried out, and the switchover to the new visitor centre will happen overnight. Until then, access to the existing Stonehenge car park will continue along the A344 but from the west via the A360 and Airman’s Corner.

The date of the opening at the end of 2013 will be announced later in the year.

Full article in the Wiltshire Times: http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/10237112.Stonehenge_transformation_work_well_on_schedule/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





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





Stonehenge Project Update. December 2012

8 12 2012

As Stonehenge gears up for winter, we wanted to let you know we’re making good progress with the new visitor centre at Airman’s Corner. This time next year, work will have been completed and we’ll be busy preparing for the opening.

As you can see from the photo below, the visitor centre and the car park are  taking shape behind the hoardings. The building should be water-tight by Christmas and a ‘bird cage’ scaffold will be used in the New Year to help install the delicate canopy roof.

Aerial view of Airman's Corner

Aerial view of Airman’s Corner

We’ve taken great care with the design and construction of the building – disruption to the ground has been kept to a minimum and we have used locally sourced materials wherever possible.

The new visitor centre taking shape

The new visitor centre taking shape

At Last, a Proper Place to Tell Stonehenge’s Story

A visit to the stones will, for the first time, be enhanced by special exhibition galleries curated by English Heritage experts which will tell the story of Stonehenge and its relationship with the wider landscape. They will feature important objects excavated near Stonehenge kindly loaned by the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

Curators discussing the objects on loan from the two local museums

Curators discussing the objects on loan from the two local museums

Neolithic Builders Needed

One exciting feature of the outdoor gallery is the reconstruction of three Neolithic houses based on rare evidence of buildings unearthed near Stonehenge. We need volunteers to help us build three prototype houses at Old Sarum Castle in spring 2013 and then build the actual houses at the new visitor centre in autumn 2013. To find out more or to register your interest, please go to Stonehenge volunteering.

An attempt at reconstructing a Neolithic house in East Sussex

An attempt at reconstructing a Neolithic house in East Sussex

Business As Usual at Stonehenge

The construction work is not visible from Stonehenge at all; throughout the construction period Stonehenge will continue to welcome visitors at its existing facilities.

An opening date for the new visitor building will be announced in 2013, and the switch-over to the new facilities will be overnight so that there will be no disruption to visitors.

When the new visitor centre and its captivating galleries open in winter 2013, we will start dismantling the existing facilities and restore the landscape around the stones. We look forward to keeping you posted as these exciting developments progress.

Computer-generated image of the new visitor centre when completed

Computer-generated image of the new visitor centre when completed

Road Improvements

We understand the closure of the A344 has raised some concerns – it’s a vital change to help create a more tranquil and dignified setting for Stonehenge, but we are working hard to mitigate the impact. The Highways Agency is carrying out works to improve the capacity of Longbarrow Roundabout to cope with the diverted traffic (see details below) and the section of the A344 between Stonehenge Bottom and Byway 12 will only close when these improvements are complete in May 2013. The rest of the road will remain open until we move operations to Airman’s Corner.

Work is also underway to improve the Airman’s Corner roundabout. During the construction, we’re keeping the use of traffic lights to a minimum but some are needed to ensure safe traffic flow.

Longbarrow Roundabout Roadworks (A303/A360 Junction)

The Highways Agency has started a six-month scheme to improve the Longbarrow roundabout at the junction of the A360 and A303. The proposed improvements to the northern and eastern approaches to the roundabout will accommodate changes in traffic flows following the planned A344 closure in May 2013. New lanes will be added to the roundabout to take the extra traffic caused by the closure of the A344 and the centre of the roundabout itself will be realigned.

During the works, there will be lane closures on the northern and eastern approaches to Longbarrow roundabout and a temporary 40mph speed limit in place. The A360 south of Longbarrow will be closed for up to eight days and nights on dates to be confirmed in either February or March 2013. Diversion routes will be in operation using the A345 or the A36 depending on journey destinations.

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding the project please email English Heritage atstonehenge.project@english-heritage.org.uk

Link source: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk

Stonhenge News Blog sponsored by Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge





Improvements to A303 Stonehenge World Heritage Site

1 11 2012

Work which will allow visitors to enjoy an improved experience when visiting the Stonehenge World Heritage Site will start on the A303 in Wiltshire on Monday, 5 November.

Stonehenge road improvementsThe six month scheme will involve improvements to the Longbarrow roundabout at the junction of the A360 and A303. This will allow the closure of the A344, which runs next to the Stonehenge monument.

Highways Agency project sponsor, Mark Arberry, said: “This is an important contribution to the long term management plan for Stonehenge to improve the setting of the monument and ensure its preservation as an iconic World Heritage Site. “The proposed improvements to the northern and eastern approaches to the roundabout will accommodate changes in traffic flows following the A344 closure and the centre of the roundabout itself will be moved.”

New lanes will be added to the roundabout to take the extra traffic caused by the closure of the A344 and the centre of the roundabout itself will be realigned.

English Heritage has been fully consulted during planning for the scheme and an archaeologist will be on site during the excavation work.

Traffic signals will be used for minor advanced works on the A360 north of the roundabout for one week between 9am and 3pm from the 29 October. The main work will require lane closures on the approaches to Longbarrow Roundabout for the duration of the work with a temporary 40mph speed limit in place.. The A360 south of Longbarrow will be closed for up to eight days and nights on dates to be confirmed during either February or March. Clearly signed diversion routes will be in operation using the A345 or the A36 dependant on journey destinations.

The scheme has been planned to cause the least possible disruption but road users are advised to allow extra time for their journeys.

Traffic updates: http://www.fleetdirectory.co.uk/

Stonehenge news blog sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTours.com
F
ollow us on Twitter for updates: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin at Stonehenge

 





Lasers at Stonehenge. British Archaelogy

12 10 2012

At last, after all these years, we’ve got the very first comprehensive study of the actual stones at Stonehenge. As part of its research into Stonehenge and its landscape that will feed into displays at the new visitor centre, English Heritage commissioned Greenhatch Group surveyors to produce the first complete, high resolution 3D digital model of Stonehenge and its immediate landscape, using lasers and a bit of photogrammetry. (http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/)

At last, after all these years, we’ve got the very first comprehensive study of the actual stones at Stonehenge

Then Marcus Abbott (ArcHeritage) and Hugo Anderson-Whymark (freelance lithics specialist) analysed the data, created new digital images and news ways of seeing them, added some of their own photos and spent time amongst the real stones.

In one sense the results are not surprising: it was obvious to anyone with eyes that that we could learn a lot about Stonehenge with a proper study of the stones. And yes, we have learnt a lot. But just about all the details are revelatory.

There are four different areas where new things are really going to change the way we think about the monument:

  • how the stones were dressed and what the original monument looked like
  • prehistoric carvings – difficult to see and unknown to visitors: the new discoveries have doubled the number of such carvings known in the whole of Britain
  • damage by tourists: the scale of damage done by souvenir collectors in the 18th and 19th centuries had not been recognised before
  • graffiti: dates range between 1721 and 1866, though most were carved 1800–1850 – and they’re almost everywhere.

And this must be just the beginning. There are more details yet to see (there is still scope for new and higher resolution survey), and new things to think about in the vast data set.

http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/

If you know Stonehenge, from this alone you can see at once how much new information has been revealed. Amongst other things, it seems fair to draw from this (and other new data) that the sarsen circle probably WAS complete; and that the whole thing was designed to be seen from the north-east, approaching up the Avenue – so the implication follows that the setting midwinter sun you’d be facing to the south-west was the key alignment.

British Archaeology also published the pioneering Stonehenge laser study done in 2002.

Please follow Mike Pitts excellent archaelogy Blog: http://mikepitts.wordpress.com/
L
ink: http://www.archaeologyuk.org/ba/ba73/index.shtml
L
ink: http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/

 

British Archaeology magazine

 

The Council for British Archaeology’s award-winning bi-monthly magazine is the authoritative, in-depth source of information and comment on what’s new, interesting and important in UK archaeology.
Link: http://new.archaeologyuk.org/british-archaeology-magazine

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

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge – New Evidence for its Solstitial Function and Approach

9 10 2012

Using the latest 3D laser scanning technology, an English Heritage analysis of Stonehenge has found new evidence of the importance of the two solstices to its creators, including that of the midwinter sunset.

Approach and View from North East Important
The laser scan has revealed significant differences in the way the stones were shaped and worked. These differences show that Stonehenge was not only aligned with the solstices, but that the view of the monument from the Avenue, its ancient processional way to the north east, was particularly important. To approach and view the stone circle from this direction means that the midwinter sunset had special meaning to prehistoric people, and that they made deliberate efforts to create a dramatic spectacle for those approaching the monument from the north east.

The view of Stonehenge as seen from the north east, a view now found to be most important to the creators.

The view of Stonehenge as seen from the north east, a view now found to be most important to the creators.

Stones in the North East Segment Larger and More Uniform

A detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge reveals that those stones on the outer sarsen circle visible when approaching from the north east have been completely pick dressed – that is, the brown and grey crust on the surface has been removed exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface. By contrast, the outer faces of surviving uprights in the south-western segment of the circle were not pick dressed.

These stones facing north-east are also the largest and most uniform in shape, unlike the south-western segment of the monument where there are several smaller and more irregular stones. The lintels are also exceedingly well worked and finished, compared to those that survive elsewhere in the monument.

Stones on Solstitial Axis most Carefully Shaped and Dressed

The study also shows that the techniques and amounts of labour used vary from stone to stone. These variations provide almost definitive proof that it was the intent of Stonehenge’s builders to align the monument with the two solstices along a north-east/south-west axis.

The sides of the stones that flanked the solstice axis were found to have been most carefully worked to form very straight and narrow rectangular slots. These stones include two of the north-east facing sarsens in the outer circle, the Great Trilithon in the inner sarsen horseshoe, and a now isolated upright stone in the south-west segment of the outer circle.

Since all other stones have visibly more natural, less neat outlines, this strongly suggests that special effort was made to dress those that flank the NE/SW axis to allow a more dramatic and obvious passage of sunlight through the stone circle on midsummer and midwinter solstices.

Laser scan of the Great Trilithon reveals its extremely straight, neat outline and smooth surface, compared with all the other trilithons. It suggests that Stonehenge creators made deliberate efforts to shape and dress it more carefully due to its special position on the solstice axis, just as they did for other stones that flank this axis.

Laser scan of the Great Trilithon reveals its extremely straight, neat outline and smooth surface, compared with all the other trilithons. It suggests that Stonehenge creators made deliberate efforts to shape and dress it more carefully due to its special position on the solstice axis, just as they did for other stones that flank this axis.

Solstitial Alignment Currently Severed by Road to be Restored

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director at English Heritage, said: “The new presentation of Stonehenge will enable visitors to appreciate the importance of the solstitial alignment far better. It’s why we are closing the A344 – which severs the alignment – to enable the stone circle to be reunited with the Avenue.”

The new Stonehenge visitor centre at Airman’s Corner, 1.5 miles west and out of sight of Stonehenge, is scheduled to open in late 2013.

Findings Exceed Expectations

Analysis of the laser scan has also led to the discovery of many more prehistoric carvings, including 71 new Bronze Age axeheads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known at Stonehenge to 115.

Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “We didn’t expect the results to be so revealing about the architecture of Stonehenge. It has given further scientific basis to the theory of the solstitial alignment and the importance of the approach to the monument from the Avenue in mid winter.

“Analysis of the different techniques used to dress the stones may even help to refine the chronology of the construction. Disappointing to some, the scan has also ruled out many poorly defined lines and hollows previously thought to be possible prehistoric carvings.”

English Heritage commissioned the first comprehensive laser survey on Stonehenge in 2011. Archaeological analysis was then carried out to examine the high-resolution data that was produced for all the stone surfaces.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/stonehenge-solstitial-function/

Blog sponsored bt ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTour.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





The Solstice connection. Laser scanning uncovers new Stonehenge evidence.

8 10 2012

English Heritage experts have used 3D laser scanning technology to discover new evidence of the importance of the two solstices to its creators.
The laser scan has revealed significant differences in the way the stones were shaped and worked. These differences show that Laser scanning uncovers new Stonehenge evidence Stonehenge was not only aligned with the solstices, but that the view of the monument from the Avenue, its ancient processional way to the north east, was particularly important.

To approach and view the stone circle from this direction means that the midwinter sunset had special meaning to prehistoric people, and that they made deliberate efforts to create a dramatic spectacle for those approaching the monument from the north east.
A detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge reveals that those stones on the outer sarsen circle visible when approaching from the north east have been completely pick dressed – that is, the brown and grey crust on the surface has been removed exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface. By contrast, the outer faces of surviving uprights in the south-western segment of the circle were not pick dressed.
These stones facing north-east are also the largest and most uniform in shape, unlike the south-western segment of the monument where there are several smaller and more irregular stones. The lintels are also exceedingly well worked and finished, compared to those that survive elsewhere in the monument.
The study also shows that the techniques and amounts of labour used vary from stone to stone. These variations provide almost definitive proof that it was the intent of Stonehenge’s builders to align the monument with the two solstices along a NE/SW axis.
The sides of the stones that flanked the solstice axis were found to have been most carefully worked to form very straight and narrow rectangular slots. These stones include two of the north-east facing sarsens in the outer circle, the Great Trilithon in the inner sarsen horseshoe, and a now isolated upright stone in the south-west segment of the outer circle.
Since all other stones have visibly more natural, less neat outlines, this strongly suggests that special effort was made to dress those that flank the NE/SW axis to allow a more dramatic and obvious passage of sunlight through the stone circle on midsummer and midwinter solstices.
Professor Clive Ruggles, Emeritus Professor of Archaeo-astronomy at University of Leicester, said: “This extraordinary new evidence not only confirms the importance of the solstitial alignment at Stonehenge, but also shows unequivocally that the formal approach was always intended to be from the north-east, up the Avenue towards the direction of midwinter sunset.

“We see how the utmost care and attention was devoted to ensuring the pristine appearance of Stonehenge for those completing their final approach to the monument at the two times of the year when sunlight shines along the alignment – when those approaching had the midsummer rising sun behind or the midwinter setting sun ahead.”

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director at English Heritage, said: “The new presentation of Stonehenge will enable visitors to appreciate the importance of the solstitial alignment far better. It’s why we are closing the A344 – which severs the alignment – to enable the stone circle to be reunited with the Avenue.”

The new Stonehenge visitor centre at Airman’s Corner, 1.5 miles west and out of sight of Stonehenge, is scheduled to open in late 2013.

Analysis of the laser scan has also led to the discovery of many more prehistoric carvings, including 71 new Bronze Age axeheads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known in Stonehenge to 115.

Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “We didn’t expect the results of a laser scan to be so revealing about the architecture of Stonehenge and its function.”

English Heritage commissioned the first comprehensive laser survey on Stonehenge in 2011. Archaeological analysis was then carried out to examine the high-resolution data that was produced for all the stone surfaces.

Link Source:http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/9971558.Laser_scanning_uncovers_new_Stonehenge_evidence/?ref=twtrec
Link: High definition surveying. Laser scanning to 3D models & 2D drawing www.terrainsurveys.co.uk/
Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2011/09/16/3d-stonehenge-model-unveiled/
Link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/2011/03/10/laser-scan-for-stonehenge-secrets/

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge life-sized Neolithic homes to be built

2 10 2012

A contract to build three life-sized Neolithic homes at Stonehenge in Wiltshire has been put out to tender.

English Heritageis inviting contractors to bid for the £60,000 project, which is part of a £27m scheme to improve the setting of the monument.

Using authentic materials, the prehistoric homes will be based on those excavated at Durrington Walls.

English Heritage said the buildings will provide a “real and tangible link for visitors to the distant past”.

The Neolithic homes will be based on dwellings excavated at nearby Durrington Walls

The Neolithic homes will be based on dwellings excavated at nearby Durrington Walls

The £27m scheme to build a new visitor centre and close the road alongside the ancient monument, was begun in July.

But a “key aim” for the new centre is to create “a sense of prehistoric people using, working and living in the landscape”, an English Heritage spokesperson said.

‘Interactive and experimental’

The recreated Neolithic buildings will form part of an “interactive and experiential” external exhibition at the 3,500-year-old World Heritage site which receives more than one million visitors a year.

“Visitors will be able to walk into these houses, see how people may have lived 4,500 years ago and experience something of the lifestyle of the builders who constructed Stonehenge,” the spokesperson said.

The prehistoric homes will be based on the foundations of dwellings discovered at Durrington Walls in 2007.

The large settlement, dating back to 2600-2500 BC, was discovered under earthworks 3km (2 miles) from the stone circle.

‘Learning project’

“We’ve had about 15 to 20 contractors – mainly architects, traditional builders and civil engineers – respond,” said Robert Campbell from English Heritage.

“But it’s a learning project – the contractor will be working with volunteers, using Neolithic building techniques and materials which hopefully will have been collected from the local area.

“It’s a fantastic learning experience – but quite a commitment.”

A prototype Neolithic house will be erected at Old Sarum in early 2013 with the new visitor centre at Stonehenge due to open in Autumn 2013. Link source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-19797815

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

Merlin says “I want to live in one”

The Stonehenge News Blog








%d bloggers like this: