Britain may pull out of UNESCO

1 03 2011

Britain is threatening to withdraw its support for the United Nations agency

Avebury Stone Circle

Avebury Stone Circle

Unesco has designated more than 900 cultural and natural world heritage sites and 28 are in the UK including the City of Bath, Stonehenge, Avebury and Dorset and east Devon’s coastline.

Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, is expected to reveal tomorrow that aid to about 16 countries will end and that more than half a dozen UN agencies will either lose British help completely, or be warned they face losing it unless they reform.

UNESCO – United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization: an agency of the United Nations that promotes education and communication and the arts

http://whc.unesco.org/
http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/news/UK-pull-funding-heritage-sites/article-3274100-detail/article.html
Sponsors: The Stonehenge Tour Company

Merlin @ Stonehenge  and Avebury
The Stonehenge Website





Stonehenge Druids – The mysterious guardians of the ancient Celtic knowledge.

7 02 2011
Druids_celebrating_at_Stonehenge

Druids_celebrating_at_Stonehenge

The Druids were the priests of the Celtic religion during the Iron Age

The Druids were the priests of the Celtic religion during the Iron Age which was before the Romans invaded Britain.

The Druids has been popularly associated with Stonehenge ever since an earlier researcher John Aubrey said in 1666 that stone circles were built and used by Druids as places where they conducted their rituals.

Today we know that this ancient Druid connection to Stonehenge is not true.

Druids and most of what we know of them today have been written about by Julius Ceasar and Pliny during the Gaelic wars.

According to Ceasar Druids chose to conduct their rituals in densely wooded areas and did not built special places to perform their ceremonies. Druid comes from the Celtic word for “knowing the oak tree

Pliny writes mostly about the Druids practicing medicine and sorcery.

According to him the Druids held the mistletoe plant in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. Mistletoe grows on the oak trees and a priest dressed in a white robe would cut it with a golden knife. It was the custom that two white bulls were to be sacrificed on the spot.

Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses to be learned by heart and a novice would apparently train for up to 20 years to prepare for his duties as a guardian of the sacred knowledge.

It is interesting that many Druids were women. Celtic woman enjoyed more freedom and rights than women in any other contemporary society. They had the right to enter a battle and even divorce their husbands.

The modern version of the Druids is known as The Ancient Order of Druids and was formed in 1781. Neo Druidism is apparently based on Freemasonry.

The Ancient Order of Druids was not able to hold a ceremony at Stonehenge until 1905 and at this occasion 650 of them arrived for a mass initiation.

They erected their own marquee and were well stocked with food and drink.

Druids Autumb Equinox

Druids Autumb Equinox

Apparently they used a secret password to keep outsiders outside. Sir Edmund Antrobus the then owner of Stonehenge was also one of the 258 novices present to be initiated.

After the feasting the initiates were blindfolded and led into the stone circle while an anthem which was especially composed for the event was played.

The ceremony was lead by GA Lardner, Most Noble Grand Arch Brother of the Order who waved his battleaxe over a so called sacred fire. After he recited the sacred oath the blindfolds were removed and everyone apparently had a hearty singsong of the anthem.

Over the years a number of famous names have had involvement with the Druids.

Here are some of their members;

Winston Churchill – Prime Minister

Ludwig van Beethoven – Composer.

Benjamin Franklin – Politician and American President.

Salvador Dali –Artist.

More recently Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the head of the Anglican Church was initiated as a member.

Today Druids mostly gather at Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstice days.

which was before the Romans invaded Britain. The Druids has been popularly associated with Stonehenge ever since an earlier researcher John Aubrey said in 1666 that stone circles were built and used by Druids as places where they conducted their rituals. Today we know that this ancient Druid connection to Stonehenge is not true. Druids and most of what we know of them today have been written about by Julius Ceasar and Pliny during the Gaelic wars. According to Ceasar Druids chose to conduct their rituals in densely wooded areas and did not built special places to perform their ceremonies. Druid comes from the Celtic word for “knowing the oak tree” Pliny writes mostly about the Druids practicing medicine and sorcery. According to him the Druids held the mistletoe plant in the highest veneration. Groves of oak were their chosen retreat. Mistletoe grows on the oak trees and a priest dressed in a white robe would cut it with a golden knife. It was the custom that two white bulls were to be sacrificed on the spot. Druidic lore consisted of a large number of verses to be learned by heart and a novice would apparently train for up to 20 years to prepare for his duties as a guardian of the sacred knowledge. It is interesting that many Druids were women. Celtic woman enjoyed more freedom and rights than women in any other contemporary society. They had the right to enter a battle and even divorce their husbands. The modern version of the Druids is known as The Ancient Order of Druids and was formed in 1781. Neo Druidism is apparently based on Freemasonry. The Ancient Order of Druids was not able to hold a ceremony at Stonehenge until 1905 and at this occasion 650 of them arrived for a mass initiation. They erected their own marquee and were well stocked with food and drink. Apparently they used a secret password to keep outsiders outside. Sir Edmund Antrobus the then owner of Stonehenge was also one of the 258 novices present to be initiated. Image Credit After the feasting the initiates were blindfolded and led into the stone circle while an anthem which was especially composed for the event was played. The ceremony was lead by GA Lardner, Most Noble Grand Arch Brother of the Order who waved his battleaxe over a so called sacred fire. After he recited the sacred oath the blindfolds were removed and everyone apparently had a hearty singsong of the anthem. Over the years a number of famous names have had involvement with the Druids. Here are some of their members; Winston Churchill – Prime Minister Ludwig van Beethoven – Composer. Benjamin Franklin – Politician and American President. Salvador Dali –Artist. More recently Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the head of the Anglican Church was initiated as a member. Today Druids mostly gather at Stonehenge during the summer and winter solstice days.

External links:
The British Druid Order – http://www.druidry.co.uk/
The Council of Druid Orders – http://www.cobdo.org.uk/
The Druid Network – druidnetwork.org
Stonehenge Guide – stonehengeguide.com
Stonehenge Tours – StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone circle Website





Sarsen stones – Shaped like wood 42 centuries ago

5 02 2011

Sarsen stones are the very large stones that forms the outer circle at Stonehenge.

These stones are a very hard type of sandstone. Now to give one a clear idea as to how hard this particular stone is we will take a look at the Mohs scale.

The Mohs scale is simply a measurement used to measure the surface resistance to abrasion of any hard substance.

That just means that if we take a hammer and bash the stone how much will it resist before we can knock a chunk off it.

Sarsen stone measures a seven (7) on the Mohs scale.

Now, if we compare the surface resistance of sarsen stone to that of steel we find that steel measures 6,7 on the same scale.

So, we now know that sarsen stone is a very hard stone and we can appreciate how difficult it must have been to shape the stone with ancient tools.

Sarsen stones were worked and dressed with other sarsen stone which were round balls of stone known as mauls. The mauls were of various sizes and can today be viewed at the Salisbury museum.

From exploration at Stonehenge it would appear that there were 30 stones that were used as “uprights”.

Of these “uprights” 29 of them were shaped to the same basic size.

When the sarsen “uprights” were placed into position they were then capped with a line of sarsen stone lintels.

The lintels weighs up to seven tons ( 7,000kg.) each.

To fix the lintels securely in position thirteen feet or 4m. above the ground these lintels were locked together like pieces in a jigsaw.

The lintels were held in place on the upright sarsen stones by mortice-and-tenon joints which was carved out of the solid stone.

The lintels in the circle were then locked end-to-end by a method known as vertical tongue and groove joints.

The vertical tongue and groove jointing techniqueThe jointing techniques used on the sarsen stones are all from the wood joiners craft.

Another amazing feature is that the lintel circle of sarsen stones were shaped to follow the curve of the circle which is both a design and engineering feature.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Avebury to Stonehenge – The Hero Walk 2011

27 01 2011

The Hero Walk – In support of our wounded – 26th June 2011
The Hero Walk is a very tough challenge over the high chalk downs and ridge ways of Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain. At 26 miles it forms a marathon for runners and a great challenge for walkers. This challenge is a diverse trek over marathon distance, going back through 6,000 years of British history; the magnificent prehistoric stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge need little introduction. The challenge will start in Avebury, where we will be able to get up close to the ancient stones before heading off via the mysterious ancient landmark of Silbury Hill. Silbury is the tallest man-made mound in Europe, however its purpose is still unknown.

We will then cross the spectacular chalk downs dotted with ancient earth-works, burial mounds and get up close to the enigmatic white horses carved into the chalk. In clear weather we will be able to see more here, as views of other valleys open up to us. The route takes in the highest point in Wiltshire (295m) and travels through the most active crop circle area in the world – keep your eyes open!

Crossing into MOD land you will either walk (or run!) through stunning areas little used by the general public, that have become a haven for wildlife and plants. Our route continues to undulate but the main hills are behind us and we start to anticipate the finish line at the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. A short section of quiet road is a sign that we are nearing civilisation, and before long the world-renowned ancient circle of stones looms on the horizon before us. There is then time to celebrate with fellow walkers and runners before returning home. We look forward to seeing you there!

Avebury to Stonehenge Hero Walk 2011 Itinerary . . .

The 26-mile walk will take approximately 8-9 hours for fit and strong walkers. Our day starts at Avebury, which lies at the centre of one of the greatest surviving concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in Western Europe. We’ll enjoy Avebury’s magic in the quiet of the early morning before heading via the Silbury Hill.

Help for Heroes

Help for Heroes

 

Dropping down into the village of Alton Barnes, we follow the Kennet and Avon canal east. From there we head south and join the White Horse trail to the Pewsey White Horse from where we have fabulous views of the surrounding chalk landscape. We descend the hill and continue along the trail to the Kennet and Avon Canal; this is a fabulous example of industrial revolution engineering. Crossing into MOD land we will either walk (or run!) through stunning areas little used by the general public and a haven for wildlife and plants. After this long day of great views and leg-stretching hills we will reach the final destination: Stonehenge, the most famous stone circle in the world.

DONATE NOW – CLICK HERE
REGISTER ONLINE
http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/challenges-2011-avebury-stonehenge.html

Do your bit and get involved!
Sponsers: ‘Stonehenge Tour Company’

The Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Spring Equinox 2011

5 01 2011

The exact time for the Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge 2011 is;The sunset on the 20th is at 6.13pm and the sunrise on the 21th of March at 6.02am.

Druids - Stonehenge spring equinix

Druids - Stonehenge spring equinix

March 20th, 23.21 UCT.

 English Heritage did not confirm the date for Open Access for Stonehenge for the Spring Equinox 2011 yet, but most likely this will be dawn on the 21st of March.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our sponsors ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ are offering transport from London. They have been offering ‘non obtrusive’ small group guided tours of the solstice and equinox events for many years and we welcome their approach and ‘thought provoking’ trips.  It works out much cheaper and possible at that time of the morning.  See you there…….

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle website





Geminid meteor shower set for clear skies

13 12 2010

With cloudless skies possible over Stonehenge and many parts of Britain, this year’s shooting stars could be particularly memorable

Lovers of the night sky could be in for a treat tonight as clear conditions are predicted for one of the best astronomical shows of the year.

Some experts believe the annual Geminid meteor shower is becoming more spectacular – though if it is, nobody is sure why – and with cloudless skies possible in many parts of the country, this year’s event could be a particularly memorable one.

At its peak and in a clear, dark sky, up to 100 meteors – or shooting stars – may be seen every hour. The best time to see it is expected to be late on Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday after the moon has set.

In comparison with other showers, Geminid meteors travel fairly slowly, at about 22 miles per second. They are bright and have a yellowish hue, making them distinct and easy to spot.

Meteors are the result of small particles entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, burning up and super-heating the air around them, which shines as a characteristic short-lived streak of light. In the case of the Geminids, the debris is associated with the asteroidal object 3200 Phaethon, which many astronomers believe to be an extinct comet.

National Trust list of the best places to watch the shower

• Stonehenge area in Wiltshire – chalk downland and crystal clear skies.

 Teign Valley in Devon, within Dartmoor national park.

• Penbryn Beach, on the Ceredigion coast in west Wales.

• Wicken Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire – dark skies and nocturnal wildlife.

• Mam Tor in Derbyshire, an escape from the bright lights of cities such as Sheffield.

• Friar’s Crag in Cumbria, jutting out into Derwentwater.

See you at Stonehenge tonight

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle website





Woodhenge: Is this one of the greatest discoveries of archaeology…or a simple farmer’s fence?

12 12 2010

The discovery of a wooden version of Stonehenge – a few hundred yards from the famous monument – was hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds for decades.

But now experts are at loggerheads after claims that what was thought to be a Neolithic temple was a rather more humble affair – in fact the remains of a wooden fence.

One leading expert on Stonehenge criticised the announcement of the ‘remarkable’ find in July as ‘hasty’ and warned it could become a ‘PR embarrassment’.

The site, ringed, in a Seventies chart, which experts say shows a fenceMapped: The site, ringed, in a Seventies chart, which experts say shows a fence

 

The radar image said to reveal the post holes of a Neolithic temple‘Evidence’: The radar image said to reveal the post holes of a Neolithic temple

The discovery of what appeared to be a previously unknown ‘henge’, or earthwork, by a team of archaeologists conducting a multi-million-pound study of Salisbury Plain was widely reported amid great excitement.

The team said they had found evidence of a ring of 24 3ft-wide pits that could have supported timber posts up to 12ft tall, surrounded by an 80ft-wide ditch and bank.

They explained that, just like Stonehenge, the entrances to the site were aligned so that on the summer solstice the sun’s rays would enter the centre of the ring. Holes where the wooden posts once stood were identified below the ground using the latest high-resolution geophysical radar-imaging equipment.

An artist's impression of how Woodhenge may have been 5,000 years agoCircle of confusion: An artist’s impression of how Woodhenge may have been 5,000 years ago

Team leader Professor Vince Gaffney of Birmingham University said the ritual monument had been built about 5,000 years ago, making it roughly the same age as its stone counterpart 980 yards away, and it could have been used for Stone Age feasts or elaborate funerals.

He said the find showed Stonehenge had not existed in ‘splendid isolation’ and he predicted further discoveries during the three-year survey of five square miles of countryside around Stonehenge.

But sceptics have now suggested that the evidence is far from conclusive, especially as it appears from images of the plot produced by the Birmingham team that the ring of post holes was not arranged in a circle but was angular and more like a hexagon.

How a Neolithic visitor may have lookedHow a Neolithic visitor may have looked

Mike Pitts, editor of the magazine British Archaeology and an acknowledged expert on Stonehenge, said he had been prompted to study maps of the area after receiving a letter from an American reader.

In the spot where Prof Gaffney had claimed to have uncovered his post holes, Mr Pitts said he and
colleagues examined a Seventies Ordnance Survey map – and saw a fence marked out.

He thought it probably was an early 20th Century construction, erected by the then Government’s Office of Works or a local farmer to protect what was thought to have been the most important site in a cluster of burial mounds that were ancient but later than Stonehenge.

Mr Pitts said: ‘Vince Gaffney says his discovery encircles a burial mound within its circumference, but unless he has some unpublished material to substantiate his discovery, I am in no doubt that this was a modern fence line.

‘If I’m right then the post holes contained modern fencing stakes and they are actually in a hexagonal shape, not a circle.’

He added: ‘I think that perhaps what has happened is that the professor’s field workers have presented him with the wrong picture and he’s shot from the hip and made an over-hasty announcement. He’s generally known for the high quality of his work and his enthusiasm which, on this occasion, may have let him down.

‘The full publication of his results and small-scale excavations of the site would clinch the matter.’

But Prof Gaffney said: ‘We have mapped numerous fences and we know what they look like. The features appear to be 3ft across and as deep as 3ft. I have never seen a fence line that required holes that are 3ft across and 3ft deep.’

He said that in the fuzzy, black-and-white radar image the post holes appeared angular but that was partly due to the poor resolution of the picture and because such monuments were not perfect circles.

He went on: ‘The poles that would have stood in them would have been more like telegraph poles. You would not use them to build a fence.’

Prof Gaffney added that no metal such as old nails had been found in the holes, which would have
been expected.

‘On balance, we would still suggest this is a ritual monument of the late Neolithic period.’

 I love it when the ‘experts’ use the term ‘ritual‘ – in other words they do not know!
Related artile: New Woodhenge found

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1337890/Woodhenge-Is-greatest-discoveries-archaeology–simple-farmers-fence.html#ixzz1Dj4rwwBM

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Built With Balls?

12 12 2010

New experiment suggests monumental stones could have rolled on rails.

It’s one of Stonehenge‘s greatest mysteries: How did Stone Age Britons move 45-ton slabs across dozens of miles to create the 4,500-year-old stone circle?

U.K. archaeology students attempt to prove a rail-and-ball system could have moved Stonehenge stones

U.K. archaeology students attempt to prove a rail-and-ball system could have moved Stonehenge stones

Now a new theory says that, while the ancient builders didn’t have wheels, they may well have had balls. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

A previous theory suggested that the builders used wooden rollers—carved tree trunks laid side by side on a constructed hard surface. Another imagined huge wooden sleds atop greased wooden rails.

But critics say the rollers’ hard pathway would have left telltale gouges in the landscape, which have never been found. And the sled system, while plausible, would have required huge amounts of manpower—hundreds of men at a time to move one of the largest Stonehenge stones, according to a 1997 study.

Andrew Young, though, says Stonehenge’s slabs, may have been rolled over a series of balls lined up in grooved rails, according to a November 30 statement from Exeter University in the U.K., where Young is a doctoral student in biosciences.

Young first came up with the ball bearings idea when he noticed that carved stone balls were often found near Neolithic stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (map).

“I measured and weighed a number of these stone balls and realized that they are all precisely the same size—around 70 millimeters [3 inches] in diameter—which made me think they must have been made to be used in unison, rather than alone,” he told National Geographic News.

The balls, Young admitted, have been found near stone circles only in Aberdeenshire and the Orkney Islands (map)—not on Stonehenge’s Salisbury Plain.

But, he speculated, at southern sites, including Stonehenge (map), builders may have preferred wooden balls, which would have rotted away long ago. For one thing, wooden balls are much faster to carve. For another, they’re much lighter to transport.

Proof of Concept

To test his theory, Young first made a small-scale model of the ball-and-rail setup.

“I discovered I could push over a hundred kilograms [220 pounds] of concrete using just one finger,” he said.

With the help of his supervisor, Bruce Bradley, and partial funding from the PBS series Nova, Young recently scaled up his experiment to see if the ball-and-track system could be used to move a Stonehenge-weight stone.

Sure enough, they found that, with just seven people pushing, they could easily move a four-ton load—about as heavy as Stonehenge’s smaller stones.

Using the ball system, Young said, “I estimate it would be possible to cover 20 miles [32 kilometers] in a day” by leapfrogging track segments.

But the inner circle’s “sarsen” stones weigh not 4 tons but up to about 45 tons. Young suspects a Stone Age system could have handled much heavier loads than his experimental one.

For one thing, he thinks oxen, not people, provided the pulling power—an idea supported by the remains of burned ox bones found in ditches around many stone circles.

For another, Britain’s old-growth forests hadn’t yet been razed 4,500 years ago, so the builders would have had easy access to cured oak. This tough wood—which was beyond the modern project’s budget—would have resulted in a stronger, more resilient system than the soft, “greenwood” system the researchers built.
Stonehenge Experiment Needs Scaling Up

Civil engineer Mark Whitby, who’s been involved with other Stonehenge-construction experiments, thinks the ball method could work for smaller stones but isn’t convinced it could shift a sarsen.

“The problem will be when the tip of the ball bears on the timber trough, it will bite” into the trough, possibly splitting the rail, said Whitby, who runs London-based +Whitby Structural Engineers. “When transporting lighter stones, this won’t be a problem. But when they get to 30 and 40 tons, it will be.”

Instead, Whitby prefers the sled theory—and even helped prove a sled could move a 40-ton replica sarsen for a 1997 BBC documentary.

Archaeologist David Batchelor, meanwhile, thinks the ball idea is plausible but isn’t completely convinced.

The ball technique “seems to be a development of the sledge method,” said Batchelor, of the government agency English Heritage. “But the added complexity needed to channel the track runners and then make the ball bearings all of one size seems to me a lot of work, which is probably unnecessary when animal-fat grease does the job.”

Research leader Young counters that the sled system, even with its animal-fat lubrication, still results in a lot of friction.

“Using wooden balls almost removes friction from the system and makes for a really efficient method of moving heavy weights around,” he said.

Even so, Young realizes he needs to prove the new system can be scaled up to handle heavier loads. To that end, Young’s team is seeking funding to repeat the experiment—this time with harder wood, stone balls, and oxen

What a load of old balls……………………………..
Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Yule – Winter Solstice

9 12 2010
21st/22nd December
Yule or the Midwinter Solstice is the time of year when we experience our shortest day and longest night – the sun is at its lowest point in the sky at noon. Yule meaning ‘wheel’ is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice celebrations

Stonehenge Winter Solstice celebrations

In Wiltshire the winter solstice is still celebrated by the lighting up of the white horse at Alton Barnes. Tea lights in jars are placed on the chalk, so that the horse glows with candlelight.

Wassailing
New Year’s Eve was the traditional time that this ceremony took place, and was originally held around the oldest tree in the apple orchard. The first cider crop was poured on the roots of the apple tree to thank the tree spirits for the crop of apples, and to ensure a good harvest next year.

Drumming and bamging sticks would beat away any bad spirits, and the wassail cup would be passed around. Toast dipped in cider would then be hung on the oldest tree, as an offering to the tree dryads.
‘Wassail’ was Saxon for ‘good health’.

In the eleventh-century, the Danish rule over England brought the Scandinavian term for Christmas – Yule. Christmastide was the time to bring out the wassail bowl or cup. The leader of the celebrations would call ‘Wassail’, which was Old English for ‘your health’, and the answer was ‘Drinkhail’, at which the bowl was passed round so everyone took took a drink and handed it on with a kiss

Symbolism of Yule:

Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule:
Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.

Symbolism of Yule:

Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Stones of Yule:
Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule:
Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule

Spellworkings of Yule:
Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule:
Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

Our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Sun god at Yule, and the expulsion of the evil winter spirits. The winter solstice was considered a mysterious and powerful time, for it is at this point the sun begins to make the return journey across our skies. After the longest night of the year the sun is seen as growing stronger and the return of the warmer season is welcomed – the concept of rebirth became strongly associated with the Winter Solstice.

Three days after Yule many people exchange gifts and celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus, as our ancestors celebrated the return of light and the sun growing in strength. The well-known figure of Father Christmas may have derived from the Pagan god, Herne the Hunter.
Yule was celebrated with bonfires to stimulate the ascent of the sun, and lamps illuminated houses decorated with evergreens to simulate summer.

It is a time to look on the past year’s achievements. The days will now grow longer up to the mid summer solstice.

Yule Traditions

The Yule Log – during medieval times, the decorated log was ceremoniously carried into the home on Christmas Eve, and placed in the fireplace. Traditionally the Yule log was lit with the saved stump of last year’s log, and then it was burnt over the twelve days of the winter celebration, and its ashes and stump were kept until the following year to sprinkle on the new log, so that the fortune would be passed on from year to year.
In France and Germany ashes from the Yule log were mixed with the cattle feed to ensure their health and in other regions the ash was sprinkled around fruit trees to increase their yield of fruit.

Yule wreaths
were traditionally made of evergreens and holly and ivy. Holly represents the female and ivy the male and the wreath’s circle symbolizes the wheel of the year. Both holly and ivy were used as protection in the home against bad spirits making a Yuletide wreath
solstice wreath making





The Great Stones Way – Britain’s newest long-distance walking trail opens in March 2011

8 12 2010

The Great Stones Way, a superb new 30 mile walking trail between the World Heritage Sites at Avebury and Stonehenge, will become one of Britain’s best loved and most used walking routes. 

Passing through the landscapes of the Wiltshire Downs, the Vale of Pewsey, Salisbury Plain and the Avon Valley, The Great Stones Way will be a great walk in itself. The combination of immense vistas and magnificent archaeology along the route will be irresistible – no other walking route has so much ancient heritage packed into such an attractive 30 miles.

Alton Barnes Chalk Hill Figure
Alton Barnes Chalk Hill Figure

The Great Stones Way is being developed by The Friends of The Ridgeway using existing footpaths and rights of way. Ian Ritchie, Chairman of The Friends of The Ridgeway says: “The Great Stones Way is a vital part of our ambition to open up the whole 360 miles of the Great Ridgeway from the south coast to East Anglia.  The section between Avebury and Stonehenge is currently a big gap in that route, and The Great Stones Way will fill it brilliantly.”

The Great Stones Way will be launched on Saturday 26 March 2011 with a series of walks along the trail.  Ian Ritchie explains: “Ambitious and experienced walkers will want to do the whole 30 miles in one day, and there will be an alternative 13 mile route from Casterley Camp on Salisbury Plain to Stonehenge.  A gentle four miles from Durrington to Stonehenge will suit people who want to walk a shorter distance.”

In addition to the two great stone circles at the World Heritage Sites of Avebury and Stonehenge, The Great Stones Way passes Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Sanctuary, the Wansdyke, Adam’s Grave, Marden Henge, Broadbury Banks, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. 

“Because The Great Stones Way could take some people up to three days to walk its entire length, we are creating a series of shorter circular trails of varying lengths and challenges to suit walkers of all abilities,” says Ian Ritchie. The whole experience will be enhanced by a dedicated local bus service, the Henge Hopper, which will enable walkers to minimise the use of their cars and to plan their own walks along The Great Stones Way

The Friends of The Ridgeway commissioned a professional feasibility study which estimated that opening up The Great Stones Way will bring more than 250,000 visitors to the area and over £6million into the local rural economy each year.  This will benefit accommodation providers in nearby towns and villages as well as several pubs and village shops along the trail.

Claire Perry, Devizes MP supports the new walking trail: “I believe that The Great Stones Way will be a vital link at the heart of the Ridgeway.  It will take walkers over some of the most ancient and important paths in our great country and link two extraordinary World Heritage Sites.  To be able to walk along a well signposted and well surfaced path will be a pleasure for both British and overseas walkers and will bring important benefits to our local economy.”

The Friends of The Ridgeway group has already held several public meetings with parish councils and communities along the route, and more are planned.  The group is fund-raising to improve signage, install disability access gates, repair the path surface in places, and to produce The Great Stones Way guidebook. 

Details of the inaugural walk will be published on The Great Stones Way website www.greatstonesway.org.uk (currently under construction). Anyone who would like to take part or contribute to fund-raising can visit the website for more information or contact The Friends of the Ridgeway via www.ridgewayfriends.org.uk

If you have not got the tme or the energy there are a few tour companies offering guided tours using cars or mini coaches.  You could try the Stonehenge Tour Company based in London, the excellent Histouries UK private guided tours from Bath or London or Salisbury Guided Tours.  We also have several discounted tours available on our website – click here

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

 








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