Stonehenge project compares Neolithic building methods

17 04 2013

An experiment is under way here in Wiltshire to find out more about Neolithic building methods.

Using archaeological evidence unearthed from nearby Durrington Walls, three structures are being built at Old Sarum Castle, near Salisbury.

The project aims to recreate the buildings which may have existed in Neolithic times

The project aims to recreate the buildings which may have existed in Neolithic times

The English Heritage project aims to discover what was the most efficient way of building with locally-sourced materials.

The final reconstructions will be built at Stonehenge later this year.

They will be put up outside the new visitor centre.

The experiment is part of a £27m English Heritage scheme looking at how the setting of the ancient monument can be improved.

The recreated Neolithic buildings will form part of an “interactive and experiential” external exhibition at the 3,500-year-old World Heritage site.

The Dorset-based Ancient Technology Centre has been commissioned to construct the three prototype homes.

Luke Winter from the centre said the project aimed to look at what type of buildings may have been around at the time.

“The evidence from Durrington Walls several years ago brought to light the remains of several different types of building,” he said.

“We’re trying to reconstruct what they looked like above ground.

“On each of the three buildings we are trying different materials and methods and at the end we can say which is most likely to have been used

Link source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-22168354

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox 2013

16 03 2013

Four times a year the public can access the stone circle to celebrate the seasons: the Winter and Summer Solstices and the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes. Staff at English Heritage manage these events.

Seasonal festivals

It is generally accepted that Stonehenge was an ancient spiritual centre. Today, many people come to Stonehenge to welcome the sun and the seasons. There are four events each year when the stone circle is open to the public free of charge for a limited amount of time. These events are the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

equinox-druidsEnglish Heritage has opened the stone circle to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes for the last ten years. These events are open to anyone and everyone for a limited time period. Pagans and Druids attend and run the ceremonies. These events attract large audiences who come to Stonehenge for many reasons:

  • # to watch the ceremony
  • # for a celebratory experience
  • # to welcome the seasons.

People come from all over the country as well as from the local area. Local Pagan and Druid groups are heavily involved in the planning of these events.  The spring equinox access is a small peaceful gathering without facilities, parking is not available in the Stonehenge Car Park

The exact time for the 2013 Spring (or Vernal) equinox at Stonehenge is 11.02am ; Sunrise on the March 20th at 6.09am.

Open Access for Stonehenge on the Spring Equinox 2013 is expected to be on the 20th of March 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solstice Events UK have been offering ‘non obtrusive’ small group guided tours of the solstice and equinox events for many years and we welcome their approach and ‘thought provoking’ trips.  It works out much cheaper and certainly more convenient at that time of the morning. London departures can be booked here

Link: http://pagancalendar.co.uk/
Link: http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/longest-day/
Link:  http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-spring-equinox-tour-2013.htm
Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/education/resources/stonehenge/business-management/events/

Merlin says “See you there and remember – RESPECT THE STONES!”

Stonehenge on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehnege News Blog





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

9 03 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link Source:  The Guardian

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





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 to appear on One Show

15 02 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditions of the Deed: Free admission into Stonehenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge





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
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ollow us on Twitter for updates: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin at Stonehenge

 





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





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





Autumnal Equinox 2012

18 09 2012
The Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon) is celebrated when day and night are of equal duration before the descent into increasing darkness and is the final festival of the season of harvest.  For many pagans, this is the time to reflect on the past season, and to recognize the balance of the year has changed. 2012 Autumnal Equinox takes place on September 22nd, at 16.49am UK time , but when ‘open access’ to Stonehenge starts is decided by English Heritage and depends on visibility.

The sunrise is at 6.48am.  Equinox sunrise is Saturnday 22 September 2012, expect English Heritiage to open their gates around 6 a.m

Stonehenge EqunoxPublic access to Stonehenge is denied after dark, so if you want to see the sunset on September 22nd (18.59pm), you’ll have to stand on either the Avenue or on the side of the A344

The Autumnal Equinox

In September is the Fall Equinox, which has come to be called Mabon by many contemporary Neo-Pagans. Occuring approximately on September 21st, this is the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are once again balanced. Calender days from now until the Winter Solstice will slowly get shorter and shorter in their daylight hours.

Agriculturally, this time of year the harvest is now in full swing, with late summer and fall fruits, vegetables and grains being gathered up before winter. This is the time of year a lot of canning or preserving of garden foods takes place. Hunting season also starts around this time, and this was when farmers would slaughter animals and preserve meat for the coming months as well.

This holiday is the last of the harvest holidays which began with the summer solstice and continued with Lammas.

September 22nd Harvest time!
The Autumn Equinox or Harvest Home is also called Mabon, pronounced ‘MAY-bon’, after the Welsh god Mabon ap Modron, which means literally ‘son of mother’. Mabon appears in ‘The Mabinogion’ tale. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honour The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to the trees. The Welsh know this time as ‘Alban Elfed’, meaning ‘light of autumn’. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours, as at Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The Latin word for Equinox means ‘time of equal days and nights’. After this celebration the descent into winter brings hours of increasing darkness and chiller temperatures. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. After the Autumn Equinox the days shorten and nights lengthen. To astrologers this is the date on which the sun enters the sign of Libra, the scales, reflecting appropriately the balanced day and night of the equinox. This was also the time when the farmers brought in their harvested goods to be weighed and sold.

Harvest festival This is the second festival of the season of harvest – at the beginning of the harvest, at Lammas, winter retreated to his underworld, now at the Autumn equinox he comes back to earth. For our Celtic ancestors this was time to reflect on the past season and celebrate nature’s bounty and accept that summer is now over. Harvest Home marks a time of rest after hard work, and a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of nature. This is the time to look back on the past year and what you have achieved and learnt, and to plan for the future. The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and farmers would harvest their crops by then, as part of the second harvest celebration. Mabon was when livestock would be slaughtered and preserved (salted and smoked) to provide enough food for the winter. At the South Pole they will be celebrating the first appearance of the sun in six months. However, at the North Pole they will be preparing for six months of darkness. During Medieval times, the Christian Church replaced Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations with Christianized occasions. The Autumn equinox celebration was Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael.

The triple Goddess – worshipped by the Ancient Britons, is now in her aspect of the ageing Goddess and now passes from Mother to Crone, until she is reborn as a youthful virgin as the wheel of nature turns. At the Autumn equinox the goddess offers wisdom, healing and rest. Mabon Traditions The Wicker man There was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman. It was believed the sun or the corn spirit was trapped in the corn and needed to be set free. This effigy was usually burned in celebration of the harvest and the ashes would be spread on the fields. This annual sacrifice of a large wicker man (representing the corn spirit) is thought by many to have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices. ‘The reaping is over and the harvest is in, Summer is finished, another cycle begins’ In some areas of the country the last sheaf was kept inside until the following spring, when it would be ploughed back into the land. In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called ‘the Maiden’, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.

To Autumn O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit Beneath my shady roof, there thou may’st rest, And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe; And all the daughters of the year shall dance, Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers. William Blake Mabon is a time to reflect, as we reap the harvest of experience from the past year – the completion of another turn of the Great Wheel. Corn Dollies Corn dollies were also made from the last sheaf and kept in the house to protect the inhabitants from bad spirits during the long winter. Apples To honour the dead, it was also traditional at Mabon to place apples on burial cairns, as symbolism of rebirth and thanks. This also symbolizes the wish for the living to one day be reunited with their loved ones. Mabon is also known as the Feast of Avalon, deriving from the meaning of Avalon being, ‘the land of the apples’.

Merlin says “Equinoxes do not always occur on the same day each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years”

Link: http://pagancalendar.co.uk/

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for latest Equinox news and information – click here

Blog sponsored by  www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge –
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





A New Dawn for Stonehenge

26 07 2012

Stonehenge Improvements: Work Starts On Site

Work to realise the long-held vision to return Stonehenge to a more tranquil setting and improve its visitor facilities has officially started. Successful fundraising also means that virtually all of the total project cost has now been secured with only £500,000 left to raise, English Heritage has announced.

School children from Greentrees Primary School near Salisbury on a recent visit to Stonehenge.

School children from Greentrees Primary School near Salisbury on a recent visit to Stonehenge.

Contractor VINCI Construction UK has taken possession of the site at Airman’s Corner, 1.5 miles to the west of the Stones, to start construction of the new exhibition and visitor building out of sight of the stone circle. In September, the Highways Agency will start work to upgrade Longbarrow Roundabout prior to the closure of the A344 in April 2013.

The £27-million project is financed almost entirely by Heritage Lottery Fund money, commercial income and philanthropic donations including significant gifts from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Linbury Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.

A new dawn

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “A new dawn at Stonehenge is truly upon us. Though the stones themselves have never failed to awe visitors their setting has been a national embarrassment and disgrace. After nearly 30 years English Heritage finally has a scheme that will transform the setting of the stones and our visitor’s experience of them. The restoration of the landscape together with a major new exhibition on site will finally give our greatest and most famous monument the treatment it deserves.

“Almost all the money to achieve our vision comes from commercial or private sources. We are tremendously grateful to have so many partners and private sector sponsors supporting us along the way.”

Heritage Minister John Penrose said:  “People have been talking about the project for nearly 30 years and so I’m absolutely delighted that work is finally underway to preserve this internationally recognisable prehistoric World Heritage Site, and to improve the visitor experience for those who come to marvel at it too.”

Transforming the setting of Stonehenge

The project, developed with the support of the National Trust, Wiltshire Council, the Highways Agency, and Natural England, will transform the setting of Stonehenge. The section of the A344 which currently runs past the monument – almost touching the Heel Stone – will be closed and grassed over, reuniting the stone circle with its ancient processional way and the surrounding landscape. The remaining part of the A344 will be closed to public vehicles, and will become the route of a new visitor shuttle service to the stones.

The existing outdated facilities, car park, fences and clutter near the monument will be removed. Visitors will be welcomed at the new facilities located at Airman’s Corner and, instead of approaching the stone circle from the east on a busy road, they will approach over chalk downland from the west either via a 10-min journey on the visitor shuttle, or on foot.

New exhibition, education rooms and more

A visit to the stones will, for the first time, be enhanced by a large exhibition which will tell the story of this complex site and its relationship with the wider landscape. It will feature important objects excavated near Stonehenge on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

Sensitively designed by Denton Corker Marshall, the low-key visitor building also features education rooms and much improved amenities with full disabled access.

Visitor centre opens Autumn 2013

The Stonehenge project will be completed in two phases:

  • In autumn 2013, the new visitor facilities and galleries will open and the A344 will be closed to traffic. (The section of the A344 adjacent to the stones will already have been closed earlier in 2013.) Visitors will be taken to near the stones on a low-impact shuttle, with the option to disembark mid-way at a landscape viewpoint and walk to the stones from there.
  • By summer 2014, the existing car park, toilets, shop and fencing near the stones will have been removed and restoration of the landscape will be well underway. Visitors will be able to walk and enjoy the wider landscape and other outstanding prehistoric monuments.

Throughout the construction, Stonehenge will continue to welcome visitors as normal 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.

Visit the English Heritage website for more details: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge








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