1913-2013: 100 Years of Protecting the Past.

11 12 2013

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 on 18th December.

“A Monumental Act”

2013 is the centenary of a landmark moment for England’s heritage.

eh-centenary-logo

The passing of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act in 1913 recognised for the first time that there are physical remains of the nation’s history which are so special and so significant that the state has a duty to ensure their continued survival.


Preservation Orders and Scheduling

The Act did three new things. It introduced a system whereby the Office of Works could issue a compulsory ‘Preservation Order’ when a monument or building of sufficient ‘historic, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archaeological interest’ was at risk of demolition by a private owner.

Each order would need an Act of Parliament to confirm it, making it an unwieldy instrument, but the Act did at least establish the principle that some buildings in private ownership might, if they were important enough, warrant the intervention of the state to save them.

The second major innovation was the ‘scheduling’ of monuments. This involved compiling a list, or schedule, of monuments which were deemed by an expert board to be of ‘national importance’. Once a site was on the list and the owner informed, it became a crime to damage it.

Under the Act, the Office of Works could give free advice to an owner regarding the treatment of an ancient monument on their land and could oversee any works free of charge. Scheduling considerably widened the scope of protection to the thousands of monuments on private land rather than just those in Government or local authority care.

These two initiatives – the preservation order and scheduling – established the statutory protection of those parts of the nation’s heritage in private hands. It would develop in future years through the listing system and a rapidly evolving planning system.

http://www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org/assets/Nomination-Document.pdf

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/heritage-centenary/1913-ancient-monuments-act/

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/46

Stonehenge News Blog





Visit Avebury and Stonehenge: Explore these World Heritage Sites with the new English Heritage Map

3 12 2013

The Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site is internationally important for its outstanding prehistoric monuments. This new map would make a great Christmas gift!

Stonehenge and Avebury MapStonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world, while Avebury is the largest.  Around them lie numerous other monuments and sites, which demonstrate over 2,000 years of continuous use.

Together they form a unique prehistoric landscape. There is no better way to learn about and experience the monuments than to go out and explore the World Heritage Site on foot.  This map is ideal for walkers and others wishing to explore the fascinating landscape of the two areas of the World Heritage Site.

The map uses an Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 base and draws upon information from the English Heritage Archive and recent archaeological investigations.  With Stonehenge on one side and Avebury on the other, the map shows and describes both visible and hidden remains, with information about where you can find out more. The map is divided into two parts on a durable double sided waterproof sheet.

A great Christmas Gift! You can purchase a copy now at the excellent Wiltshire Museum in Devizes: The Museum shop is located in the entrance hall and sells a variety of items.  Non-Museum visitors very welcome to go in, browse – and hopefully purchase. http://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/

You can also pre order a copy of the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Map-Stonehenge-Avebury-Exploring-Heritage/dp/1848021267

Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle Links:

Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed together on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1986. The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site was one of the UK’s very first World Heritage Sites http://www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org/

The Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site (English Heritage): http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/world-heritage-site/

Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle guided tours: http://www.stonehengetours.com/day-tours.html

Wiltshire is proud to be the home of Stonehenge and Avebury which form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and our mystical landscape. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/explore/stonehenge-and-avebury

Stonehenge News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

The Stonehenge News Blog





The Path to Stonehenge from Avebury: Walking Guide

24 11 2013

Wiltshire is home to arguably the greatest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Europe, if not the world!

The 45 mile route begins at Windmill Hill before heading south to spend the first day walking amongst the stone circles of Avebury.

                Stonehenge walking map                   

DOWNLOAD: The Path to Stonehenge walking guide (PDF 883kb)

The download includes full day by day walking instructions with accompanying history guide.

Discover how the famous monuments of the area are connected and what they can tell us about life, and death, in Neolithic Britain. The walk takes us across some of the most beautiful landscape in the south west, as we uncover the actions of our ancestors here between 4000 and 2000BC.

Day 1


Avebury Stone Circle
                Avebury Stone Circle                   

A gentle first day with plenty of time for admiring the monuments encountered along the route.

  • Windmill Hill to Avebury via Avebury Stone Circle and the Sanctuary

Distance: 6.5 miles

Day 2


                West Kennet Long Barrow                   

We up the pace as we hunt for hard evidence of our elusive ancestors at Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow. We skirt the Marlborough Downs and head up and over Milk Hill for some more modern mysteries, like crop circles.

  • Avebury to Honeystreet, via Silbury Hill, Swallowhead Springs, West Kennet Long Barrow, Field of Sarsen Stones, Milk Hill and the Alton Barnes White Horse, and Adam’s Grave.

Distance: 15.5 miles

Day 3


The Avenue
                The Avenue                   

We follow our ancestors down the River Avon to the greatest prehistoric monument of them all – Stonehenge.

  • Honeystreet to Stonehenge via: Durrington Walls, West Amesbury Henge and the Avenue

Distance: 23.5 miles


The Map

OS Explorer Maps 157, 130 (1:25k) or OS Landranger 173, 184 (1:50k)

All distances are approximate so allow plenty of time

Link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/walking-through-history/articles/all/walking-guide-the-path-to-stonehenge

Please share your Stonehenge / Avebury pics on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Avebury to Stonehenge. Walking Through History with Tony Robinson.

17 11 2013

Tony Robinson embarks on spectacular walks through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes in search of the richest stories from our past

Tony heads off for a 45-mile walk across Wiltshire to tell the story of life and death in the last centuries of the Stone Age. His route over chalk downlands and Salisbury plain takes him through the greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe.

Tony Robinson at StonehengeFrom Avebury to Stonehenge and from spirituality to engineering, this is a journey through our ancestors’ remarkable development in the latter days of the Neolithic Age.

Windmill Hill near Avebury is the start of his route; with earthworks dating to 4500BC, it’s one of the most ancient sites in Wiltshire. From here, Tony moves on through 2000 years of the ‘New Stone Age’, encountering increasingly complex burial sites and processional routes that have helped make this area both captivating and intriguing.

As he heads south Tony can’t escape the eccentric characters and weird phenomena that have accompanied Wiltshire’s ancient history. Mysterious crop circles and unexplained underground energy sources enliven his visit, but his mind is firmly fixed on the extraordinary array of monuments in his path.

That means listening to the fanciful notions of 18th-century antiquarians, which have a grain of truth at their heart, and grasping the cutting edge of scientific archaeology around Stonehenge, which is finally offering up some astounding answers.

CHANNEL 4: 8PM: Saturday 23rd November 2013

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/walking-through-history/episode-guide

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Crown jewels of Stonehenge go on dazzling display: new prehistory galleries opening 14th October!

12 10 2013

In September 1808, William Cunnington, who was Britain’s first professional archaeologist, wrote to his patron to tell him that he had discovered what were to become known as the crown jewels of the “King of Stonehenge”.

On Monday, some of the treasures he found will go on permanent public display for the first time.

Gold from the time of Stonehenge:  new prehistory galleries at the Wiltshire Bush Barrow LozangeMuseum in Devizes Opening on 14 October, a completely new display over 4 galleries will tell the story of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

On display for the first time are dozens of gold items dating to the time of Stonehenge. Many were found Bronze Age burial mounds within sight of Stonehenge, and were worn by people who worshipped inside the stone circle. These nationally important objects have never been on permanent display, and are now on show as part of this £750,000 gallery development at the Wiltshire Museum – home of Britain’s richest Bronze Age collection.

The centrepiece of the stunning new displays is Britain’s most important Bronze Age burial. The Bush Barrow chieftain lived almost 4,000 years ago and was buried in a barrow overlooking Stonehenge wearing the objects that showed his power and authority – including a gold lozenge, a ceremonial mace and a gold-decorated dagger. Axes and daggers like those found in the grave are carved onto the Sarsen stones at Stonehenge. The precision and design of the Bush Barrow lozenge proves that the people who built and used Stonehenge had a detailed knowledge of mathematics and geometry. The gold finds from Bush Barrow have never before been on permanent display in Wiltshire.

The image alongside show Sebastian Foxley of the Wiltshire Council Conservation Service and David Dawson, Director, moving the Stonehenge Urn to its new home.

Wiltshire Heritage Museum: http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk/news/index.php?Action=8&id=162&page=0

Follow Stonehenge News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge visitor centre and museum to open on 18th December 2013

30 09 2013

A new visitor centre at Stonehenge will open in time for the winter solstice, English Heritage has said.

The £27m project also includes grassing over the A334 alongside the ancient monument and closing another section of the busy road.

The visitor centre and museum will be located about a mile-and-a-half (2km) from the stones.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The visitor centre and museum will be located about a mile-and-a-half from the stones

Visitors will be shuttled to Stonehenge by a little train, pulled by a Land Rover.

Stonehenge, built between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC, is thought to have been used for a variety of religious ceremonies.

It attracts around 900,000 visitors a year, about 70% of whom come from abroad.

Lorraine Knowle, from English Heritage, said the “beautifully and sensitively designed” centre “fits into the rolling landscape of Salisbury Plain very well”.

“It will give visitors a real sense of anticipation because the building is really just a stepping stone on the way to seeing the monument,” she added.

Also included is a museum which will be lent artefacts found around the stones, from local collections housed in Salisbury and Devizes.

Joe Studholme, from the Salisbury Museum said for the first time visitors to the stones will be able to put the exhibits in context.

“Before people go to the stones they need to know much more about the background. Previously there hasn’t been any background about the story of the stones.

“We’re thrilled to be in partnership with English Heritage and to be able to tell the whole story about Stonehenge and the wonderful area”

Link source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-24329692

Follow developments on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Telling the story of prehistoric Wiltshire.

18 08 2013

The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes is opening new prehistory galleries in the autumn.

The centrepiece of the stunning new displays are the objects buried with the Bush Barrow Chieftain almost 4,000 years ago. He was buried close to Stonehenge with the objects that showed his power and authority– a gold lozenge, a ceremonial mace and a gold-decorated dagger.These are just some of the rich Bronze Age objects that are on display for the first time in new high security showcases. Gold ornaments, amber necklaces, ritual costume, polished stone axes and bronze daggers tell the story of the people who lived at the time when Stonehenge, Avebury and Marden henges were great ceremonial centres.

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum

 

The displays feature models and full-size reconstructions that bring archaeology to life. There is lots for children to do, with trails and quizzes, a chance to build Stonehenge and Bronze Age clothes to try on.

Some of the important Bronze Age gold finds from the museum will be on loan for display at the new Stonehenge visitor centre. This is part of an integrated strategy to encourage visitors to Stonehenge to explore Wiltshire and to visit the museums in Devizes and Salisbury. These new displays have been developed with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the North Wessex Downs AONB

More details here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/imported-docs/k-o/megalith-jul2013.pdf

Museum link: http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Stonehenge road closed permanently today

24 06 2013
A stretch of road running next to Stonehenge will close permanently from today. Part of the A344 in Wiltshire almost touches the heel stone. English Heritage which manages the monument says the road spoils the visitor experience.

A major landscaping project should be finished by next summer, and traffic will be diverted onto nearby roads instead.

Existing A344 and junction with A303 at Stonehenge Bottom

Existing A344 and junction with A303 at Stonehenge Bottom

Link: http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2013-06-24/stonehenge-road-closed-permanently/

TRAFFIC NEWS:
A344 Stonehenge, both ways between B3086 and A303

A344 Wiltshire – A344 in Stonehenge closed in both directions between Airmans Cross and Stonehenge Fork, because of development of the Stonehenge site – permanent closure. Diversion in operation – via A360 Longbarrow roundabout.

Main Changes at Stonehenge

  • The A344/A303 junction will be closed
  • The A344 from Stonehenge Bottom to Byway 12 near the stones will be closed
  • Vehicular traffic on the A344 between Byway 12 and the new visitor centre at Airman’s Corner will be restricted

Modifications to Existing Routes   

Alongside these changes there will be measures to mitigate the impact of the closure of the A344. Traffic removed from the 344 will be directed along the A360 via Longbarrow Roundabout and Airman’s Corner junctions, both of which will be modified to accommodate the re-directed traffic.

The A303/A344 junction is a renowned accident black-spot; its closure will reduce the risk of accidents in this location and was strongly supported by local residents in the public consultation of 2008.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/our-plans/our-proposals/transportation-and-safety/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge revealed: Why Stones Were a “Special Place”

22 06 2013

Lead archaeologist at Stonehenge discusses his team’s discoveries in new book

The eerie megaliths of Stonehenge have inspired speculation for centuries.

Druids—and sometimes aliens—have been suspected of planting the 4,500-year-old stones. Is Stonehenge an astronomical calendar or a place of healing or a marker for magical energy lines in the ground? For a long time, no one really knew, though some theories were more grounded in reality than others.

Each year revelers like these travel to Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice. Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic

Each year revelers like these travel to Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
Photograph by Jim Richardson, National Geographic

But now, we may be a little bit closer to understanding the monumental Neolithic site. Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues at the Stonehenge Riverside Project, whose research was funded in part by the National Geographic Society, spent seven years excavating Stonehenge and its surroundings. This month, Parker Pearson published the project’s findings in a new book, Stonehenge—A New Understanding: Solving the Mysteries of the Greatest Stone Age Monument.

National Geographic writer Rachel Hartigan Shea spoke with Parker Pearson about what he and his colleagues discovered and how modern celebrants greeting the summer solstice at Stonehenge may have gotten the wrong day.

What got you first interested in researching Stonehenge?

Well, I have to say I didn’t actually have any interest at all in Stonehenge. I was working with Ramilisonina, a Malagasy archaeologist. He comes from a megalith-building culture, so I thought he’d be interested to see Stonehenge. I took him to take a look, and he said, “What do you mean you don’t know what it’s for? It’s obvious.” Then he said, “Mike, have you learned nothing in all of our work together with standing stones in Madagascar?”

He explained to me it was surely built for the ancestors. In Madagascar, they build in stone for the ancestors because it is a permanent medium—permanent like the ancestors—whereas they live in wooden houses because those will perish just like human life will end. I laughed initially and said, “Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily really going to have anything to do with Britain 5,000 years ago.”

But I realized that actually we did have timber circles very close to the stone circle of Stonehenge. That was quite a bombshell for me.

How were the excavations that you worked on at Stonehenge different from previous excavations there?

I think the important thing was not to dig just at Stonehenge but to actually investigate the wider landscape around it and to begin by looking at this area of the timber circles close by. It was there that we found that the place of wood had indeed to do with the living. (See Stonehenge pictures.)

When we came back to Stonehenge and dug there, we recovered some 60 cremation burials inside Stonehenge. What we now know is that Stonehenge was the largest cemetery of its day.

Ramilisonina’s ideas about a place in stone for the dead and a place in wood for the living started as a theory but has actually become a fact as a result of our investigations.

The timber circles were located at a site called Durrington Walls. How was that the place of the living?

At Durrington Walls, we have two of these great timber circles—a bit like Stonehenge in wood—at the center of an enormous village. From where we’ve excavated, you’re looking at a fairly dense settlement of houses.

We discovered that they’d been feasting there on a very large scale. We estimate that about four to five thousand people may have gathered there at the time they were building Stonehenge. (Take a Stonehenge quiz.)

We also know that there were seasonal influxes into the settlement at Durrington Walls. Through analysis of the age patterns on the teeth of pigs, we can see that there are particularly high points in the slaughtering patterns. The pigs had given birth in spring, and what we’re seeing is a culling in the middle of the winter.

Here we are on the summer solstice, but this evidence suggests that people were gathering in large numbers at the winter solstice. We’ve been getting it wrong in modern times about when to gather at Stonehenge.

So Stonehenge was built to commemorate the dead?

Stonehenge wasn’t built in order to do something, in the same way you might build a Greek temple to use it for worship. It seems much more likely that everything was in the act of building—that you’d construct it, then you’d go away. You’d come back 500 years later, you’d rebuild it in a new format, and then you’d go away.

I think we have to shake off this idea of various sorts of priests or shamans coming in every year over centuries to do their thing. This is a very different attitude to religious belief. It’s much more about the moment. It’s about what must have been these upwellings of religious—almost millennial—belief, and once the thing is done, then everyone disperses and goes back to their lives.

What do the summer and midwinter solstices have to do with where Stonehenge is located?

One of our discoveries in 2008 was on the avenue that leads out of Stonehenge. As you are moving along the avenue away from Stonehenge, you are looking toward where the sun rises on the midsummer solstice. If you turn 180 degrees and look back toward Stonehenge, that’s where the sun sets on the midwinter solstice. Underneath the avenue, we discovered a natural landform, formed in a previous ice age, where there are grooves and ridges that by sheer coincidence are aligned on that solstitial axis.

Right next to this landform are pits dug to hold posts that were put up 10,000 years ago, much older than Stonehenge. Another archaeological team has discovered down by the river next to Stonehenge a huge settlement area for hunters and gatherers, which seems to have been occupied on and off for something like 4,000 years before Stonehenge itself was ever built.

We think that long before Stonehenge this location was already a special place. These hunters and gatherers may have been the people who first recognized this special feature in the land where the earth and the heavens were basically in harmony.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
Full Article: : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130621-stonehenge-summer-solstice-archaeology-science/

Follow Rachel Hartigan Shea on Twitter.
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Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Inside Stonehenge – From Rubble to Riches

15 06 2013

When dealing with prehistory (before the written word) arguments will abound as to ‘who, when and why’, and no more so than the famous monument on Salisbury Plain, the circle of stones known the world over as Stonehenge. 5,000 years ago, give or take a decade, work began here with an initial earth bank and ditch with some form of wooden structure within. Debate continues as to what exactly was placed within the earth circle and further debates are put forward about the various phases of constructing the stone circle, where the stones came from and the importance of the Moon and Sun in the process of worship at the site. For a lot of day trippers it’s Stonehenge’s iconical status that brings them here in their thousands whether they are familiar with the documentaries churned out by travel channels, read Tess of the D’Urbervilles or have watched National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

Stonehenge inner circle tourMost visitors will arrive by private car, organised tour bus or public transport. In the latter case the local Wilts and Dorset bus service provides an easy link with Salisbury railway station and connections from London and other parts of Britain. Most people feel they’ve ‘done’ Stonehenge in an hour. For some, there is surprisingly little else around and the visitor centre itself seems inadequate for the amount of tourists that travel here. There is a good explanation for that – it’s a sensitive site. It isn’t always possible, nor often allowed, to create large permanent structures such as a restaurant and museum in an area where evidence of Neolithic and Bronze age cultures lay buried within every square foot of ground. Discussions have been under way for over a decade as to improving the site, building a visitor centre a mile east near the main road and burying that very road under a two mile tunnel. These discussions continue. [April 2010 update – a new Visitor Centre is planned, and should be open by summer 2012.] You can find out more about Stonehenge, and see important collections from the World Heritage Site, at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.]

For the time being visitors will have to make do with very little shelter if the weather proves inclement. Restrooms (including disabled) are available at the foot of the car park and there are others at top of the car park to the right of the entrance, before one walks down the ramp to purchase tickets. These are accessible by going down steps. Before heading down to the ticket booth, two stones are standing to the left. The smaller one is a Bluestone (Dolerite) used in first phase of stone circle building at Stonehenge and possibly from the Preselli Mountains in South Wales. The larger one is a Sarsen (Quartzite Sandstone) used in the later phase of construction. These sample stones are not taken from the circle and you are able to stand next to, touch or drape yourself across them for photographic purposes. Down at the foot of the ramp is the ticket kiosk and a small cafe. Only a somewhat limited collection of outdoor seating is provided, complete with flocks of starlings ready to swoop down on any crumb or morsel dropped by a hungry day tripper. Cheese and bacon scones, rock cakes, ice cream and hot and cold drinks are available. As the site has a captive audience sandwiches are priced higher than the average shop, ditto the plastic cups of grapes or strawberries.

The gift shop is only available to those that have paid the entrance fee and entered the site. Here you can purchase calendars, books, paperweights, fridge magnets, T-shirts and all things of a Neolithic nature.

A free audio tour for paying visitors is available but during summer weekends they can be hard to get hold of, especially if you find yourself arriving just after a couple of coach loads of day visitors from London sandwiching Stonehenge between a morning at Windsor Castle and an afternoon in Bath. Access to the inner circle is available prior to the main site opening or just after closure. Arrangements for a ‘Special Access’ visit can be made through English Heritage or one of London’s day trip tour companies that pre-book inner circle visits on a daily basis. Other than that regular visitors are kept behind a small rope fence, which helps keep other tourists from walking in front of that all important shot.

While circumnavigating the site and listening to the audio tour one may be left wondering how many people visit this site and pay their £6 to get in. 800,000 people, rising to possibly one million by the end of the decade, make the journey to Stonehenge every year boosting the turnover of English Heritage and helping the conservation of other historically important places. One may also be left wondering, what if someone wrote down “today I’m going to build one of the best stone circles in the country” would we still be debating the purpose and timeline of this impressive site?

Full article: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g528762-d188527/Amesbury:United-Kingdom:Stonehenge.html

Stonehenge








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