DNA, executions and Stonehenge: a new British Archaeology

10 04 2018

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

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Isn’t this a fabulous photo? We have some great images in the new British Archaeology, and we had fun with a series of shots showing a bronze age hoard under excavation. But I particularly like this photo taken by someone at Cotswold Archaeology (if you are reading this, let me know who you are!) which I’ve put at the top here. It shows a group of archaeologists excavating and recording some of the graves in an Anglo-Saxon and early medieval execution cemetery near Andover in Hampshire. There’s a relaxed, thoughtful conversation going on between all the protagonists, dead and alive, which is quite fascinating and memorable. If we had unlimited pages, I would have given this a double spread on its own.

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I’m very proud to lead with the feature by David Reich and Ian Armit on the new Beaker DNA study. This is significant stuff, and while there is…

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First Day of spring: Stonehenge crowd gathers for sunrise to celebrate the Spring Equinox.

20 03 2018

The first day of spring has been marked by 1000 revellers who gathered at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise.

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Druids and pagans were joined by a mass of revellers at the ancient monument to celebrate the spring or vernal equinox.

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Open access to the stones was given from first light, 05:45 GMT, by English Heritage which manages the site.

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Celebrating the building of Stonehenge may have been as important to Neolithic people as worshipping there

11 03 2018

Building Stonehenge ‘may have been ceremonial celebration.

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English Heritage will begin moving a replica stone on Friday using teams of volunteers in an “experiential archaeology” project

The arduous task of building Stonehenge may have been part of a ceremonial celebration, claim historians.

The circle in Wiltshire was built more than 4,000 years ago using bluestones from south Wales – a decision which has long baffled experts.

Susan Greaney, from English Heritage, said they now believed that Neolithic people did not want to make “things as easy and quick as possible”.

Building the monument was as important as “its final intended use,” she added.

Experts have tried to discover why the people who built Stonehenge chose to use some stones from the Preseli Hills, about 155 miles (250km) away.

The stones were probably transported via water networks and hauled over land, using a huge amount of labour over the long and difficult journey.

Experts now believe the construction of the monument was just as important to Neolithic people as worshipping in it.

Read the full story (source) on the BBC website

 

Relevant links:
Party like it’s 2500BC: Stonehenge building secrets unearthed – click here

Bonding and booze secrets of Stonehenge exposed: Construction work on ancient monument 5,000 years ago brought people together – click here

Secrets of Stonehenge are bonding and booze – click here

Step into the shoes of Neolithic Man at Stonehenge – Click here

MOVING AND RAISING A STONE: 10th / 11th March 2018 – Click here

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Have you ever wondered what it would have been like for our Neolithic ancestors to bring the giant sarsen stones on the 20 mile journey from Marlborough Downs to Stonehenge?

7 03 2018

Now you can find out at one of our special workshops. Working with a team of other visitors, try your hand at moving and raising a 4 tonne limestone block using ropes, rollers and pulleys.

MOVING AND RAISING A STONE: 10th / 11th March 2018

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DATE: Sat 10 & Sun 11 Mar 2018
TIME: 10.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm

LOCATION: Stonehenge Visitor Centre
SUITABLE FOR: Everyone

 

Vist the English Heritage Website for full details

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Stonehenge Rocks! A talk with Prof Timothy Darvill: 21st March 2018

24 02 2018

Stones of many different kinds, shaped and built into intriguing structures, is what makes Stonehenge special; a unique monument in the world of early farming communities in northwest Europe. Join Prof. Timothy Darvill as he explores some of the main components that made up Stonehenge in the late third millennium BC, asking: What were they for? How might they have worked? Why were the stones chosen? And what made the place rock?

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THIS IS THE THIRD IN THE SERIES OF LECTURES TO MARK THE ANNIVERSARY OF CECIL AND MARY CHUBB’S GIFT OF STONEHENGE TO THE NATION.

Tickets are free but places must be reserved by calling the English Heritage Bookings Team on 0370 333 1183 (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm, Sat 9am – 5pm). The telephone bookings will close at 3pm the day before the event.

Hosted by English Heritage:

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The builders of Stonehenge 5,000 years ago were almost completely wiped out by mysterious ‘Beaker people.

23 02 2018

The astonishing result comes from analysis of DNA extracted from 400 ancient remains across Europe.

The builders of Stonehenge are thought to be the last of Britain's neolithic people

The builders of Stonehenge are thought to be the last of Britain’s neolithic people

Stonehenge has a proud place in Britain’s history as one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.

But, according to a major new study, modern-day Britons are barely related to the ingenious Neolithic farmers who built the monument 5,000 years ago.

Instead the British are related to the ‘Beaker people’ who travelled from modern-day Holland and all but wiped out Stonehenge’s creators.

The findings are ‘absolutely sort of mind-blowing,’ said archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, a professor emeritus at the University of Oxford.

‘They are going to upset people, but that is part of the excitement of it.

Stonehenge | Everything you need to know

Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most enigmatic pile of rocks. Some archaeologists think it was an observatory, others a place of healing.

According to Swiss author Erich von Däniken, the building techniques were passed on from aliens; medieval texts show it being constructed by Merlin.

However, according to Win Scutt, properties curator at English Heritage, “the landscape in which Stonehenge sits is far more interesting than the circle itself”. Despite this, he adds, few people explore the wider area.

That landscape has been poorly treated in past decades, with traffic on the A303 and A344 roaring right past the site. In 2013, the A344 and old car park were removed; now, the landscape has recovered, grass has regrown and Stonehenge has been reconnected with its ancient processional avenue.

The next step is to re-route the A303, which cuts through the World Heritage Site, compromising its integrity. The Government has committed to building a tunnel for the road; in May 2016, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and Unesco backed the scheme, although current proposals remain controversial.

Relevant Stonehenge news links:
Today, British have more DNA from the ‘Beaker people’ than Neolithic farmers

Ancient Britons ‘replaced’ by newcomers

No one living in Britain ‘truly British’, scientists find as Stonehenge builders were replaced by European immigrants

Britain’s prehistoric catastrophe revealed: How 90% of the neolithic population vanished in just 300 years

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New theory over Stonehenge origins

18 02 2018

THE community that built the Neolithic causewayed enclosure at Larkhill may have been the architects of the Stonehenge landscape, archaeologists believe.

New theory over Stonehenge origins A Beaker or Bronze Age infant burial site at Larkhill. Picture by Wessex Archaeology

The causewayed enclosure, which dates between 3650 to 3750 BC – pre-dating Stonehenge by 600 years, was uncovered by archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology in 2016.

Si Cleggett, project manager and archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology now believes the community who built the causewayed enclosure may have been more closely involved in the planning of Stonehenge than previously thought.

He said: “The causewayed enclosure at Larkhill was constructed during the late Stone Age, a period of transition when our ancestors gradually moved away from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle and embraced a farming existence where the domestication of livestock and control of agriculture began.”

Causewayed enclosures are believed to be meeting places, centres of trade and cult or ritual centres to name but a few. They are only 70 known examples.

The Wessex Archaeology teams were commissioned by WYG on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to undertake excavations on land adjacent to Royal Artillery Larkhill. The land, on the edge of Salisbury Plainand, immediately north of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, has been earmarked for the provision of service family accommodation under the Army Basing Programme.

Archaeologists believe there was a five post alignment at the entrance of the causewayed enclosure which were positioned almost identically to the stones of Stonehenge.

Mr Cleggett said: “The communities who gathered at the Larkhill causewayed enclosure during the Early Neolithic were there 600 years before the landscape setting of Stonehenge was conceived and may have been involved in the conceptualisation or even the creation of the landscape we see today.

“It is enormously fitting that thousands of years later, those that strive to protect our identity as a nation will again meet at Larkhill through the delivery of service family housing.”

The Larkhill site, which is 24 hectares, is the largest open area archaeological excavation ever undertaken in proximity to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Article Source: Katy Griffin – Salisbury Journal

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