Wiltshire people share thoughts on A303 Stonehenge tunnel benefits.

28 01 2021

The video’s been released on social media, with the strapline ‘transforming the landscape and transforming lives‘ to suggest how that part of South Wiltshire will benefit from the project.

They’ve featured in a new video from Highways England.

Those in favour of the tunnel has long said that it would prevent rat-running through villages to avoid heavy traffic on the A303, particularly at summer time.

Archaeologist Mike Pitts speaks about what the project means to him.
“Opening up the World Heritage Site will open up new understandings, a new appreciation of this landscape for all of us”

Archaeologist Mike Pitts on what #A303Stonehenge means to him.

B&B owner Jane Singleton talks to Highways England about what the A303 Stonehenge will do for her business and the local community. Read her Stonehenge story here

Highways England and English Heritage support the scheme, which is expected to begin in 2023 and take five years to complete.

Stonehenge A303 Tunnel References:
South Wiltshire people share thoughts on A303 Stonehenge tunnel benefits – PLANET RADIO
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Alliance. The battle to save Stonehenge WHS is on – SAVE STONEHENGE CAMPAIGN
A303 Stonehenge Tunnel explained: Plans, route design and more – THE SALISBURY JOURNAL
The Stonehenge tunnel: ‘A monstrous act of desecration is brewing’ – THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge tunnel ‘would destroy 500,000 artefacts’ – THE TIMES
A303 Stonehenge DCO granted – A sad day for our archaeological heritage – RESCUE ARCHAELOGICAL TRUST
The proposed name of the Stonehenge tunnel has been announced. THE HERITAGE TRUST
Why a Newly Approved Plan to Build a Tunnel Beneath Stonehenge Is So Controversial – THE SMITHSONIAN
Controversial $2 Billion Tunnel Near Stonehenge Approved, Causing Backlash – HYPERALLERGIC
Rival factions battle for soul of Stonehenge – THE TIMES
STONEHENGE & A303 – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Stonehenge tunnel could bring £4bn boost to South West economy – BUSINESS LIVE
The Conservative Case for the Stonehenge Tunnel | Henry Dixon-Clegg – THE MALLARD
The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

The Stonehenge News Blog
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Winter Solstice: A Small Group Gathered at Stonehenge for a Soggy Solstice.

21 12 2020

Despite English Heritage cancelling the Winter Solstice celebraions this year in the interests of public health, a small group gathered at the heel Stone on National Trust property to mark the winter solstice and witness the sunrise after the longest night of the year.

About 5000 people usually gather at the Wiltshire monument, on or around 21 December, to mark the Winter Solstice. The solstice is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the stones for public access.

English Heritage did a live stream of the solstice sunrise and this can be viewed on their website

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Watch the winter solstice LIVE from Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world! ENGLISH HERITAGE FACEBOOK
Stonehenge Winter Solstice ban criticised by senior druid – BBC NEWS
The Sun Stones: The Story of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Winter Solstice: Wild tales of slaughtered bulls, human sacrifice and much merriment – THE SCOTSMAN
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





The Sun Stones: The Story of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

20 12 2020

It was dark, darker than Glynneth could remember. In all of her eleven years she hadn’t known a night like it. It seemed to go on forever. She pondered this as she sat hunched nursing the small fire, huddled in her hand-me-down cloak that always dragged in the mud when she collected kindling or got caught on brambles during the berry moon. With a stick she nudged the unburnt section of log closer to the flames. The embers stirred, glowing and spitting sparks up into the vast night sky, where the gods sat gathered around their own fires.

As a sudden icy gust whipped the flames, Glynneth shuddered and tried to shut out its freezing touch, as cold as her baby brother’s toes as he wriggled into the bed they were humiliatingly forced to share, top-to-toe, within the family hut. He always tried to snuggle close, to steal her warmth – and no matter how she shoved him back she’d always awake to find him curled around her like a dog. Yet even their hound stank less than him at times.

Still, they were family. And as her mother always told her – they had to look after each other. It was a big, hard world out there – and nobody beyond your tribe would give a cowpat about you.

They all irritated her at times, but life was so frail – like the flames she nursed on the longest night of the year – as they all knew. Everyday they were reminded by their father how lucky they were to survive; how lucky they were to still have their mother who recovered from bringing them into this world. There were many families in the tribe who weren’t so lucky.

Yet ‘lucky’ was relative – as their father also reminded them. As it meant more mouths to feed, more chores to do. They all had to pull their weight.

And so Glynneth found herself tending one of the watch-fires burning that night. She could see them like a constellation, glowing in the dark across the stark winter landscape – grass and scrub glittering with a hard frost. And dominating the plain – the Sun Stones. Their negative presence – a deeper darkness against the night – unmistakable.

There, the priests gathered to perform their secret rites. She could hear the throb of their deer-skin drums. They would be at it all night, building to a crescendo by dawn.

Before sunrise she and the other watchers would take a burning brand and process into the stern presence of the stones, crossing over the white ring of chalk into the sacred place. There they would dowse their flames in the frost and greet the rekindled sun.

This is the first time Glynneth has been allowed to tend a watch-fire by herself. It was drummed into her what a great responsibility it was, lighting the way – collectively creating an avenue of golden light to guide the power of the reborn sun into the crucible of the stones, channelling its life-saving energy into the land. Once again tribes from far and wide had gathered.

Once again Glynneth was unnerved by their strange accents and impenetrable tongues. But for the first time she had noticed a boy from one of the seafaring tribes who had travelled down from some remote island in the unimaginable north – a boy with an unruly shock of black hair from beneath which glinted eyes of sky smiling at her as he too prepared his watchfire in the gathering gloom of the previous afternoon. She could not see him now, beyond the small star of his fire, but the memory of that smile made her cheeks burn.

Was he looking across to her fire at that moment? And what was he thinking? What strange land had he come from? And would his lips taste of the sea? She blushed at the thought, and quickly doused such nonsense. She had a job to do!

Impatiently, she poked at the fire – wishing the endless night would end, and she could join in the great dance that always followed the sun’s rebirth. Maybe then she would start to feel warm again.

And maybe she would even bump into the boy.

Every year new fires were made from the stray embers of the old – friendships, marriages, alliances … interlocking like the sun stones, becoming stronger together. Over the next three days there would be much feasting and oath-taking. News of the year would be shared – wry assessments of good or bad seasons, skirmishes and feuds, over a few too many horns of mead or ale. And with sore heads, full bellies, and promises pledged, the tribes would make their farewells and begin their long trek home, scattering to the obscurest groves, vales, and coves of the land.

And with each new sunrise, the sun will linger a little bit longer in the sky and life will slowly return to the slumbering earth.

Glynneth rubbed her arms and exhaled a frozen cloud of breath. That time could not come soon enough, but for now … she could swear that the sky was starting to get a fraction brighter. Now she was able to start making out the lay of the land – the long line of the Avenue, sweeping down to the slowly winding river. The watchfires still glowed, but it would not be long before their light would be overwhelmed by the rekindled sun. She could see the figures huddled over them, blowing on hands, or stretching and stamping feet.

And opposite her, on the other side of the flickering divide of parallel fires, the eyes of a dark boy from a distant isle shone.

Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and Herepath: a Wiltshire songline. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of the Marlborough Downs (where he lives) and beyond.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Watch the winter solstice LIVEfrom Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world! ENGLISH HERITAGE FACEBOOK
Winter Solstice: Wild tales of slaughtered bulls, human sacrifice and much merriment – THE SCOTSMAN
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – HOLIDAY EXTRAS
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

11 12 2020

The Winter Solstice sunset at Stonehenge is, alongside the Summer Solstice sunrise, its defining alignment. For thousands of years it has been witnessed and celebrated by the countless pilgrims who have trekked to the unique monument. The story of Stonehenge is part of the vaster epic of the sun.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice with and without the pilgrims

4.63 billion years ago our sun burst into life – a nuclear reactor fusing 500 million tonnes of hydrogen each second. Its parentage was grand and mysterious – a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust experiencing the passing shockwave of a supernova. From this immaculate conception the solar system was born. The resulting nebula eventually coalesced into our glorious sun, father of the planets in our solar system family and bestower of fortune on his favourite offspring: Earth. Here conditions in the Goldilocks zone between the extremes of intense heat and cold proved favourable for another explosion – this one of biodiversity. A perpetual work in progress, the natural selection of evolution eventually produced homo sapiens, a hominid that was the best of many drafts.

Enter, a mere 200,000 years ago, humankind.  

            For a long time our ancestors scratched a living – although some no doubt proved excellent hunters, expert gatherers. Some were even good at art. But then the Ice Age came – the ultimate lockdown. When the survivors emerged, stiff-jointed and blinking at the sunlight, the land had changed – scoured and shaped by the retreating glaciers. Strange stones were left upon the chalk in the south of the (now) island that became the ‘British Isles’, a chip off the proto-continental blocks, Laurentia and Gondwana: the wayward offspring of the Old and New Worlds, as they became.

            Around 6000 years ago our restless hunter-gatherer ancestors started to settle down and began to grow crops and husband livestock. Some of them eventually decided a particular spot on Salisbury Plain would be perfect for a big white circle of packed chalk, glowing in the moonlight amid the scrubland. The bank and ditch enclosure of the henge was formed with antler picks and oxen-shoulder blades, and lots of sore backs and elbow grease. Just as they were catching their breath from a serious bit of landscaping, some irritating priest decided it would be rather nice to have a timbered circle (of which the Aubrey Holes remain). Then another bright spark, perhaps trying to outdo the first decided that some strange blue stones from 250 miles away would be even better. With much to do the eighty stones, each weighing a backbreaking 4 tonnes each, were transported from the Preseli Mountains in Wales to the sacred plain of Salisbury. These were placed within the henge, with an entrance way pointing towards the midsummer sunrise.

            At the mirror sight of Durrington the south circle was aligned to the midwinter sunrise. Both sights – the henge of the living, the henge of the dead – defined by their relationship to the mighty sun.

In the third phase of Stonehenge’s 1500 year construction the mighty sarsens, or ‘grey wethers’, scattered over the Wiltshire Downs but clustered in a particularly attractive clump in what is now West Woods were transported the ‘workers’ camp’ at Durrington, before being dressed and dragged to the ring on the plain. Here 60 were place in an ingeniously interlocking outer ring of trilithons, with an inner horse-shoe of 15 more. These were aligned to catch the ball of the sun like a gigantic baseball mitt as it rose over the outlier Heel Stone at the time of the summer solstice sunrise – the longest day of the year, when the northern hemisphere is tilted (at 23 degrees – approximately the angle created between an outspread index finger and thumb) closest to that fiery nuclear fusion reactor, 147.35 million km away. The photons generated there take 8 seconds to reach Earth – golden strings pulled taught to the plain, guided by the Avenue, as though to the bridge of a vast violin. Each year two major chords are played upon it – the summer and winter solstice, each note lingering for precisely half the year. Minor chords are played upon it as well, modulated by the respective ‘bridges’ of the trilithons and surrounding monuments – the equinoxes and various lunar and celestial cycles. The deeper chord of the winter solstice is drowned out annually by the sometimes vast numbers who converge to the summer solstice glorious crescendo – but those who are wiser know the quieter, stronger power of the midwinter music. And the ancestors knew too – for they made sure to align Stonehenge to it in an alignment of equal importance to the midsummer one.
            The winter solstice sunset, framed by the inner trilithons, is a breathtaking cosmic drama, re-enacted every year – the ultimate mystery play. And not wishing to miss out on a good party, the people of the Neolithic came from far and wide (as the large quantities of charred animal bones left over from midwinter feasts at Durrington attest) to witness and celebrate the rebirth of the sun, when after three days of  apparent stillness upon the horizon it begins its six month journey back to its northernmost point. From generations of observation the stone-builders knew that the solstitium, the still point, marked the turning in the sun’s annual migration (or rather our migration around the sun): from this nadir the days will start to get longer. The light and warmth will return. This was of huge significance to the ancestors, and it is no less so for dwellers of the northern hemisphere, affected as we are by the cold and dark in all kinds of ways. Our planetary sun lamp is the antidote to our collective seasonally adjusted disorder. We bask in it. Even if we cannot feel its warmth on a chill day, we can feel uplifted by its presence. It reminds us that however dark it gets the light will vanquish it – our solar hero will save the day.

Winter Solstice Ceremony at Stonehenge led by senior druid, Arthur Pendragon.

            And so witnessing the winter solstice at Stonehenge – whether at sunrise or sunset – is to commune with those who designed and raised the stones, and who have been bearing witness for millennia. It is a humbling and inspiring experience, one that puts our lives into perspective, and realigns us to a vaster cycle – allowing us to all dance to the music of the spheres

Dr Kevan Manwaring (Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2020) is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and more. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of Wiltshire, where he lives with his archaeologist partner.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

For everyone’s safety and wellbeing, this year’s winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge have been cancelled. English Heritage will be live streaming the event for free online.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
Watch the winter solstice LIVE from Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world! ENGLISH HERITAGE FACEBOOK
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – HOLIDAY EXTRAS
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





ONLINE LECTURE: Stonehenge: new light on its origins. 9th December 2020

5 12 2020

The lecture is due to start at 7.30pm. ONLINE using Zoom Webinars. Attendees will be emailed the link shortly before the lecture is due to begin.

By Mike Parker Pearson, Professor of British Later Prehistory, Institute of Archaeology

Fundraising Event: A talk by Mike Parker Pearson . Stonehenge: new light on its origins

Recent excavations in the Preseli hills of west Wales have revealed new insights into the sources of the famous bluestones that were brought 180 miles to be erected at Stonehenge. Together with new evidence that these were among the first stones to be erected at Stonehenge, a break-through in scientific analysis of the cremated remains of people buried at the monument is casting new light on this important if mysterious link with the far west. Recovery of DNA from human remains is also changing our understanding of Neolithic people at this significant time in British prehistory. The lecture will also update on the circle of substantial pits found during geophysical surveys surrounding Durrington Walls published earlier this year. These recent discoveries from fieldwork and archaeological science are producing new and exciting insights into who built Stonehenge and why.

A fundraising lecture for Wiltshire Museum.

Tickets – £15 (£12 for WANHS members)
BOOK ONLINE HERE

Wiltshire Museum
*Wiltshire Museum is now open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm (closed 1-1.30pm)*

See gold from the time of Stonehenge! Wiltshire Museum is home to the best Bronze Age archaeology collection in Britain. Explore the galleries, see the outstanding collections and find out more about the fascinating history of Wiltshire and its people over the last 6,000 years.

Our brand new Prehistoric Wiltshire Galleries tell the story of the people who built and used the world renowned monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury. Unique gold and amber objects date back over 4,000 years to the Bronze Age – the time of shamans and priests, learning and culture across Europe. Later periods, including the Iron Age, Romans and Saxons, are also featured, together with the story of Devizes and the surrounding area. There are fun activities for all the family throughout the Museum.

Special exhibitions are held throughout the year – displaying the work of renowned artists, the Wiltshire landscape or highlighting more of our vast collection. Visit our website for details of current exhibitions and events. We have an extensive archive and library, which is open to visitors and researchers. Our collections are Designated by the government as being of national importance.

The Stonehenge News Blog
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http://www.Stonehenge.News





Stonehenge versus Avebury

4 12 2020

The world-famous Neolithic monument of Stonehenge is on everyone’s bucket-list, or seems to be – going by the droves who visit it every year – but many miss out on its sister UNESCO World Heritage Site at Avebury, only 17 miles away. What are they missing out on, and is it even better? Does it out-henge Stonehenge?

When in Wiltshire, one should most certainly visit Stonehenge, which is undoubtedly the world’s most famous stone circle. But one should also make time to visit Wiltshire’s “other” stone circle, Avebury — which holds the distinction of being the largest in the world.

Stonehenge has long been a must-see for any visiting England and venturing beyond the capital – and rightly so. The iconic stone circle, standing proud on Salisbury Plain, is one of the seven ‘modern’ wonders of the world (as opposed to the classical ones, of which only the Great Pyramid of Giza survive), and in 2019 1.6 million people visited it.  Let us first consider its attractions before looking at its great ‘rival’, Avebury.

To its deficit are: the hordes of tourists, queues, pricey entrance fee, and the fact you cannot walk amongst the stones unless you’re on a special private access tour, such as Stonehenge Tours run).

Right, so that’s Stonehenge. Now, let’s travel north (17 miles by crow) to Avebury and consider its attractions…

  • The largest stone circle in Britain at 1,088 feet across, comprising (originally) 98 sarsens configured as one large circle containing two smaller ones.
  • The henge of Avebury is deeper, wider, and far more tangible than the slight dip of Stonehenge. If it is ‘henge’ you want – Avebury is the place to experience it.
  • The only stone circle with a pub in the middle of it (The Red Lion!).
  • Free to enter (except for parking).
  • You can walk amongst the stones.
  • The Avebury landscape (all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site) contains incredible, unique monuments, including Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe; West Kennet long barrow (the best preserved example of a Cotswold-Severn transepted barrow tomb); the Sanctuary; Seven Barrows; the Ridgeway; Fyfield Down sarsen field; and Windmill Hill early Neolithic enclosure and Bronze Age barrow cemetery.
  • A selection of small businesses selling local produce, art and crafts.

To its deficit, the visitor facilities are pretty basic (a small car-park that is often at capacity in the summer; the National Trust tea rooms are currently only offering takeaway; and service in The Red Lion is glacial). The post office/grocery store is probably the best option for a quick snack.

Nevertheless, I think it is clear that Avebury offers so much and any visitor to the area is missing out on something very special if they don’t include it in their itinerary. While access to Stonehenge remains restricted during current ‘lockdown’ rules (and closed for the Winter Solstice) Avebury provides an excellent alternative that will not disappoint.

GUEST BLOGGER: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury) He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of Wiltshire, where he lives with his archaeologist partner.

STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY LINKS:
Official website of Stonehenge & Avebury WHS (World Heritage Site). STONEHENGE & AVEBURY WHS
Award-winning museum displays featuring Gold from the Time of Stonehenge. THE WILSHIRE MUSEUM
Ancient stone circle, museum and manor house in the heart of the Avebury World Heritage Site. NATIONAL TRUST
Visit Stonehenge and Visitor centre. Book tickets ENGLISH HERITAGE
Avebury: Wiltshire’s “Other” Stone Circle. TIME TRAVEL BRITAIN
Stonehenge and Avebury Tour Specialist (depart from London) STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Tours (depart from Salisbury). STONEHENGE TRAVEL COMPANY
Stonehenge and Avebury Tours (from Glastonbury) TORS TOURS
Stonehenge and Avebury Guided Walking Tours (depart from Bath). THE STONEHENGE TOUR COMPANY
Plan your visit to Wiltshire. Official Wiltshire Tourist Information Site. VISIT WILTSHIRE

The Stonehenge News Blog
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http://www.Stonehenge.News





The Stonehenge Alliance Campaign Group Launch Legal Challenge over Stonehenge Road Tunnel.

30 11 2020

A campaign group is planning a legal challenge over the transport secretary’s decision to approve a £1.7bn tunnel near Stonehenge.

Historic England and the National Trust argue that diverting the road underground will enhance the site. Druids, green campaigners and archaeologists have opposed the plans.

The campaign group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) has commissioned the law firm Leigh Day and barristers Victoria Hutton and David Wolfe QC to investigate the lawfulness of the decision.

The group said the plan to dig a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel alongside the A303 near the Unesco world heritage site was “wasteful and destructive”.

The BBC has approached the Department for Transport (DfT) for a comment.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the project earlier this month against the recommendations of planning officials.

The Planning Inspectorate had recommended Mr Shapps withhold consent, but the DfT said that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the potential harm.

Unesco previously said the scheme would have an “adverse impact” on the surrounding landscape.

Campaigners are worried that the work will have a detrimental impact on the wider Stonehenge world heritage site – which the tunnel would go through.

Tom Holland, from the Stonehenge Alliance, said he was “stunned” that the government had decided to approve the plans.

Stonehenge Alliance is supporting the CrowdJustice appeal.

He said: “I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme.

“The government has ignored advice from both Unesco and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination.”

Mr Holland added: “I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge world heritage site to support this legal action.

“There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.”

Highways England and English Heritage support the scheme, which is expected to begin in 2023 and take five years to complete.

SSWHS, a new organisation set up by supporters of the Stonehenge Alliance, has begun a fundraising campaign to pay for the legal action. In its letter to Shapps, the organisation said the proposals were in breach of Unesco’s world heritage convention.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE NEWS:
Stonehenge tunnel: Legal challenge to ‘destructive’ plans. BBC NEWS
The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly. STONEHENHGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge tunnel faces legal challenge as campaigners say minister wrongly overruled expert advice. THE TELEGRAPH
Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site. CROWDJUSTICE
Campaigners launch legal challenge over Stonehenge road tunnel. THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge tunnel: Legal challenge to destructive plans. INSIGHT NEWS REPORT

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





Ancient Skies: Stonehenge and the Moon.

29 11 2020

Whereas we can be sure that Stonehenge related directly to the Sun, its possible associations with the Moon remain much debated. Claims made in the 1960s that the monument incorporated large numbers of intentional alignments upon significant solar and lunar rising and setting positions are undermined by the archaeological evidence and are also statistically unsupportable.

The full Harvest Moon setting over Stonehenge. Photo credit to Stonehenge Dronescapes

Nonetheless, some tantalizing strands of evidence remain. Chief among these is the orientation of the Station Stone rectangle. While its shorter axis simply follows the main solstitial orientation of the sarsen monument, its longer axis is oriented southeastwards close to the most southerly possible rising position of the Moon (most southerly moonrise). It has been argued that the latitude of Stonehenge was carefully chosen so that these two directions were nearly perpendicular, but the perfect location would have been further south, in the English Channel.

In any case, the precise location of Stonehenge was actually fixed by the pre-existing earth and timber monument upon whose remains the stones were constructed. The sightlines along the sides of the Station Stone rectangle were not (quite) blocked out by the sarsen monument. This suggests that they were of enduring significance.

The lunar phase cycle (“synodic month”) averaging 29.5 days is, for many indigenous peoples, the best-known cycle in the sky. The position of moonrise (moonset) moves up and down the eastern (western) horizon during a slightly shorter period – the “tropical month” of 27.3 days. Its phase is related to the season: the most southerly Moon is full around the summer solstice and new around the winter solstice. For the most northerly Moon the opposite is true.

Before the stones arrived, there was no evident solstitial orientation at Stonehenge. Yet after the earthen enclosure built several centuries earlier had fallen into disuse, and the timber posts standing in the Aubrey Holes had rotted away, a few people came here to make offerings of animals, tools and even human cremations. These were placed in the ditch, in the (now empty) Aubrey Holes, and were not placed randomly. There are concentrations in the directions of most northerly and most southerly moonrise, suggesting that Stonehenge and the Moon the motions of the Moon were a concern even at this early stage. (See the discussion on major and minor lunar standstills in the panel “Ancient Skies”.)

Fred Hoyle famously endorsed the idea that the 56 Aubrey Holes could have been used to predict eclipses by moving marker posts around according to certain rules. This idea does not stand up to scrutiny. For one thing, this could only predict eclipse danger periods – very different from predicting actual eclipses, for which the device would have been unreliable. For another, there exist several other Neolithic sites containing pit circles and they have widely ranging numbers of holes. Finally, the Aubrey Holes most likely held a circle of timber posts, predating the later constructions in stone, that mimicked older woodworking techniques.
SOURCE: Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Stonehenge sky visible around the world.
Enjoy a personal Stonehenge sky all year round, thanks to a new live feed of the sky above the ancient monument. The live feed gives us a chance to see the sky above Stonehenge from within the monument, whenever you like. On the website, we can gaze at the sky above the stone circle and track the path of other planets in our solar system. You can visit the website at any time of the day or night to see what it’s like inside the stone circle, with 360 degree views.
Experience it for yourself at www.stonehengeskyscape.co.uk

Relevant Stonehenge Links:
Stonehenge and other stone monuments were probably used for special moonlit ceremonies. STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours. Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer. STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge Dronescapes. Amazing photos of Stonehenge. STONEHENGE DRONESCAPES
Celestial Stonehenge. The Moon, Planets and Stars. ENGLISH HERITAGE
Moving on from Stonehenge: Researchers make the case for archaeoastronomy. STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge: The ancient SUPERCOMPUTER used to track movement of the universe. THE DAILY EXPRESS
Visit Stonehenge with an expert tour guide. STONEHENGE TOURS
Full Moon Rise at Stonehenge. SILENT EARTH
U.K Moon Phase Calendar. MOONPHASE

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The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly

22 11 2020

Plans for the two-mile road tunnel through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge approved by Grant Shapps, the UK transport secretary, on the 12th November made major international news recently. Amid such a blizzard of information and attention it is sometimes hard to discern the truth. 

There are countless news features, websites, and forums discussing the tunnel – and although some are more objective than others, one has to always be mindful of the (hidden) agenda of the particular newspaper, website, blog, or forum – and in the case of mainstream media, who is funding them. Here, the intention is to provide a clear overview of the facts and a summary of both sides of the debate. There is so much heated rhetoric out there – the various stake-holders inevitably dig in and defend their position, sometimes without being able to see the other side. Within the echo chamber of social media especially, it is easy to become entrenched within a particular paradigm, one that reaffirms prejudices and demonises those who do not share it – one could call it ‘tunnel vision’.

So, first, let’s take a quick look at the facts. 

Key information

  • The so-called ‘Stonehenge Tunnel’ has been approved, costing around £1.7 billion. The proposals were first submitted in 1991.
  • In 2014, the Government announced that it would invest in a fully bored tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove much of the A303 road from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
  • Following a process of consultations, planning, design nd public examination, funding for a two-mile tunnel was confirmed in the March 2020 Budget and agreement from the Secretary of State for Transport that the tunnel could go ahead was confirmed on 12 November 2020.
  • The A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down upgrade will include: eight miles of dual carriageway; a tunnel at least two miles long underneath the World Heritage Site; a new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke; junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site.
  • Fieldwork is due to start in late spring next year, with the main five-year construction phase expected to start by 2023.

Now, let’s consider the arguments for the planned tunnel.

For

  • Restoring the integrity of the site: ‘English Heritage wants to see the monument reconnected to its ancient landscape and the negative impact of roads within the World Heritage Site reduced. Great strides to achieve this vision have been made in recent years, including the removal of the old Stonehenge visitor facilities and the A344 road from the landscape.’
  • Removing the pollution (visual, auditory, olfactory) caused by the traffic on the A303. English Heritage advocates the tunnel, so that the ‘intended landscape setting’ can be ‘understood  and appreciated in context, without the experience being ruined by traffic.’ Certainly, the removal of the A344 and the shoddy former visitor centre, with its notorious underpass, has had a significant positive impact on the site. Seeing the turfed-over section of the A344 is heartening to see, and it considerably enhances the area around the Hele Stone especially, which used to be cheek-by-jowl with the traffic and the fence.
  • A boost to the economy.  Business Live claims ‘Stonehenge tunnel could bring £4bn boost to South West economy’, through increased visitor numbers, footfall, and cash-flow.

Now, let us consider the arguments against the plans.

Against

  • Increased traffic jams and pollution caused by the major disruption of the busy A303.
  • The impact of tourism on a major attraction caused by this during the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has seen a massive drop in overseas visitors, and many businesses struggling to survive. Would international visitors want to visit a building site? Their first impressions of Stonehenge would be ugly roadworks and interminable traffic jams.
  • Destruction of the integrity of the site and its priceless, irreplaceable archaeology. Rescue Archaeology said it was: ‘A sad day for our archaeological heritage’. In a letter to The Times, academics said the proposed tunnel would cause “permanent irreversible harm”.
  • Whose  intended landscape? English Heritage’s wish ‘to see the stone circle returned to its intended landscape setting’ can be challenged – what is the ‘intended landscape’ they describe? For millennia humans have been altering the landscape. The ‘countryside’ is very much an artificial construct (as WG Hoskins and Simon Schama have pointed out). Are EH planning to return the landscape to unenclosed wild wood and heath? Unlikely. Aesthetically, it would be closer to the aesthetic of a country park, with demarcated routes, manicured turf, and excessive signage. 
  • Exclusive access to a site bequeathed to the nation. English Heritage already earn millions from the site – it is a vital ‘cash cow’ that supports all their other sites, many of which remain free – but the tunnel would deprive travellers in the area of even a glimpse, a view that makes a journey along the A303 special and one of Britain’s best-loved roads.
  • Fossil-fuel vehicles to be phased out. If one of the main arguments for the tunnel is the reduction of traffic noise and fumes, it is important to consider the recent government plans to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. A stream of virtually silent electric vehicles will not impair the site in the same way, and would be less destructive to the environment that carbon emitting vehicles bottle-necked into a tunnel, or slowed down into traffic jams by its construction and ensuing delays. 
  • An ill-use of vital resources. In a time of pandemic and with the looming impact of Brexit on Britain’s food supplies, £1.7 billion could be better spent on hospitals, vaccine-distribution, and food banks.
  • Cronyism. One could also ask who will be receiving these lucrative contracts? Is it just another example of cronyism, with those in government creating spurious contracts for their well-connected friends? If that sounds too much like a conspiracy theory, consider what has happened with the massive PPE contracts handed out this year – often resulting in a vast waste of tax-payers money at a time when countless lives depend upon such resources.

Conclusion

Having considered both sides of the debate, and looked at all the available facts, it is clear there are far more negatives than positives. Considering the huge outcry from both the public and experts, and the massive public relations disaster it has already caused common sense would suggest a reconsideration of the plans. Perhaps the best thing now – to limit damage and further expense – is simply to bury them. It would not be the first time such ambitious plans have been jettisoned – during the 1970s a major tunnel project was planned for the city of Bath. The idea was to channel all the traffic assailing the city underground, yet after expensive plans, and consultations, the project was deemed non-viable and forgotten, and it remains in the archive as a curiousity – one of history’s white elephants.

References:
The Stonehenge tunnel: ‘A monstrous act of desecration is brewing’ – THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge tunnel ‘would destroy 500,000 artefacts’ – THE TIMES
A303 Stonehenge DCO granted – A sad day for our archaeological heritage – RESCUE ARCHAELOGICAL TRUST
The proposed name of the Stonehenge tunnel has been announced. THE HERITAGE TRUST
Why a Newly Approved Plan to Build a Tunnel Beneath Stonehenge Is So Controversial – THE SMITHSONIAN
Controversial $2 Billion Tunnel Near Stonehenge Approved, Causing Backlash – HYPERALLERGIC
Rival factions battle for soul of Stonehenge – THE TIMES
A303 Stonehenge Tunnel explained: Plans, route design and more – THE SALISBURY JOURNAL
STONEHENGE & A303 – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Stonehenge tunnel could bring £4bn boost to South West economy – BUSINESS LIVE
The Conservative Case for the Stonehenge Tunnel | Henry Dixon-Clegg – THE MALLARD
The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

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Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2020 – LIVE STREAM

19 11 2020

For everyone’s safety and wellbeing, this year’s winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge have been cancelled. English Heritage will be live streaming the event for free online.

Watch the winter solstice LIVE from Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world!

People from across the UK and around the world will be able to watch the 2020 winter solstice at Stonehenge for the first time.

While many fans of the event are heartbroken over its cancellation, please do not travel to Stonehenge this winter solstice, but watch it online instead.

English Heritage cameras will capture the best views of Stonehenge, allowing you to connect with this spiritual place from the comfort of your own home.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Celebraions 2019

The winter solstice will be streamed live on Facebook, with the event listing available here – 

WHAT TIME WILL IT BE LIVE?
Sunset is at 16:01 GMT on Sunday 20th December. Sunrise is at 08:09 GMT on Monday 21st December. They will be live for about 45 minutes before and after.

The Winter Solstice is traditionally celebrated at Stonehenge around 21st December. Thousands mark the shortest day and longest night.
The exact time of the winter solstice varies each year and it can be on any day from 20st to 23rd December. The solstice is the point in time when one hemisphere of the planet reaches the point tilted most towards the sun and the other is tilted furthest away. In the northern hemisphere, that gives us the winter solstice in December whilst in the southern hemisphere it is the summer solstice. After the shortest day, the days start getting longer and the nights shorter. Stonehenge is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset.

If this has whetted your appetite and you want to experience the 2021 winter / summer solstice or the spring / autumn equinox and learn more about the other monuments in the surrounding landscape, then check out Solstice Events UK and Stonehenge Tours who offer exclusive guided tours with transport.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – Click here
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – click here
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? click here
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – Click here
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – Click here
Winter solstice 2020: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? click here
Special buses planned for Stonehenge during Winter Solstice – CLICK HERE
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access – Click here
Stonehenge Solstice Tours – Stonehenge Guided Tours

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http://www.Stonehenge.News








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