Did you know today (April 18th) is World Heritage Day? Celebrate it with a visit to Stonehenge or Avebury.

18 04 2015

World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

On 18th April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the holding of the “International Day WHSfor Monuments and Sites” to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organise this day.

The idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 recommending that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18th April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”. This has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Stonehenge and Avebury, in Wiltshire, are among the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of menhirs arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored. These holy places and the nearby Neolithic sites are an incomparable testimony to prehistoric times.

Stonehenge and Avebury form part of one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The explanations behind why the sites are located where they are and what their exact purposes are still remain a mystery to this day.

Stonehenge

Managed by English Heritage dates back approximately 5,000 years. Evolving between 3,000 and 1,600 BC, Stonehenge is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices. The summer solstice in June often attracts up to 20,000 visitors to view the sunrise. When visiting Stonehenge pick up one of their audio guides (available in different languages) giving details of the history and legends behind the site. For a more intimate experience there’s an inner circle tour which takes place before and after the site is open to the general public (pre-booking is essential) or view tour companies who offer general and inner circle visits to the stones.

Around the Stonehenge landscape there are other sites of notable importance including Durrington Walls, the largest henge monument in Britain and Woodhenge, a Neolithic monument dating from around 2,300 BC.

Avebury

The largest stone circle in the World, Avebury was erected around 4,500 years ago and consists of around 100 stones. Many of the stones were re-erected by Alexander Keiller in the 1930s.

The Alexander Keiller Museum in the village holds many of the archaeological finds that Keiller discovered during the excavations of Avebury during this time and the history of the excavations. Today Avebury is managed by the National Trust.

The site is open daily (due to its village location) and visitors can not only explore the stone circle but also the Avenue, the West Kennett Long Barrow and can look over at Silbury Hill – the largest man-made hill in Europe. Similarly to Stonehenge, Avebury is also plays host to both Winter and Summer Solstices.

In 2012, Avebury Manor opened its doors following the BBC TV programme ‘The Manor Reborn’ which also saw the kitchen garden transformed into a working Victorian kitchen garden.

See objects excavated from the World Heritage Site at Salisbury Museum and the new prehistory displays at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Salisbury Museum has recently reopened its Wessex Gallery. The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes has new displays featuring gold from the Time of Stonehenge, including Britain’s richest Bronze Age burial.
Visit Wiltshire Website

“Celebrate it with a visit to Stonehenge or Avebury and observe a minute of silence for the ones we have lost to insensitive developments”

The Stonehenge News Blog





LECTURE: The Stonehenge Landscape – 31st January

24 01 2015

There will be a lecture by Sharon Soutar of English Heritage at Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire, England from 2:30 pm on Saturday, 31 January 2015.  

20141227_083502With the construction of the new Visitor Centre at Airman’s Corner it was vital that Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape were re-presented with the fullest and most up-to-date information available. Fantastic as it may seem very few of the monuments, not even Stonehenge itself, had been surveyed to modern standards. To rectify this English Heritage set up a project to significantly enhance the record and understanding of all upstanding archaeological monuments within the World Heritage Site. The fieldwork was conducted between 2009 and 2012 and the book is nearing publication, while a number of research reports on the different areas are available through the website (see below).

The fieldwork covered just over 15% of the World Heritage Site in detail. It included Stonehenge, the Greater Cursus and all of the principal barrow cemeteries and incorporated sites later in date, such as the medieval settlement earthworks at Lake. English Heritage surveyed almost half of the known or suspected round barrows within the WHS; nearly all of those surviving as earthworks. At the same time colleagues looked at the historic buildings, added high resolution Ground Penetrating Radar [GPR] to complement earlier geophysical surveys and took new photography of the landscape and artefacts found within it. ~English Heritage also commissioned a laser scan of the stones and surrounding henge.

Sharon will describe some of the important discoveries resulting from the project and take a look at the more surprising aspects of the field archaeology in the Stonehenge landscape.

Sharon is a landscape archaeologist specialising in the survey and visualisation of heritage landscapes and data; from maps and site plans right through to infographics. After a number of years interpreting and mapping archaeology visible in aerial photographs and lidar data for different parts of England she was lucky enough to join the team investigating the Stonehenge WHS landscape.

The project webpage is: www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/archaeological-field-survey-and-investigation/stonehenge-landscape/

The project monograph is due for publication in the spring of 2015:
Bowden, M.C.B., Soutar, S., Field, D.J. and Barber, M.J. forthcoming. The Stonehenge Landscape. Swindon: EH.

The 1:10,000 scale map – Stonehenge and Avebury: Exploring the World Heritage Site is available in our shop www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/stonehenge-avebury-map

The various Research Department Reports are available through: research.english-heritage.org.uk

Booking:

Essential. To contact us, either:
* Tel: 01380 727369 to book and pay using credit/debit card (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm preferred)
* Send an e-mail
Visit the Wiltshire Museum website: http://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/events/index.php?Action=2&thID=972&prev=1

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





Golden age: Ancient possessions of Stonehenge worshippers go on display

14 10 2013

Golden treasures from prehistoric Britain’s Stonehenge era, most of which have never previously been on public display, are today being unveiled at a small provincial museum.

Copyright: David Keys

Copyright: David Keys

The exhibition is the largest collection of early Bronze-Age gold ever put on public display in England.

It was impossible to exhibit most of the gold treasures before because of security concerns. Up until now the closest the public got to them was by seeing photographs.

Housed in a new, high-security and humidity-controlled series of galleries inside the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, 15 miles north of Stonehenge, the gold treasures and other objects are being used to reveal the remarkable cultural story behind the world famous prehistoric stone monument.

The new Stonehenge-era galleries will feature at least 500 Neolithic and Bronze-Age objects from Wiltshire, many of them from the once sacred landscape around the monument itself, including a beautifully decorated golden cloak fastener, a magnificent bronze dagger with a gold-covered hilt, a gold decoration from a dagger sheath, the golden tip of a ceremonial sceptre and gold necklaces, earrings and pendants – as well as other high- status precious objects made of jet, amber and stone.

“These and other spectacular treasures from the age of Stonehenge were unearthed by antiquarians and archaeologists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but until now it’s never been possible to give the public permanent access to them,” said the museum’s director, David Dawson.

“Stonehenge is an iconic monument – but this is the first time that such a wide range of high-status objects from the spectacular burials of the people who used it, has ever been put on permanent display”.

They will tell the story of the people who lived in and around the Stonehenge landscape when the monument was one of the great religious centres of Western Europe.

“Many of the items may well have been worn by Bronze-Age priests and chieftains as they worshipped inside Stonehenge,” said Mr Dawson. Axes and daggers on display in the new purpose-built galleries are identical to images of weapons carved into the giant stones of Stonehenge itself.

“We believe the new displays are a major step forward in helping to explain the extraordinary sophistication of the remarkable people who used the world’s most famous prehistoric monument,” said Mr Dawson.

Over the past few years, an unprecedented amount of new research has been carried out on Stonehenge and its ancient culture – and the new galleries reflect that new knowledge, especially an increased understanding of how the different prehistoric artefacts were made and what they were originally used for.

Around 30 gold objects, made by craftsman between the 2200 and 1800BC, will be on permanent display along with hundreds of other Stonehenge-era treasures.

The creation of the new high-security Stonehenge-period galleries puts Devizes’ Wiltshire Museum into a totally different league in terms of exhibits and their interpretation.

The new galleries have cost £750,000 to build – with funding coming from, among others,  the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Wiltshire Council.

Devizes has its magnificent collection because it is the home of one of Britain’s oldest local archaeology organisations – the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society which has been collecting Wiltshire archaeological material since its foundation 160 years ago.

Over that period it has conducted more than 50 excavations which have provided the museum with more than 50,000 archaeological finds. The town itself is located between prehistoric Britain’s two top monuments – Stonehenge and the Avebury stone circles.

The launch of the new permanent display at the town is part of a wider display of Stonehenge-era archaeology. On 18 December, just one and half miles from Stonehenge itself, English Heritage will open its new Stonehenge visitor centre, complete with around 300 Stonehenge-period exhibits – while, next spring, Salisbury Museum will unveil newly redesigned archaeological galleries including material of a similar age.
including material of a similar age.

David Keys: Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/news/golden-age-ancient-possessions-of-stonehenge-worshippers-go-on-display-8877704.html

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





Chairman needed for Stonehenge panel

6 10 2013

A NEW partnership panel set up to coordinate cooperation between the Stonehenge and Avebury is looking for a chairman.

Following a recent review it is hoped managers of the two parts of the World Heritage Site (WHS) will be working more closely together and it has been decided there will be a partnership panel led by an independent chairman.

This panel will also act as a representative for the whole WHS. It will be made up of the three key partners – English Heritage the National Trust and Wiltshire Council – together with the chairmen of the local Stonehenge and Avebury steering committees and a representative from the research community

“The new panel and chair will play a key role in ensuring this continues and that new opportunities to protect and present the World Heritage Site are identified.”

For more information go to jobs.wiltshire.gov.uk.

By Morwenna Blake: Salisbury Journal
http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/10720098.Chairman_needed_for_Stonehenge_panel/

 

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire, UK

5 04 2010

Everybody needs to see Stonehenge. But  Avebury is the connoisseur’s circle: subtle and welcoming.

Avebury Stone Circle

The stone circle at Avebury is bigger (16 times the size), less touristy, and, for many, more interesting than Stonehenge. You’re free to wander among 100 stones, ditches, mounds, and curious patterns from the past, as well as the village of Avebury, which grew up in the middle of this fascinating, 1,400-foot-wide neolithic circle.

In the 14th century, in a kind of frenzy of religious paranoia, Avebury villagers buried many of these mysterious pagan stones. Their 18th-century descendants hosted social events in which they broke up the remaining pagan stones (topple, heat up, douse with cold water, and scavenge broken stones as building blocks). In modern times, the buried stones were dug up and re-erected. Concrete markers show where the missing broken-up stones once stood.

To make the roughly half-mile walk around the circle, you’ll hike along an impressive earthwork henge — a 30-foot-high outer bank surrounding a ditch 30 feet deep, making a 60-foot-high rampart. This earthen rampart once had stones standing around the perimeter, placed about every 30 feet, and four grand causeway entries. Originally, two smaller circles made of about 200 stones stood within the henge (free, always open).

Visit the Alexander Keiller Archaeology Museum, with an interactive exhibit in a 17th-century barn. Notice the pyramid-shapedSilbury Hill, a 130-foot-high, yet-to-be-explained mound of chalk just outside of Avebury. Over 4,000 years old, this mound is the largest man-made object in prehistoric Europe (with the surface area of London’s Trafalgar Square and the height of Nelson’s Column). It’s a reminder that you’ve just scratched the surface of England’s mysterious, ancient, and religious landscape.

Eating in Avebury: The pleasant Circle Restaurant serves healthy, hearty à la carte meals, including at least one vegetarian soup, and cream teas on most days. The Red Lion Pub (The only thatched haunted Pub in the middle of a Stone Circle in the World) has inexpensive, greasy pub grub; a creaky, well-worn, dart-throwing ambience; and a medieval well in its dining room.

Sleeping in Avebury: This makes lots of sense since the stones are lonely and wide open all night. Mrs. Dixon’s B&B, directly across from Silbury Hill on the main road just beyond the tourist parking lot, rents three cramped and homey rooms for a fine price.

Tours to Avebury: The most convenient and quickest way to see Avebury and Stonehenge if you don’t have a car is to take a scheduled tour from London – The Stonehenge Tour Company (http://www.StonehengeTours.com) opertate daily tours from London or a truly great way is to organise your own private tour from Salisbury or Bath:
Merlin highly recommends:
HisTOURies UK – They have the best local guides and best reputation and seem to be the most competitive.

Drivers can do a loop from Bath to Avebury (25 miles) to Glastonbury (56 miles) to Wells (6 miles) and back to Bath (20 miles).

Good luck and enjoy!
Merlin @ Stonehenge Stone Circle








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