Walking the Dead: Exploring the Stonehenge Ceremonial Landscape

20 02 2016

A guided tour of the amazing collections of the Wiltshire Museum, followed by a guided walk from Durrington Walls to Stonehenge. This full day tour will be led by Museum Director, David Dawson.

10:30 am, Saturday, 21st May, 2016

walking-deadThe morning visit to the Museum starts at 10.30am and the walk begins at 2pm. We should reach the Stonehenge Visitor Centre at about 5.30pm.

The day begins with coffee and a guided tour of the Wiltshire Museum. The early story of Wiltshire is told in new galleries featuring high quality graphics and leading-edge reconstructions. On display are dozens of spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle.

The tour is followed by a light lunch,

The walk will take approximately 3.5 hours, and starts at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, close to the River Avon. The route passes the Cuckoo Stone, a megalithic standing stone, before following the Apple Track – a WW1 light railway. The route then passes the prehistoric Cursus, before passing the Bronze Age barrows of Kings Barrow ridge.

The route then follows the Avenue – the Neolithic ceremonial route that leads to Stonehenge following the line of the solstice.

At Stonehenge, you have three options:

1. Visit Stonehenge. This is free for English Heritage and National Trust members, but is not included in the cost. If you are not a member, then you should book your visit online from the English Heritage and you should choose a timed ticket for about 4.30 pm. You can then take the English Heritage shuttle bus to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
2. Continue to the Cursus barrows and the Western end of the cursus, before continuing to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
3. Take the English Heritage shuttle bus to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and purchase a well-earned snack and cup of tea.

At about 5.30pm, at the end of the walk, there will be car-share transport back to your car at the start of the walk, or back to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

Cost: £35 (WANHS member), £40 (non-member)

Booking: Visit Wiltshire Museum Website

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Essential.
Please note that the cost does not include entrance to Stonehenge.





Stonehenge Archaeology Landscape Walk 2016

26 01 2016

Explore the wider Stonehenge World Heritage landscape with a National Trust guide discovering hidden histories and ancient mysteries.

An afternoon walk up on the downs learning about the ancient archaeology of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. On this 4 mile walk with views of the stone circle, we’ll visit ancient earthworks that have revealed much about the people who once lived and celebrated here. Talking points include the Cursus, the many and varied barrows, and an ancient avenue connecting ceremonial centres.

stonehengelandscape

Booking details:
Call 0844 249 1895A 5% booking fee applies. Phone lines are open Mon to Fri 9am-5.30pm, plus Sat and Sun 9am-4pm. National Trust website

Suitability:
Accompanied children welcome, free. Dogs on leads are welcome.

Meeting point:
Meeting in a car park off Tombs Road (Larkhill) at OS grid reference SU 14382 43626 (nearest postcode SP4 8NB). A map of the meeting point on can be found on the event’s webpage.

What to bring and wear:
Dress for the weather – wrap up warm as it gets chilly up on the downs – and wear stout footwear. You may like to bring a drink and a snack.

Accessibility:
Access is by pedestrian and farm gates; the terrain is mostly grassland and trackways, often uneven underfoot. Cattle and sheep graze the gently sloping downs.

Other:
Please note, traffic on the A303 is often congested around holidays and weekends. Although your guide will tell you about it, this walk doesn’t visit the Stone Circle. You might like to visit it before the walk; NT members are admitted free.

Times

Event opening times and availability
Day Times Availability
5 March 2016 14:00 – 16:30
7 May 2016 14:00 – 16:30




Stonehenge Midwinter Solstice Walk

13 11 2015

On the midwinter solstice, explore the ancient monuments of the Stonehenge landscape with National Trust. This walk is around three and a half miles. (December 20th 2015)

Stonehenge does not stand in isolation, but forms part of a remarkable ancient landscape of early Neolithic, late Neolithic and snow-hengeearly Bronze Age monuments. The best way to appreciate Stonehenge is on foot. You can enjoy the impressive Wiltshire countryside while exploring the ancient history that has shaped it. Follow in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors and discover the prehistoric monuments that fill the vast ancient landscape surrounding Stonehenge.

Stonehenge has far more than the stone circle. It encompass unrivalled Neolithic landscapes that contain many other fascinating and unique monuments. You could easily spend a whole day in either part of the World Heritage Site.

Containing more than 350 burial mounds and major prehistoric monuments such as the Stonehenge Avenue, the Cursus, Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, this landscape is a vast source of information about the ceremonial and funerary practices of Neolithic and Bronze Age people.

It can also help our understanding of regional and international contacts from the 4th to 2nd millennia BC, and shed light on how prehistoric society was organised.

National Trust Stonehenge Midwinter Walk: 20th December (1pm – 5pm)
Immerse yourself in the ancient landscape of Stonehenge, there’s so much to explore and many mysteries to unravel.
Booking essential (click here to book direct)

Stonehenge Guided Tours are offering their usual Midwinter Solstice Tours from London and Bath
Booking essential (click here to book direct)

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Walking the Dead: Exploring the Stonehenge Ceremonial Landscape

12 09 2015

A guided tour of the amazing collections of the Wiltshire Museum, followed by a guided walk from Durrington Walls to Stonehenge. This full day tour will be led by Museum Director, David Dawson.

Note: this event was previously advertised for Saturday 19th September.and is now Thursday, 08th October, 2015Walking the Dead: Exploring the Stonehenge Ceremonial Landscape

The morning visit to the Museum starts at 10.30am and the walk begins at 2pm. We should reach the Stonehenge Visitor Centre at about 5.30pm.

The day begins with coffee and a guided tour of the Wiltshire Museum. The early story of Wiltshire is told in new galleries featuring high quality graphics and leading-edge reconstructions. On display are dozens of spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle.

The tour is followed by a light lunch at the Museum and minibus transport to the start of the walk, if required.

The walk will take approximately 3.5 hours, and starts at Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, close to the River Avon. The route passes the Cuckoo Stone, a megalithic standing stone, before following the Apple Track – a WW1 light railway. The route then passes the prehistoric Cursus, before passing the Bronze Age barrows of Kings Barrow ridge.

The route then follows the Avenue – the Neolithic ceremonial route that leads to Stonehenge following the line of the solstice.

At Stonehenge, you have three options:

1. Visit Stonehenge. This is free for English Heritage and National Trust members, but is not included in the cost. If you are not a member, then you should book your visit online from the English Heritage and you should choose a timed ticket for about 4.30 pm. You can then take the English Heritage shuttle bus to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
2. Continue to the Cursus barrows and the Western end of the cursus, before continuing to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
3. Take the English Heritage shuttle bus to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and purchase a well-earned snack and cup of tea.

At about 5.30pm, at the end of the walk, there will be minibus transport back to your car at the start of the walk, or back to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

Cost: £35 (WANHS member), £40 (non-member)

Booking:CLICK HERE TO BOOK DIRECT

The Stonehenge News Blog





The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project

3 10 2014

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project is an unprecedented initiative to survey a vast tract of land around the iconic stones. Now that the bulk of the practical work is complete, Carly Hilts spoke to Vince Gaffney and Chris Gaffney to find out more.

An ambitious programme of geophysical survey, covering 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge, has revealed a landscape scattered with previously-unknown features. Credit: All images courtesy of the University of Birmingham and LBI ArchPro

An ambitious programme of geophysical survey, covering 12 square kilometres around Stonehenge, has revealed a landscape scattered with previously-unknown features. Credit: All images courtesy of the University of Birmingham and LBI ArchPro

Stonehenge could confidently claim to be one of the most-studied, and certainly most hotly debated, prehistoric sites in Britain. However, much of the local landscape, so important to any interpretation or understanding of the site, was largely terra incognita – until the launch of The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, the largest geophysical mapping survey of its kind yet undertaken.

Begun in July 2010, and headed by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology  in Vienna, the four-year Project has explored a massive 12 square kilometres around the celebrated stones, and revealed the footprints of hundreds of previously unknown features, invisible to the naked eye, including henge-like monuments, burial mounds, ditches, and pits spanning thousands of years.

Clocking up 120 days in the field, the team used the latest non-invasive survey techniques – including magnetometry, ground penetrating radar (GPR), earth resistance surveys, and 3D laser scanning – to explore the Stonehenge landscape in unprecedented detail, allowing researchers to see features buried as much as 3m below the modern ground level.

‘We created a palimpsest,’ said geophysics expert Dr Chris Gaffney of the University of Bradford. ‘Unpicking it is one of the joys of geophysics, but also one of its conundrums – we don’t have a ditch detector or a wall detector, so after gathering this incredible explosion of data, you still have to delve in and interpret it manually.’

So far, eagle-eyed project members have picked out 17 shapes from the vast amounts of resulting data that are thought to represent Neolithic monuments roughly contemporary with Stonehenge, as well as field enclosures, barrows, settlements, and other signs of human activity ranging in date from the Bronze Age to the 20th century.

We approach the features as we would if we were using aerial photography, by looking at their shape and comparing them to known sites,’ said project co-director Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Birmingham (and brother of Chris Gaffney). ‘The tricky thing is that prehistoric monuments come in a variety of forms, they do not conform to standards – even Stonehenge is not a typical henge, as its ditch lies outside its bank – so once you spot something, it is not always easy to categorise it.’

Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, added: ‘No landscape deserves to benefit from a study at this level of detail more than Stonehenge. The terabytes of digital survey data collected, processed and visualised by LBI ArchPro provide the base for the precise mapping of the monuments and archaeological features buried in the subsurface or still visible in the landscape surrounding Stonehenge. After centuries of research, the analysis of all mapped features makes it possible, for the first time, to reconstruct the development of Stonehenge and its landscape through time.’

High-speed survey

With an ambitiously large area designated for investigation, the team called on other modern technologies to help cover the uneven terrain. Although hand-pushed carts were used to explore more difficult or sensitive sites, much of the project survey equipment was mounted on the back of quad bikes.

‘This means we were collecting data at up to 40kmph,’ said Vince. ‘It was georeferenced and its location logged as it came in, and the information would already be partly processed before you reached the end of the field – that’s how we managed to so much data in a relatively short time.’

Beyond the stones of Stonehenge

This multi-technology approach has proven a particular boon in revisiting well-known sites, where a host of unexpected new details have been revealed. Around 3km from Stonehenge lies , the largest-known henge in the world at over 0.5km in diameter, and home to a Neolithic settlement that some interpret as a possible base camp for the builders of Stonehenge (CA 270). Although the site has been studied in detail during previous investigations, the recent survey identified traces of a previously unknown row of holes along the site’s southern border, which could have held around 70 posts or stones.

While investigating a known long barrow at Woodhenge, the team found the remains of a large timber building hidden inside it. This reconstruction shows how it may have looked

Another enigmatic find comes from the adjacent site of ‘Woodhenge’, once home to a Neolithic timber circle. The chalk long barrow standing in the same field had long been known to archaeologists, and so it came as a complete surprise to discover that the monument seems to have a kind of forecourt in front of it – and that within the mound itself there once stood a massive timber building some 33m long. With the outline of its walls marked out by lines of holes that once contained huge wooden posts, the team has provisionally interpreted the building as a mortuary, possibly used in excarnation rituals.

Interpreting the Cursus

Stonehenge_new_monuments_distribution

Over at the Cursus ­– the c.3km long Neolithic earthwork just north of Stonehenge, thought to predate the earliest phase of the monument’s construction by several centuries –exploratory work has revealed new links between the two sites, as well as potentially significant astrological associations. At each end of the Cursus, the team has identified a massive pit measuring around 5m in diameter. More excitingly, Vince said, if you stand at Stonehenge and look towards the Cursus on the Summer Solstice, the easternmost pit aligns with the rising sun, and the westernmost with the sunset.

‘As the Cursus runs East-West it has long been suspected that it had some kind of association with the sun, so these pits forming a triangle with the site of Stonehenge are very interesting,’ he said. ‘It seems like a massive coincidence if their alignment was not intentional. We don’t know their date, but something else that is interesting to note is that while you can get a clear view of the sunrise pit from Stonehenge, looking down the first section of the Avenue, the sunset pit is hidden behind a bank. You might be able to see it if it was filled with fire and smoke, though – perhaps a future excavation will reveal traces of burning.’


This is an extract, but you can read the full article in Current Archaeology 296
http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/stonehenges-hidden-landscape.htm

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