Fundraising Event: A talk by Mike Parker Pearson ‘Stonehenge and Durrington Walls: new research’

18 09 2016

Archaeological excavations are being carried out in 2016 at Durrington Walls and in Preseli, to shed yet more light on the mystery of Stonehenge and its stones. Was there a ‘superhenge‘ of standing sarsen stones at Durrington Walls that dwarfed Stonehenge?

mppWas Stonehenge itself actually a ‘secondhand monument’, built from bluestones brought from an earlier monument in west Wales? New advances in scientific methods, both in the field and in the laboratory, are also helping archaeologists find out more about the people who built Stonehenge, how they lived and why they went to such effort to build this remarkable structure.

Join Mike Parker Pearson for an evening lecture to hear about the latest exciting developments in Stonehenge’s story.

Salisbury Museum: Thursday, October 13th, 2016 – 18:30 to 20:00
Booking required. Please contact the museum.~

The Stonehenge News Blog





Sights to visit around Stonehenge.

4 03 2016

While Stonehenge is by far and away the superstar of southern England, and no visit to Wiltshire is complete without touring it, Stonehenge is in fact just one of many ancient sites in the area. Indeed, the surrounds of Stonehenge contain the most densely-grouped collection of neolithic sites and monuments within England – and more are being discovered all the time. It’s thought that the nearby settlement of Amesbury (believed to be the oldest in Britain) was a major cultural centre during the island’s ancient days. If you’ve got some time to spare during your Stonehenge trip, and want to take in some of the area’s other sights, here are a few suggestions:

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Within Walking/Cycling Distance Of Stonehenge – Woodhenge, Durrington Walls, The Cuckoo Stone

In all fairness, you can strike out in pretty much any direction from Stonehenge and hit archeological gold – although you may not always recognise it as such. Just be careful not to wander into the path of the military (who train on Salisbury Plain). If you’re cycling, be sure that you’re properly prepared for historically significant (but nonetheless unexpected) bumps and tumbles! Woodhenge, less than four miles from Stonehenge, is an odd sight at first glance. However, once you understand what you’re looking at, it becomes much more impressive. It’s thought that this was once a large burial mound with a complex system of banks and ditches (now eradicated through ploughing). Thousands of years ago, six concentric rings of wooden posts may have supported an enormous building. Today, the position of these posts are marked with stumps. It’s an atmospheric and very interesting place! A short walk away from Woodhenge is Durrington Walls – a recently discovered monument which in its heyday would have dwarfed Stonehenge. The ‘Walls’ were formed by lines of enormous stones, which could possibly have formed a processional way leading to Stonehenge itself. There’s not masses to see there now, but it’s still a lovely area! West of Woodhenge is the Cuckoo Stone – a sarsen boulder lying on its side. It was once a standing stone, the origins of which remain a matter of debate. It’s an enigmatic piece of history in a very atmospheric location.

Salisbury – Old Sarum, Salisbury Museum

Old Sarum is a wonderful visit for anyone with an interest in history. It’s the site of Salisbury’s oldest settlement – a hilltop fort commanding absolutely incredible views over Wiltshire. There’s an iron age hillfort to walk around, the remains of a castle to admire, and an absolutely breathtaking panorama which will give the camera-happy everything they could ever dream of. There are also plenty of events put on by English Heritage throughout the year, giving people the opportunity to really step back in time! Down in Salisbury itself, the Salisbury Museum is packed full of fascinating finds from all over the county. It’s a well laid-out and beautifully explained museum, with some truly intriguing exhibits. You can find it just opposite Salisbury Cathedral – which it itself a beautiful and interesting building.

A Short Drive Away – Avebury, West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill

A 40 minute or so drive from Stonehenge is Avebury. Managed by the National Trust, this ancient stone circle sits in a Neolithic landscape incorporating avenues of standing stones, a henge, and an enormous stone circle in which a village was once situated. The stone circle itself is the largest in the world, and contains two smaller circles. A short walk away is West Kennet long barrow, which can be entered by those who are neither claustrophobic nor fearful of our long-dead ancestors! Then, of course, there are the round barrows with which the landscape is littered, and the curious structure of Silbury Hill. Silbury Hill is the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, and would have taken similar effort to construct as its contemporary pyramids in Egypt. It was clearly important to those who built it – although, unlike most barrows of its kind, it contains no burial. Its purposes remain perplexing, but its presence is both beautiful and fascinating! Anyone with an interest in Stonehenge and its ilk, particularly those who enjoy the mystery of the structure, will find much to whet their appetites at Avebury and Silbury!

There are Stonehenge tour companies who operate guided tours of the area and the Visit Wiltshire webiste lists the best ones.  If you want to explore the Stonehenge landscape with a local expert then we recommend ‘The Stonehenge Travel Company

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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

The Stonehenge News Blog

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




Coming 2016: “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach

16 11 2015

Coming 2016: “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach | Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeologmamuz-stonehenge-mamuz_vorderseite

New discoveries and insights into Stonehenge landscape made possible by the LBI ArchPro’s intensive research over the last five years will be – for the first time – presented in a comprehensive exhibition in Austria.

Starting on 20th March 2016, the “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” exhibition at the MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach will take the visitor on a journey of more than 8.000 years through Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape including the newly discovered stone monument at Durrington Walls and original finds from the Salisbury, Wiltshire and Dorchester Museum.

MAMUZ “Stonehenge – A Hidden Landscape” website:
Article source

The Stonehenge News Blog





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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Barbeque-style roasting. The culinary habits of the Stonehenge builders

15 10 2015

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls — a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the builders of nearby Stonehenge during the 25th century BC.

A reconstruction drawing of how the prehistoric village of Durrington Walls  might have looked in 2500BC [Credit: English Heritage]

A reconstruction drawing of how the prehistoric village of Durrington Walls might have looked in 2500BC [Credit: English Heritage]

Together with researchers at the University of Sheffield, detailed analysis of pottery and animal bones has uncovered evidence of organised feasts featuring barbeque-style roasting, and an unexpected pattern in how foods were distributed and shared across the site.

Chemically analysing food residues remaining on several hundred fragments of pottery, the York team found differences in the way pots were used. Pots deposited in residential areas were found to be used for cooking animal products including pork, beef and dairy, whereas pottery from the ceremonial spaces was used predominantly for dairy.

Such spatial patterning could mean that milk, yoghurts and cheeses were perceived as fairly exclusive foods only consumed by a select few, or that milk products — today often regarded as a symbol of purity — were used in public ceremonies.

Unusually, there was very little evidence of plant food preparation at any part of the site. The main evidence points to mass animal consumption, particularly of pigs. Further analysis of animal bones, conducted at the University of Sheffield, found that many pigs were killed before reaching their maximum weight. This is strong evidence of planned autumn and winter slaughtering and feasting-like consumption.

The main methods of cooking meat are thought to be boiling and roasting in pots probably around indoor hearths, and larger barbeque-style roasting outdoors — the latter evidenced by distinctive burn patterns on animal bones.

Bones from all parts of the animal skeleton were found, indicating that livestock was walked to the site rather than introduced as joints of meat. Isotopic analysis indicates that cattle originated from many different locations, some far away from the site. This is significant as it would require orchestration of a large number of volunteers likely drawn from far and wide. The observed patterns of feasting do not fit with a slave-based society where labour was forced and coerced, as some have suggested.

Dr Oliver Craig, Reader in Archaeological Science at the University of York and lead author on the paper, said: “Evidence of food-sharing and activity-zoning at Durrington Walls shows a greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory. The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed. This, together with evidence of feasting, suggests Durrington Walls was a well-organised working community.”

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, Professor at University College London and Director of the Feeding Stonehenge project who also led the excavations at Durrington Walls, said: “This new research has given us a fantastic insight into the organisation of large-scale feasting among the people who built Stonehenge. Animals were brought from all over Britain to be barbecued and cooked in open-air mass gatherings and also to be eaten in more privately organized meals within the many houses at Durrington Walls.

“The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone. The sharing of food had religious as well as social connotations for promoting unity among Britain’s scattered farming communities in prehistory. ”

Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito, who analysed the pottery samples and recently joined Newcastle University, added: “The combination of pottery analysis with the study of animal bones is really effective, and shows how these different types of evidence can be brought together to provide a detailed picture of food and cuisine in the past.”

The study has been published in the Antiquity Journal.
Source: University of York [October 12, 2015]

The Stonehenge News Blog





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





Stonehenge researchers ‘may have found largest prehistoric site’

7 09 2015
Standing stones found buried near Stonehenge could be the “largest” intact prehistoric monument ever built in Britain, archaeologists believe.Large stones at Durrington Walls
The large stones are located around the edge of the henge at Durrington Walls (Image copyrigh Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Using ground-penetrating radar, some 100 stones were found at the Durrington Walls “superhenge”, a later bank built close to Stonehenge.

The Stonehenge Living Landscapes team has been researching the ancient monument site in a five-year project.

Finding the stones was “fantastically lucky”, researchers said.

The stones may have originally measured up to 4.5m (14ft) in height and had been pushed over the edge of Durrington Walls.

The site, which is thought to have been built about 4,500 years ago, is about 1.8 miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

The stones were found on the edge of the Durrington Walls “henge”, or bank, an area which had not yet been studied by researchers.

Large stones at Durrington Walls
The stones could have measured up to 4.5m in height (Image copyright Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Lead researcher, Vince Gaffney said the stones were “lost to archaeology” but found thanks to modern technology.

National Trust archaeologist, Dr Nick Snashall said there were “hints” the stones could be buried in the landscape.

“In the field that lies to the south we know there’s a standing stone which is now the only standing stone, now fallen, that you can go up to and touch in the whole of the Stonehenge landscape,” he said.

“It’s called the Cuckoo Stone.

“If there are stones beneath the bank… they’re probably looking at stones of pretty much the same size as the Cuckoo Stone.”

Radar scanning at Durrington Walls, Wiltshire
Ground-penetrating radar was used to detect the large stones at Durrington Walls (Image copyright Geert Verhoeven)

Dr Snashall added there was a “sense” of an area set aside for the living and another for the dead at Durrington Walls – and that had changed over time.

“This gives us a a whole new phase that shows us that has started within 40 years of the site going out of use, or even less than that,” he said.

The findings are being announced later on the first day of the British Science Festival being held at the University of Bradford.

Large stones at Durrington Walls
The row of stones were standing over the edge of the bank of the henge (Image copyright Ludwig Boltzmann Institute)

Source and full story : BBC Wiltshire

The Stonehenge News Blog





Stonehenge Riverside Project. A film from the AHRC

16 05 2015

This film from the AHRC is the latest in our specially commissioned series which celebrates the AHRC’s 10th anniversary. This film looks back to the year 2007 and the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

Led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, the Stonehenge Riverside Project brought together academics from around the globe in one of the largest field archaeology research studies of the 21st Century.

The project set out to further understanding of Stonehenge and neighbouring complex, Durrington Walls. The project looked at the sites in the context of the surrounding landscape, and in doing so several remarkable discoveries were made including a new stone circle dubbed, ‘Bluehenge.’ The discovery catapulted the project to the forefront of the world‘s media and made front page of newspapers all over the world.

Link: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Watch-and-Listen/Pages/Stonehenge-Riverside-Project.aspx

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