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.

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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

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Stonehenge News: Controversial A303 Tunnel Plan Approved by Transport Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

12 11 2020

A controversial plan to dig a £2.4bn road tunnel near Stonehenge has been approved by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Decision goes against recommendations of planning officials and is opposed by environmentalists and archaeologists 

The A303, a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the south west, runs within a few hundred metres of the world heritage site.

The plan to build a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel out of sight of the monument was approved despite objections.

Campaigners said it was a “complete violation” and “international scandal”.

Transport minister Andrew Stephenson announced the decision in a written statement to the commons.

Sarah Richards, the Planning Inspectorate’s chief executive, said there had been a “great deal of public interest in this project”.

She said: “A major priority for us over the course of the examination was to ensure that communities who might be affected by this proposal had the opportunity to put forward their views.

In a statement on Thursday, the Planning Inspectorate’s chief executive, Sarah Richards, said: “There has been a great deal of public interest in this project.

“A major priority for us over the course of the examination was to ensure that communities who might be affected by this proposal had the opportunity to put forward their views.

“As always, the Examining Authority gave careful consideration to these before reaching its conclusion.”

Stonehenge Tunnel News Links:
Stonehenge A303 tunnel plan approved by transport secretary – BBC NEWS
Stonehenge tunnel: Government approves controversial bypass near ancient site – THE INDEPENDENT
Transport Secretary approves plans for controversial Stonehenge tunnel – LBC
Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge after getting green light – THE METRO
Stonehenge tunnel plan gets go-ahead from Grant Shapps – MSN
BREAKING NEWS: A303 Stonehenge Tunnel approved by Secretary of State for Transport. – SALISBURY JOURNAL

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Coronavirus: Stonehenge Winter Solstice gathering cancelled by English Heritage.

5 11 2020

Thousands were expected to descend on the ancient monument on the 21st December to celebrate the winter solstice but English Heritage, which manages the site, has cancelled the event following government advice on coronavirus.

The winter solstice is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage normally opens up the stones for public access

Traditionally about 5000 people have gathered at the Neolithic monument in Wiltshire, on or around 21st December, to mark midwinter. English Heritage will be live streaming the winter solstice event for free online. Visit their FACEBOOK page for details

English Heritage Website states:

Winter Solstice sunrise to be live streamed from Stonehenge

Owing to the pandemic, and in the interests of public health, there will be no Winter Solstice gathering at Stonehenge this year. The Winter Solstice sunrise will instead be live-streamed from the stones on the morning of the 21 December. It will be easy and free to watch on the English Heritage social media channels.

We know how appealing it is to come to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice but we are asking everyone to stay safe and to watch the sunrise online instead. We look forward to welcoming people back for solstice next year.

Visit the English Heritage website for more information

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.

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Forest of the Sarsens: birthplace of Stonehenge

29 10 2020

An amazing archaeological survey confirms West Woods as ‘the most likely source area for the sarsens at Stonehenge’, a connection long anticipated by 16th Century antiquaries and more recent megalithic investigators.

West Woods, a handsome sweep of beech woods sweeping off of the Marlborough Downs, were originally part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Savernake, until the bounds were altered in 1330. It is bisected by the mysterious Wansdyke earthwork – a ditch which runs to the edge of Bristol and was possibly a demarcation of the southern extremity of the Danelaw. This runs the length of the woods – half hidden beneath the stately canopy of beech trees like Kipling’s ‘Way Through the Woods’. On the southern edge, near Clatford Farm, there stands a long barrow. Bronze Age microliths have been found, and the woods have long been a source of charcoal. These days it is popular with walkers, cyclists, and runners – with two trails: the Wansdyke Path and the White Horse Trail, wending their way through it.

          It was in the midst of the summer lockdown this year that a remarkable discovery occurred – one that had long been intuited (as early as the 16th Century by the antiquarian, William Lambarde) and investigated by modern antiquarians like Hugh Newman, Nicholas Cope and Andrew Collins, for it is common knowledge that the area north of West Woods – up Clatford Bottom to the Downs, is festooned with sarsens, or ‘grey wethers’ (as they were referred to locally, due to their resemblances to grazing sheep – especially on a misty day). The remarkable clustering of glacial erratic that line the dry valley below the Ridgeway, Julian Cope named the ‘Mother’s Jam’. To behold it is to see the workshop of Avebury – Stonehenge’s sister site. To wander amongst them is to wonder what vision inspired the stone circle builders to attempt to move and fashion them with such colossal skill and effort.

          From a sample of 20 potential sites ranging from Norfolk to Devon, the team (Nash, Ciborowski, Ullyott, Parker Pearson, Darvill, Greaney, Maniatis, Whitaker) discovered that the stones of West Woods matched most closely the core sample originally taken from Stonehenge in 1958 and lost until 2018. Five other sites covering the sarsen fields were also surveyed all the way up the ‘valley of the stones’ (as I call it), but at West Woods the team struck gold.

          During a recent visit to the woods – one after heavy rain – the extreme slipperiness of the soil was noted. This seems to be an especial quality of the chalk – as anyone who has walked the Ridgeway would know – and it is tempting to speculate that it lended itself to the transportation of the massive sarsens (some weighing up to 30 tonnes). Although a huge amount of man power would have been required to pull the sarsens along, once traction was achieved, the slipperiness of the chalk (kept wet if not by nature, then by much ‘donkey work’) would have done the rest. Sliding the sarsens along a smooth muddy channel – whether on a raft, rollers, or rushes – would be a lot easier than trying to move their dead-weight over rough ground. As with the theory of a hovertrain – do away with friction and you can go so much faster.

          One also needs to consider the hollow way that descends from West Woods, then over the Wansdyke past Knap Hill down into the Vale of Pewsey – and, pre-canal, days, all the way to Salisbury Plain… straight to Durrington, with its workers’ camp, where the sarsens were dressed before floating up the Avon to the Avenue. This is the most direct route still.

          A distance of 25 km as the crow flies is still considerable, but not impossible – and you don’t need Merlin’s magic to move the sarsens either!

          So, West Woods becomes part of the Stonehenge landscape and legendarium – and is worth a visit any time of the year, as a place of sylvan beauty and a special atmosphere all of its own. The stones would pre-date the existence of such a forest (although wildwood existed, it would have been more likely scrubby heathland, especially when humans started to settle down in the area, requiring timber for firewood, fencing, building materials, and wood-henges, like the one at the Sanctuary, near Avebury, and the other at Durrington), but something of the Neolithic mystery of the place has been absorbed by the beeches. In the Celtic ogham tree-alphabet, Phagos, relates to learning – and etymologically ‘beech’ and ‘book’ are connected. Beech bark was used as an early form of parchment. And so, in a way, a beech wood is a kind of library. Who knows what other secret knowledge it stores, awaiting the curious?

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), 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.  

STONEHENGE SARSEN RELAVANT LINKS:
Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge – SCIENCE ADVANCES
The Stonehenge sarsens — did they come from Overton Down / West Woods? On this evidence, probably they did. THE SARSEN
The Sarsens of the West Woods – STONEHENGE MONUMENT BLOG
Megalithic Specialist Tour Operator. STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge: The Sarsens Originated from West Woods, Wiltshire – SCIENTIFIC EUROPEAN
Archaeologists discover likely source of Stonehenge’s giant sarsen stones – THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge: Mystery of where giant rocks came from SOLVED as scientists pinpoint exact Wiltshire wood – THE SUN
Visit Stonehenge, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and West Woods with a private guided tour from Salisbury – THE STONEHENGE TRAVEL COMPANY

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A New Study Assesses the Prehistoric Acoustics of Stonehenge.

6 09 2020
  • Researchers created a 3D-printed scale model and broadcast ‘chirps’ at different frequencies
  • When Stonehenge was intact, the acoustics were more like a movie theater
  • The sound lingered, suggesting the unique sound effect was used while speaking or singing

A scale model of Stonehenge has been built to try and find out what early visitors to the monument would have heard more than 4,000 years ago.

Researchers discovered sound briefly lingered inside the model on the mid-frequency range. (University of Salford)

University of Salford academics recreated the ancient circle to find out how sound would have carried across all the original 157 stones in 2,200BC. The to-scale 1/12th model was made using 3D printing and custom modelling.

Prof Trevor Cox said the model gave an insight “into what our ancestors would have heard in the stone circles”.

“Now we know the voice would have been enhanced by being in that space,” he added.

Academics worked with English Heritage using laser scans of the stones and architectural research to create the shape and position of the stones in an acoustic chamber.

Future research may examine other aspects of Stonehenge’s acoustic characteristics, including the kinds of echoes it creates and the way that its stones hum in strong winds.

The new study “shows that sound was fairly well contained within the monument and, by implication, [Stonehenge] was fairly well insulated from sounds coming in,” Timothy Darvill, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University, tells Science News.

Listening to the sounds reverberating “must have been one of the fundamental experiences of Stonehenge,” he adds.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE NEW LINKS:

  • Stonehenge had acoustics ‘like a modern day cinema’ say researchers who created 3D printed scale model of the ancient monument and found it would have amplified voices and music – DAILY MAIL
    Scientists Map Stonehenge’s Soundscape – SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE
  • Stonehenge enhanced sounds like voices or music for people inside the monument – SCIENCE NEWS
  • Acoustic Engineers Test Sound in Stonehenge Model – ARCHAEOLOGY.ORG
  • Experience the inner circle of Stonehenge with an exclusive private access tour with the megalthic experts – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
  • Stonehenge mini model reveals sound of monument – BBC
  • Stonehenge bluestones had acoustic properties, study shows – DAILY MAIL
  • The lost sounds of Stonehenge – BBC
  • Neolithic acoustics of Stonehenge revealed by academics – BBC

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The origin of the giant sarsen stones at Stonehenge has finally been discovered with the help of a missing piece of the site which was returned after 60 years.

30 07 2020

Last year archaeologists pinpointed the origin of many of the ancient monument’s massive stones. A new study identifies the source of the rest. A test of the metre-long core was matched with a geochemical study of the standing megaliths.

Stonehenge

The 23ft sarsens each weigh around 20 tonnes

Archaeologists pinpointed the source of the stones to an area 15 miles (25km) north of the site near Marlborough.

English Heritage’s Susan Greaney said the discovery was “a real thrill”.

The seven-metre tall sarsens, which weigh about 20 tonnes, form all fifteen stones of Stonehenge’s central horseshoe, the uprights and lintels of the outer circle, as well as outlying stones.

The monument’s smaller bluestones have been traced to the Preseli Hills in Wales, but the sarsens had been impossible to identify until now.

The return of the core, which was removed during archaeological excavations in 1958, enabled archaeologists to analyse its chemical composition.

No-one knew where it was until Robert Phillips, 89, who was involved in those works, decided to return part of it last year.

Researchers first carried out x-ray fluorescence testing of all the remaining sarsens at Stonehenge which revealed most shared a similar chemistry and came from the same area.

They then analysed sarsen outcrops from Norfolk to Devon and compared their chemical composition with the chemistry of a piece of the returned core.

English Heritage said the opportunity to do a destructive test on the core proved “decisive”, as it showed its composition matched the chemistry of sarsens at West Woods, just south of Marlborough.

Prof David Nash from Brighton University, who led the study, said: “It has been really exciting to harness 21st century science to understand the Neolithic past, and finally answer a question that archaeologists have been debating for centuries.

‘Substantial stones’

“Each outcrop was found to have a different geochemical signature, but it was the chance to test the returned core that enabled us to determine the source area for the Stonehenge sarsens.”

Ms Greaney said: “To be able to pinpoint the area that Stonehenge’s builders used to source their materials around 2,500 BC is a real thrill.

“While we had our suspicions that Stonehenge’s sarsens came from the Marlborough Downs, we didn’t know for sure, and with areas of sarsens across Wiltshire, the stones could have come from anywhere.

“They wanted the biggest, most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them from as nearby as possible.”

Ms Greaney added the evidence highlights “just how carefully considered and deliberate the building of this phase of Stonehenge was”.
SOURCE: BBC NEWS

STONEHENGE RELEVANT NEWS:

Stonehenge: Mystery of mighty stones solved by archaeologists – THE INDEPENDENT
Origin of Stonehenge’s huge standing stones discovered after part of monument found in US – ITV NEWS
Mystery of origin of Stonehenge megaliths solved – BBC NEWS
Mystery of where Stonehenge’s giant stones come from solved – SKY NEWS
Whence Came Stonehenge’s Stones? Now We Know – NYC TIMES
Visit Stonehenge and hear all the latest theories – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Origin of Stonehenge’s huge standing stones discovered after part of monument found in US – ITV NEWS

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Stonehenge discovery offers new insights into Neolithic ancestors.

29 07 2020

New prehistoric shafts have been discovered around Durrington Walls henge
Coring suggests the features are Neolithic, excavated over 4,500 years ago
It is thought the shafts served as a boundary to a sacred area or precinct

Thanks to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, archaeologists at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire have discovered a larger prehistoric ring that consists of massive shafts. Just two miles from the ever-mysterious Stonehenge, a series of at least 20 shafts that are five-meter deep and 10-meter wide have been discovered and dubbed “Holehenge.”  The holes were found using non-invasive geophysical prospection and remote sensing in a series of surveys. Regularly spaced out, which has ruled out natural phenomena, the holes form a partial circle centering on the prehistoric Durrington Walls henge. Researchers think there could be as many as 30 of the holes and they have been radiocarbon dated using precision coring to around 2500 BC. “The area around Stonehenge is amongst the most studied archaeological landscapes on earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a massive prehistoric structure which, currently, is significantly larger than any comparative prehistoric monument that we know of in Britain, at least,” said Vince Gaffney, chair of the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences in the Faculty of Live Sciences for the University of Bradford. The full findings of the project have been published in Internet Archaeology, an independent, nonprofit journal.

STONEHENGE RELEVANT NEWS LINKS:

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project Reveals a Major New Prehistoric Stone Monument – MORE
How illuminating – Measuring luminescence helps to date a remarkable new discovery at Stonehenge – MORE
A hole new ‘Stonehenge’! New prehistoric monument dating back 4,500 years made up of 15ft-deep shafts in a mile-wide circle is discovered in English countryside – MORE
Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project – Gallery – MOREA Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge – MORE
Durrington Shafts: Is Britain’s Largest Prehistoric Monument a Sonic Temple? – MORE
Stonehenge Guided Tours.  Visit Stonehenge and Durrington Walls with the Megalithic experts and hear more about this fascinating discovery – MORE
Researchers find large Prehistoric Site Near Stonehenge – MORE

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Incredible Discovery at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge.

25 06 2020

This week has seen one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in recent years.

For centuries, archaeologists as well as the public have marvelled at the sheer richness of neolithic history concentrated in the Wessex area. Whether it’s the world famous mystery of Stonehenge, Avebury stone circle or Durrington Walls  (possibly the largest neolithic settlement in Europe). With such a historic landscape, so rigorously examined over the years, new discoveries are often few and far between or small in scale. This week however, archaeologists have discovered a gigantic neolithic circle of deep shafts surrounding Durrington Walls – a discovery of seismic proportions.

A  new circle discovered near Stonehenge, is more than 10 metres in diameter and five metres deep.  Photo taken by Stonehenge Dronescapes.

A new circle discovered near Stonehenge, is more than 10 metres in diameter and five metres deep. Photo taken by Stonehenge Dronescapes.

“This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK,” said archaeologist Vincent Gaffney.

The neolithic settlement, thought to be where the builders of Stonehenge resided, lies around 3 km from the iconic monoliths. The newly found surrounding circle consists of over 20 colossal shafts in fastidiously accurate arrangement. Archaeologists have reported that the shafts form a circle more than two kilometres wide around the ancient settlement, and they believe this perimeter served as a boundary to a sacred area. 

The shafts themselves, 10 metres (32 Feet) wide and five meters (16 Feet) deep, are believed to be more than 4,500 years ago, the same age as the Durrington Walls settlement.

Experts from several institutes including University of St Andrews, the University of Wales, Warwick, Birmingham, Trinity Saint David and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, came together in a multidisciplinary effort to make this stunning finding. 

Not only is this one of the largest finds in recent years, but also could prove to be an incredibly important discovery for our understanding of the Neolithic peoples. This find could be the decisive evidence needed to prove our ancestors enacted a system of counting. Such is the exact and geometrically precise nature of the circle. It has been described by archaeologists who worked on the project as ‘a masterpiece of engineering’. 

Indeed, Prof Vincent Gaffney, a leading archaeologist on the project, said: “This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK. Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadn’t been discovered until now so close to Stonehenge.”

Long recognised on old maps as an ancient British Village, Durrington Walls’ true importance only became apparent in the late 1960s when the road through it was realigned on a straighter path. You can see the line of the old, smaller, road in the aerial photo running to the left of the new road.

Long recognised on old maps as an ancient British Village, Durrington Walls’ true importance only became apparent in the late 1960s when the road through it was realigned on a straighter path. You can see the line of the old, smaller, road in the aerial photo running to the left of the new road.

The incredible story unfolded in characteristic fashion. Initially, archaeologists thought the large pits were simple watering holes designed to slake the thirst of livestock. But when they investigated further, using cutting edge radar, they discovered that the holes were far too deep for this purpose.

A combination of techniques were then used to unfold the fascinating reality. Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, said: “The Hidden Landscape team have combined cutting-edge, archaeological fieldwork with good old-fashioned detective work to reveal this extraordinary discovery and write a whole new chapter in the story of the Stonehenge landscape.”

The discovery only accentuates the sheer scale of neolithic intrigue hosted by the landscape of Wessex. Hopefully there will be many more discoveries in the years to come and the lives of our ancient ancestors will become even clearer to us.

Relevant Stonehenge News:

Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge – THE GUARDIAN
Archaeologists Discover Enormous Ring of Ancient Pits Near Stonehenge – SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE
‘Astonishing discovery’ near Stonehenge led by University of Bradford archaeologists offers new insight into Neolithic ancestors – BRADFORD UNIVERSITY
A hole new ‘Stonehenge’! New prehistoric monument dating back 4,500 years made up of 15ft-deep shafts in a mile-wide circle is discovered in English countryside – THE DAILY MAIL
Giant circle of shafts discovered close to Stonehenge – ABC NEWS
Tour company specialising in guided tours of Stonehenge and the surronding landscape – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Archaeologists discover ‘astonishing’ huge circular neolithic monument next to Stonehenge – THE INDEPENDENT
Durrington Walls, Stonehenge Landscape walk – THE NATIONAL TRUST
Neolithic monument unearthed near Stonehenge in ‘astonishing’ archaeological discovery – THE METRO
HIDDEN HENGE Stonehenge – Neolithic stone circle dating back 4,500 years discovered just miles from site – THE SUN
Durrington Walls: The largest henge monument in Britain – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Salisbury based tour operator offering guided walks and tours of the Stonehenge landsacpe – STONEHENGE AND SALIBURY GUIDED TOURS
Durrington Walls: The largest henge monument in Britain – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Durrington Walls Dig: August 2016 – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
The Blick Mead excavations have transformed the understanding of the Stonehenge landscape. – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Plans for proposed dome to cover Stonehenge from 2021

31 03 2020

Stonehenge is one of the countries most beloved sites, the Neolithic monument becoming a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. Although many measures have been taken since to protect the ancient stones, the current climate crisis is beginning to take its toll; increased carbon dioxide levels and acid rain have both contributed to the stones’ deterioration.  On top of that, vandalism and even the threat of terrorism has led English Heritage, in partnership with UNESCO, to seek drastic measures for the preservation of the prehistoric wonder:  namely covering the stones with a glass dome.

STONEHENGE GLASS DOME

Stonehenge Dome Architectural Illustration. Copyright Thor Design

The dome is the simplest way to preserve the monument, both protecting the stones from any external threat whilst allowing a nitrogen rich atmosphere to be maintained within the dome, preserving the delicate lichen which grows on the surface of the stones – slowing the rate of decay inexorably. An English Heritage representative excitingly described the project as an attempt to create “the world’s first climate-controlled stone circle”

Proposed Glass Specifications: UV resistant | Water resistant | Wind resistant |EN 1090- 1:2009+A1:2011 Compliant | Polyethylene 140 g/m2 

At this stage various firms are bidding for the project and their exact specifications
differ. An Exeter based architectural firm has proposed ‘a polycarbonate titan arch’, whilst another unnamed bidder has put forward a ‘louvre style pyramid’. The most likely option seems to be the idea put forward by the London based architectural engineering firm PCMR, who specify an ‘Igloo style dome’, designed with a PVC weatherproof cover. PCMR’s patented scratch resistant glass is reportedly ‘perfect’ for the project.

Sources at PCMR say the dome will take nothing away from the viewers experience whilst its “…magnifying properties would also make the stones look bigger from the outside as many tourists are disappointed by the size of the stones”.

However, with conservative estimates of the project getting into the millions, cheaper alternatives may have to be considered. Local councils have suggested more of a ‘gazebo’ style design or even a giant poly tunnel.

The plans have been labelled ‘project snowglobe’- and have summer Solstice organisers are excited by the technological prospects the project could bring to the celebrations. The dome allows for advanced lighting and sound systems to be installed; the Chemical Brothers are already rumoured to be interested in playing the maiden show and tickets could retail from upwards of £100.

Some plans even include adding additional features within the globe. One proposal plans to utilise the climate-controlled environment and plant an elegant orange grove, adding some continental beauty to Neolithic stones as well as the prospect of Wiltshire’s first orange juice vintage. Although the orange grove idea has been met with enthusiasm by residents, suggestions that the giant globe design could also be used for growing herbs has been called a waste of thyme.

However, the glass isn’t all rose tinted.  Representatives of the World Greenhouse Federation (WGF) have registered concerns as to the magnifying capabilities of the proposed dome, releasing a statement that nearby villages such as Amesbury and perhaps even parts of Salisbury could ignite if the sun was to shine on the globe from particular angles. Furthermore, local window cleaning firms have been fervently bidding for the job of cleaning the proposed dome, it being called the biggest job in the industry since the Shard. But things have turned nasty and there have been reports of threats and even of violent clashes between rival firms in the build up to the announcement. On top of that, Salisbury window company, Curt & Rod are disappointed local companies were not contacted and one preeminent Archaeologist claimed the greenhouse idea would be a costly and a real pain.

However, setbacks haven’t stopped the tide of incoming ideas. British Company Vision Express submitted plans for a grand ‘Crystal Palace’ design, however UNESCO dismissed the design and said, ‘we should have gone to Specsavers.’

Let’s hope whoever lands the contract, goes out there and absolutely smashes it.

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