Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox 20th March 2020

14 03 2020

The Spring, or Vernal, Equinox is the point at which the sun crosses the equator, returning to the northern hemisphere, the point when day and night are at equal length.  The exact time of the 2020 Spring (Vernal) Equinox is at 03.49am

Stonehenge Vernal Equinox

As the sun returns, bringing with it the prospect of spring and all its light and warmth, where better to witness this celestial dance then amongst the essential beauty of the world’s most famous megaliths.

English Heritage are expected to give a short period of managed open access from approximately 05.45m to 8.00am. Due to the current climate concerning coronavirus we recommend checking the English Heritage website for any updates.

Spring equinox 2020

This is the first of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours. The equinox, (the Latin word for Equinox means time of equal days and nights) is only the very moment the sun crosses the equator.

The return of the sun and the promise of spring has always been a cause for celebration.

At the North Pole the sun will blaze for the next 6 months, here the days will elongate. Across the northern hemisphere, across the centuries, our ancestors have rejoiced in celebration at the end of winter. Globally, it is a time of unity between the northern and southern hemispheres as our days hang in perfect balance with one another. Stonehenge’s connection with the stars has ensured it as a hub for equinox celebrations and to this day the celebrations continue.

The time is for the instant when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northwards and has a celestial longitude of 0°

For the ancients, as well as today the celebrations welcomed the spring and the end of a harsh winter; this was the time when crops were resewn and the people celebrated the triumph of light over dark, of life over death. The celebrations have always been full of hope and joy – it is even foretold that as the wind and the weather are at the vernal equinox, so they will be for the next few months.

Public access to Stonehenge currently takes place on four of the so-called ‘quarter festivals’. What exactly are the quarter festivals? And why are these occasions so celebrated by the Druids? The Quarter Festivals and the Druids

Stonehenge and the Druids – who are the Druids?

Visiting Stonehenge this year for the Spring Equinox Celebrations? RESPECT THE STONES

English Heritage –  conditions of entry for ‘Managed Open Access’

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Vernal Equinox and do not have transport you can join a specialist organised small group tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions of entry.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company offering award winning discreet tours from London and Bath – click here for their exclusive Spring Equinox tour.  Solstice Events offer small group sunrise tours using local expert guides.

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Equinox you can watch our FACEBOOK or  LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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Stonehenge and the Druids – who are the Druids?

23 02 2020

Stonehenge’s mysterious beauty affects us all in different ways, but for many it is a sight of genuine religious importance.

Stonehenge Solstice Celebrations

Stonehenge Solstice Celebrations

‘Druids’ is the general term used to refer to this multitudinous group who see Wiltshire’s world heritage site as a place of worship. In reality, Druidic beliefs vary, with different groups including neo-pagans and wiccans. Nonetheless, a whole host of Druidic worshippers converge on Stonehenge for the solstices, equinoxes and beyond. Today, there are over 7,000 members of the British druid order and I wanted to take a look at the history of druidism and its ties with Stonehenge’s arcane monoliths.

History of Druidism

DruidDruids pre-dated the Roman invasion of Britain and in ancient Celtic cultures they were members of highly respected shamanic class. They were typically religious leaders, but also law keepers, chroniclers, doctors, and even political advisors. They were first mentioned in the 2nd century BC in roman sources and were even reported by Julius Caesar in 59 B.C. Druid’s were the arbiters of spirituality in pre-roman Britain and had a deep connection with the lore of the isles.

With first the Roman invasion (Roman religion tended towards assimilation, absorbing deities of other faiths in the hope of conversion) and then the rise of Christianity, Druidism faded into near non-existence. However, something of Druidic traditions remained and was eventually revived.

Two figures of huge importance to the Druidic revival were John Aubrey (1626-1692) and William Stukely (1687-1765). Aubrey was the first to suggest that Stonehenge had been built by Celtic Druids, the most prominent theory on the formation of Stonehenge until the 20th Century. Stukely (also famous for discovering the Cursus and Avenue at Stonehenge), proliferated the theory that Druid’s built Stonehenge and also worked hard to revive the culture, eventually proclaiming himself a Druid. Stukley worked hard to popularise Druidism, reviving pagan lore and dress whilst throwing parties in accordance with ancient beliefs. For Stukley, Stonehenge was a temple of worship – eventually publishing Stonehenge: A Temple Restor’d to the British Druids.

The origin of the word ‘Druid’’ is unclear, but the most popular view is that it comes from ‘doire’, an Irish-Gaelic word for oak tree (often a symbol of knowledge), also meaning ‘wisdom’. Druids were concerned with the natural world and its powers, and considered trees sacred, particularly the oak.

Today, the most prominent druid could be said to be a Salisbury Druid by the name of Arthur Uthur Pendragon – who has spent 33 years a Druid. A religious enthusiast, he can be found at every Stonehenge celebration and he also leads campaigns to reduce parking fees and has even run for MP.

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Arthur Pendragon

Druidic Beliefs

From the time of the Celtic Druids, Druidism has had a strong bond with the natural world as well as the cosmos. Although Stukley determinedly linked his version of Druidism with Christianity – dubbing it ‘Patriarchal Christianity’ – Druidism since ancient times has been polytheistic, with different deities existing in the elements around us. The community largely believes that Stonehenge was built by ancient Druids as a place of worship – it being aligned with the midsummer sunrise so perfectly. Stonehenge thus represents the spiritual connection of man and the elements which is intrinsic to the beliefs of the Druid community.

Druids at Stonehenge

Although the 21st century has seen a decline in Druidism, (In the 2001 census 30,569 people described themselves as Druids), the numbers are once again on the rise. Perhaps in a digital age, more and more people are seeking a deeper connection with the elements. A connection that Druidism certainly offers. Who knows? Maybe you too will feel this spiritual connection on your visit to the stones.

Stonehenge and the Druids links:

The Quarter Festivals and the Druidsm – The Stonehenge News Blog
Who were the Druids? History UK
Who Were the Druids? Live Science
A Brief History of Druidry | Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids – The Druid Way
Stonehenge and the Druids – Stonehnege News Blog
Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon, Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband. The Stonehenge News Blog

Here are links to some of the Druid Orders:

The Ancient Order of Druids – http://www.aod-uk.org.uk
The Druid Order – http://thedruidorder.org
Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids – http://druidry.org/
The Dolmen Grove – http://www.dolmengrove.co.uk/
The Dorset Grove – http://www.dorsetgrove.co.uk/
The Cotswold Order – http://www.twistedtree.org.uk/
The Loyal Arthurian Warband – http://www.warband.org.uk/
The Stonehenge and Amesbury Druids – http://www.stonehenge-druids.org/
The Gorsedd of Cor Gawr – http://bards.org.uk/
The Glastonbury Order of Druids – http://www.glastonburyorderofdruids.com/

Our sponsors at Stonehenge Guided Tours offer an exclusive opportunity to join the Druids at Stonehenge for the Equinox and Solstice celebrations

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Stones from Pembrokeshire used in the construction of Stonehenge may have been transported by land rather than sea, archaeologists have found.

24 02 2019

Quarrying of Stonehenge ‘bluestones’ dated to 3000 BC

Excavations at two quarries in Wales, known to be the source of the Stonehenge ‘bluestones’, provide new evidence of megalith quarrying 5,000 years ago, according to a new UCL-led study.  The findings were published in the journal Antiquity.

Stonehenge (pictured) is made of natural pillars from Pembrokeshire, 180 miles (290 km) away from its current location in Wiltshire. Experts claim the obelisks were dragged there over land and not taken there by sea, as some theories have suggested

Stonehenge (pictured) is made of natural pillars from Pembrokeshire, 180 miles (290 km) away from its current location in Wiltshire. Experts claim the obelisks were dragged there over land and not taken there by sea, as some theories have suggested

The discovery confirms a prediction made a century ago

It was Herbert Henry Thomas, a British geologist, who first declared that the “foreign stones” of Stonehenge—those that did not come from the vicinity of the prehistoric monument and whose raison d’être was therefore most shrouded in mystery—had been hewed from rocky outcrops in west Wales. In 1923 he pointed to the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire. Nearly a century later he has been found to be nearly, but not quite, right.

The new discoveries also cast doubt on a popular theory that the bluestones were transported by sea to Stonehenge.

Radiocarbon dates
Joshua Pollard, a professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton, said the findings were key as they were “further confirmation that the Stonehenge bluestones were moved by people (and not geological forces such as ice-sheets) in prehistory, in what stands out as one of the most remarkable instances of long-distance movement of large stones in the ancient world.”

He said that radiocarbon dates indicate there may have been a gap in time between the quarrying of the stones from Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, which may suggest they were “originally set up as one or more stone circles in Preseli.”

Prof Pollard went on to explain the research revealed the “far-flung importance of the Preseli region during the Neolithic.”

He added: “Ultimately, it’s a story about people – about early farmers – with a strong connection to ancestral lands, and their need to reinforce those connections through the movement and building of great megalithic monuments.”

  • Relevant Stonehege news links:
    Solving the mystery of Stonehenge – The Economist
  • Stonehenge: Preseli stone ‘transported over land’ – BBC NEWS
  • The Where, When and How of Quarrying Stonehenge ‘Bluestones’ Is Revealed in New Report – Ancient Origins
  • Quarrying of Stonehenge ‘bluestones’ dated to 3000 BC – Archaeology and Arts
  • How Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’ were quarried 5,000 years ago: Ready-made pillars were pried away from rocky outcrops before being transported over land NOT sea – Daily Mail

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Was Stonehenge built by seafarers? Prehistoric sailors may have been responsible for many of the megalithic monuments.

16 02 2019

Stonehenge is one of many megalithic monuments from prehistory dotted around Europe and scientists have now discovered the art form of giant rocks was a popular trend that started 6,500 years ago in France.

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  • The first monument was erected in northwest France in 4,500 BC, study finds 
  • Then the tradition, practice and popularity for similar monuments spread 
  • Monuments appeared at coastal regions on Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts
  • Sailors are thought to have taken the trend around Europe over 2,000 years as they used their budding sea routes  

The knowledge and expertise to create these monuments was then spread around Europe by sailors over the following millennia.

Similar monuments to the original appeared in coastal regions around the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts via sailors on large ships using emerging sea routes.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, theorizes that these megalith structures have been around for nearly 7,000 years and may have originated in northwestern France.

Relevant Stonehenge News links:
Was Stonehenge built by seafarers? Daily Mail
Stonehenge, other ancient rock structures may trace their origins to monuments like this.  Science Mag
Prehistoric sailors may be responsible for Stonehenge.  New York Post 
Stonehenge mystery solved? Fox News

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Megalith tells stones’ secrets. New book focusses on the Wiltshire stone circles.

29 06 2018

SOLSTICE morning marked both the longest day of the year and the release of new book Megalith: Studies in Stone that claims to reveal secret behind the mystery of the cosmology surrounding stone circle constructions like Avebury.

Megalith is the first global study into the stones at both Avebury and Stonehenge and megalthhas been penned by stone circle experts including Robin Heath, that focusses on the Wiltshire circles.

Among the insights in Megalith, the book argues that there were probably once 99 stones in the outer circle at Avebury.

Contributing author Robin Heath, author of 11 books on prehistoric and ancient sciences, said: “The eight contributing authors to Megalith have undertaken original research on the nature and purpose of megalithic monuments outside the boundaries of the present day archaeological model of prehistory. This pioneering collection of their work celebrates megalithic society’s abilities and achievements in a new light, revealing an intellectual facet of prehistory, one that was employing an integrated and coherent cosmology, a megalithic science, more than 6,000 years ago.”

Mr Heath was joined by publisher and editor John Martineau giving talks about at both sites about the monuments. John Martineau, founder of the Megalithomania conference said: “The megalithic culture of western Europe left behind some vast and enigmatic temples, and yet there is little understanding of the cosmology driving their construction.” On solstice morning 9500 people flooded Stonehenge and 600 attended Avebury. No arrests were made at Stonehenge and two in Avebury.

Eight co-authors and experts in their fields have contributed to the book to shed light on the original purposes of Avebury and other sites where stone circles dominate the landscape.

Article (source) by Alison Grover: The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

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Did you know April 18th is World Heritage Day?

18 04 2018

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.  Stonehenge and Avebury was inscribed onto the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1986, along with 6 other sites in the UK. 

Stonehege World Heritage Site

Over the past 3 decades there have been a number of achievements by the many partners who share in the protection and enhancement of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

These include:

  • Around 750 ha of agricultural land in WHS have been reverted to pasture with a great deal of support from Defra/Natural England. Not only does this help to protect fragile archaeological remains but has also had the benefit of enhancing biodiversity.
  • A huge amount of archaeological research has revealed more about the landscapes of the WHS and expanded our knowledge and understanding of the Site
  • Silbury Hill was stabilised and conserved in 2007, making good the work undertaken by antiquarians of the 18th and 19th centuries and archaeologists of the mid 20th century alike.
  • In 2012 the Site was able to fulfil the UK Government’s commitment made at the time of inscription to close the A344 right next to the Stones at Stonehenge
  • A new award winning Visitor Centre opened at Stonehenge in 2013 and now receives over 1.3million visitors per year.Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO
  • The governance of the WHS was strengthened with the creation of a Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Coordination Unit in March 2014 and the creation of a WHS Partnership Panel to oversee the work of the two parts of the WHS in February 2014.
  • In May 2015, Stonehenge and Avebury WHS produced their first joint Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Management Plan

More information can be found about the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site on the website www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org/

What are World Heritage Sites?

World Heritage Sites are cultural and natural sites of international importance described by UNESCO as being of Outstanding Universal Value. They represent the common heritage of the international community. On signing the World Heritage Convention, governments pledge to protect and present their Sites for this and future generations.

UNESCO grants the prestigious World Heritage Site status to sites that meet its strict international criteria. Today there are over 1,000 World Heritage Sites including the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Amazon River Basin.

The UNESCO website provides more information on World Heritage Sites across the globe. You can find out more about Britain’s World Heritage Sites on the UNESCO  website.

Some historians and campaign groups are warning Stonehenge could have its famous World Heritage status taken away if the Government builds a tunnel underneath it – click here

Visit the English heritage website to find out more and book tickets. The best way to experience Stonehenge, understand its construction and hear about all the theories is to have a Tourist Guide explain it all on a Stonehenge Guided Tour

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Was Stonehenge constructed as part of a fertility cult?

10 12 2017

Professor Terance Meade of said Wiltshire-based Stonehenge’s ancient builders create a ‘play without words’ in which one stone in particular cast a growing phallic-shaped shadow.

Stonehenge was built to cast phallic-shaped shadows during Midsummer and was part of a fertility cult, a new study claims.

Professor Terance Meade said Stonehege’s ancient builders create a ‘play without words’ in which one stone in particular cast a growing phallic-shaped shadow.

The shadow would penetrate the egg-shaped monument before hitting a central ‘female’ stone — symbolising fertility.

20170511_054301

Professor Terance Meade of said the Stonehege’s ancient builders create a ‘play without words’ in which one stone in particular cast a growing phallic-shaped shadow

Professor Meaden examined nearly 20 stone circle across Britain – including one at Avebury – and filmed their changing silhouettes at sunrise on ritually important days throughout the year.

He said the shape of the monuments at Stonehenge allow the same ‘play without words’ to reoccur at significant dates in the Neolithic farming calendar.

‘My basic discovery is that many stone circles were built at a time of a fertility religion, and that stones were positioned such that at sunrise on auspicious dates of the year phallic shadows would be cast from a male-symbolic stone to a waiting female-symbolic stone,’ Prof Meaden told The Daily Telegraph.

The archaeologist added that on certain days of clear sunrise, the shadow of the ‘externally sited’ phallic Heel Stone penetrates the great monument during the summer solstice before finally arriving at the recumbent Altar Stone — which is symbolically female.

Read more (Source): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5163629/Was-Stonehenge-constructed-fertility-cult.html#ixzz50qUY8Jqx

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