Stonehenge builders ‘ate food from Scotland’

19 10 2017

The “army of builders” of Stonehenge ate animals transported from as far away as the north east of Scotland, according to a new exhibition at the famous Neolithic site in Wiltshire. 

eh-feast

Analysis of pig and cattle teeth has revealed some of the animals were from as far as 500 miles away.

The “Feast! Food at Stonehenge” exhibition includes the skull of an aurochs, an extinct species of cattle.

It is aimed at allowing visitors to explore diet from 4,500 years ago.

English Heritage historian Susan Greany said: “Our exhibition explores the important role feasts and food played at Stonehenge.

“Raising the ancient stones was an incredible feat but so too was feeding the army of builders.

“Our exhibition reveals just how this was done.”

The displays reveal research and stories from a “feeding Stonehenge” project, which has been exploring the lives of the people who lived at the nearby settlement of Durrington Walls.

The researchers say thousands of discarded animal bones and teeth excavated at Durrington Walls suggest it was not a typical village but a site of major feasting and ceremony.

Read the full story (article source) on the BBC NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland website.

Links:
English Heritage will launch a new special exhibition at Stonehenge in October 2017

What did neolithic man eat after a hard day at Stonehenge? Sweet pork and rich cheese

Roasted sweet pork with cheese and butter: What was on the menu for (lactose intolerant) Stonehenge Man

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW OF THE STONEHENGE FEAST

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2017 Stonehenge Opening Hours, Entry Prices and Tickets.

2 01 2017

Stonehenge Opening Times and Entrance Prices.
English Heritage advise to expect a visit to last around two hours. Please see the table below for opening times for 2017/18, with some seasonal variability, and entrance prices for adults, children, families, seniors and groups.

visitor-centre2

The Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre

There is 10% discount for groups of 11 or more visitors paying together plus a free place for every additional 20 paying passengers. Free entry for coach driver and tour leader.

If you come by car you will park in the car park outside the visitor centre. It is free for people purchasing tickets to enter Stonehenge, there is a charge if you are not. Tour buses have their own separate coach park.

All Members of English Heritage or National Trust must show a valid membership card on arrival to be granted free parking and site access.

To enter the Stonehenge Exhibition at the Visitor Centre you need a full ticket to Stonehenge, anyone can access the café, gift shop and toilets though, for free.

Very Important!  Book Your Stonehenge Tickets in Advance 
To be assured of entering Stonehenge the best way is to reserve timed tickets in advance on the English Heritage web site or if you need more flexibility and without the time constraint you can purchase discount advance Stonehenge tickets here

Tickets to Stonehenge are booked by half hour time slot, the website showing you how many tickets are still available for your chosen date and time.

Note: you cannot reserve tickets on-line on the day of your visit, you must reserve before midnight latest on the day before. Only a very small number of tickets are held back each day for walk-up visitors.

Note: the last admission time is two hours before closing time of Stonehenge. Closing times are variable according to month of the year (see below)

Stonehenge Admission & Opening From 1st January 2017 – October 2017

Admission

Opening Times

Adult

£15.50

16 Mar – 31 May

09.30 – 19:00

Child (5-15)

£9.30

1 Jun – 31 Aug

09.00 – 20:00

Students/Seniors *

£13.90

1 Sep – 15 Oct

09.30 – 19:00

Family Ticket †

£40.30

16 Oct – 15 Mar

09.30 – 17:00

Last entry 2 hours before closing
Members of the National Trust & English Heritage enter free
Prices are valid until 31st March 2017* 16-18 yr olds + seniors 60+† 2 Adults and 3 Children

~ Closed 24th to 26th December

2017 STONEHENGE OPENING TIMES

1st JANUARY 2017– 31st MARCH 2017

Monday 9:30 – 17:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 17:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 17:00
Thursday 9:30 – 17:00
Friday 9:30 – 17:00
Saturday 9:30 – 17:00
Sunday 9:30 – 17:00

1st APRIL 2017 – 31st MAY 2017

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

1st JUNE 2017 – 31st AUGUST 2017

Monday 9:00 – 20:00
Tuesday 9:00 – 20:00
Wednesday 9:00 – 20:00
Thursday 9:00 – 20:00
Friday 9:00 – 20:00
Saturday 9:00 – 20:00
Sunday 9:00 – 20:00

1st OCTOBER 2017 – 15th OCTOBER 2017

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

16th OCTOBER 2017 ONWARDS
Opening times will be available nearer the time

For more information please visit the official English Heritage website

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English Heritage Events at Stonehenge: December 2015

29 11 2015

Neolithic craft and textile demonstration (Sun 6 Dec 2015)

Sally Pointer and Gareth Riseborough will bring the past to life in their demonstrations of a variety of natural fabrics and crafts including cord making, twining, looped weaving, netting and leatherwork. See bone and antler worked and discover how all these materials were used in the Neolithic. Book here

neolithic-crafts-and-textile-workshop

Neolithic Textile and Craft Workshop (Mon 7 Dec 2015)

Work with textile experts Sally Pointer and Gareth Riseborough to discover more about the research and processes used to create replica Neolithic and Bronze Age clothing for Stonehenge and get hands-on experience with materials and techniques. Learn to make cordage from natural fibres and deer sinew and experiment with braiding, twining and looping techniques. All materials are supplied, and using flint tools, you will craft a needle from red deer antler to take home along with the resources to continue your project. Lunch and refreshments included. Book here

textiles-event-stonehenge

Stonehenge Christmas Shopping Evening (Wed 9 Dec 2015)

Join English Heritage on Wednesday 9th December for a festive evening of Christmas shopping and enjoy a 10% discount on purchases.

They will be serving delicious mince pies and hot mulled wine in the cafe.

Live music and Christmas carols will be sung throughout the evening and the exhibition will be open for free visits.  More info

xmas-stones.jpg

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Stonehenge: English Heritage unveils its new visitor centre

27 09 2013

Despite being one of the world’s most valued heritage sites Stonehenge has never been treated with the respect that it deserves. A new visitor centre will change the way we view this national treasure.

Pondering the enigma of the imposing stone circle that stands on Salisbury Plain early in the 17th century King James I commissioned his architect general, Inigo Jones, to prepare a report on the stones’ condition and their origins. Jones concluded that only the Romans could have built such a sophisticated structure, backing up his case with crisp drawings of the stones in a pre-ruinous state, while dismissing the ancient Britons as savages incapable of building such ‘stately structures’.

Four hundred years later much the same questions are still being asked about Stonehenge. Who built it? What was it for? But in more recent years the focus has been how best to preserve the stones and protect them from the modern-day savagery of the motor-car and mass tourism.

Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous Neolithic site in the world, drawing thousands of visitors each day. A Unesco World Heritage Site, it is a ‘must-see’ monument, part of the identity of Britain itself. But as the site’s fame has grown over the centuries, the question of how to deal with all these visitors while protecting the stones themselves, and their surroundings, has become ever more taxing.

The current visitor centre – little more than a collection of portable buildings and lavatories arranged around a car-park – was built in 1968 and was barely adequate even then. ‘Stonehenge has been a national humiliation,’ Simon Thurley, the chief executive of English Heritage, guardians of the stones since 1984, says. ‘I think it’s really extraordinary that the only man-made structure in Britain that is instantly recognisable, from Patagonia to Serbia and beyond, has been treated as though it was a motorway service station.’ But now, after decades of controversy and failure to find an answer to the ‘Stonehenge problem’, it looks as if a solution, or at least a partial solution, has been found.

In December a new visitor centre and museum opens within a fresh and thoughtful building designed by the Anglo-Australian architectural practice Denton Corker Marshall (DCM). It is part of a whole package of measures that will also see the A344 roadway to one side of the stones removed, although the busy A303 trunk road to the West Country on the other side, which many campaigners have wanted to see put in a tunnel, remains, for now. Thurley sums up what has been achieved. ‘It has been an incredibly controversial saga and has involved three or four different schemes along the way. The most important thing has been the removal of the 1960s car-park and the closing of the road, and clearly getting rid of the terribly outdated stuff requires us to replace it with something new. So the corollary to the ambition to get rid of the road and the existing facilities has been the very long quest to decide where to put the new stuff.’

The ambition has long been to leave the stones themselves in splendid isolation, clearing the old visitor centre away and building something new well out of sight of the monument itself. After looking at a range of locations, English Heritage finally opted for a site at Airman’s Corner – one and a half miles from the stones themselves, within a natural dip in the landscape. ‘One of the key issues over the years has been where we should locate the new facilities,’ Lorraine Knowles, English Heritage’s Stonehenge director, says. ‘There was no disagreement that we needed to do something and close the road and that we needed to improve the setting around the stones. But the big question has been about where we should put the new centre.’

Having settled on the new site, the question became how to deliver a sensitively conceived building that responded to the open farmland setting, with scarcely another building in sight apart from an occasional barn. That includes the stones themselves, which will be accessed either by foot or by transit vehicles from the visitor centre. It is clear that the experience of visiting and understanding Stonehenge will be completely transformed.

The finished centre is a considered and respectful design, but also distinctly modern in approach, which may not please everyone. While the stones are all about mass and weight, the new building is purposefully light, low slung and partially transparent, allowing the eye to pass through and connect with the landscape beyond. It is a subtle presence in the landscape, with a sweeping roof supported by a small forest of slim supporting columns. The canopy shelters a cafe and shop to one side, within a more transparent section, while a museum sits at the other side protected by a facade of weathered chestnut. Between the two there is a sheltered courtyard and a ticket pod.

Stephen Quinlan, the director of DCM’s British office, has been involved in a substantial part of the story himself. Quite soon after establishing the British branch of a practice that was founded in Melbourne in the 1970s, Quinlan entered a 1992 competition for a new Stonehenge visitor centre that was eventually won by the architect Edward Cullinan, but later dropped. In 2001 DCM won a competition for a visitor centre at Countess East – about two miles from the stones – with its design for a building partly burrowed into the side of a sloping valley. In 2004 English Heritage gained Government backing for the idea of rerouting the A303 trunk road into a new tunnel out of view of the stones. It even got as far as getting planning permission in 2007, only for the whole scheme to be shelved when the Government decided that the new tunnel would be too expensive after all. Nevertheless, when English Heritage announced a new competition, for a £27 million building at Airman’s Corner, Quinlan decided it was worth having another go.

‘I know Stonehenge really, really well,’ Quinlan says. ‘It’s been a long time and a big part of my professional life. We had always hoped that we would get bounced on to the new project but it wasn’t like that at all and the new scheme had to go back out again into the market. So it was by no means a certainty that we would reapply to do it. We thought long and hard and in the end, because we are eternal optimists, we thought we might as well throw our hat in the ring, even though we didn’t rate our chances particularly highly. But the shortlist started getting smaller and smaller and we were incredibly excited when it happened again. We couldn’t believe our luck. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’

‘Quite early on we came up with this idea of an undulating roof with eccentric, irregular columns, which would fit well in this rolling countryside,’ continues Quinlan, who collaborated on the design with his colleagues in Melbourne, including the founding partners Barrie Marshall and John Denton. ‘It is quite a big building, with a million visitors going through it every year, so if you had a pitched roof it would become massive, like a cathedral, which didn’t fit in with our approach. We wanted the building to sit lightly in the landscape.’ Quinlan compares the supporting columns to reeds, or slim tree trunks, with a feeling of lightness. It looks as if they are supporting the roof, although they are actually holding it down, as the wind could catch the canopy and turn it into a giant sail without all of these vertical anchors.

‘With the buildings and sites that English Heritage owns itself we generally build in a way that’s very traditional,’ Thurley says. ‘Most of the buildings we have done over the past 10 years have been essentially timber framed and timber clad – out of oak normally – and silver down to get the same sort of colour register as the stone buildings that are often close by. So with our own estate we haven’t been champions of ultra-modern stuctures, although in our wider work we have supported many such buildings. But Stonehenge is completely different and in this case we think a traditional response would have been wrong and would have ended up looking far too solid. This building has a degree of permeability that makes it a lighter proposition. The aim was always to have something that felt like a leaf lying on the land, and hopefully it will feel something like that.’

For Quinlan the building will be a success only if it is seen as quiet and discreet. It forms the polar opposite to so much modern urban architecture, where drama and eye-catching, sculptural forms are so often seen as vital, within the aim of creating statement buildings. Purposefully the Stonehenge visitor centre makes no attempt to reference the stones themselves in its design language and never tries to compete with them in any way. The palette of materials – glass, limestone, chestnut, zinc for the roof – is also tempered and calm. ‘It is quite a big building, because of the job it has to do,’ Quinlan says. ‘But when you approach it, the building doesn’t seem that big at all, largely because there is a lot of landscape going on with the building placed within it. It almost disappears from some perspectives, which is fantastic. Although as an architect I probably shouldn’t be saying that.’

The museum is a key part of the development project, creating dedicated exhibition space for the first time and drawing on pieces lent by the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. ‘Between us we have agreed that we can tell the whole story of Stonehenge with thousands of objects on display,’ Thurley says. ‘It means that the million-plus people who come and see the stones every year will, for the first time, be able to come face to face with some of the actual artefacts that have been excavated on the site. We are building a major museum in the middle of Salisbury Plain, which is a quite extraordinary thing to do.’

An outdoor gallery alongside the new building will play host to three reconstructed Neolithic houses, made with walls of chalk cob over a willow framework and topped by thatched roofs. ‘They are based on some houses excavated at the nearby henge of Durrington Walls,’ Susan Greaney, an archaeologist and the museum’s curator, says. ‘They date from 2500bc, the same time as the large sarsen stones were being raised at Stonehenge and probably where the builders of Stonehenge lived. It will be a real hands-on, immersive experience. We hope the exhibition will show that the prehistoric people who built and used Stonehenge were sophisticated and clever. They were able to pool together vast resources to construct this extraordinary monument using only simple tools.’

The museum helps put Stonehenge into context for visitors, including a 360-degree film showing the henge in its various stages as it evolved over the centuries. But just as importantly the new building sits within a strategy of slowing down the experience of visiting the stones, with the aim of building a sense of anticipation by the time you reach Stonehenge itself. Visitors have the option of walking all the way or the final half of the way, adding to the idea of a journey along a path of discovery.

English Heritage is continuing to push for the A303 to go into a tunnel eventually. But for the time being the road has been resurfaced with a noise-reduction coating in the hope that the sound of constant traffic might be less intrusive when the visitor is contemplating the stones and asking the big questions of how and why they were put here in the first place.

english-heritage.org.uk

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog







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