5000 people came to celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge this year.

23 12 2018

The winter solstice occurs each year when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the sun, resulting in the fewest hours of sunlight, and the shortest day of the year.

SUNRISE: Hundreds gathered at Stonehenge today to mark winter solstice

SUNRISE: Hundreds gathered at Stonehenge today to mark winter solstice

Crowds of people played music and danced at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, where monuments are believed to be aligned to the movements of the sun.

The traditional event attracted hundreds of people to the monument, particularly from the Pagan community.

Kate Davies, of English Heritage, said: “It was fantastic to welcome approximately 5000 people to Stonehenge this morning to celebrate winter solstice.

“It was an enjoyable and peaceful celebration despite the damp and cloudy weather and it was great to see so many families enjoying themselves around the monument.”

Revellers in vibrant costumes gathered to mark the Winter Solstice and to witness the sunrise after the longest night of the year.

Striking photographs show choirs singing, a couple embracing, and many taking a moment of peace by the ancient stones.

The traditional event attracted hundreds of people to the monument, particularly from the Pagan community.

Stonehenge has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Winter Solstice for thousands of years.

English Heritage has “managed open access”, meaning the public can stand among the stones on these days. Anyone can turn up on the day to get close to the stones, but people are asked not to touch or climb on them.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2018 Links:

Stonehenge Winter Solstice striking moments as costumed revellers sing and dance  – The Mirror

2018 winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge – Salisbury Journal

Thousands mark Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – Spire FM

Pagans and druids including ‘real’ KING ARTHUR descend on Stonehenge for winter solstice – The Dail Star

Stonehnege winter solstice video clips onPericsope 

Stonehenge winter solstice: Parking row mars event – BBC 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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Stonehenge Summer Solstice: Thousands gather for longest day

21 06 2018

THOUSANDS of revellers have gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to celebrate the arrival of summer and the year’s longest day, in a ritual that dates back thousands of years.

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About 9,500 people were at the Neolithic monument to greet the start of the longest day of the year, according to Wiltshire Police.

The sun appeared behind the Heel Stone at 04:52 BST to cheering and applause from the crowd.

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

As with last year’s event, Wiltshire Police confirmed it had stepped up security with armed police on patrol.

Although thousands attended the solstice, the force said 3,500 fewer people came to watch the sunrise compared with 2017.

Supt Dave Minty, Wiltshire Police’s overnight commander, said behaviour at the stones was “brilliant”, with no arrests made.

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“The sunrise was amazing, and we don’t see many of those,” he added.

“People seem to have adapted really well to the heightened level of security and they’ve been really patient with it.”

On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the stone circle, and sunlight is channelled into the centre of the monument.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

The site holds special significance for members of the Druid and Pagan community, who perform rituals and celebrations at the summer and winter solstices.

FULL STORY (SOURCE) BBC NEWS

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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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Hundreds of druids and pagans descend on Stonehenge to celebrate the Autumn Equinox

24 09 2017

Hundreds of pagans and druids descended on Stonehenge on the 23rd September to celebrate the equinox as autumn began.

Visitors headed to the famous 5,000-year-old site in Wiltshire in the dark to ensure they got to see the sun rise.

And they made the most of one of only four public annual events that allows people to get so close to the stones.

Photographs showed attendees singing and wearing a variety of extravagant outfits as onlookers watched on.

 

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2017: Crowds gather on the longest (and hottest) day of the year

21 06 2017

About 13,000 people watched the sunrise at Stonehenge on Wednesday morning, on the longest day of the year.

The sun rose at the historic monument in Wiltshire at 04:52 BST.

English Heritage opens the site up every year for the solstice, giving people a rare chance to get up close to the monument.

sunrisest

Read this story on the BBC Wiltshire website

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Other Sarsen Stones near Stonehenge and Woodhenge

5 02 2017

Sarsen boulders lie scattered in substantial “drifts” across the landscape of the Marlborough Downs near Avebury.

By contrast, close to Stonehenge there are almost none. This is one of the reasons why most archaeologists believe that the large sarsens for the monument were not locally sourced.

There are, however, a few examples of substantial sarsens dotted about Salisbury Plain within a couple of miles of Stonehenge. And there are tantalising hints that others used to exist.

The most obvious, and easily accessible, is the Cuckoo Stone. This stone is about 2m long by 1.5m wide by 1.5m thick and lies in the field immediately west of Woodhenge.

Cuckoo Stone

The Stonehenge Riverside Project excavated around the Cuckoo Stone in 2007 and discovered that the stone once had been set upright right next to the hollow in which it had originally formed.

Close by were two neolithic pits containing pottery worked flint, deer antlers and animal bones, dating to between 4000BC and 2000BC. A series of three burials were also found close by, dating to around 2000BC.

The stone remained a focus of activity right down to Romano-British times, and a small square wooden building – most likely a shrine – was built immediately to its southwest. Coins and pottery found in the ploughsoil date this to between 200AD and 400AD.

The other readily accessible sarsen is the Bulford Stone which lies in an arable field east of Bulford Village. It’s rather larger than the Cuckoo Stone at 2.8m long and again the excavation evidence shows that it too was once stood upright next to the hollow in which it formed.

It’s also closely associated with burials from the neolithic, the pottery found here dates to between 2300BC and 1900BC. The grave goods found were remarkable, including a flake of transparent rock crystal from either South Wales or the Alps and a “mini megalith” carved from a piece of limestone.

Bulford Stone.jpg

Lying in the northern ditch of a badly degraded long barrow within the Salisbury Plain military training area (and therefore not accessible to the public) are three more sarsen boulders.

They vary in size and – being half buried in the turf – are difficult to see, but the largest seems to be almost 2m long.

This long barrow was excavated by John Thurnam in 1864 who found an early neolithic burial on the original ground surface and an later Beaker burial just below the top of the mound.

Subsequent digging by the military in the early 20th century has almost obliterated the barrow but its outline can still be made out.

There is some debate about whether the sarsens lying in the ditch were originally part of the structure of the long barrow or if they were dragged there by farmers clearing fields at some later date. The stronger possibility is that they were part of the structure.

long-barrow-sarsens

John Britton in his “Beauties of Wiltshire (1801)” says:

“About two miles north of Amesbury, on the banks of the Avon, is Bulford. Near this village are two large stones of the same kind as those at Stonehenge. One of them is situated in the middle of the river, and, as I am informed, has an iron ring fixed in it; but the waters being very high I could not see it.”

Old OS maps of the area show where this stone in the river once lay, but sadly it has now been removed and its present location is unknown to this author (please get in touch if you have any information about or pictures of it):
location-of-sarsen-in-river-os
“…
an interment which was lately discovered above Durrington Walls, by a shepherd, who in pitching the fold, found his iron bar impeded in the ground : curiosity led him to explore the cause, which proved to be a large sarsen stone, covering the interment of a skeleton”

There are other references to large local sarsens from antiquarian reports – one is mentioned by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in the early 1800s:

… and another by the Rev. Allan Hutchins from about the same time:

“In a field, not far from the road which leads from the Amesbury Turnpike into Bulford, is a Barrow of chalk facing the parish and standing by itself… When I came nearly to the virgin earth in this Barrow, my progress was impeded by an immense oval sand stone, underneath which was a skeleton, a beautiful lance head, and a handsome drinking cup”

Perhaps there are still more to be found. Certainly it seems that sarsen boulders of “large” or even “immense” size are not unknown in this part of Wiltshire so maybe the idea that the sarsens of Stonehenge were brought from the Marlborough Downs shouldn’t be accepted at face value.

Here’s a view from Beacon Hill on the east side of Amesbury:

labelled-view-from-beacon-hill

… and here’s an overhead view from Google Earth:

locations-of-sarsens-around-stonehenge

Curiously the Cuckoo Stone, the Avon Sarsen and the Bulford Stone all lie precisely on a straight line, with the Avon Stone being 1500 yards from the Cuckoo Stone and 1450 yards from the Bulford Stone.

But that’s another story……….

Want to learn more and here more Stonehenge stories? Hire a local expert tour guide or join a scheduled group tour
The Stonehenge Travel Company based in nearby Salisbury are considered the local experts and conduct guided tours of the Stonehenge landscape. Stonehenge Guided Tours include photo stops of Durrington Walls and Woodhenge and their private group tours service offer trips from London, Salisbury and Bath.  Stonehenge Walks offer archaeological guided walking tours

Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

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