November 2009


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Just completed a great tour of Stonehenge with a fantastic group of travellers (see image) We did a special access tour – beyond the fences after the crowds have gone home (the best way by far) Today we did my classic itinerary, see below.
Anyone eklse want to join me ? sightseeing@o2.co.uk

Visit the beautiful medieval city of Salisbury and explore the magnificent Cathedral crowned with the tallest spire in Britain and built by medieval craftsmen over 750 years ago. See one of the few surviving original texts of the Magna Carta and wander around the picturesque streets of this ancient market town.

Afterwards,we visit Old Sarum Castle (Old Salisbury), one of Britain’s earliest settlements. First occupied over 5000 years ago, its been occupied and defended in turn by the Romans, Saxons and Normans and it was the site of the original city and cathedral. Explore the ruins of this once thriving city in their ancient and beautiful setting, and enjoy spectacular views over the sweeping landscape of Salisbury Plain.
A highlight of the day is a hearty lunch in a cosy country pub nestling in the beautiful Woodford Valley. Maybe sample the local ales before continuing our scenic drive to the awe – inspiring prehistoric monument of Stonehenge – Click here for /2009 Special Access Dates. Hear about the many myths, legends and mysteries of this World Heritage Site, built over 5000 years ago, and take time to reflect upon its powerful, mysterious presence. As we meander through the the countryside to Avebury, we pass famous white horses carved into the chalk hillsides and picturesque, tucked away villages. We explore the mysterious phenomena of crop circles and take a closer look at any which may be in the area (seasonal). Avebury, the largest stone circle in Britain and the product of over 500 years of effort by Neolithic man. Enjoy a walking tour of this ancient site and try your hand at the ancient art of dowsing. Prepare to be amazed !There’s also time to explore the
charming village of Avebury with its thatched cottages, antiques and village church – and maybe enjoy a cream tea.We also see Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest prehistoric man-made monument yet forever a mystery, before returning back to the present – London.

A truly legendary day out in the ancient Kingdom of Wessex !

I operate private tours all year round – please contact me if you want a ‘proper’ tour of Stonehenge.

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This is not an advert! (search online to buy a copy – Lulu.com or Amazon will sell it. I have just finished this book and can highly recommend it.
Even though the ancient Druids would seem as much an enigma today as they have ever been, this book very much sets the record straight. By firmly placing the Druids within the ancient Celtic socio-religious framework to which they so evidently belonged and, further, by comparing the pagan practices of the Celts with the other inhabitants of ancient Indo-Europe, much light is shed on the curious practices of this ancient priesthood.
This is very much a book of comparisons. By studying the pagan practices found elsewhere in ancient Europe, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Persia and Germany, we find that in many respects the Druids were not that original but shared a common heritage, that of their Indo-European forebears. This book therefore is just as much about the ancient Indo-Europeans, formerly known as the Aryans, as it is about the Druids and the other inhabitants of pagan Europe.
The approach taken in this book reveals to us the true significance of the mighty oak of the Druids, the meaning of the elaborate ceremony of the cutting of the mistletoe detailed by Pliny, and even the original meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece.
Also revealed in this book are the mythological origins of the custom of the contention to become Rex Nemorensis at Aricia in ancient Italy, the original meaning of the swastika, and the identity of the legendary Soma plant of the Vedas.

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The designs were unveiled as a planning application for the visitor centre on the Airman’s Corner plot – along with an application to close the A344 that runs next to the Stones – was made to Wiltshire Council.

The scheme features a perforated undulating canopy, supported by a forest of thin columns, which sits ‘lightly in the landscape above a pair of self-contained pods’ on a limestone pavement. The transparent, glazed box will house a shop and a café while the other solid ‘pod’ – clad in locally sourced chestnut wood – will be home to the exhibition space (click here to see early sketches).

DCM landed the contest to design the new facility back in February – effectively for a second time following the demise of its original £65 million proposals in 2007 – seeing off Bennetts Associates and Edward Cullinan Architects in the process.

Stephen Quinlan, director of architects’ Denton Corker Marshall, said: ‘Designing a visitor centre at a site of such importance is both a major challenge and a serious responsibility. Our proposal, above all, seeks not to compromise the solidity and timelessness of the Stones, but to satisfy the brief with a design which is universally accessible, environmentally sensitive, and at the same time appears almost transitory in nature.

He added: ‘If once back at home, a visitor can remember their visit to the stones but can’t remember the visitor centre they passed through on the way, we will be happy.

‘The biggest challenge has been the centre’s setting on open grassland. There is nowhere to hide unlike the previous scheme which was camouflaged.’

Speaking to the AJ, Quinlan admitted the practice, which has a six-strong team working on the scheme, almost didn’t enter the second contest. However the London-based director decided to have another crack partly to counter accusations of ‘sour grapes’ following the demise of the practice’s original, sub-terranean proposals [on a different plot to the North East of the Stones].

The long-running visitor centre project has been rumbling since 1986 and is set to be funded by English Heritage (EH), Highways Agency, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Transport and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

EH told the AJ that it had factored in the possibility of a public enquiry into its timescale but still hopes the centre will be open in time for London’s Olympic Games in 2012. The total budget for the scheme, including roadworks, is £27.5 million.

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Discovered this old image of Stonehenge in my archive and had to share it with you. I also managed to find this very old article about saving Stonehenge.

An appeal

This is the text of the historic appeal launched by the Stonehenge Protection Committee and the National Trust in the 1920s to save Stonehenge. Please note that this is not an ongoing appeal. The Stonehenge Alliance will be very pleased to hear from you if you’d like to make a donation towards their current campaign to protect the monument. Click here for more details.

Note: We have added the bold emphasis to draw attention to inconsistencies between the National Trust’s highly commendable attitude 80 years ago and the British government’s determination to bulldoze a road through the World Heritage Site today. We have added the strike through emphasis to stop people accidentally donating money by mistake.

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OVER £14,000 has been raised in three months for the Protection of Stonehenge. More is urgently needed.

In the first week of August 1927 the following letter appeared in the leading London and provincial newspapers. The signature of Mr. Lloyd George, who was travelling, arrived after the letter had been published:

SIR,

A Stonehenge Protection Committee has been formed, the object of which is indicated by its title. We desire earnestly to support its appeal to the public for funds.

It is now nine years since Sir Cecil Chubb made the nation the magnificent present of the Stonehenge circle itself; and the great stones are safely in the charge of the Commissioners of Works. The land of the Plain around them, however, is still private property. So long as it remains in private hands, there is an obvious danger that the setting of Stonehenge may be ruined and the stones dwarfed by the erection of unsightly buildings on the Plain.

Any visitor to Stonehenge may at this moment form a notion as to what, if steps are not at once taken, may happen to the Stonehenge section of the Plain. During the war the military authorities found it necessary to erect an aerodrome and rows of huts very near the circle. These have reverted to the owner of the land, but they are still standing. In recent months an enterprising restaurateur has built a bungalow, the Stonehenge Cafe, within hail of the stones, though happily just out of sight of them. The conditions of modern transport make it extremely likely that this structure, if no preven- tive measures be adopted, will be the first of many, and that the monoliths will in time be surrounded by all the accessories of a popular holiday resort. The Stonehenge ring, as every British child has learnt to picture it from his earliest years, will no longer exist.

The solitude of Stonehenge should be restored, and precautions taken to ensure that our posterity will see it against the sky in the lonely majesty before which our ancestors have stood in awe throughout all our recorded history.

We are glad to be able to state that options have just been secured for the purchase of an area of the Plain which includes the whole of what may be called “the Stonehenge sky-line.” Should the purchases be effected, the Air Force buildings will be removed, further building will be prevented, and the valuable archeological remains of the site permanently protected from the plough.

The land purchased will be placed under the guardianship of the National Trust; and part at least of the revenues derived from rents for grazing, etc., will it is hoped, be available for the further protection of the archaeological treasures and amenities of Salisbury Plain.

The total area under consideration is 1,444 acres; the sum aimed at is about £35,000. The sum is small compared with several amounts recently raised for the preservation of great national monuments; and here we have a monument unique in its fame and significance. A substantial beginning has already been made; and a first sub- scription. list is appended to this letter. The need is urgent. Projects are already in existence which would involve extensive building and the laying of water mains; and one important option to purchase expires at the end of August. Cheques should be made out to the National Trust (Stonehenge Fund), and crossed Barclay�s Bank, and sent to the Secretary, 7 Buckingham Palace Gardens, S.W.1.

Yours faithfully,

STANLEY BALDWIN
J. RAMSAY MACDONALD
CRAWFORD & BALCARRES (President of the Society of Antiquaries)
GREY OF FALLODON (Vice-President of the National Trust)
RADNOR (Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire)

As a result of this appeal, and the enthusiastic labour of a Committee including representatives of the National Trust, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society, the Society of Antiquaries, acting with the cordial approval of the Office of Works, half the area in question is already secure. The position may be briefly explained.

THE THREE PLOTS

Short options were, in August, secured by the Committee on three plots which include areas Of 389 acres, 404 acres, and 650 acres respectively.

PLOT A

This plot is that to the south and south-east of the stones, which has for years been defaced by the derelict aerodromes and hutments. The cost of this was £8,000. The money was secured before the end of October. PLOT A IS SECURE IN THE NATIONAL POSSESSION FOR EVER, AND THE DEMOLITION OF THE BUILDINGS HAS ALREADY BEGUN.

PLOT B

This part of the Stonehenge area lies towards Amesbury, and the threat of building from that quarter is serious. The purchase price is £8,ooo. OWING TO A NOBLE DONATION OF £5,000 BY AN ANONYMOUS LADY WHO HAD ALREADY SUBSCRIBED £1,000, AND A TIMELY GIFT OF £500 FROM THE GOLDSMITHS� COMPANY, THE PURCHASE OF THIS PLOT HAS ALSO BEEN COMPLETED.

PLOT C

There remains, therefore, the third plot: 650 acres to the north of the Devizes Road. This tract, which includes the southward-facing road frontage immediately opposite the stones, is in obvious and immediate danger of building, and the price asked is £16,000. UNLESS IT IS SAVED THE WHOLE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE AND THE SUBSCRIBERS WILL HAVE BEEN IN VAIN) AND STONEHENGE WILL HAVE A SOLITUDE TO THE SOUTH AND A STREET TO THE NORTH.

THE HEART OF ENGLAND

That the leaders of all political parties should unite in appealing for such a cause is not surprising. Salisbury Plain is the greatest of our archeological sites, and Stonehenge, a mysterious legacy from the dim beginnings of our civilization many centuries before the Romans came, is the heart of the Plain. Causes-and good causes- are appealed for every day, and it is evident that not everything worth “saving” can be “saved.” But we have not two Stonehenges, and our generation will be vilified by all posterity if we allow the surroundings of this monument, the frontispiece to English history, to be ruined beyond repair.

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LONDON — The discovery of a small prehistoric circle of stones near Stonehenge may confirm the theory that the mysterious monument in southwest England was part of a massive funeral complex built around a river, researchers said Tuesday.

The new find shows that the second stone circle — dubbed “Bluehenge” because it was built with bluestones — once stood next to the River Avon about 1.75 miles from Stonehenge, one of Britain’s best loved and least understood landmarks.

The find last month could help prove that the Avon linked a “domain of the dead” — made up of Stonehenge and Bluehenge — with an upstream “domain of the living” known as Durrington Wells, a monument where extensive signs of feasting and other human activity were found, said Professor Julian Thomas, co-director of the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

Project director Mike Parker Pearson said it is possible that Bluehenge was the starting point of a processional walk that began at the river and ended at Stonehenge, the site of a large prehistoric cemetery.

“Not many people know that Stonehenge was Britain’s largest burial ground at that time,” he said. “Maybe the bluestone circle is where people were cremated before their ashes were buried at Stonehenge itself.”

There were very few signs of human life found around Stonehenge and Bluehenge, researchers said, lending credence to the idea that it was used as a funeral site, especially since there were signs that many human beings were cremated there.

A five-university team has been excavating the greater Stonehenge site since 2003 in a bid to unravel its meaning and use.

“This find certainly confirms the idea we’ve put forward that the river is of fundamental importance and links everything,” Thomas said. “Everything is related to the river. That suggests that even before Neolithic time it may have had spiritual or religious significance. This find enhances the idea that all the monuments in this landscape are linked in various ways.”

Researchers did not find the actual stones used to mark the smaller circle found by the river, but they did find holes left behind when the stones were removed.

The scientists believe the massive stones used for Bluehenge were dragged from the Welsh mountains roughly 150 miles away. There were clear indications that the gigantic stones from the Bluehenge site were later removed whole for use in the construction of Stonehenge, Thomas said.

They hope to use radiocarbon dating techniques to better pinpoint construction dates.

Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a favorite with visitors from throughout the world and has become popular with Druids, neo-Pagans and New Agers who attach mystical significance to the strangely-shaped circle of stones, but there remains great debate about the actual purpose of the structure.

Rare excavation work at the actual Stonehenge site was begun last year in a coordinated effort to unearth materials that could be used to establish a firm date for when the first set of bluestones was put in place there.

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AFTER nearly three decades of disputes over cost and conservation, Stonehenge is to be freed from the traffic-clogged main road slicing through its historic setting.

Under a scheme to be put to planners tomorrow by English Heritage, which manages the 5,000-year-old monument, a 1.3-mile stretch of the A344 will be closed and a new visitors’ centre and car park will be built. The £28m plan is a scaled-down version of a £600m project to build a road tunnel.

Motorists may be saddened by the prospect of losing a free close-up view of a national icon. Conservationists, however, have long been angry about the failure to remove the polluting eyesore from the archeologically rich landscape around Stonehenge. The area has been designated a world heritage site by Unesco, which has expressed concern about its shabby surroundings.

English Heritage, the quango responsible for state-owned historic sites, hopes the simplified plan will be agreed by Wiltshire county council early next year. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport wants the project completed in time to receive visitors for the 2012 Olympics.

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Under the scheme, funded by English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Highways Agency and the government, the closed section of the A344 will be grassed over and the visitors’ centre built 1½ miles west of the monument, at a site known as Airman’s Corner. Regular shuttles will take visitors to the monument. Through traffic will be diverted via the A303.

The single-storey centre, in glass and wood, is one of the most contentious parts of the project. English Heritage describes it as “sensitive to its ancient surroundings and having the lightest possible touch on the landscape”, but some critics, having seen mock-ups, have been harsh in their reaction.

Paul Sample, a local councillor and former mayor of Salisbury, has called it “cheap and nasty”, while Peter Alexander-Fitzgerald, a lawyer and member of the Unesco world heritage committee, likened it to “a derelict aircraft hangar”.

At present, most visitors — up to 900,000 a year — come to Stonehenge by car or coach and stop only a few hundred yards away in an unsightly parking area beside the A344. They then walk through an underpass to the monument.

The submission for planning comes as archeologists announced this weekend that they have discovered a mini-Stonehenge, a mile from the main site. The monument has been called Bluehenge after the 27 Welsh blue stones — made of Preseli dotted dolerite — which once formed it. Despite the 5,000-year age of the henge, all that is now left are the holes where the monoliths comprising the circle once stood.

Bluehenge, uncovered over the summer by Sheffield University archeologists, is at one end of the avenue connecting Stonehenge to the River Avon. It is thought it was built about the same time as Stonehenge with stones that would have been dragged 200 miles from the Preseli mountains in Wales. The find is already challenging conventional wisdom about how Stonehenge was built — and what it was used for. The two circles stood together for hundreds of years before Bluehenge was dismantled. Researchers believe its stones were used to enlarge Stonehenge during one of a number of redevelopments.

Professor Tim Darvill, a Stonehenge expert at Bournemouth University, said: “This adds to the richness of the story of Stonehenge. We thought we knew it all, but over the past few years we have discovered that something as familiar as Stonehenge is still a challenge to explore and understand. It wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t more circles.”

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I was up at Stonehenge yesterday and had the pleasure of meeting Arthur Pendragon. If you intend to vist the site please make sure you stop and support his cause. He has got 1000’s of signatures (from 60 different religions).
You can always emasil your comments directly to him – see below.
For those unfamiliar with his cause please read the blog below:
Keep up the good work Arthur, if pnly this country had more people like hime this would be a better place!

THE “grave robbers”, sorry archaeologists, have been back this summer, theorising and arguing over the whys and wherefores of Stonehenge, and our televisions focus on how marvellous the ancients were who created it.

But what of it now?

Well, after spending £37 million and taking 11 years over public consultation and inquiry, our Government, like a petulant child, ignored all the findings and dismissed with the stroke of a pen all plans for road improvements in and around Stonehenge and forced English Heritage, the Government’s own watchdog looking after our national monuments, to begin anew with plans and public consultations.

You may be forgiven for a feeling of deja vu, for we have indeed been here before.

It has been described as “a step in the right direction…” by Robert Key, the Conservative MP for Salisbury. But I say it is a step backwards… back to square one.

The current situation all-round is a rip-off. The tourists are being ripped off, as the current visitor centre is a national disgrace.

What is supposed to be a World Heritage Site is served by temporary toilets and a prefab visitor centre that was temporary when it was built 40 years ago.

The locals are being ripped off, too. They are not getting their road improvements.

And anyone who thinks of Stonehenge as a sacred temple is being ripped off. Divorced from the sacred landscape, this once proud and majestic temple sits like a snared animal amid the tacky trappings of the 21st century.

So what now? More rounds of talking shops and the inevitable “gravy train” of jobs for the boys, with English Heritage doing all it can to turn Stonehenge into a third-rate theme park with a visitor centre, cafe and all the other franchises and marketing practices that this entails.

Perhaps it is time to return to the true spirit of the place.

Scholars will argue over who built it and when, whether it was the proto-Druids or members of a very different faith. But one thing remains certain. It was people of great faith who erected the mighty stones.

The logistics of such an operation, the transporting of the stones over such great distances, through the many domains of different tribal chieftains and peoples, would have needed enormous diplomatic skills and co-operation.

The fact that it is still a place of reverence to certain beliefs shows an unequalled continuity of faith in what was once and still could be the Isle of the Mighty.

Stonehenge was never a centre of commerce but of spirituality.

The need for a visitor centre has been brought about in recent times by the way English Heritage has marketed it so aggressively both at home and abroad.

Many people will remember when Stonehenge meant little more than a few ancient stones standing in the middle of Salisbury Plain. It should have been left like that.

In recent times, it has changed from a place of spirit to a place of confrontation over freedom of access for religious observances at the solstices and equinoxes.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE STONEHENGE PICKET

Campaigning for the return of our ancestors remains

Lammas 2009
A big thank you to all those who have bought a badge to support the new Stonehenge Picket, and the Arch Druids of Avebury, Cotswold and Glastonbury for their support.

And a big thank you to the members of the following Pagan and Druid Groups for signing our petition:

– The Druid Order – London

– Dobunni Grove – (Bristol) OBOD

– The Cotswold Order of Druids

– The Washington Witches – USA

– S.W.O.R.D – Avebury

– The Circle of Pagans – Liverpool

And a Huge thank you to all the members of other faiths that have signed our petition. “All Hail the irregulars, who back our cause from the following Faiths.”

Agnostic

Anglican

Atheist

Asatru

Baptist

Buddhist

Catholic

Celtic Christian

Church of England

Church of Latterday Saints

Christian

Druid

Eastern Orthodox

Earth Centred

Eclectic

Episcopal

Evangelical

Goddess

Hari Krishna

Herbalist

Hermetic

Hindu

Islam

Jewish

Jedi

Kabala

Lutheran

Methodist

Muslim

Nilest

Non-denominational

None

Oglala

Orthodox

Pagan

Pantheist

Pentecostal

Presbyterian

Protestant

Quaker

Roman Catholic

Scientologist

Sikh

Southern Baptist

Spiritualist

Taoist

Unitarian

Wiccan

Witch

Zoroastrian

Many thanks to one and all and may your Gods look favourably upon you…..

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