The mysterious structure of Stonehenge may have been built as a symbol of peace and unity, according to a new theory by British researchers.
During the monument’s construction around 3000 B.C. to 2500 B.C., Britain’s Neolithic people were becoming increasingly unified, said study leader Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield.
“There was a growing islandwide culture — the same styles of houses, pottery and other material forms were used from Orkney to the south coast,” Parker Pearson said in a statement, referring to the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. “This was very different to the regionalism of previous centuries.”
By definition, Stonehenge would have required cooperation, Parker Pearson added.
“Stonehenge itself was a massive undertaking, requiring the labor of thousands to move stones from as far away as west Wales, shaping them and erecting them. Just the work itself, requiring everything literally to pull together, would have been an act of unification,” he said. [ Photos: A Walk Through Stonehenge ]
The new theory, detailed in a new book by Parker Pearson, “Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery” (Simon & Schuster, 2012), is one of many hypotheses about the mysterious monument. Theories range from completely far-fetched ( space aliens or the wizard Merlin built it!) to far more evidence-based (the monument may have been an astronomical calendar, a burial site or both).
The culture of Stonehenge
Along with fellow researchers on the Stonehenge Riverside Project, Parker Pearson worked to put Stonehenge in context, studying not just the monument but also the culture that created it.
What they found was evidence of a civilization transitioning from regionalism to a more integrated culture. Nevertheless, Britain’s Stone Age people were isolated from the rest of Europe and didn’t interact with anyone across the English Channel, Parker Pearson said.
“Stonehenge appears to have been the last gasp of this Stone Age culture, which was isolated from Europe and from the new technologies of metal tools and the wheel,” Parker Pearson said.
Stonehenge’s site may have been chosen because it was already significant to Stone-Age Britons, the researchers suggest. The natural land undulations at the site seem to form a line between the place where the sun rises on the summer solstice and where it sets in midwinter, they found. Neolithic people may have seen this as more than a coincidence, Parker Pearson said.
“This might explain why there are eight monuments in the Stonehenge area with solstitial alignments, a number unmatched anywhere else,” he said. “Perhaps they saw this place as the center of the world.”
Theories and mystery
These days, Stonehenge is nothing if not the center of speculation and mystery. The monument has inspired its fair share of myths, including that the wizard Merlin transported the stones from Ireland and that UFOs use the circle as a landing site.
Archaeologists have built some theories on firmer ground. Stonehenge’s astronomical alignments suggest that it may have been a place for sun worship, or an ancient calendar. A nearby ancient settlement, Durrington Walls, shows evidence of more pork consumption during the midwinter, suggesting that perhaps ancient people made pilgrimages to Stonehenge for the winter solstice, Parker Pearson and his colleagues have found.
Stonehenge may have also been a burial ground, or a place of healing. Tombs and burials surround the site, and some skeletons found nearby hail from distant lands. For example, archaeologists reported in 2010 that they’d found the skeleton of a teenage boy wearing an amber necklace near Stonehenge. The boy died around 1550 B.C. An analysis of his teeth suggested he came from the Mediterranean. It’s possible that ill or wounded people traveled to Stonehenge in search of healing, some archaeologists believe.
Other researchers have focused on the sounds of Stonehenge. The place seems to have “lecture-hall” acoustics, according to research released in May. One archaeologist even suggests that the setup of the stones was inspired by an acoustical effect in which two sounds from different sources seem to cancel each other out.
By Stephanie Pappas. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47923931/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.T-Vv7Ree5gM
The Stonehenge Tour company – www.StonehengeTours.com
Around 14,500 people braved the miserable weather to welcome the dawn at Wiltshire landmark
Thousands of people have marked the summer solstice despite the celebration being one of the wettest in years.
Poor weather could not dampen the spirits of 14,500 people who welcomed the sun at Stonehenge at dawn this morning.
The annual pagan celebration of the sun, on the longest day of the year, centred on the famous prehistoric monument where the event was marked with religious ceremonies.
The solstice annually attracts an eclectic mix and among the druids, revellers and sun worshippers were those just curious to experience the spiritual event at the site on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.
English Heritage opened up the stone circle at Stonehenge yesterday evening ready to welcome those making the annual pilgrimage.
Heavy rain overnight reduced the number of people who camped out or arrived early to witness the dawn compared with previous years, which have seen numbers of around 20,000.
The sunrise at 4.52am was welcomed by rain-sodden crowds with a loud cheer and applause despite the sun being blanketed by dark clouds
Through the poor weather, drummers inside the ancient stone circle kept the mood cheerful while new age pagans danced to their rhythm.
Joining revellers this year was a 22ft (6.70m) figure called Ancestor which was moved to the stones ahead of the solstice celebrations.
The steel statue depicts a man with his ‘head thrown back and arms open wide’.
One of the places to have the heaviest rainfall in England Wales overnight was Evershot in Dorset, Met Office forecaster Helen Roberts said.
She said the village had 21.4mm in just six hours – almost half the normal June rainfall of 45mm for London.
Mrs Roberts said the North West was likely to see the heaviest rain in the coming days, with central, south-west and north-east England, as well as north Wales and northern Scotland also getting downpours.
There is also a chance of flooding in the North West tomorrow, she said.
‘The forecast is definitely unsettled for the next few days. The main focus over the next 24 hours is going to be north-west England – that’s where we’re expecting the heaviest rain to be.
‘Further south it could push into north Wales and further north it could push into northern Scotland.’
She added: ‘There is a potential for some large accumulations of very heavy rain and fairly persistent through much of the day tomorrow.’
A spokesman for English Heritage said 14,500 people gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice this year.
He added: ‘Heavy rain during the night meant this was one of the lowest attendances in recent years.
‘However, the rain did stop in time for the sunrise ceremonies and although clouds obscured the sun, loud cheers and applause rang out amongst the ancient stones.
‘There was torrential rain at some points during the evening, but it stopped and although it was cloudy, it didn’t rain for sunrise.
‘It has been the wettest and dare I say the muddiest in recent years.’
Wiltshire Police said the event passed peacefully apart from 20 arrests.
Superintendent Matt Pullen said: ‘Solstice 2012 has been a positive experience for the majority of visitors.
‘As with every year, sadly there was a small minority who were determined to disregard the law. These people were dealt with robustly and there were 20 arrests throughout the night.’
The arrests were for theft, drugs or alcohol-related offences. There were also 101 street cautions for cannabis.
Stonehenge, which is thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000-years-old, has been the site of confrontations between worshippers, other revellers and police officers in the past.
Meanwhile, racegoers at today’s Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot raised umbrellas and wore ponchos, as showers dampened the Berkshire racetrack throughout the day.
A thunder storm was forecast for this afternoon, said Matt Dobson, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.
‘There will be pretty heavy rain first thing, turning murky and muggy by the late morning. In the afternoon, there is the risk of heavy downpours.
‘If they get unlucky, there could be an absolute cloudburst. By 2pm there could well be thundery conditions.’
Article by the Daily Mail – Click here for some great pics and video: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2162495/Summer-solstice-2012-Stonehenge-soggiest-years-Royal-Ascot-set-washout-too.html
The Stonehenge Tour Company
The summer solstice as celebrated at Stonehenge is a night and dawn of peace, love and quality loon-spotting opportunities.
Neo-druids, pagans and general New Age types don their glad rags (and, in some cases, fake beards) to watch the sun rise on this long day of summer. All-night celebrations help revellers stay awake until dawn.
Magical history tour will cater for several languages. A history tour in several languages has been launched to encourage people to come to the city. The Local Tour Operator launched daily audio tours of Stonehenge and ancient Wiltshire.
Join them on a journey as they travel back 5000 years in time.
Daily at 09:30 from the centre of Salisbury our “Magical History Tour” sets out to discover the mysteries of Stonehenge. This is a an alternative to joining a coach tour from London.
in English, German, French and Italian.
On your return you will have seen some of the most beautiful English countryside, been fascinated by Stonehenge, seen Old Sarum the iron age fort which was the earliest settlement here and finally viewed the Cathedral from a special place, missed by most tourists.
They look forward to welcoming you on board. Why not catch a train from London and join this local tour.
Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum Tours
Shrouded in mystery the World Heritage site at Stonehenge attracts people
from all over the world. Visit their website:
Our experience at Salisbury, Stonehenge & Sarum Tours ensures that you return home with lasting memories of the day when you stepped back in time. We have a selection of tours to meet all tastes from Cruise Guests with limited time to the visitor wanting to enjoy all the wonderful sites more leisurely. We also have our “Magical History Tour” to Stonehenge, which runs daily at 09:30. Commentary in English, German, French and Italian.
No tour to England would be complete without a tour of Stonehenge. Where is Stonehenge? Stonehenge is situated near Salisbury in the county of Wiltshire. Stonehenge is a Neolithic stone circle which even today is still shrouded in mystery.
Salisbury Stonehenge and Sarum Tours specialise in arranging multilingual tours of Stonehenge and surrounding places of interest including Salisbury and Old Sarum.
Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum Tour Guides are all local people who have been especially trained to achieve our “Yellow Badge” standard.
We meet our guests in the mediaeval city of Salisbury and you travel to Stonehenge in one of our modern vehicles.
The Stonehenge Tour from Salisbury Stonehenge and Sarum Tours will no doubt be one of your most memorable trips. So when you travel in England make sure that you take one of our tours to Stonehenge. We are also specialists catering for Southampton cruise passengers and their airport transits.
The Magical History Tour – English – German – French – Italian – simultaneously
The tour lasts 3 hours during which time you will have available multi lingual commentary in English, German, French and Italian. Disposable earphones are provided but feel free to bring your own personal ones with you. You will be given a tour program with maps describing you tour.
Firstly we drive along the picturesque Woodford Valley along a route too narrow for large buses where you will pass through traditional English villages with thatched cottages. You will see the homes of some very interesting and diverse residents. We shall tell you more about this as we drive along. Before we arrive at Stonehenge the bus will make a short stop so you can see the location of the newest discovery: Blue Stonehenge. Upon arriving at Stonehenge your guide will take you to the entrance where you will receive a multi lingual audio tour. You may now spend time pondering the mysteries of this World Heritage Site, buy souvenirs and purchase refreshments. We shall stop here for 60 minutes, but if the weather is bad guests find that 45 minutes is sufficient. We now drive across “Salisbury Plain” on our way to “Old Sarum”. This area has become a “Hotspot” for “crop circles” and UFO’s”. In spring and early summer it is quite possible that you could spot a crop circle but UFO’s might be more difficult to find. At Old Sarum, the original Iron Age settlement of Salisbury you will learn how the Celts, Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans all lived here. Look and enjoy the magnificent 360° vista and look down on the medieval city of Salisbury. Our last stop is at the “Harnham Mill” because it offers wonderful views of the magnificent St Mary’s Cathedral. Regrettably many tourists never see the Cathedral from this aspect, often being bussed into the city from London before being “whizzed” off to their next destination. It is from here that the respected English artist John Constable chose to depict Salisbury Cathedral in his famous paintings. At this point we offer you the option of leaving the tour and walking along the town path, through the water meadows, into the City. It is a gentle and flat 1,200 metre stroll which takes no more than 15 minutes. Your Tour Program highlights the interesting wildlife, which can be seen in the water meadows, which is a nature “Preservation Area”. For those returning to Salisbury with the bus, our drive takes 5 minutes and we shall drop you off where we started, in the Guildhall Square.
The tour starts and returns from the Guildhall Square at 09:30 – see map. You will see our Guide on the steps of the Guildhall carrying a large psychedelic umbrella
Stonehenge for 60 minutes, WC, refreshments and shop
Old Sarum for 30 minutes WC and shop
Harnham Mill for 15 minutes
The Stonehenge Tour Company –