Stonehenge experience


Work has just started to test build three Neolithic houses which will form the focal point of the outdoor gallery of the new visitor centre and complement the stunning permanent exhibition indoors to tell the story of Stonehenge in vivid detail.

Rare examples of ten Neolithic houses were discovered at Durrington Walls as part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2006 and 2007. Although they provided a lot of archaeological evidence on which to base this project, the appearance of the houses above ground is not known and some educated guess work is needed to build the reconstructions.

Computer-generated image of how the new outdoor gallery will look

Computer-generated image of how the new outdoor gallery will look

In order to conduct various experiments to test things like roofing materials and construction techniques, around 60 volunteers are helping us to building prototypes of these houses at Old Sarum Castle, under the guidance of English Heritage and the Ancient Technology Centre experts.

Event at Old Sarum

We are holding three open days at Old Sarum Castle to allow the public to see the Neolithic house prototypes from Saturday 25 to Monday 27 May. If you fancy brushing up even further on your knowledge of prehistoric life, you can also join one of our tours. These last for 1 hour 30 minutes and include hands-on activities. Tickets can be purchased at the site on the day. For more information please contact 0800 333 1183.

Links Source: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/our-plans/project-update/

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  • More than a million  people visit Stonehenge every year – but it has been roped off from the public  since 1977
  • A new £27million centre  nearby will contain a 360-degree cinema screen with a 100ft  circumference

Visitors to Stonehenge will again be able to  experience standing inside the ancient stone circle thanks to a 360-degree  cinema.

The battle for access to the World Heritage  site has been fought for many years, with campaigners wanting to be allowed into  the world-famous monument.

At last, protestors may partially get their  wishes, as English Heritage is developing a solution – a virtual visit in a  panoramic cinema

New evidence: Studies of cremated human remains show that a larger stone circle was erected at the same site as a community graveyard

New evidence: Studies of cremated human remains show that a larger stone circle was erected at the same site as a community graveyard

The picturehouse will be the jewel in the  crown of a new £27million centre and will include a 32ft landscape wall, on to  which computer generated images of the countryside around the circle and other  ancient earthworks will be projected.

The new auditorium’s 100ft circumference is  smaller than the actual stone circle, which is around 300ft. It’s expected to be  built just over a mile from the stones.

Also planned are films providing information  about the monument and prehistoric items, exploring theories over the uses of  Stonehenge.

The picturehouse will be the jewel in the  crown of a new £27million centre and will include a 32ft landscape wall, on to  which computer generated images of the countryside around the circle and other  ancient earthworks will be projected.

The new auditorium’s 100ft circumference is  smaller than the actual stone circle, which is around 300ft. It’s expected to be  built just over a mile from the stones.

Also planned are films providing information  about the monument and prehistoric items, exploring theories over the uses of  Stonehenge.

New studies of cremated human remains  excavated from the site suggest that about 500 years before the Stonehenge we  know today was built, a larger stone circle was erected at the same site as a  community graveyard, researchers said.

‘These were men, women, children, so  presumably family groups,’ University College London professor Mike Parker  Pearson, who led the team, said.

‘We’d thought that maybe it was a place where  a dynasty of kings was buried, but this seemed to be much more of a community, a  different kind of power structure.’

The virtual visits may not win over  all  campaigners including Pagans and Druids who want open access to  Stonehenge,  which was created about 5,000 years ago.

When it was first opened to the public, it  was possible to walk among and  even climb on the stones. However, they were  roped off in 1977 due to  problems with erosion.

However, English Heritage does permit access  during the summer and winter solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox.

British researchers have proposed a new  theory for the origins of Stonehenge:  It may have started as a giant burial  ground for elite families around  3,000 B.C.

By Fiona Keating Daly Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2298923/Panoramic-virtual-views-Stonehenge-wow-visitors-32ft-landscape-wall.html

STONEHENGE TOUR GUIDE

Ancient people probably assembled the massive sandstone horseshoe at Stonehenge more than 4,600 years ago, while the smaller bluestones were imported from Wales later, a new study suggests.

The conclusion, detailed in the December issue of the journal Antiquity, challenges earlier timelines that proposed the smaller stones were raised first.

Ancient Stone Circle of Stonehenge at Sunset. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

“The sequence proposed for the site is really the wrong way around,” said study co-author Timothy Darvill, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University in England. “The original idea that it starts small and gets bigger is wrong. It starts big and stays big. The new scheme puts the big stones at the center at the site as the first stage.”

The new timeline, which relies on statistical methods to tighten the dates when the stones were put into place, overturns the notion that ancient societies spent hundreds of years building each area of Stonehenge. Instead, a few generations likely built each of the major elements of the site, said Robert Ixer, a researcher who discovered the origin of the bluestones, but who was not involved in the study.

“It’s a very timely paper and a very important paper,” Ixer said. “A lot of us have got to go back and rethink when the stones arrived.”

The Wiltshire, England, site of Stonehenge is one of the world’s most enduring mysteries. No one knows why prehistoric people built the enigmatic megaliths, although researchers over the years have argued the site was originally a sun calendar,a symbol of unity, or a burial monument.

Though only some of the stones remain, at the center of the site once sat an oval of bluestones, or igneous rocks (those formed from magma) that turn a bluish hue when wet or freshly cut. Surrounding the bluestones are five giant sandstone megaliths called trilithons, or two vertical standing slabs capped by a horizontal stone, arranged in the shape of a horseshoe.

Around the horseshoe, ancient builders erected a circular ring of bluestones. The sandstone boulders, or sarsens, can weigh up to 40 tons (36,287 kilograms), while the much smaller bluestones weigh a mere 4 tons (3,628 kg). [In Photos: A Walk Through Stonehenge].

Past researchers believed the bluestone oval and circle were erected earlier than the massive sandstone horseshoe.

But when Darvill and his colleagues began excavations at the site in 2008, they found the previous chronology didn’t add up. The team estimated the age of new artifacts from the site, such as an antler-bone pick stuck within the stones. Combining the new information with dating from past excavations, the team created a new timeline forStonehenge’s construction.

Like past researchers, the team believes that ancient people first used the site 5,000 years ago, when they dug a circular ditch and mound, or henge, about 361 feet (110 meters) in diameter.

But the new analysis suggests around 2600 B.C. the Neolithic people built the giant sandstone horseshoe, drawing the stone from nearby quarries. Only then did builders arrange the much smaller bluestones, which were probably imported from Wales. Those bluestones were then rearranged at various positions throughout the site over the next millennium, Darvill said.

“They sort out the local stuff first, and then they bring in the stones from Wales to add to the complexity of the structure,” Darvill told LiveScience.

The new dating allows the archaeologists to tie the structure to specific people who lived in the area at the time, Darvill said. The builders of the larger sandstone structures were pig farmers found only in the British Isles. In contrast, the bluestone builders would’ve been the Beaker people, sheep and cow herders who lived throughout Europe and are known for the distinctive, bell-shape pottery they left behind.

The new timeline “connects everything together, it gives us a good sequence of events outside, and it gives us a set of cultural associations with the different stages of construction,” Darvill said.

By: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2012 02:25 PM EST on LiveScience

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

Enjoy the opportunity of seeing the amazing structure of Stonehenge and its intriguing formation from a unique perspective. This incredible monument is a popular visitor attraction from the ground, but is even more special to see from the air with no tourists obscuring your views of this special site. One of the most historic and interesting sites in the world, is best viewed from the air so that it can be fully appreciated.
Fly over StonehengeYou’ll be treated to unbelievable views down onto the mighty Neolithic Stonehenge and the numerous burial mounds dotted around the ancient Salisbury Plain. Who knows, from this unique vantage point you might even shed light on why Stonehenge was built. Why not fly over Stonehenge and then be taken into the inner circle for an exclusive private guided special access tour, beyond the fences after the crowds have gone

There’s no shortage of other interesting sites nearby. Select to fly over stunning sights such as the stones at Avebury, the Cerne Abbas Giant and the Uffington White Horse, Salisbury Cathedral’s mighty spire or the mysterious Wiltshire crop circles, but if you’d prefer, you can simply fly over the familiar streets of your hometown and even your own house.

London, Southampton and Wiltshire departure points. Door to door transport by car, MPV or mini coach available with expert local guides . See private guided tours.

Bespoke Helicopter Tour Service

Our bespoke tours provide great photo opportunities and give you the chance to make some unique and lasting memories, which you can share with family and friends when you are back on the ground.

What could be better than treating someone special to a unique day out, tailor made for their enjoyment?  We can even supply a special hamper for them to enjoy as you fly together over the countryside and famous landmarks.

If you’re stuck for ideas the friendly team at Stonehenge Helicopters will help you with suggestions. We will recommend tours based on your particular interests, availability and budget using our extensive knowledge of the UK. .

Contact us for a quote – it may be cheaper than you think: flights@stonehengetours.com

“Combining an aerial view of Stonehenge with a ride in a helicopter is an experience not to be missed”

Link: http://stonehengetours.com/helicopter-stonehenge-flight-tours-charter.htm

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

YOUNG Britons have hailed Big Ben, Stonehenge and the Tower of London as their favourite landmarks, according to a survey.

Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Hadrian’s Wall also featured high among the popular attractions chosen by six to 16-year-olds.

Stonehenge was ranked high in the survey

Stonehenge was ranked high in the survey

Theme parks Alton Towers, Legoland and Thorpe Park failed to make the top 10 list as the survey by hotel group Travelodge revealed that British youngsters were traditionalists at heart who preferred exploring Britain’s heritage.

Also included in the top 10 poll of 2,500 children was Blackpool Tower and Windsor Castle. The only modern-
day attraction to make the poll was the London Eye – in at fifth place.

Travelodge spokeswoman Shakila Ahmed said: “This summer of patriotic fervour has created an appetite for young Britons to discover what makes Great Britain so great.”
Full article: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/354226/Stonehenge-top-as-favourite-landmark-for-youngsters

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

In Florida they’re planning what could well be the most tasteful Stonehenge replica yet.

It’ll be 60 feet down in the ocean and will form an artificial reef next to a collection of existing ones in the form of sunken ships, army tanks, pieces of a passenger jet, radio towers and a cemetery modelled after the mythical Lost City of Atlantis. It will comprise 15,000 cubic feet of stone reinforced with fibreglass rods and will take up half an acre of ocean floor.

We’re going to build it in its completed form — not in its current form where half of it is missing,” says the creator – but efforts are to be made to reflect the original – “the columns will be oriented just like the real things standing in the English countryside — lining up with the summer and winter solstices.

It looks like it will get official approval. The Environmental Resources Management department (the local equivalent of English Heritage) are all for it although they “would like to see smaller enclosed spaces added to the collection of stone columns to create hiding places for smaller creatures such as lobsters and reef fish”.

We notice that an earlier reef, an Atlantis-like graveyard, was taken over by a cremation services company  . It’s used for green burials and “local families dive the reef on a regular basis to visit their loved ones.

Could this be a way forward in the ongoing calls for Druids to be buried at Stonehenge?

Link ://heritageaction.wordpress.com/

Stonehenge Guided Tours – www.StonehengeTours.com

It remains one of the mysteries of history, and there are dozens of passionately held theories of what it is. But in my history of England class, Stonehenge remains one of the most popular topics, along with the intimate life of King Henry VIII and the dubious theory that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” is a secret allegory of World War II and the ring of power is the bomb.

Stonehenge Sunset Tours

Photo taken recently by one of our Tour Guides on a Stonehenge Sunset Tour

Setting those other two colorful topics on one side permanently, it’s worth recalling what this large stone critter is.

Stonehenge is an ancient collection of huge stones in a circle, located on a plain in Wilshire about eight miles from modern Salisbury in England. It consists of a circular ditch and bank of earth, with a series of stones placed in rings. The site was built, revised, abandoned, reoccupied and modified over a period of more than 15 centuries, probably by several different prehistoric cultures. The name Stonehenge means “hanging stones” in Anglo-Saxon English. The ancient name of the site is lost.

Earliest construction may have occurred around 3100 B.C., but evidence suggests that the site was used by primitive peoples even before that, possibly as early as 8000 B.C. The earliest construction at Stonehenge was probably wooden posts placed in a circle, with an entry gate that points in the direction of the summer solstice. The posts were placed in holes, which can still be identified.

The wooden posts were then replaced by stone columns, called the “blue stones,” around 2600 B.C. after the beginnings of the Bronze Age. These stones were placed in a large circle, and possibly were moved later, but their original positions also pointed in the direction of the solstice.

The stone itself seems to be drawn from mountains at least 150 miles away, but some scholars have suggested that it may be quarried from rocks left much closer and deposited by glaciers. Legend has it that Merlin the magician moved the stones, a theory that this author much prefers. These early rings of stones weigh about four tons each and stand about seven feet high.

Some time after 2400 B.C., another ring of stones, called the “sarcen stones,” of even larger height was placed in a circle. These weigh at least 25 tons each and are about 13 feet high. Some of these larger stones are the ones placed flat on top of the standing stones, giving the appearance of gates, although over the ages some of these have fallen.

Within the inner circle several similar stones, of even great weight – up to 50 tons – were added at this period in a large U shape. They are about 3 1/2 feet thick, and 45 feet across the shape of the U. In the centuries that followed these stones seem to have been moved slightly, and other stones placed nearby. A solitary distant stone, called the “head stone” was placed some distance away about the same time as the U was established at the center.

Medieval legend says that the devil arranged the stones, and then threw the headstone at a monk to shut him up about the identity of the builder. It hit him on the heel and so the stone is called “friar’s heel” to this day. Construction seems to have ceased around 1600 B.C. On several of the stones images of ax heads are carved, which seem consistent with Bronze Age technology, but when these were added cannot be determined.

But what is Stonehenge? One theory says that it was some kind of burial site, and several graves have been found in the area. Several other deposits of cremated human remains have been discovered in the Stonehenge complex, and while these seem to have been deposited over a 500-year period, they may well have been added after the site was built, after it was known to be a sacral place, but it does not follow that it was designed to be a burial place.

Another theory was that it was a place of healing, like Lourdes is for modern believers. Yet another theory is that it had a political goal, and that ancient kings used it as a kind of national project to unify their people in one massive work project, which would have certainly required thousands of laborers.

It seems that the pyramids of Egypt served that purpose as well as being burial chambers, and so it is not impossible. But since modern historians cannot accurately say exactly how the thing was built, this theory is at best incomplete.

Yet another theory is that it was some kind of ancient astronomical site, from which people could track the movement of the sun and stars between solstices in the changing seasons of the year. The would make it one very large calendar.

British neo-pagans hold that Stonehenge was a site associated with the ancient Druids, and modern Druid believers are allowed to perform religious rituals on the site. But the age of the ancient Druids is believed by secular historians to have been much later than the known period of the actual constructions.

The original Druids were Celtic priests who lived much closer to Roman times. The earliest known reference to the actual Druids is found in Greek writers, and the earliest detailed description of them is found in Caesar’s Gaulic War, which dates at around 50 B.C. Modern Druid movements date to the Romantic period in modern literature, in the later 17th century A.D.

The medieval historian Geoffrey of Monmouth has a wonderful story that in the fifth century A.D., the last of the Romans, Aurelius Ambrosias, had hoped to raise a memorial to the thousands of British and Roman nobles who had fought to keep the Saxons out of post-Roman Britain. So he sent his son, Uther Pendragon, to go fetch the stones from Ireland, but after killing a bunch of Irish warriors, the knights required Merlin to use magic to transport and then raised the stones in what they called the “Giant’s Dance.” There Aurelius was buried, and Uther Pendragon went on to become the father of King Arthur. This story was known to many as the background for the romantic novel “The Crystal Cave” by Mary Stewart published in 1970.

Today Stonehenge continues to attract visitors, who are normally not allowed direct access to the stones but may walk around it. Closer visits are also permitted, but one is not allowed to touch the stones at all. These restrictions did not apply when I visited the site in 1972, and one could wander all over it. It does have a very strange quality to it, which is hard to put into words.

But it remains a mystery as to exactly what it is. Still, what would people in the distant future think, were they to uncover the ruins of one of our medieval cathedrals, and wonder what all the gargoyles and altar tables meant? There are Sundays when I hardly know what is going in my own church, much less what happened centuries ago.
Gregory Elder, Correspondent – http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com

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