stonehenge guide


Aerial archaeologist Ben Robinson visits Amesbury in Wiltshire where excavations have revealed that the history of people living in this location dates back much further than previously thought.

Photo: English Heritage

Photo: English Heritage

New evidence from the dig, at a site called Vespasian’s Camp, has revealed traces of human settlement 3,000 years before nearby Stonehenge was built. A team of archaeologists has uncovered evidence of sustained hunter gatherer activity which dates to 8,000 years ago – long before Stonehenge
David Jacques explains why the discovery is of international importance and what it means in terms of unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge, located less than a mile away.

The Flying Archaeologist – Stonehenge is broadcast on Friday, 19 April at 19:30 BST on BBC One West and South. The series is broadcast nationwide from Wednesday, 1 May at 20:30 BST on BBC Four Watch a clip here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22019089
  • 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

Starting in Salisbury head north to Salisbury Plain along NCN route 45 and enjoy the unusual atmosphere at famous Stonehenge.

salisbury-toursYou start at the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral and head through the north gate before joining the River Avon which you follow to the outskirts of the town. The route then passes the ancient settlement of Old Sarum before rejoining the river to West Amesbury via Woodford Bridge. A short on road stretch then takes you to Stonehenge, part of the National Trust’s Stonehenge Landscape

Salisbury to Stonehenge Ordnance Survey Map – view and print off detailed OS map
Salisbury to Stonehenge Aerial Photo View Map – view photos and points of interest

http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksCycle/salisbury-to-stonehenge-cycle-route#

The Stonehenge Cycle Challange is this September 2013.  Starting at the Preseli Hills in the Pembrokeshire National Park and ending inside the stone circle at Stonehenge with a celebratory glass of champagne, this really is a monumental ride of a lifetime.  More

Stonehenge News Team

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

The latest 3D laser technology has revealed new evidence of the importance of the midwinter sunset to the ancient creators of Stonehenge.

The detailed laser scan and digital imaging of Stonehenge commissioned by English Heritage showed significant differences in how various stones were shaped and worked.

The varying techniques and amounts of work confirms not only that the builders intended to align the monument on the axis of the sun at midsummer and midwinter, but also that the view from the north east was particularly important.

Researchers said it was clear the stones were meant to be approached from the north east up the ancient processional avenue towards the direction of the midwinter sunset.

Approaching and viewing the stone circle from this direction meant the winter solstice sunset had particular importance to prehistoric people, and efforts were made to create a dramatic spectacle for those coming from the north east, experts said.

The stones in the outer circle which could be seen on the approach from the north east have been completely “pick dressed”, removing the brown and grey crust of the rock on the surface to reveal the bright, grey-white underneath.

But the outer faces of those on the other side of the outer circle were not worked in the same way.

The stones facing the north east are also the largest and most uniform, and the lintels are very well-worked and finished compared to those elsewhere in Stonehenge.

Stones that flanked the north east/south west axis of the summer and winter solstices were most carefully worked to create straight and narrow rectangular gaps.

The researchers said that as other stones in the monument have more natural, less neat outlines, it seems that the creators were making a special effort to allow a dramatic passage of sunlight through the stone circle at midsummer and midwinter.

Link: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/midwinter-sun-linked-stonehenge-230914781.html
Join us at Stonehenge this Winter Solstice: http://www.stonehengetours.com/stonehenge-winter-solstice-tour.htm

Stonehenge Guided Tours
The Original and still the best!

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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