Archive for February, 2010

Professor Mike Parker Pearson and his team have been awarded a further £800,000 grant to discover exactly how the people who built Stonehenge lived, what they ate and where they came from.

The research team from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield will study how at the time of the Winter Solstice, Stone Age people would have needed to have brought livestock with them to Stonehenge to feed on. Initial research suggests the animals were brought considerable distances to this ceremonial site at this time of year.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of their annual large grants research scheme, this new project, entitled `Feeding Stonehenge´, will allow the team to answer some key questions about Stonehenge over the next three years.

The team will develop their research further by analysing the bones of the cows slaughtered in the area 4,500 years ago to calculate where the cattle had been moved from to give a better guide of where the people had travelled from to visit the site. In addition, the archaeologists will aim to gain a better understanding of the dressing of the sarsen stones, study how the public and private spaces at Durrington Walls differ from each other and establish in which season animals were culled at Stonehenge and Durrington Walls.

The grant forms one of 34 major research grants made by the AHRC in 2009 to projects that will help further our understanding of human culture and creativity. It was awarded following the already revolutionary Stonehenge Riverside project, also led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, which strengthened the idea that nearby Durrington Walls was part of the Stonehenge complex. The large collection of cattle jaws collected during the last few years of excavations will now undergo strontium and sulphur isotope analysis to establish where they came from.

The newest project will now see the archaeologists study the material resources required for building Stonehenge and the other henge complexes of Wessex. In addition, the team will try and ascertain whether Britain´s Copper Age started 50 years earlier than first thought. Circumstantial evidence points to copper tools being in use at Durrington Walls earlier than previously calculated. Cut-marks on animal bones should reveal whether they were made by copper daggers as opposed to flint tools.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffied, said: “The Stonehenge Riverside Project’s results were well beyond anyone’s expectations – archaeologists and general public alike. It has allowed us to completely re-write the story of Stonehenge. One of the unforseen outcomes is the vast quantity of new material – flint tools, animal bones, pottery, plant remains, survey data, and chemical samples – which now needs analysing.

“The new grant from the AHRC for the ‘Feeding Stonehenge’ project allows us to get the maximum information out of this unexpected wealth of remains. We are going to know so much about the lives of the people who built Stonehenge – how they lived, what they ate, where they came from. The AHRC’s grants have been crucial for helping us find out more about one of the world’s most important prehistoric monuments. They have enabled the project to develop in directions which could not possibly be predicted when we started digging.”

In early September the AHRC spent a day visiting the 2009 excavation near Stonehenge and interviewing the research team. A short video podcast is now online that offers viewers an insight in to the scale of the excavations undertaken during 2009.

Pat – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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Popularity of pagan festival grows as intrigued mums and dads bring their kids to winter solstice

Of course, the usual characters were there: Taloch in an antler head-dress, the archdruid Rollo Maughfling splendid in his trademark white robes and a flat cap and Arthur Pendragon, who claims to be the current incarnation of the once, and future, king.

But through the icy mist and the smoke of camp fires a different sort of crowd, wearing anoraks and woolly hats rather than ceremonial capes, also emerged to celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge.

Regulars have noticed that over the last few years the popularity of the winter solstice, a much quieter and gentler affair than the summer version, has grown.

As always, the pagans turn up in force to chant and dance and welcome the sun but they are being joined by people of different or no faiths who seem to be there to take a quick break from the pressures of the UK’s ever more commercial take on Christmas.

Spiro Marcetic had travelled to the Wiltshire monument from Birmingham with his wife, Alison, and their children – Evie, four, and Hector, two – to get away from it all for a few days. They stayed in a Travelodge down the road (not very druidic) and pushed the children under the subway and up to the stones in a double-buggy.

“We’re here for an anti-religious reason, if any,” said Alison. “Pagans seem to have more fun so we’d thought we’d give it a go. We’ll be celebrating Christmas but this is about showing the children that this season isn’t just about getting presents. What goes on here is more basic, more tangible.”

Jill and her 10-year-old daughter Jasmine are Stonehenge regulars. But this year they brought along Jasmine’s classmate, Ifu, and her father, Ken, who are not pagans, to show them what it was all about.

Ken said: “I think we found it very spiritual, very moving. It’s a great experience.”

Jill added: “For us this time of year is about starting to come out of the dark. It’s a very positive time of year. I think people who aren’t pagans come here to enjoy that feeling too.”

But as a mother of five and grandmother of four, Jill admits she feels compelled to celebrate Christmas, too. “I don’t have much choice but we do it as modestly as possible.”

A couple of thousand people turned out for the winter solstice last year.

There were around 600 , the numbers probably down because it was fiercely cold and the roads around Stonehenge were treacherous.

Around 300 others had turned up yesterday, believing that English Heritage was going to allow open access to the site – a chance to stray from the paths, spend time in the centre of the circle and actually touch the huge hunks of stone – on December 21.

But the celebration does not always fall on the same date as the solstice because the modern year does not correspond precisely to the solar one. English Heritage took pity and allowed them in anyway.

The winter solstice occured yesterday evening but many druid and pagan communities saw today as the first dawn after the solstice.

The archdruid Rollo launched proceedings. Little Evie emerged from her blankets to join in a chant encouraging world peace. As Rollo strayed into politics, hoping that some good may come out of the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Hector sought comfort in a Crunchie bar.

Another 10-year-old, Ashvini, kept warm by playing snowballs with his dad, Dheeraj Kulshrestha, after possibly the longest journey of everyone. They were stopping off in London en route from Ohio to India and decided to make the pilgrimage to Stonehenge for the solstice. The trip took them eight hours. “But it’s been worth it,” said Kulshrestha. “This is a unique experience.”

Eight-year-old Ben, from Devon, didn’t sound so sure. “It’s cold and I want to go home and play games on my computer.” What were his hopes for the season? “A new computer game.”

The Winter Solstice 2009 was really special and I reccommend to everyone……

Nick – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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AROUND 300 pagan worshippers braved freezing temperatures to celebrate the winter solstice at Stonehenge, but turned up on the wrong day.

Dressed in traditional robes, they met at the stone circle on Monday to mark the rising of the sun on the shortest day of the year, but got their calculations wrong.

The winter solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is at its furthest from the Sun, resulting in the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

Although it normally falls on December 21, the exact time of the solstice varies each year and this year the solstice was 5.47pm on Monday so, because the sun had already set, the official celebrations took place at sunrise on Tuesday.

But the hundreds of enthusiastic worshippers who turned up a day early went ahead and celebrated anyway.

English Heritage, which manages the site, decided to open the gates and welcome them even though it was the wrong day.

Hundreds more pagans and druids turned up on Tuesday morning for the official winter solstice celebrations.

I found this very funny!

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Bluehenge unearthed: Prehistoric site that could be famous stone circle’s little sister

The prehistoric circle has been named Bluehenge after the colour of the 27 giant stones it once incorporated
The find is already challenging conventional wisdom about how Stonehenge was built – and what it was used for.
Bluehenge was put up 5,000 years ago – around the same time as work began on Stonehenge – and appears to have been a miniature version of it.
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, Stonehenge
‘We thought we knew it all, but over the last 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.’
All that remains of the 60ft wide Bluehenge are the holes of 27 giant stones set on a ramped mount. Chips of blue stone found in the holes appear to be identical to the blue stones used in Stonehenge.

The four-ton monsters, made of Preseli Spotted Dolerite – a chemically altered igneous rock harder than granite – were mined in the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire and then rolled, dragged and floated the 200 miles to the site on the banks of the Avon in Wiltshire.

Once installed, the stones would have been polished to a dark blue with silver flecks resembling the night sky. Bluehenge lies at the end of the ‘Avenue’ – a ritual pathway that connected Stonehenge to the Avon.
Stonehenge itself was built and rebuilt over 600 years in three main phases. The first – begun in 3000BC – saw the creation of a ditch and bank which later enclosed a circle of 56 holes for posts or stones.

Around 2600BC the site was transformed into two circles of 82 blue stones brought from the Welsh mountains.
Then, 150 years later, the ancient Britons set up 50-ton sarsen stones quarried at Marlborough, 25 miles away.
The blue stones were dug up and repositioned, and the sarsens used to create the Stonehenge familiar today. The new find changes this account of this history.

It suggests that the creators of Stonehenge originally built two circles – one with 56 stones at Stonehenge, and another with 27 at Bluehenge. The stones of the smaller circle were eventually incorporated into the bigger one.
Bluehenge was discovered by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of Sheffield University, who argues the monuments were linked to rituals of life and death.
Julian Richards, archaeologist and presenter of BBC2 TV series Meet The Ancestors, believes, however, that such certainty is beyond our reach.

‘Any one person who says they have the answer is being a bit over-confident,’ he said.
‘If you think that Stonehenge was created, used and modified over 1,400 years then it probably was used for many different things.’
Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, who found the source of the Stonehenge stones in Wales with Professor Darvill, said: ‘This [new] henge is very important because it forms part of the picture of ceremonial monuments in the area and puts Stonehenge into context.
‘It’s no longer Stonehenge standing alone, but it has to be seen in context with the landscape.’

Lovers of prehistoric sites will have to wait until February before the full details of Bluehenge are published.
The creators of Stonehenge – who saw the Stone Age pass into the Bronze Age – were farmers who lived in small villages in huts made of wooden stakes and twigs, covered with a thick layer of clay and chalk.
Farming had been established for at least 1,000 years and the builders of Stonehenge were skilled at growing wheat and barley and keeping pigs and sheep.
Some experts believe they made cider and beer and ground wheat into flour to make bread and cakes.
But they were still forced to depend on wild fruit, peas, lentils, nuts and honey. Clothes were primitive leather coats and jackets, woollen leggings and simple shoes made of skins bound with twine.
No one knows what gods they worshipped, but the alignment of Stonehenge to the solstice shows that the Sun – and maybe the Moon – was important.

Has anybody noticed that stone henge is 1.31 miles from bluehenge and that bluehenge is 1.31 miles from woodhenge? since they worshipped the 4 seasons does that mean there is another henge? and that it could be buried 1.31 miles from stonehenge and wooodhenge to make a giant circle? you can check it out on google earth if you like :0)

Simon  – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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Design watchdog hits out at plans for £20m visitor centre at megalithic jewel in England’s cultural crown

Its footpaths are “tortuous”, the roof likely to “channel wind and rain” and its myriad columns – meant to evoke a forest – are incongruous with the vast landscape surrounding it.

So says the government’s design ­watchdog over plans for a controversial £20m visitor centre at Stonehenge, the megalithic jewel in England’s cultural crown. CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, has criticised the design of the proposed centre, claiming the futuristic building by Denton Corker Marshall does little to enhance the 5,000-year-old standing stones which attract more than 800,000 visitors each year.

Its concerns are the latest chapter in the long saga surrounding the English Heritage-backed project, and follow a ­government decision two years ago to scrap on cost grounds a highly ambitious £65m scheme to build a tunnel to reroute traffic to protect the World Heritage site.

The centre, which has been approved by Wiltshire county council planners, has divided opinion.

“We question whether, in this landscape of scale and huge horizons and with a very robust end point that has stood for centuries and centuries, this is the right design approach?” said Diane Haigh, CABE’s director of design review.

“You need to feel you are approaching Stonehenge. You want the sense you are walking over Salisbury Plain towards the stones.”

But the “twee little winding paths” were “more appropriate for an urban ­garden” than the “big scale open air ­setting the stones have”, she added.

The many columns were meant to be “lots of trunks” holding up a “very delicate roof”, she said. “Is this the best approach on what is actually a very exposed site. In particular, if it’s a windy, rainy day, as it is quite often out there, it’s not going to give you shelter. We are concerned it’s very stylish nature will make it feel a bit dated in time, unlike the stones which have stood the test of time”.

CABE believed the location of the ­centre, at Airman’s Corner, is good, and were pleased “something was happening at last”, but questioned the “architectural approach”. The centre has the full support of local architects on the Wiltshire Design Forum, and has been passed by the local planning committee. Nevertheless English Heritage recognised it was an emotional and divisive subject.

“Innovative architectural designs will always polarise opinion, and often nowhere more so that within the architectural world itself,” it said in a statement.

“The Stonehenge project has to overcome a unique set of challenges,” it said. “This has required a pragmatic approach and, following widespread consultation, we maintain the current plans offer the best solution”.

Stephen Quinlan, partner at Denton Corker Marshall, defended the design. The roof was meant to be a “sun canopy” and not offer weather protection in what was, principally “an outdoor experience”.

“It’s not an iconic masterpiece. It’s a facility to help you appreciate the Stonehenge landscape. It’s intellectually ­deferential in a big, big way to Stonehenge as a monument.

“I wouldn’t even mind if you couldn’t remember what the building looked like when you left. The visitor centre is not the destination,” Quinlan said.

However, he added: “We don’t take criticism from CABE lightly. And we are ­crawling through their comments to see if there are any improvements we can make.”

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Solstice Celebrations

Solstice Celebrations

Salisbury Plain, Wilts – (Ass Mess): Druids, vegans and assorted goths are to be excluded from Summer solstice commemoration ceremonies at Stonehenge this year after locals branded them a pest to wildlife who habitually dump excessive tonnes of toxic human waste into the surrounding ecosystem.

“Each year we have to put up with acres of foreign lentils sprouting up in the fields surrounding this ancient monument after these hippies crap all over our pastureland,” local Soil Association representatives have told the press.

“Mostly they are organic free-trade Peruvian-origin virulent strains that defy digestion and germinate in the lower gut before acts of nature deposit them in the ancient Wiltshire countryside.

“For the last five years we have had to spend over ten million pounds on heavy duty industrial crop busting machinery to uproot these foreign lentil varieties which spread like wildfire across the county.”

Despite Ministry of Agriculture measures to contain the outbreaks the invasive legumes keep sprouting and often affect indigenous wildlife nesting in the myriad hedgerows of the nearby countryside.

“We’ve tried asking the solstice visitors to amend their diets before and during their annual pilgrimages to our country’s most ancient monument, but do they listen?

“Even installing bio-degradeable lavatory facilities at vast cost to the taxpayer is a futile act because many of these vegan and Druid chappies only void in the open, under moonlight and according to their spiritual beliefs.

“Most of them appear to prefer soiling themselves than using one of our portable hygenic chemical toilet facilities,” local health official reported.

A five mile exclusion zone has cordoned off the Stonehenge monument today in anticipation of an early influx of the annual travellers whose convoys have already been spotted on the nearby local bypass armed with their trademark teepees, wigwams and calor gas fry-up equipment.

The sun’s annual ingress into the sign of Cancer takes place on Thursday evening this week.

You have been warned.

I did promise a few laughs on this blog – it can’t all be serious. Ha ha…………..

Nicholas – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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Doctor Who - Stonehenge location

On Tuesday night, February 2, Wiltshire’s ancient stone monument was taken over by a film crew…..filming season five of BBC 1’s Doctor Who.

Exclusive leak….
Turns out that when the moon lies above the stone circle and the sun is on the opposite side of the earth, the stone circle acts as a gateway to a parallel time and place. Standing in the centre of the circle can allow one to be at one with the entire universe but unfortunately induces runaway ageing and exposure to other more evil personalities bent upon conquest. Dr Who finds himself imprisoned within the stone circle of an advanced extra-galactic civilisation and is held as a hostage until dastardly demands are met. The clock is running and the Doctor is rapidly ageing towards infancy. A twist in the tale is the entity that is allowed into the modern Human world when the stone circle is activated. Sadly, the choices are harsh…..either allow the proposed McDonalds drive-through planned for the Avenue, the bowling alley, the souvenir shop and the vast visitor facilities or, the Doctor will be wearing nappies for the remainder of this series and the evil personality (a hybrid mutation of David Icke and Schliemann) will win executive control of English Heritage.

Doctor Who at Stonehenge
Despite it being a closed set…
Local fans, braved the rain hoping to catch a glimpse of the action: “I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since I was five, that’s 35 years now, and this has been the first chance I’ve had to see it being filmed.”

…plus returning professor River Song (Alex Kingston) have all been spotted on set – along with a brazier or two – the rumour is that the latest episodes including The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks will all be set ‘some time in the past’.

With early filming reports claiming that the Doctor aka Matt Smith along with his sexy assistant Amy Pond played by Karen Gillan…

Pat – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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Ancient man had his own form of ‘sat nav’ that helped him find his way across Britain, according to new research.

The sophisticated geometric system was based on a stone circle markers.

Our ancestors were able to travel between settlements with pinpoint accuracy thanks to a complex network of hilltop monuments.

These covered much of southern England and Wales and included now famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Mount.

Researcher Tom Brooks analysed 1,500 prehistoric monuments, including Stonehenge and Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, and found them all to be on a grid of isosceles triangles – those with two sides of equal length – each pointing to the next site.

He believes this proves there were keen mathematicians among the ancient Britons 5,000-6,000 years ago, at least two millennia before the Greeks who were supposed to have discovered geometry.
Many monuments are 250 miles or more away but GPS co-ordinates now show all are accurate to within 100 metres and provided a simple map for ancient Britons to follow.

Incredibly, the triangles still exist today as many medieval churches, abbeys and cathedrals were constructed on top of the original stone circle markers.

Historian and writer Tom Brooks, from Honiton, Devon, believes prehistoric men were ‘highly intelligent surveyors and planners.’
He said: ‘It is known that many, if not all, early churches, abbeys and cathedrals were constructed on ancient sites and this diagram illustrates that point.

‘This ancient form of geometry permits the production of various patterns across our landscape linking prehistoric settlements and waymarks.

‘Such is the mathematical precision that it is inconceivable that this work could have been carried out by the primitive indigenous culture we have always associated with such structures.

‘Such patterns could only have been the work of highly intelligent surveyors and planners which throws into question all previous claims as to the origin of mathematics.

‘All this suggests a culture existing in these islands in the past quite outside our expectation and experience today.’

Mr Brooks analysed 1,500 sites stretching from Norfolk to north Wales. These included standing stones, hilltop forts, stone circles and hill camps.

Each was built within eyeshot of the next. Using GPS co-ordinates, he plotted a course between the monuments and noted their positions to each other.

He found that they all lie on a vast geometric grid made up of isosceles ‘triangles’.

Each triangle has two sides of the same length and ‘point’ to the next settlement.
Thus, anyone standing on the site of Stonehenge in Wiltshire could have navigated their way to Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall without a map.

Mr Brooks believes many of the Stone Age sites were created 5,000 years ago by an expanding population recovering from the trauma of the Ice Age.

Lower ground and valleys would have been reduced to bog and marshes, and people would have naturally sought higher ground to settle.

He said: ‘The modern-day diagram links 13 churches within four counties of south-west England, ranges across 60 miles, and is a remarkably accurate arrangement of isosceles triangles projecting to varying compass points.

‘The medieval system reaches from Derbyshire to Cambridgeshire, Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset and Wales, using only isosceles triangles accurate to within 100m over distances up to 250 miles.’
‘Prehistoric Geometry in Britain: the Discoveries of Tom Brooks’ is now on sale priced £13.90.  Search Amazon!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1240746/Prehistoric-sat-nav-set-ancestors-Britain.html#ixzz0eHHBmsJa

Pat – Salisbury Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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WOW 360-degree views of Stonehenge – click here

Avebury and Stonehenge can be explored with the click of a mouse from today as the National Trust’s most famous sites have been added to Google’s Street View mapping.

Over 20 historic locations across the UK – including castles, landscapes and country houses – have been scanned using a panoramic camera, bolted to the back of a tricycle, and added to Google’s online mapping service.

Users can now take a 360-degree, ground-level tour of sites such as Corfe Castle in Dorset, Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland, and Plas Newydd in Wales.

Austen fans with a romantic sensibility can even take a virtual turn around Lyme Park in Cheshire – made famous by Colin Firth’s emergence from its lake as Mr Darcy in the BBC’s adaptation of Pride And Prejudice.

Google’s Street View cyclists pedalled over 125 miles on the 18-stone trike, following marked routes around the National Trust sites to capture them from every angle.

Ed Parsons, technologist at Google, said: “We were delighted to be able to open up some of the UK’s most famous landmarks to the rest of the world via the web.”

However, he does not believe the online experience will discourage tourists from visiting the sites in person.

“It’s a fun way to preview what to see and do on a day out,” he said.

“Or whet your appetite for where to go next.”

Google will continue to collect images from other National Trust sites throughout 2010, including UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causeway, in County Antrim.

Simon – Tour Guide
Histouries UK – Stonehenge Tours

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