Archive for March 10th, 2010

Abbey Road Studios Celebrated With Grade II Listing For ‘Outstanding Cultural Significance’

Iconic Studios Listed on Advice of English Heritage

English Heritage is delighted that the Abbey Road Studios have today (23 February 2010) been recognised by grade ll listing.  In 2003, English Heritage advised ministers that the building possessed huge cultural importance and a remarkable and inspiring association with music making and should be listed in recognition of this unique special interest. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has now endorsed that advice and listed the building.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage said:  “Some of the most defining sounds of the 20th century were created within the walls of the Abbey Road Studios.  English Heritage has long recognised the cultural importance of Abbey Road – it contains, quite simply, the most famous recording studios in the world which act as a modern day monument to the history of recorded sound and music.  The listing of the building is a welcome acknowledgement of the contribution the studios have made to our musical heritage, and we hope that in some form, they can continue to play a role in inspiring the musicians of the future”.

Listing is a way of saying that a building is special and that every care should be afforded to decisions affecting its future.  English Heritage warmly welcome EMI’s appreciation for the cultural value embodied in the building and their understanding that listing is an appropriate way to recognise that value.

Nicholas – Tour Guide

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Back Roads Touring
Back Roads Touring
Tour Britain with your own expert guide and small vehicle. We can use the country lanes to get you off the ‘beaten track’ and explore a side of England that only we can show you.

Big coach tour operators can only use the motorways (highways) and have many restrictions throughout the day or days.  Most London coach companies spend almost 2 hours collecting people from various hotels and then drop you at Victoria station to finaly start your day. 
All the coach companies also travel in convoy so they all arrive at the same attraction at the same time – it can be chaos and quite an unpleasent experience.  The BIG coach tours will allow just 30 minutes at Stonehenge, 1 hour at Bath, 45 minutes at Oxford etc etc.  Not even time to wipe your nose let alone explore and take photos.  Needless to say you will never be allowed to stop for a photo or an unscheduled toilet stop.


From my experience its a false econmomy choosing a big coach tour over a private bespoke tour.  If you want to visit multiple attractions in one day (tick um off your list and get the t-shirt) spend a mimimal amount of time there and have a totally un-personal experience then this is for you.  If not then please, please, please consider organising a private tour and see the real Britain v ia the small country back roads.  It can ofeten work out cheaper than 3 or 4 tickets on a big (60 seater) coach.

Stii not convinced ?

The extra time on our private tours mean that in addition to famous attractions we can take you away from the normal overcrowded and commercialised tourist traps. Let us show you scenic villages that you may not have heard but definitely will not want to miss.

Litter, traffic congestion and noise pollution are just three of the problems contributed to by the large coach operators – why would you want to be a part of this?

Smaller groups leave fewer footprints. Our tours are environmentally more friendly and less disruptive to local communities meaning we will be welcome for years to come.

Large coaches are restricted to using the highways – and a highway in England is pretty much like a highway anywhere in the world.

With a group size of 60 passengers bear in mind how long it takes just to get on and off the coach – this invariably eats into your sightseeing time.

Larger coach companies can spend up to 9 hours of your tour on the road meaning you have an average of only 30 minutes at the attractions.

Explore the Real Britain with HisTOURies UK Trips

Simon – British Tour Guide
HISTOURIES – Back Roads Tours

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The British Isles have been populated by human beings for hundreds of thousands of years, but it was the introduction of farming around 7,000 years ago that began a process of radical change.

The dawn of farming

Human beings have been living in the part of northern Europe that is today called Britain for about 750,000 years. For most of that time, they subsisted by gathering food like nuts, berries, leaves and fruit from wild sources, and by hunting.

Over the millennia there were phases of extreme cold, when large areas of Britain were covered in ice, followed by warmer times. Around 10,000 years ago, the latest ice age came to an end. Sea levels rose as the ice sheets melted, and Britain became separated from the European mainland shortly before 6000 BC.

The introduction of farming was one of the biggest changes in human history.

The people living on the new islands of Britain were descendants of the first modern humans, or Homo sapiens, who arrived in northern Europe around 30,000 – 40,000 years ago. Like their early ancestors they lived by hunting and gathering.

The introduction of farming, when people learned how to produce rather than acquire their food, is widely regarded as one of the biggest changes in human history.

This change happened at various times in several different places around the world. The concept of farming that reached Britain between about 5000 BC and 4500 BC had spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11000 BC and 9000 BC.

Neolithic revolution?

The change from a hunter-gatherer to a farming way of life is what defines the start of the Neolithic or New Stone Age. In Britain the preceding period of the last, post-glacial hunter-gatherer societies is known as the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.

It used to be believed that the introduction of farming into Britain was the result of a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel. Today, studies of DNA suggest that the influx of new people was probably quite small – somewhere around 20% of the total population were newcomers.

Farming took 2,000 years to spread across the British Isles.

So the majority of early farmers were probably Mesolithic people who adopted the new way of life and took it with them to other parts of Britain. This was not a rapid change – farming took about 2,000 years to spread across all parts of the British Isles.

Traditionally the arrival of farming is seen as a major and rapid change sometimes called the ‘Neolithic revolution’. Today, largely thanks to radiocarbon dates, we can appreciate that the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer was relatively gradual.

We know, for example, that hunters in the Mesolithic ‘managed’ or tended their quarry. They would make clearings in woodland around sources of drinking water, and probably made efforts to see that the herds of deer and other animals they hunted were not over-exploited.

The switch from managed hunting to pastoral farming was not a big change. The first farmers brought the ancestors of cattle, sheep and goats with them from the continent. Domestic pigs were bred from wild boar, which lived in the woods of Britain.

Neolithic farmers also kept domesticated dogs, which were bred from wolves. It is probable that the earliest domesticated livestock were allowed to wander, maybe tended by a few herders.

Sheep, goats and cattle are fond of leaves and bark, and pigs snuffle around roots. These domestic animals may have played a major role in clearing away the huge areas of dense forest that covered most of lowland Britain.

Burial and belief

Stonehenge stone circle, near Amesbury, Wiltshire Stonehenge stone circle, near Amesbury, Wiltshire  ©

Neolithic farmers also brought with them the first seed grains of wheat and barley, which had been bred many millennia earlier from wild grasses that grew in region of modern-day Iraq.

Initially, cereals were probably grown in garden plots near people’s houses. Once harvested, the grain needed to be stored and protected from natural pests and from raiding parties.

This tended to encourage a more settled way of life than that of the Mesolithic communities, who would move around the country on a seasonal pattern, following the animals, birds and fish they hunted.

The ‘henge’ monuments, like Stonehenge, incorporate lunar and solar alignments.

In many cases the earliest Neolithic sites (approx 4000 – 5000 BC) occur alongside late Mesolithic settlements, or in areas that we know were important in post-glacial times.

From the start of the fourth millennium BC (about 3800 BC), we see a move into new areas that had not been settled or exploited previously.

This period, sometimes referred to as the Middle Neolithic, also witnesses the appearance of the first large communal tombs, known as long barrows, or mounds, and the earliest ceremonial monuments, known as ’causewayed’ enclosures.

Here people from communities in a particular region would gather together, probably at regular intervals, to socialise, to meet new partners, to acquire fresh livestock and to exchange ceremonial gifts.

During these ceremonies, rituals took place which often involved the burial of significant items, such as finely-polished stone axeheads, complete pottery vessels, or human skulls.

Some of the great ceremonial monuments of the Middle Neolithic, such as the so-called ‘passage’ graves, were aligned according to the position of the sun during the winter or summer solstice.

The long passage of a passage grave could be carefully positioned to allow the sun on the shortest few days of the year to shine directly into the central burial chamber. Passage graves were also constructed to provide good acoustics, and it seems most probable that they were the scenes of ritual or religious theatrical performances.

The so-called ‘henge’ monuments, like the famous Stonehenge, seem to have developed out of the causewayed enclosures from around 3000 BC.

They also incorporate lunar and solar alignments which are seen as a means of uniting the physical and social structures of human societies with the powers of the natural world.

The Bronze Age

Neolithic houses were usually rectangular thatched buildings made from timber with walls of wattle (woven hazel rods) smeared with a plaster-like ‘daub’ (made from clay, straw and cow dung).

Some of the larger buildings were the size and shape of a Saxon hall and may well have been communal. Most others were smaller and would have been adequate for a family of six to ten people.

The appearance of metal marks an important technological development, especially in the control of fire.

Neolithic houses are far more commonly found in Scotland and Ireland than in England or Wales, where communities may have retained a more mobile pattern of life, involving fewer permanent buildings.

The first bronzes appear in Britain in the centuries just before 2500 BC, which is the usually accepted start date for the Bronze Age.

On the European mainland the arrival of bronze was preceded by copper tools of the Chalcolithic or Copper Age, but in Britain tin and copper appear at about the same time as bronze.

Although the appearance of metal marks an important technological development, especially in the control of fire, it does not seem to bring a big change in the way that people lived their lives in the Early Bronze Age.

Henges, for example, continue in use, but the larger communal tombs, such as long barrows and passage graves, are replaced by smaller round barrows.

Many of these contain an initial or ‘primary’ burial, often of an important man or woman, who may be buried with distinctive and highly decorated pottery known as ‘Beakers’, together with bronze or tin metalwork such as daggers or axes. Sometimes fine goldwork rings, bracelets and earrings adorned the bodies.

In many instances the round barrows of the Early Bronze Age (2500-1500 BC) continue in use, as smaller or ‘satellite’ burials and cremations are dug into the main primary mound.

These places were clearly important gathering places for people and they were often carefully placed in the landscape either to be seen over a large area, or to mark the beginning or end or a community’s land-holding or territory.

Houses in the Early Bronze Age were usually round with a conical roof and a single entrance.

Accelerated change

The Ringlemere gold cup, found in Ringlemere, Kent The Ringlemere gold cup, found in Ringlemere, Kent  ©

The Middle Bronze Age (1500 – 1250 BC) marks an important period of change, growth and probably of population expansion too. There was a fundamental shift in burial practice away from barrow burial, towards cremation in large open cemeteries where ashes were placed in specially-prepared pottery urns.

Settlements consisted of round houses which were often grouped together, possibly for defence, but possibly too because people preferred to live near one another.

During this period we find an increasing number of metalwork hoards, where dozens, sometimes hundreds of spearheads, axes and daggers were placed in the ground – often in a wet or boggy place, a practice that would continue right through the Iron Age.

The Late Bronze Age saw the start of the so-called ‘Celtic’ way of life.

Certain hoards found in south western Britain contained large numbers of fancy bronze ornaments, such as elaborate dress-fasteners, rings, pins, brooches and bracelets.

The Middle Bronze Age also sees the first field systems in Britain, indicating growing pressure on the land as the numbers of people and animals increased.

The Late Bronze Age (1250-800 BC) is marked by the arrival of new styles of metalwork and pottery, but otherwise life continued much as before. Horse-riding became more popular and Late Bronze Age swords were designed as slashing weapons – resembling the cavalry cutlass.

Houses were still round, a pattern that would continue into the Iron Age, but a number of large hall-like rectangular houses are also known.

The field systems of the Middle Bronze Age continued in use and were enlarged. In the uplands of Britain the Late Bronze Age saw the first construction of a few hillforts and the start of the so-called ‘Celtic’ way of life.

Pat – Salisbury Tours
HISTOURIES – The Best Tours in British History

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