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Archive for September, 2012

The people who built Stonehenge 5000 years ago probably had the same pallid complexion of many modern inhabitants of the UK. Now it seems that the humans occupying Britain and mainland Europe only lost the darker skins of their African ancestors perhaps just 6000 years earlier, long after Neanderthals had died out. The finding confirms that modern Europeans didn’t gain their pale skin from Neanderthals – adding to evidence suggesting that European Homo sapiens and Neanderthals generally kept their relationships strictly platonic.

There is a clear correlation between latitude and skin pigmentation: peoples that have spent an extended period of time at higher latitudes have adapted to those conditions by losing the skin pigmentation that is common at lower latitudes, says Sandra Beleza at the University of Porto in Portugal. Lighter skin can generate more vitamin D from sunlight than darker skin, making the adaptation an important one for humans who wandered away from equatorial regions.

Those wanderings took modern humans into Europe around 45,000 years ago – but exactly when the European skin adapted to local conditions had been unclear.

Three genes

Beleza and her colleagues studied three genes associated with lighter skin pigmentation. Although the genes are found in all human populations, they are far more common in Europe than in Africa, and explain a significant portion of the skin-colour differences between European and west African populations.

By analysing the genomes of 50 people with European ancestry and 70 people with sub-Saharan African ancestry, Beleza’s team could estimate when the three genes – and pale skin – first became widespread in European populations. The result suggested that the three genes associated with paler skin swept through the European population only 11,000 to 19,000 years ago.

“The selective sweeps for favoured European [versions of the three genes] started well after the first migrations of modern humans into Europe,” says Beleza.

The finding agrees with earlier studies suggesting that modern humans did not lose their dark skins immediately on reaching Europe, says Katerina Harvati at the University of Tübingen in Germany. “[The new study] is interesting because it suggests a very late differentiation of skin pigmentation among modern humans,” she says.

An earlier analysis of ancient DNA in 40,000 and 50,000-year-old Neanderthal bones, respectively from Spain and Italy, suggested that our extinct cousins had light-coloured skin and reddish hair in their European heartland. But the Neanderthals went extinct around 28,000 years ago – long before modern humans in Europe gained a pale skin. Evidently Neanderthals did not pass these useful local adaptations on to modern humans, despite genetic evidence that the two species interbred.

Middle Eastern contact

That might seem unusual given that the two species lived cheek-by-jowl in Europe for several thousand years. But it makes sense if the interbreeding evident in the genes occurred in the Middle East, where modern humans and Neanderthals first met, says Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum, London.

In that region, Neanderthals may have had darker skins, explaining why our species did not gain a pale skin after interbreeding with them. Indeed, a study earlier this year of ancient DNA suggested that Neanderthals living in what is now Croatia had dark skin and brown hair.

“Neanderthal skin colour was probably variable, as might be expected for a large population spread out over a large territorial expanse,” says Harvati.

Journal reference: Molecular Biology and Evolution, doi.org/h9h
Source: http://www.newscientist.com

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Saturday 13 October 2012 – Saturday 26 January 2013.

An exhibition of paintings and drawings that reflect one artist’s travels through the ancient sites of Wiltshire.  Over the last 50 years, Stonehenge and Salisbury MuseumPhilip Hughes has returned time and again to the Ridgeway, Avebury, Silbury Hill and Stonehenge.   Informed by maps, photography and electronic survey techniques, his work ranges from accurate topographical observation to abstract and emotional representation of the landscape.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of the book on Hughes’s work: Tracks: Walking the Ancient Landscapes of Britain (Thames & Hudson, 2012).

Hughes is represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery.

Salisbury Museum is based in the King’s House, a grade I listed building located opposite Salisbury Cathedral. We have a small but friendly staff, supported by over 100 volunteers. We offer a variety of services, including the opportunity to hire this unique location for corporate events and activities.

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

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Christmas Market

Salisbury will be hosting its first ever Christmas Market from 29 November. The Christmas Market will be taking place in the ancient Market Place in front of the city’s magnificent Guildhall.
55 beautiful chalets will be tempting visitors with stunning quality products, ideal for those who wish to find an ideal gift.

CSalisbury Christmas Marketome to Salisbury’s gorgeous new Christmas Market!

You will find it to be one of the prettiest, loveliest and most tasteful Christmas Markets in the country. With beautifully decorated chalets, inspiring and desirable gifts and gourmet foods, a warm welcome from stall holders, a Father Christmas Grotto, a spectacular lantern procession, and traditional music by local choirs and schools to serenade you while you shop, we hope we have all the ingredients for the perfect traditional Christmas.

Times & Dates  
Opening Times:   10am – 6pm
Daily  10am – 7pm    Thursday, Friday & Saturday

On the first day, the Christmas Market will open at 10am and stay open until 8pm with a big Opening Ceremony from 6pm onwards.   Closes: Sunday 16th December

About Salisbury:
Salisbury is located in the East of Wiltshire, right next to Salisbury Plain. Established in 1220 with a history settlement preceding this, the city was named Salesberie at this time. The first Cathedral was built around 1075. This was however re-sited. It has been said that an arrow was fired and the newer cathedral was built upon this spot! The cathedral holds an the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta 1275.

The town has a very vibrant nightlife with many lovely traditional pubs and modern bars. We cater for every age group and the town has a nice relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

There are many things to do in and around Salisbury. Only a few minutes away from the busy city centre, you can take a peaceful walk in the pleasant parkland. There are paths trailing through the water meadow. With an abundance of wildlife you are able to lose yourself in nature and view the beautiful Cathedral in the close distance. Or if you fancy a walk, meandre across the Water Meadow until you each the Old Mill. Now transformed into a restaurant and hotel!

Salisbury is also very close to the ancient Stonehenge! With a history dating back well over 5000 years, the Henge attracts many visitors each year and is an obvious pace of our proud English Heritage

For full details please visit www.salisburychristmasmarket.co.uk
Tourist Information: http://salisburytouristinformation.co.uk/

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Archaeologists hunting for the remains of King Richard III may have made a crucial breakthrough – after finding human remains in the ruins of a medieval friary underneath a modern-day car park.

A team from Leicester University, which has been digging in the city centre, will today announce what it claims is “a dramatic development in the search for crucial breakthrough – after finding human remains in the ruins of a medieval friary underneath a modern-day car park.

A team from Leicester University, which has been digging in the city centre, will today announce what it claims is “a dramatic development in the search for Richard III”.

Last month, archaeologists began searching for the body of the last king of the House of York, who was defeated in battle by a Lancastrian army in 1485. They have unearthed the site of a Franciscan friary in Leicester called Grey Friars, and also believe they have found the burial place of Richard – a church – where human remains were found. The DNA material will be tested to see if matches that of a 17th-generation descendent of the monarch’s sister.
NICK CLARK – http://www.independent.co.uk

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Richard Taylor, a spokesman for the university, said: “What we have uncovered is truly remarkable”.

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Read the story of when The Beatles came to Wiltshire to film scenes from their second film Help! on Salisbury Plain in 1965.

The Beatles on the Help! album cover

The Beatles on the Help! album cover

By May 1965, The Beatles truly ruled the world. Topping the charts for the seventh consecutive time with ‘Ticket To Ride’, America well and truly conquered and massive success for their first film A Hard Days Night, the year before.

This had been little more than a fun fictional account of the adventures of four lads in a pop group, shot at a few London and provincial locations and filmed in black and white, for a budget of around £200,000.

But now their second film, Help! (provisional working title Eight Arms To Hold You) was to be a much grander affair.  Double the budget, in colour, with filming at such exotic locations as the beaches of Nassau, the ski slopes of Austria and… Salisbury Plain.

The simple storyline revolved around Ringo Starr and one of his many rings. Unbeknownst to him, it was a mystical ‘sacred’ ring from the Far East, which its real owners wanted back.

Cue the movie with Ringo being pursued all over the place by the ring-chasers, with all sorts of madcap stunts surrounding their efforts to retrieve the ring from his finger. And that was about it!

In the movie, The Beatles need to do some more recordings. However, Ringo isn’t safe anywhere, so they decide to make their next record in a place of absolute military security . Where else? Salisbury Plain!

So, late in the evening of Sunday 2nd May 1965, The Beatles checked into the Antrobus Arms Hotel in Amesbury, their home for the next three days whilst on location.

Ringo and George filming 'Help!' on Salisbury Plain

The filming took place at Knighton Down, near the Larkhill army base, where the Beatles were to be shown recording their latest song.

In fact, the Salisbury sequence in the film sees them miming to the George Harrison song ‘I Need You’, which of course, he took the lead vocals for. Ironically for George, this  was never a Beatles single, only appearing on the movie soundtrack album.

The lads were ferried from the Antrobus Hotel to Larkhill each day, in a black Austin Princess limousine, with their departures and arrivals attracting huge crowds of teenagers, blocking the street through Amesbury.

Amazingly, the limo was left unlocked in the hotel garage during the day and the Salisbury Journal reported that fans looted it of Beatle caps, various items of Beatle clothing and even emptied the ashtrays for Beatle dog-ends!

The Journal also said the group were besieged, mostly by girls and had to endure some pretty dismal Salisbury Plain weather, despite it being late Spring.

The army ‘security’ for the film storyline, came via troops from 3 Division, Royal Artillery who were on exercises there at the time.

The army even kindly supplied tanks for the Fab Four to climb over and have scouting around whilst they made their recording!  It’s hard to imagine that happening today, but back then The Beatles had all doors opened for them, such was their celebrity.

On the afternoon of Thursday 6th May, with the location filming completed, The Beatles checked out of their Amesbury hotel, heading back to London.

Next day they were back in a proper film studio at Twickenham, as the making of Help! continued.

The movie had its world-premiere on 29th July 1965 at the London Pavilion, in the presence of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, and with the title song already sitting at number one in the UK singles chart.

It opened at 250 leading cinemas across the country on August 11th and went on to win first prize at the International Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro that September.

There was talk of a third film, but sadly, this didn’t happen. The filming of the making of the album Let It Be in 1969 being a fly-on-the-wall documentary, not  a proper scripted movie.

The Beatles never returned to Salisbury, but they left behind a multitude of memories for those who either saw, met or even worked with them, during those three days in May, 1965.

But one thing’s for sure; that bit of Salisbury Plain was certainly immortalised for all time, by the biggest musical phenomenon the world has ever seen.

Geoff Barker – Rock and Rill Wiltshire – http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/history/rocknroll_wiltshire/

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