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Archive for January, 2014

Want to be one of the few people to walk amongst the inner stone circle at Stonehenge? Stonehenge-close-up-access-tour (38)

For those of you who have not visited Stonehenge, we should mention that the complex is roped off. Visitors observe the stones from a distance and are not permitted within the Stone Circle which can be somewhat frustrating. Our special access tours from Bath or Salisbury allow you to be amongst the stones at sunset or sunrise “A Unique Experience!”

Enter the inner circle – Go beyond the fences…… 

We can often arrange with English Heritage for you to experience a unique visit to this ancient sacred site – beyond the fences & after the crowds have gone home. Walk amongst the stones & experience the magical atmosphere within the inner circle.  There will be time to enjoy the peace, away from the crowds, as we experience Stonehenge at its most mystical and atmospheric best. Not to be missed!   Tours Depart from Bath or Salisbury

All our special access tours can be arranged either early morning (sunrise time) or evening time (sunset) and you can choose to depart from Salisbury, Bath or even London

Don’t worry if your accommodation is in London, its very easy to get to Salisbury or Bath from London by train and the trains run till late so there is still time to get back to London last thing.

Please visit our website for further details: http://www.HisTOURies.co.uk

Wessex Guided Tours
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King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons

The Heritage Trust

 
King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons. Written and presented by historian Michael Wood
 
BBC Four will broadcast this evening the first of three television programmes on Alfred the Great and the Anglo-Saxons –
 
King Alfred the Great fights a desperate guerrilla war in the marshes of Somerset – burning the cakes on the way- before his decisive victory at Edington. Creating towns, trade and coinage, reviving learning and literacy, Alfred then laid the foundations of a single kingdom of ‘all the English’. Filmed on location from Reading to Rome, using original texts read in Old English, and interviews with leading scholars, Michael Wood describes a man who was ‘not just the greatest Briton, but one of the greatest rulers of any time or place’.
 
Begins at 8pm and lasts for one hour. Written and presented by Michael Wood. Series Producer Rebecca Dobbs. More here.
 

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The Heritage Trust

 
The Bedale Hoard, found by metal detectorists in May 2012
©
Yorkshire Museum
 
Culture 24 reports on the appeal by the Yorkshire Museum for the £50,000 needed to secure a Viking hoard for the Nation –
 
The life savings of a Viking, according to the hoard found by metal detectorist Stuart Campbell and his field-traipsing partner last year, included a gold sword pommel, a neck ring and collar, gold rivets, half a silver brooch and no less than 29 silver ingots. Believed to date from more than 1,100 years ago, the Bedale Hoard’s value in understanding 9th century Yorkshire may be priceless. But between now and March, the Yorkshire Museum, where the treasures have gone on display, needs to raise £51,636 to keep it.
 
Visit the Yorkshire Museum appeal here or telephone 01904 687671 to donate.
 

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TOURISTS entering English Heritage’s new £27 million visitor centre at Stonehenge will quickly confront its most spectacular exhibit – a man who was born 500 years before the earliest stone monument appeared at the site.

Stonehenge Man would have fitted in very well on a film set (Image: English Heritage)

Stonehenge Man would have fitted in very well on a film set (Image: English Heritage)

He may have a touch of Hollywood about him, but this “Stonehenge Man” was once real. His face has been reconstructed from a 5500-year-old skeleton found in the area. Local protest groups continue to press for him to be reburied, but forensic analysis has allowed scientists to create the most lifelike model yet of an individual from British prehistory. Their work reveals how he lived and ate, and may even shed light on the origins of Stonehenge itself.

The well-preserved skeleton was discovered in an elaborate tomb in the 1860s, providing a rare example of the anatomy of Neolithic people. His face has been brought to life by Swedish sculptor Oscar Nilsson, using information from bone and tooth analyses. The length of the man’s bones, the skeleton’s weight and his age – estimated at between 25 and 40 years old – were used to determine the thickness of the skin on his face and muscle definition.

Nilsson used a vinyl copy of the skull, made by Andrew Wilson at the University of Bradford, UK, as a base for his clay reconstruction of muscles, guided by markers denoting the fleshiness of the face. He created moulded silicon skin and added pigment before punching in the hair.

Ridges on the skull reveal that this man was muscular – which is not surprising given the Neolithic lifestyle. He had highly masculine features, such as a well-defined chin and jawbone. “I had to give him a beard – there were no razors then,” says Nilsson.

Human skeletal biologist Simon Mays from the University of Southampton, UK, was unable to deduce the cause of death from the skeleton and he speculates that Stonehenge Man died of an infectious disease that killed too quickly to leave a trace on bones. Mays did, however, find two leg wounds: a deep muscle injury and a bony projection.

Tooth analysis by Alistair Pike, also at the University of Southampton, was particularly revealing. Pike extracted a section of enamel, then removed particles from different stages of the tooth’s growth. A mass spectrometer revealed the ratio of two forms, or isotopes, of strontium at the different stages, which can indicate where his drinking water came from when matched to an area’s geology.

Teeth take about four years to form, so it is possible to track the movements of an individual during that time. Stonehenge Man seems to have travelled as a child. He was born in an area of old geology, thought to be somewhere in Wales, and moved to an area matching Stonehenge when about 3 years old. If he came from Wales, says Pike, there could be a connection to the movement of bluestones, the oldest stones at Stonehenge. “The two communities may have been connected for centuries,” he says.

The man’s teeth show little wear for his age, suggesting a soft diet by prehistoric standards. The carbon isotopes in the teeth vary according to the types of plants eaten, and with the amount of nitrogen, which comes from meat in the diet. His carbon pattern shows he ate more meat than his contemporaries, possibly in stews. This and the elaborate burial suggest he was an important man in the community.

Unfortunately, the man’s teeth were unusually clean. “If we had been able to analyse his tartar, we could have identified species he was eating by sequencing proteins in trapped fragments, while bacteria could have revealed the health of his gut,” says Pike.

The team did not have enough time before the visitor centre opened to do DNA analysis of Stonehenge Man’s colouring, but this would have been difficult anyway because handling over the years has contaminated the skeleton’s DNA. They guessed at hazel eyes and dark brown hair, with a hint of ginger, to reflect probable Celtic origins.

If this model of the handsome Stonehenge Man is true to life, then he would not look out of place today. “He could be sitting next to you on the subway,” says Nilsson.
by Sandrine Ceurstemont

Details in The New Scientist:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24811-stonehenge-man-not-just-a-pretty-face.html#.Usfc6pCYbIV

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