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Archive for the ‘neolithic’ Category

Start: Avebury |Finish: Old Sarum
Distance: Approximately 42 miles

Wiltshire is a county of history and mystery set in a dramatic landscape. The combination of heritage and scenery provides a truly memorable day out. So come with us on a journey through the countryside and across the ages as we go back to the time of our prehistoric ancestors. Hundreds of thousands of years may have passed but all over the county there’s evidence of human activity from the end of the Ice Age through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages right up to the invasion of the Romans in AD43.

Click here for audio / visual tour

This driving tour will take you through the heart of Wiltshire. En route you’ll discover more about how our enigmatic and mysterious ancestors lived, worked, fought and died.

This tour can be undertaken in a variety of ways; as a day-long journey, in short sections or you can use the information as a guide to individual visits.

You might also consider embarking on the tour using public transport but keeping up to date with bus service and timetable changes will require plenty of preparation.

Before you set off make sure that you’re properly equipped. Nothing beats a really good Ordnance Survey map, marked with contours and ancient monuments. A compass and a torch would also be useful. Some of these historical gems are in fields and away from roads or footpaths, so good walking boots are a must. Some sites have few or no facilities and it’s also worth noting that mobile phone coverage can’t be guaranteed in parts of rural Wiltshire. For news of road works or route closures, check BBC Local Radio and bbc.co.uk/travelnews

This guide has been produced with the generous assistance of Phil Harding, Wessex Archaeology, English Heritage, Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service, Bob Clarke, Martin Kellett, David Dawson and the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

Stonehenge and Avebury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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Ancient Britons were not averse to using human skulls as drinking cups, skeletal remains unearthed in southwest England suggest.

The level of modification suggests the ancient Britons were "manufacturing" something of use

The braincases from three individuals were fashioned in such a meticulous way that their use as bowls to hold liquid seems the only reasonable explanation.

The 14,700-year-old objects were discovered in Gough’s Cave, Somerset.

Scientists from London’s Natural History Museum say the skull-cups were probably used in some kind of ritual.

“If you look around the world there are examples of skull-cups in more recent times – in Tibetan culture, in Fiji in Oceania, and in India,” said Dr Silvia Bello, a palaeontologist and lead author of a scientific paper on the subject in the journal PLoS One.

“So, skulls have been used as drinking bowls, and because of the similarity of the Gough’s Cave skulls to these other examples, we imagine that that’s what these ancient people were using them for also,” she told BBC News.

Gough’s Cave is situated in the Cheddar Gorge, a deep limestone canyon on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills.

Palaeo-investigations started there a hundred years ago, with many of the finds now held at the Natural History Museum (NHM).

The site is particularly noteworthy for the discovery in 1903 of “Cheddar Man”, the complete skeleton of a male individual dating to about 10,000 years ago.

But the users – and owners – of the skulls discussed in the PLoS One article are actually from an earlier period in the history of the British Isles.

This was during a brief warm spike in a series of ice ages that allowed humans living in southern Europe to venture north into what was otherwise an utterly inhospitable landscape.

These Cro-Magnons, as we now call them, were hunter-gatherers living on their wits and, it seems, eating human flesh when the need and opportunity arose.

Gough’s Cave famously held the remains of human bones that had been butchered to extract marrow in exactly the same way as animal bones on the site had been processed.

Our modern sensibilities find the thought of cannibalism repulsive, but these people lived in a different age, Dr Bello said:

“They were a one man band; they were going out, hunting, butchering and then eating their kill. And they were extremely skilled at what they did, but then that’s how they survived.

“I think the production of the skull-cups is ritualistic. If the purpose was simply to break the skulls to extract the brain to eat it, there are much easier ways to do that.

“If food was the objective, the skull would be highly fragmented. But here you can really see they tried to preserve most of the skull bone; the cut marks tell us they tried to clean the skull, taking off every piece of soft tissue so that they could then modify it very precisely. They were manufacturing something.”

NHM colleague Professor Chris Stringer helped excavate one of the skull-cups in 1987 and is a co-author on the paper.

“This research shows how extensive the processing of these human remains was,” he said.

“It’s impossible to know how the skull-cups were used back then, but in recent examples they may hold blood, wine or food during rituals.”

At about 14,700 years old, the Gough’s Cave skull-cups would represent the oldest, recognised examples in the world.

The museum plans to put a detailed model of one of the skull-cups on display this March so that visitors can get a deeper insight the practices of these ancient Britons.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Private tours of the West Country

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Neil Oliver tells the epic story of how Britain and its people came to be over thousands of years of ancient history – the beginnings of our world forged in ice, stone, and bronze.

About the Programme

A History Of Ancient Britain will turn the spotlight onto the very beginning of Britain’s story. From the last retreat of the glaciers 12,000 years ago, until the departure of the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century AD this epic series will reveal how and why these islands and nations of ours developed as they did and why we have become the people we are today. The first series transmits in early 2011 and there will be a following series in 2012.

As well as being a presenter, Neil is also an archaeologist, historian and author. He began his television career in 2002 with the BBC2 series ‘Two Men in a Trench’. This battlefield archaeology series explored iconic British battle sites, focusing on human stories, tragedies and drama.

Neil became a familiar face on television thanks to the hugely popular, award winning programme, ‘Coast’, in which the landscapes, history, geography and people of the British Isles are given centre stage in a continuing voyage of discovery, remembrance and reminiscence.

Neil also presented ‘A History of Scotland’ on BBC 1 and BBC2. In this series he revealed how the story of his native Scotland is instrumental to the history of, not only Britain, but also Europe and much of the wider world.
Neil Oliver takes us on an epic journey expoloring how Britain and its people came to be.
Watch the trail here
Neil Oliver’s official website

Stonehenge and Ancient Britain Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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Today, we must celebrate John Aubrey’s dramatic rediscovery of Avebury – the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle. 

Avebury Stone Circle today: with its ditches excavated, unsightly cottages demolished, and unnecessary enclosures removed, it’s difficult to imagine the snarl of 17th-century domestic chaos that greeted John Aubrey’s visionary gaze that January morn.

Avebury Stone Circle today: with its ditches excavated, unsightly cottages demolished, and unnecessary enclosures removed, it’s difficult to imagine the snarl of 17th-century domestic chaos that greeted John Aubrey’s visionary gaze that January morn.

Whilst out hunting with fellow royalists during the English Civil War, exactly three hundred and sixty-two years ago. For Aubrey’s heroic retrieval of this vast but (by then) long forgotten Stone Age temple confronted the then-accepted notion that only the coming of the Romans had forced a degree of culture upon the barbaric Ancient British, and also confounded the then-popular 17th-century belief – propounded by the highly influential Scandinavian antiquaries Olaus Magnus and Ole Worm – that all such megalithic culture had its archaic origins in Europe’s far north. Indeed, so rich were the cultural implications of John Aubrey’s re-discovery that – come the fall of Oliver Cromwell’s 11-year-long Commonwealth and the subsequent Restoration of the Monarchy – even the returned King Charles II would himself insist on taking one of Aubrey’s celebrated tours of the Avebury area. But how could the world’s largest stone circle have suffered such a total cultural extinction in the first place? Why, the Avebury standing stones themselves must average at least ten feet in height apiece, while the temple’s enormously bulky northern and southern entrance stones rivalled even nearby Stonehenge’s celebrated trilithons. And how could Avebury’s vast 400-metre-diameter earthen embankment and the equally deep ditch that encircled these huge monoliths have for several centuries become invisible even to local historians? Ironically perhaps, the initial blame for this pagan temple’s centuries in cultural oblivion goes not to scheming Christians but to the 5th century arrival from Germany of another group of pagans – the invading Saxons – who, recognising Avebury’s possible use as a defended settlement, broke with the traditions of the previous Roman and Romano-British occupiers by setting up their homes and farmsteads directly within the mighty earth banks of the temple itself. Blasphemers! Thereafter, many centuries of harsh day-to-day living within the Avebury henge conspired to obscure then finally obliterate all physical traces of this vast Earthen Temple. Saxon ploughing within the henge tumbled soil into the deep ditches, which silted up considerably and became repositories of household refuse. Residents fearful of disturbing the ‘Devil’s work’ incorporated the Avebury megaliths into the hedges of their allotments, gardens, fields, and even saved energy by employing those monoliths most vertically aligned as supporting walls for their stone cottages. And when villagers lost their fears of the stones, deep pits were dug into whose depths several of the most intrusive monoliths were unceremoniously tumbled. Thereafter, the magnificent geometric shape of this robust 4,500 year-old landscape temple became lost in the chaos of domesticity; until that fateful day three hundred and sixty-two years ago, that is, when John Aubrey and his friend Dr. Walter Charleton joined their hunting party and galloped westwards across Fyfield Down along the chalky London-Bath ‘rode’. Aubrey himself recounts in his posthumously published two-volume tome Monumenta Britannica:

“The chase led us at length through the village of Avebury, into the closes there: where I was wonderfully surprised at the sight of those vast stones: of which I had never heard before… I observed in the enclosures some segments of rude circles, made with these stones; whence I concluded, they had been in the old time complete.”

It’s been my experience that no story about Avebury ever concludes without some vicious act of destruction by some pious know-it-all or other; this On This Deity entry is no different. For, despite King Charles II’s fascination with the Avebury stone circle, it was his return to the English throne that prompted the temple’s most vivid and desperate period of destruction. For in their determination to stamp out the Non-Conformism of Cromwell’s time, Charles II’s paranoid Restoration Government in 1665 passed the Five Mile Act (or Non-Conformist Act 1665), which specifically forbade all itinerant Non-Conformist preachers from speaking within five miles of their old parishes. Avebury stone circle is nine miles south of Swindon, eight miles north-east of Devizes, five miles west of Marlborough and six miles east of Calne. Non-conformist preachers throughout northern Wiltshire looked to the ancient pagan temple and regarded the Five Mile Act as a divine sign: let us make our new home here, and every pagan stone we break we’ll make righteous by incorporating it into our Non-Conformist church. And so to Avebury they did come and such destruction so they did: the church remains at the circle’s centre even to this day, self-effacing and easily overlooked but engorged nevertheless with as many splendid sarsen stones of that former 4,500 year-old monument as those Non-Conformist preachers could muster. Our hero John Aubrey would, for his pains, die unpublished and in penury. Today, however, his legend burns with an unquenchable fame due to that pioneering archaeological tome Monumenta Britannica, that gossipy biography of his many contemporaries Brief Lives, and – most of all – for that splendid vision of Avebury exactly three hundred and sixty-two years ago today. To John Aubrey – Culture Hero and how!
http://www.onthisdeity.com

Stonehenge and Avebury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Ancient Britain

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New video explains geophysics, 3D laser scanning and finds processing

What technologies do modern archaeologists turn to? Mark Langdon speaks to experts at Wessex Archaeology to find out about the modern techniques employed at digs

Watch our experts explain how the techniques are used and how archaeology works in the supporting video:
http://kn.theiet.org/news/dec10/time-team.cfm

Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space. Its subjects include the shape of the Earth, its gravitational and magnetic fields, the dynamics of the Earth as a whole and of its component parts, the Earth’s internal structure, composition and tectonics, the generation of magmas, volcanism and rock formation, the hydrological cycle including snow and ice, all aspects of the oceans, the atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere and solar-terrestrial relations, and analogous problems associated with the Moon and other planets.

Geophysics is also applied to societal needs, such as mineral resources, mitigation of natural hazards and environmental protection. Geophysical survey data are used to analyze potential petroleum reservoirs and mineral deposits, to locate groundwater, to locate archaeological finds, to find the thicknesses of glaciers and soils, and for environmental remediation.

External links:
British Geophysical Association
Stonehenge Riverside Project
British Academy – Science and Stonehenge – summaries
Wessex Archaeology – One of the UK’s leading heritage practices

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Private Guided Tours of Wiltshire

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New Stonehenge theory:
Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it was claimed today.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge Mystery

The same technique that allows vehicles and machinery to run smoothly today could have been used to transport the monument’s massive standing stones more than 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory.

Scientists showed how balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have allowed the easy movement of stones weighing many tons.

No-one has yet successfully explained how the heavy slabs used to build Stonehenge were shifted from their quarries to Salisbury Plain.

Some, the bluestones, weighed four tons each and were brought a distance of 150 miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Attempts to re-enact transporting the blocks on wooden rollers or floating them on the sea have not proved convincing.

The hard surfaces and trenches needed when using rollers would also have left their mark on the landscape, but are missing.

Experts hit on the new idea after examining mysterious stone balls found near Stonehenge-like monuments in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

About the size of a cricket ball, they are precisely fashioned to be within a millimetre of the same size.

This suggests they were meant to be used together in some way rather than individually.

The Scottish stone circles are similar in form to Stonehenge, but contain some much larger stones.

To test the theory, researchers from the University of Exeter constructed a model in which wooden balls were inserted into grooves dug out of timber planks.

When heavy concrete slabs were placed on a platform above the balls, held in position by more grooved tracks, they could be moved with ease.

Archaeologist Andrew Young described the experiment in which he sat on top of the slabs to provide extra weight.

He said: “The true test was when a colleague used his index finger to move me forward – a mere push and the slabs and I shot forward.

“This proved the balls could move large heavy objects and could be a viable explanation of how giant stones were moved.”

The team went on to carry out a life-size test funded by an American TV documentary maker.

To reduce costs, the scientists used relatively soft green wood rather than the hard oak that would have been plentiful in Neolithic times, when Britain was covered in forest.

This time, the researchers used hand-shaped granite spheres as well as wooden balls.

The results proved the technique would have made it possible to move very heavy weights long distances.

Professor Bruce Bradley, director of experimental archaeology at the University of Exeter, said: “The demonstration indicated that big stones could have been moved using this ball bearing system with roughly 10 oxen and may have been able to transport stones up to 10 miles per day.

“This method also has no lasting impact on the landscape, as the tracks with the ball bearings are moved along leap-frogging each other as the tracks get moved up the line.”

Neolithic people were known to cut long timber planks, which they used as walkways across bogs, Prof Bradley pointed out.

Although the tests do not prove for certain that the ball bearing method was used, they show “the concept works”, he said.

He added: “This is a radical new departure, because previous ideas were not particularly effective in transporting large stones and left unanswered questions about the archaeological record they would have left behind.”

The next stage in the project is to provide mathematical evidence of how much force would be needed to keep a stone moving.

Ultimately, the scientists hope to conduct a full-scale experiment in Aberdeenshire using more authentic materials, stone balls and a team of oxen.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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Rich in History is something Wiltshire is famous for, particularly Salisbury Plain, the large area of chalk downland within Wiltshire.

Salisbury Plain is steeped in history, both ancient and modern and can justifiably claim to be the cradle of English civilisation. In prehistory, tribes from Europe migrated north and settled on Salisbury Plain.

Wessex Map

Wessex Map

Remains of defence earthworks, burial and ceremonial grounds are scattered throughout Wiltshire. Many of these sites have public access. The most world renown is Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site, north of Salisbury and close to Amesbury. Also a World Heritage Site are the Avebury stone circles (both an outer and a smaller inner circle), not so famous as Stonehenge but equally impressive. Avebury is a few miles west of Marlborough in the north of Wiltshire.

From Overton Hill, near Avebury, the famous Ridgeway begins. This is thought to be Britain’s oldest road, used by prehistoric man, herdsmen and soldiers, and follows the northern escarpment of Salisbury Plain north-eastwards through the ancient landscapes of Wiltshire into the Chiltern Hills of Berkshire. The Ridgeway is 85miles (139km) in length, accessible to the public, and has National Trail status.

As well as the more ‘modern’ Roman Roads that criss-cross the Wiltshire countryside, Roman and Norman settlements continue very much in evidence, often developed on earlier Iron Age hill fort sites such as Old Sarum. This location was the original Salisbury site, a hill fort occupied by the Romans then latterly by Normans following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The exposed nature of the Old Sarum site and disagreements between the clergy and the military led to the building of the new Salisbury cathedral in 1220 A.D. to the south. The townspeople soon followed and medieval Salisbury grew to the city it is today. Old Sarum, rich in history, with its ruined fortifications is open to the public throughout the year.

The Middle Ages were a time of great prosperity for Wiltshire with sheep grazing the chalk downlands and the handwoven woollen cloth in great demand. Many famous buildings, villages and even towns were built from the proceeds. The Industrial Revolution changed everything as mechanical production took over and the weaving industry moved north into the West Riding of Yorkshire.

In more recent times much of Wiltshires rich prosperity has come from the many military establishments scattered over the Plain. Wiltshire airfields and army garrisons have trained and deployed troops and aircraft across the world on both fighting and peace-keeping operations and played pivotal roles in the great military campaigns of both World War I and II.

Each week I will be blogging on a specific area of Wilsthire and talking about its rich history.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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Sir Christopher Wren, the famous 17th century architect, left his mark on Stonehenge – but in a quite unexpected way. His name is skillfully chiselled into one of the 40-tonne sarsens that watches over the dig.

Christopher Wren Grafitti - Stonehenge

Christopher Wren Grafitti - Stonehenge

Was Christopher Wren a Mason ?

“Records of the Lodge Original, No. 1, now the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2”
mention him as being Master of the lodge.

Christopher WrenOne of the most distinguished architects of England was the son of Dr. Christopher Wren, Rector of East Knoyle in Wiltshire, and was born there October 20, 1632. He was entered as a Gentleman Commoner at Wadham College, Oxford, in his fourteenth year, being already distinguished for his mathematical knowledge. He has said to have invented, before this period, several astronomical and mathematical instruments. In 1645, he became a member of a scientific club connected with Gresham College, from which the Royal Society subsequently arose. In 1653, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, and had already become known to the learned men of Europe for his various inventions.

Christoher Wren

Christoher Wren

In 1657, he removed permanently to London, having been elected Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College. During the political disturbances which led to the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Commonwealth, Wren, devoted to the pursuits of philosophy, appears to have kept away from the contests of party. Soon after the restoration of Charles II, he was appointed Savillian Professor at Oxford, one of the highest distinctions which could then have been conferred on a scientific man. During this time he was distinguished for his numerous contributions to astronomy and mathematics, and invented many curious machines, and discovered many methods for facilitating the calculations of the celestial bodies. Wren was not professionally educated as an architect, but from his early youth had devoted much time to its theoretic study. In 1665 he went to Paris for the purpose of studying the public buildings in that city. and the various styles which they presented.

He was induced to make this visit, and to enter into these investigations, because, in 1660, he had been appointed by King Charles II one of a Commission to superintend the restoration of the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s, which had been much dilapidated during the times of the Commonwealth. But before the designs could be carried into execution, the great fire occurred which laid so great a part of London, including Saint Paul’s, in ashes.

Wren was appointed assistant in 1661 to Sir John Denham, the Surveyor-General, and directed his attention to the restoration of the burnt portion of the city. His plans were, unfortunately for the good of London, not adopted, and he confined his attention to the rebuilding of particular edifices. In 1667, he was appointed the successor of Denham as Surveyor General and Chief Architect.

In this capacity he erected a large number of churches, the Royal Exchange, Greenwich Observatory, and many other public edifices. But his crowning work, the masterpiece that has given him his largest reputation, is the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s, which was commenced in 1675 and finished in 1710. The original plan that was proposed by Wren was rejected through the ignorance of the authorities, and differed greatly from the one on which it has been constructed. Wren, however, superintended the erection as master of the work, and his tomb in the crypt of the Cathedral was appropriately inscribed with the words Si monumentum requiris, circumspice; that is, If you seek his monument, look around.

Wren was made a Knight in 1672, and in 1674 he married a daughter of Sir John Coghill. To a son by this marriage are we indebted for memoirs of the family of his father, published under the title of Parentalia.

After the death of his wife, he married a daughter off Viscount Fitzwilliam. In 1680, Wren was elected President of the Royal Society, and continued to a late period his labors on public edifices, building, among others, additions to Hampton Court and to Windsor Castle. After the death of Queen Anne, who was the last of his royal patrons, Wren was removed from his office of Surveyor-General, which he had held for a period of very nearly half a century. He passed the few remaining years of his life in serene retirement. He was found dead in his chair after dinner, on February 25, 1723, in the ninety-first year of his age.

Notwithstanding that much that has been said by Doctor Anderson and other writers of the eighteenth century, concerning Wren’s connection with Freemasonry, is without historical confirmation, there can, Doctor Mackey believed, be no doubt that he tools a deep interest in the Speculative as well as in the Operative Order.

The Rev. J. W. Laughlin, in a lecture on the life of Wren, delivered in 1857, before the inhabitants of Saint Andrew’s, Holborn, and briefly reported in the Freemasons Magazine, said that “Wren was for eighteen years a member of the old Lodge of Saint Paul’s, then held at the Goose and Gridiron, near the Cathedral, now the Lodge of Antiquity; and the records of that Lodge show that the maul and trowel used at the laying of the stone of Saint Paul’s, together with a pair of carved mahogany candlesticks, were presented by Wren, and are now in possession of that Lodge.” By the order of the Duke of Sussex, a plate was placed on the mallet or maul, which contained a statement of the fact.

C. W. King, who was not a Freemason, but has derived his statement from a source to which he does not refer (but which was perhaps Nicolai) makes, in his work on the Gnostics (page 176) the following statement, which is here quoted merely to show that the traditionary belief of Wren’s connection with Speculative Freemasonry is not confined to the Craft. He says:

Another and a very important circumstance in this discussion must always be kept in view: our Freemasons (as at present organized in the form of a secret Society) derive their title from a mere accidental circumstances connected with their actual establishment. It was in the Common Hall of the London Gild of Freemasons (the trade) that their first meetings were held under Christopher Wren, president, in the time of the Commonwealth.

Their real object was political-the restoration of monarchy; hence the necessary exclusion of the public and the oaths of secrecy enjoined on the members. The presence of promoting architectures and the choice of the place where to hold their, meetings, suggested by the profession of their president, were no more than blinds to deceive the existing government.

Doctor Anderson, in the first edition of the Constitutions, makes but a slight reference to Wren, only calling him “the ingenious architect, Sir Christopher Wren.” Doctor Mackey was almost afraid that this passing notice of him who has been called “the Vitruvius of England” must be` attributed to servility. George I was the stupid monarch who removed Wren from his office of Surveyor-General, and it would not do to be too diffuse with praise of one who had been marked by the disfavor of the king. But in 1727 George I died, and in his second edition, published in 1738, Doctor Anderson gives to Wren all the Masonic honors to which he claims that he was entitled.

It is from what Anderson has said in that work, that the Masonic writers of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, not requiring the records of authentic history, have drawn their views of the official relations of Siren to the Order. He first introduces Wren (page 101) as one of the Grand Wardens at the General Assembly held December 27, 1663, when the Earl of Saint Albans was Grand Master, and Sir John Denham, Deputy Grand Master. He says that in 1666 Wren was again a Grand Warden, under the Grand Mastership of the Earl of Rivers; but immediately afterward he calls him Deputy Wren, and continues to give him the title of Deputy Grand Master until 1685, when he says (page 106) that “the Lodges met, and elected Sir Christopher Wren Grand Master, who appointed Mr. Gabriel Cibber and Mr. Edmund Savage Grand Wardens; and while carrying on Saint Paul’s he annually met those Brethren who could attend him, to keep up good old usages.”

Brother Anderson (on page 107) makes the Duke of Richmond and Lennox Grand Master, and reduces Wren to the rank of a Deputy; but he says that in 1698 he was again chosen Grand Master, and as such “celebrated the Cape-stone” of Saint Paul’s in 1708. “Some few years after this,” he says, “Sir Christopher Wren neglected the office of Grand Master.” Finally he says (on page 109) that in 1716 “the Lodges in London finding themselves neglected by Sir Christopher Wren,” Freemasonry was revived under a new Grand Master. Some excuse for the aged architect’s neglect might have been found in the fact that he was then eighty-five years of age, and had been long removed from his public office of Surveyor-General. Brother Noorthouek is more considerate. Speaking of the placing of the last stone on the top of Saint Paul’s-which, notwithstanding the statement of Doctor Anderson, was done, not by Wren, but by his son-he says (Constitutions, page 204): The age and infirmities of the Grand Master, which prevented his attendance on this solemn occasion, confined him afterwards to great retirement; so that the Lodges suffered from many of his usual presence in visiting and regulating their meetings, and were reduced to a small number.

Brother Noorthouck, however, repeats substantially the statements of Doctor Anderson in reference to Wren’s Grand Mastership. How much of these statements can be authenticated by history is a question that must be decided only by more extensive investigations of documents not yet in possession of the Craft. Findel says in his History (page 127) that Doctor Anderson, having been commissioned in 1735 by the Grand Lodge to make a list of the ancient Patrons of the Freemasons, so as to afford something like a historical basis, “transformed the former Patrons into Grand Mastefs, and the Masters and Superintendents into Grand Wardens and the like, which were unknown until the year 1717.” Of this there can be no doubt; but there is other evidence that Wren was a Freemason. In Aubrey’s Natural History of Wiltshire (page 277) a manuscript in the library of the Royal Society, Halliwell finds and cites, in his Early History of Freemasonry in England (page 46) the following passage: This day, May the 15th, being Monday, 1691, after Rogation Sunday, is a great convention at Saint Paul’s Church of the Fraternity of the Accepted (the word Free was first written, then the pen drawn through it and the word Accepted written over it) Seasons, where Sir Christopher Wren is to be adopted a brothers and Sir Henry Goodrie of the Tower, and divers others. There have been Kings that have been of this sodality.

If this statement be true-and we have no reason to doubt it, from Aubrey’s general antiquarian accuracy-Doctor Anderson is incorrect in making him a Grand Master in 1685, six years before he was initiated as a Freemason. The true version of the story probably is this: Wren was a great architect-the greatest at the time in England. As such he received the appointment of Deputy Surveyor-General under Denham, and subsequently, on Ocnham’s death, of Surveyor-General. He thus became invested, by virtue of his office, with the duty of superintending the construction of public buildings.

The most important of these was Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the building of which he directed in person, and with so much energy that the parsimonious Duchess of Marlborough, when contrasting the charges of her own architect with the scant remuneration of Wren, observed that “he was content to be dragged up in a basket three or four times a week to the top of Saint Paul’s, and at great hazard, for £200 a year.”

All this brought him into close connection with the Gild of Freemasons, of which he naturally became the patron, and subsequently he was by initiation adopted into the modality Wren was, in fact, what the Medieval Masons called Magister Operis, or Master of the Work. Doctor James Anderson, writing for a purpose naturally transformed this title into that of Grand Master-an office supposed to be unknown until the year 1717. Aubrey’s authority, in Doctor Maelsey’s opinion, sufficiently establishes the fact that Wren has a Freemason, and the events of his life prove his attachment to the profession.

Whether Sir Christopher Wren was or not a member of the Fraternity has long been debated with lively interest. The foregoing statement by Doctor Mackey gives the principal facts and we may note that two newspapers announced his funeral, Lost boy (No. 5245, March 2-5, 1793) and the British Journal (No. 25, March 9, 1723).

Both of them allude to Wren as “that worthy Freemason.” Brother Christopher Wren, Jr., the son of Sir Christopher Wren, was Master of the famous Lodge of Antiquity in 1729. The subject is discussed in Doctor Mackey’s revised History of Freemason also by Sir John S. Cockburn, Masonic Record, March, 1923, in Square and Compass, September, 1923, and many other journals, as well as in Records of Antiquity Lodge, volume i, by Brother W. H. Rylands, and volume ii, by Captain C. W. Firebrace, there is much additional and valuable firsthand information favoring Wren’s active connection with the Fraternity, some items personally checked by us at the Lodge itself.

Brother K. R. H. Mackenzie in the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia says,

There can be little doubt that Wren took a deep interest in speculative as well as operative Masonry (see Book of Constitutions) and that he was an eminent Member of the Craft cannot be doubted, but the dates respecting Wren’s initiation are vague and unsatisfactory, none of the authorities agreeing. It would seem certain, however, that for many years he was a member of the old Lodge of Saint Paul’s, meeting at the (Bose and gridiron, in Saint Paul’s Churchyard.

Brother Robert F. Gould (History of Freemasonry, me ii, page 55) says, The popular belief that Wren was a Freemason, though hitherto unchallenged, and supported by a great weight of authority, is, in my judgment, unsustained by any basis of well-attested fact. The admission of the great architect-at any period of his life-into the Masonic fraternity, seems to me a mere figment of the imagination, but it may at least he confidently asserted, that it cannot be proved to be a reality.

Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, Renning’s Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, says, In Freemasonry it has been general for many years to credit Sir Christopher Wren with every thing great and good before the ” Revival,” but on very slender evidence. He is said to have been a member of the Lodge of Antiquity for many years; “and the maul and trowel used at the laving of the stone of Saint Paul’s, with a pair of carved mahogany candlesticks, were presented ” by hind and are in the possession of the Lodge.

Doctor Anderson chronicles him as Grand Master in 16S5; but according to a manuscript of Aubrey’s in the Royal Society, he was not admitted a Brother Freemason until 1691. Unfortunately, the early records of the celebrated Lodge of-Antiquity have been lost or destroyed, so there is literally nothing certain as to Wren’s Masonic career, what little has been circulated is contradictory. It is, of course, more than likely he took an active part in Freemasonry, though he was not a member of the Masons Company; but as the records are wanting, it is idle to speculate, and absurd to credit to his labors on behalf of our Society what there is not a title of evidence to prove.

Brother Hawkins, an editor of this work, also prepared for the Concise Cyclopedia of freemasonry, the following summary of the arguments on both sides of the question at issue: Those who contend that he was not a Freemason reply as follows:

1. No reference to the convention mentioned by Aubrey has yet been discovered elsewhere, and it remains uncertain whether it ever was held and whether the proposed adoption of the illustrious architect took place or not; also it is inconsistent with the dates given in the 1738 Constitutions.

2. In the Constitutions of 1723, he is only described as lithe ingenious architect,” without any hint of his being a Freemason.

3. It is incredible that Doctor Anderson, when compiling the 1723 Constitutions, should have been ignorant of the details of Wren’s Masonic career which he gave so from in 1735; moreover, he has claimed as Grand Masters are most all distinguished men from Adam downwards, though there was no such office as Grand Master until 1117, and his dates are inconsistent with that given by Aubrey.

4. Subsequent writers all quoted from the 1738 Constitutions and therefore their evidence is worth no more than Doctor Anderson’s, and no such records as Preston refers to can now be found, nor can the legendary history of the candlesticks and the mallet be authenticated. Such are the arguments for and against Wren’s connection with the Craft; those who claim him as a Freemason must reconcile as best they can the conflicting dates given by Aubrey and Anderson: and those who regard his membership as equally a fable with his Grand Mastership must somehow explain away the contemporary evidence of the two newspapers that in the year of his death called him ‘ ‘ that worthy Freemason.”

– Source: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freema
sonry

External links:
http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/christopher_wren_freemasonry.html

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/609

http://www.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk

http://www.StonehengeTours.com
The only way to get close up to the stones and see 5000 years of grafitti carved onto them is by joing in private access tout.  This is where you visit Stonehenge when the site is closed to the public, usually at sunrise or sunset. 

If you look very  closely at the heel (south west view)stonesits even possible  to se a funny carved handshake?

Stonehenge Tour Guide
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Stone Age humans had to evolve a higher level of intelligence before they were able to develop real tools like axes, scientists have proved.

It took early man almost two million years to move form simply using sharp stones to more complex tools like a stone axe.

Scientists used computer modelling and tiny sensors embedded in gloves to assess the complex hand skills that early humans needed in order to make two types of tools during the Lower Palaeolithic period, which began around 2.5 million years ago

Stone Age man took two million years to move from simple stone tools to more complex ones like handheld axes

Stone Age man took two million years to move from simple stone tools to more complex ones like handheld axes

Researchers from Imperial College London employed a craftsman called a flintnapper to faithfully replicate ancient tool-making techniques.

The flintnapper created two types of axes wearing he data glove fabric to record hand and arm movements during the production of sharpened flints or more complex handheld stone axes.

This enabled the scientists to rule out motor skills as the principal factor for holding up stone tool development as both types were equally complex to produce.

Until now some scientists believed that it took Stone Age man so long to develop real tools because early humans may have had underdeveloped motor skills or abilities.

Bbut this study confirms that the evolution of the early human brain was behind the development of the axe.

The team say that comparing the manufacturing techniques used for both Stone Age tools provides evidence of how the human brain and human behaviour evolved during period.

Neuroscientist Dr Aldo Faisal said ‘The advance from crude stone tools to elegant hand-held axes was a massive technological leap for our early human ancestors. Hand-held axes were a more useful tool for defence, hunting and routine work.

‘Interestingly, our study reinforces the idea that tool making and language evolved together as both required more complex thought, making the end of the Lower Palaeolithic a pivotal time in our history.
‘After this period, early humans left Africa and began to colonise other parts of the world.’

They also believe that the development of hand-held axes may have also coincided with the development of language, as these functions overlap in the same regions of the modern and early human brains.

The results showed that the axe required a high level of brain processing in overlapping areas of the brain that are responsible for a range of different functions including vocal cords and complex hand gestures.

In the future, the team plan to use their technology to compare tools made by Neanderthals, an extinct ancestor of humans, to glean insights into their brain development.

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Places:
Africa
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Organisations:
Imperial College

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1326880/Why-Stone-Age-man-needed-evolve-brain-power-make-axes.html?ITO=socialnet-twitter-dmailscitech#ixzz14sKuiH4U

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HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in ancient History

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