Archive for the ‘Stonehenge and Salisbury Tours’ Category

Hundreds of treasures from the golden age of Stonehenge have gone on permanent display in England, revealing the story of the people who lived amidst the area when the monument was one of the great religious focal points of western Europe.

Housed in a large, specially-designed high security and humidity-controlled exhibition facility inside the Wiltshire2013-10-stonehenge-object-overlay-jpg Museum in Devizes, 15 miles north of the megalithic stone circle, the objects make England’s largest collection of early Bronze-Age gold.

“Stonehenge is an iconic monument, but this is the first time that such a wide range of high status objects from the spectacular burials of the people who used it, has ever been put on permanent display,” David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Museum.

PHOTOS: Stonehenge Made to Glisten

Most of the 500 Neolithic objects on show were unearthed within a half mile radius of Stonehenge, including 30 gold pieces which were excavated in 1808 from a burial mound known as Bush Barrow.

Found by William Cunnington, Britain’s first professional archaeologist, the objects became known as the crown jewels of the “King of Stonehenge.”

Overlooking Stonehenge itself, the burial indeed contained the skeleton of a chieftain who lived almost 4,000 years ago. He was buried in regal splendor with the objects that showed his power and authority.

Among the treasures on display are a magnificent bronze dagger with a gold covered haft, a golden sheath for a dagger, a ceremonial axe, gold beads, necklaces, earrings, pendants and other gold jewellery, a unique jet disc (used to fasten a luxury garment), rare traces of ancient textiles and two of the finest prehistoric flint arrow head ever found.

ANALYSIS: Stonehenge Settled 5,000 Years Earlier Than Thought

“Many of the items may well have been worn by Bronze Age priests and chieftains as they worshiped inside Stonehenge,” Dawson said.

“Axes and daggers on display are identical to images of weapons carved into the giant stones of Stonehenge itself,” he added.

The exhibition’s centerpiece is the beautifully decorated gold lozenge found on the chest of the “King of Stonehenge.”

Although the purpose of the gold lozenge remains a mystery — interpretations have ranged from an elaborate button to an astronomical instrument — its precise decorations, made of impressed lines, reveals a detailed knowledge of mathematics and geometry.

“All this was done with the naked eye as there were no magnifying glasses or microscopes,” Dawson told London’s Times.

ANALYSIS: Understanding Stonehenge: Two Explanations

The museum hopes that the $1.2 million exhibition will help attract more tourists to Devizes, generating jobs in the local community.

“Devizes is mid-way between two of the world’s most important ancient monuments — the great prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury. Visiting the Wiltshire Museum completes the experience of seeing these two iconic sites,” Dawson said.

Image: Some of the objects on display. Credit: Wiltshire Museum

Artcle source here: http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/stonehenge-treasures-reveal-worshippers-sophistication-131017.htm

‘We now visit the Wiltshire Museum on our private guided tours of Stonehenge’

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Human beings were occupying Stonehenge  thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to  archaeologists.

Research at a site around a mile from  Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years  earlier than previous findings confirmed.

Research at a site around a mile from Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years earlier than previous findings confirmed

Research at a site around a mile from Stonehenge has found evidence of a settlement dating back to 7500BC, 5,000 years earlier than previous findings confirmed

And carbon-dating of material at the site has  revealed continuous occupation of the area between 7500BC and 4700BC, it is  being revealed on BBC One’s The Flying Archaeologist tonight.

Experts suggested the team conducting the  research had found the community that constructed the first monument at  Stonehenge, large wooden posts erected in the Mesolithic period, between 8500  and 7000BC.

Open University archaeologist David Jacques  and friends started to survey the previously-unlooked at area around a mile from  the main monument at Stonehenge, when they were still students in 1999.

The site contained a spring, leading him to work  on the theory that it could have been a water supply for early man.

He said: ‘In this landscape you can see why  archaeologists and antiquarians over the last 200 years had basically honed in  on the monument, there is so much to look at and explore.

‘I suppose what my team did, which is a  slightly fresher version of that, was look at natural places – so where are  there places in the landscape where you would imagine animals might have gone  to, to have a drink.

‘My thinking is where you find wild animals,  you tend to find people, certainly hunter-gatherer groups, coming  afterwards.

‘What we found was the nearest secure  watering hole for animals and people, a type of all year round fresh water  source.’

He described the site as  ‘pivotal’.

Dr Josh Pollard, from Southampton University  and the Stonehenge Riverside Project, said he thought the team may have just hit  the tip of the iceberg in terms of Mesolithic  activity focused on the River Avon around Amesbury.

‘The team have found the community who put  the first monument up at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts 9th-7th millennia  BC.

‘The significance of David’s work lies in  finding substantial evidence of Mesolithic settlement in the Stonehenge  landscape – previously largely lacking apart from the enigmatic posts – and  being able to demonstrate that there were repeated visits to this area from the  9th to the 5th millennia BC.’

The Flying  Archaeologist is being shown on BBC One (West and South) at 7.30pm  tonight.

By Mark Prigg (source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2311173/Stonehenge-occupied-humans-5-000-years-EARLIER-thought–animal-watering-hole.html)

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A BUS company taking tourists to Stonehenge has said it will make scheduled stops in Amesbury again after residents expressed outrage over the lack of public transport links to the world heritage site.

Stonehenge Tour BusWilts & Dorset, which runs the Stonehenge Tour, currently only has a request stop in Amesbury for the tour, meaning many tourists dropped off by other coach companies often have to pay for a taxi to Stonehenge or are forced to walk there. For Amesbury, which is promoting itself as the centre of the Stonehenge region and encouraging tourists to visit, the lack of joined-up public transport has provided a “very bad image”.

Concerned residents told the Journal small groups of young tourists from abroad were often seen in Amesbury asking how they could get to Stonehenge.

Ann Riordan, who lives in the town said: “They are often confused about directions and I have come to fear greatly for their safety in walking along and then crossing the very busy A303.” Amesbury’s mayor Jan Swindlehurst welcomed the news from the bus company, saying: “I think the whole town council will be overjoyed – no-one could understand why Wilts & Dorset stopped it in the first place.

Stonehenge is a 365 day a year attraction – some days there may be no-one but on others there can be six or eight people, if it’s pouring with rain the last thing you want to do is walk there.

“It’s in our parish and yet we seem to be the only ones who can’t get people there.”

A spokesman for Wilts & Dorset said the bus stop in High Street near the bus station would be reinstated in about a week’s time.

Article Source: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/10015192.Stonehenge_bus_link_restored/ (Elizabeth Kemble


The Stonehenge Tour Bus

The Stonehenge Tour Bus pictured above is the only regular public transport to Stonehenge itself. It normally runs at least hourly and more frequently in the summer months. The Stonehenge Tour Bus also allows you to stop over at Old Sarum, which is worthwhile.


The journey itself is quite scenic. The Stonehenge Tour Bus starts from Salisbury Rail Station and also picks up at the Bus Station. There is no left luggage facility at the train station but the Cat Tavern, a pub about 100 yards down the approach road of the rail station acts as the left luggage service for Salisbury – though its not advertised on the outside of the premises.


The bus works on a hop on, hop off principle. You can spend as long as you like at Stonehenge or Old Sarum, you do not have to ride on a particular schedule.
Buses depart Salisbury Station hourly from 10 a.m. daily stopping broadly in-line with the closing time of Stonehenge. You could not use this service for Special Access visits outside normal opening hours of Stonehenge.

The buses are double deck buses, so you get a great view of the countryside too. You also get a very informative commentary as you go along about Stonehenge, Salisbury and much else besides.


You can purchase tickets both on-line in advance or from the bus itself on the day.
There are several ticket options. You can opt to pay just for the tour bus or a ticket that combines the tour bus with admission to Stonehenge and Old Sarum or Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral.


Visiting all three attractions is very much a rewarding full day out. At the end of the day do explore the centre of town and ideally find a pub or restaurant to relax before a late train out

Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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AMESBURY’S archaeology will come under the spotlight again this weekend with a significant dig on the outskirts of the town.

A BBC crew will be filming the excavations in the area known as Blick Mead for a documentary focussing on the area’s Mesolithic past. Thousands of flints and primitive tools have already been found at the site, and with many more expected to be uncovered, Amesbury could prove to be the home of the largest collection of Mesolithic finds in the country.

Although the dig is taking place on private land, the Amesbury community will be able to learn more about the discoveries at a special event taking place at the town’s new museum.

AMESBURY’S archaeology will come under the spotlight again this weekend with a significant dig on the outskirts of the town.

A BBC crew will be filming the excavations in the area known as Blick Mead for a documentary focussing on the area’s Mesolithic past.

Thousands of flints and primitive tools have already been found at the site, and with many more expected to be uncovered, Amesbury could prove to be the home of the largest collection of Mesolithic finds in the country.

Although the dig is taking place on private land, the Amesbury community will be able to learn more about the discoveries at a special event taking place at the town’s new museum.

The dig is creating widespread interest, with a leading archaeological magazine branding Amesbury “the cradle of Stonehenge”.

“With hundreds of worked flint tools appearing in every measured collection of soil sample that is wet sieved, it looks very likely that the haul of tools and finds will, in volume alone, surpass any other Mesolithic site ever found in Britain,” said Andy Rhind-Tutt, founder of the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust.

“Experts believe this will give sound evidence as to why Stonehenge is where it is and why our ancestors travelled hundreds of miles over thousands of years to be here.”The dig is being led by archaeologist David Jacques, who is working with a team of experts and Open University students.It will feature in a special BBC programme expected to be broadcast next year, and it is hoped the discoveries will enhance Amesbury’s bid to become a tourist destination based on its historic significance.

In addition to the special opening this weekend, Amesbury Museum is also open every Wednesday from 11am to 3pm when visitors can also use the cafe and library of local history books.

By Jill Harding – http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/

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Why a guided tour is an ideal family vacation.

Taking the family on holiday can sometimes be a real balancing act.  If there are a range of children’s ages and interests to take in to consideration, not to mention the desires of the adults in tow, conflicts can sometimes arise.  Everyone gets excited about holidays and expectations run high – so what is the best way to make sure nobody is disappointed?  One option is to book a family guided tour to explore and learn more about the holiday region.  This may not be an immediately obvious idea, but there are many positives to recommend this often underrated type of excursion to families who are travelling together.

Give yourself a break

Holidays are supposed to be restful, but more often than not parents find them exhausting.  A guided tour hands over the reins to someone else that will entertain, animate, and direct proceedings for a while.  It is often the case that children absorb information far better from those other than their parents andthe enthusiasm of tour guides could inspire a real interest for the history and legends of the area in them.

See places off the tourist trail

Guided tours enable the less obvious sights of the area to be seen.  One of the main advantages of having an expert guide introduce the area is that they will know how to avoid the busy times when tourists flock to the big attractions.  They can help minimise the hassles that most people experience when travelling in unfamiliar areas and maximise the pleasure of the group.  Sometimes they will be able to negotiate price reductions for entrance fees to attractions.  There will be no arguments over map reading or the satnav sending the car up dead end lanes; the tour guide will know the area like the back of their hand and will be keen to extol its virtues.  They will be familiar with great places for lunch like the picture postcard pub with roses around the door, serving ploughman’s lunches outside at a garden table and chairs overlooking the West Country.  They will tell funny tales and give interesting facts that make the surroundings come alive.  They will have the inside story on the local area and with this privileged knowledge they will make the day unique and special.

Strengthen family bonds

In today’s modern world families increasingly spend time interacting more with computers and gaming devices than they do interacting with each other.  A guided tour offers a family the chance to bond by providing a shared experience likely to live on in their memories for a long time.

Weather proof

The weather in the United Kingdom is notoriously unreliable; however, most guided tours will not be too affected by rain.  If a day on the beach is ruled out by poor conditions, why not keep warm and dry on a guided tour of the region by minibus or car?

Do something different

Sometimes we are guilty of doing the same things year in and year out while on holiday.  We are comfortable with going to the same places, doing the same activities, and seeing the same faces.  By pushing the boundaries and doing something completely different, who knows what amazing new discoveries we could make?

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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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