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The outer circle was composed of 30 sarsen uprights with a similar number of lintels: this enclosed five sarsen trilithons (pairs of uprights with a lintel across each), arranged in a horseshoe shape, with the open end towards midsummer sunrise.

Stonehenge Bluestones, which clearly had a special significance for the builders, were re-erected in a circle between the outer sarsen circle and horseshoe, and inside the horseshoe. Some bluestones were later removed to leave the final setting, the remains of which can be seen today.

In the landscape immediately around Stonehenge there are visible remains of many different types of monuments, and many more have been detected. Neolithic monuments include long barrows, and the long rectangular earthwork to the north, the Cursus ( so called because it was once thought to resemble a chariot racecourse): together with the henge monuments at Woodhenge and Durrington Walls, contemporary with the middle phases at Stonehenge. The most numerous monuments are the remains of many Bronze Age round barrows, which were built after Stonehenge Stone Circle was complete.
***source: english-heritage.org.uk

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) west of Amesbury and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is at the centre of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.[1]

Archaeologists had believed that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC, as described in the chronology below. One recent theory, however, has suggested that the first stones were not erected until 2400-2200 BC,[2] whilst another suggests that bluestones may have been erected at the site as early as 3000 BC (see phase 1 below). The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury Henge monument. It is a national legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage, while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.[3][4]

Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings.[5] The dating of cremated remains found on the site indicate burials from as early as 3000 BC, when the initial ditch and bank were first dug. Burials continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years.[6]”
***source: wikipedia.org

Stonehenge Access Tours – go beyond the fences! 

HisTOURies UK
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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Tour: Fri 31st Aug – Sun 2nd Sept 2012
Henges, burial mounds of all shapes and sizes, causewayed camps, early field systems and ‘cursus’ monuments are scattered everywhere in Wessex, forming a landscape which hints at its past, but whose story is unintelligible to the untrained eye.

Our experts have been introducing people to this, one of the richest prehistoric landscapes in the world, which lies on our very doorstep, since Andante’s inception.

Day One
Meet in the evening for an introductory lecture and dinner together in a local restaurant. Overnight in Sarum College in the beautiful Cathedral Close.

Day Two
By coach to Avebury for a full exploration of the huge Neolithic henge, so large that part of the village lies within it. It is one of the largest and best preserved of 1300 stone circles known in the British Isles. Morning walk around the henge and along the ceremonial Avenue.  We approach the stones of Avebury just as one would have done in prehistoric times.

Afternoon circular walk (2 hours) past Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe.  The most famous of its excavators crawled into an earlier excavation chamber and recorded later:
“the sides of the open chamber provided one of the most astonishing sights that I have ever seen…it was clear that this innermost mound had been covered by a series of conical shells or cappings…the effect was of finding oneself in an enormously complicated and highly coloured layer cake of gigantic size..”
The walk continues to the Long Barrow at West Kennet and a chance to explore the chambered tomb within.  This kind of monument is the earliest known to have been built in Britain – in commemoration of the dead. Continue to the ‘Sanctuary’, a small, complex timber and stone circle on the top of Overton hill. Walking in our ancestors’ footsteps helps us try to understand their motives and methods.

Day Three
Stonehenge for an early (7.30am) visit inside the stone circle before the public arrives. This will be followed by a walk (2 hours) through the wider religious landscape – the cursus, King Barrows and Stonehenge Avenue.
A short drive takes us to Woodhenge, where the remains of wooden post settings have been found – now marked by concrete. From here there is a good view over the huge henge at Durrington Walls, site of exciting recent excavations which revealed the settlement which may have housed the builders of Stonehenge.

Return to Salisbury Museum for a visit to the Stonehenge and Prehistory Galleries. We have arranged a private demonstration of flint-knapping in the gardens here, which is not only much enjoyed, but adds considerably to your understanding of the way in which our prehistoric forebears were able to fashion all manner of implements and tools from our good local flint supplies.  In a world without metal technology this was a critical and highly sophisticated art.
Disperse about 5pm.

Should you choose to arrive earlier or stay later, you might like to visit Old Sarum, the hillfort to the north of Salisbury which was later chosen as the site of our first cathedral, or, of course,  our beautiful Gothic cathedral – straight in front of the College.

NB Most of every day will be spent walking, and you must be prepared for this, with suitable footwear and weatherproof clothing. You will also have to carry your own water, and negotiate a variety of stiles.

  • The original Andante Tour – accept no imitations!
  • We have been introducing guests to these monumental prehistoric landscapes for 26 years
  • Accommodation spectacularly situated within Salisbury cathedral close
  • Bring your hiking boots!
  • Several good cross-country walks

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Two previously undiscovered pits have been found at Stonehenge which point to it once being used as a place of sun worship before the stones were erected.

The pits are positioned on celestial alignment at the site and may have contained stones

The pits are positioned on celestial alignment at the site and may have contained stones

The pits are positioned on celestial alignment at the site and may have contained stones, posts or fires to mark the rising and setting of the sun.

An international archaeological survey team found the pits as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

The team is using geophysical imaging techniques to investigate the site.

The archaeologists from the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection in Vienna have been surveying the subsurface at the landmark since summer 2010.

Procession route

It is thought the pits, positioned within the Neolithic Cursus pathway, could have formed a procession route for ancient rituals celebrating the sun moving across the sky at the midsummer solstice.

A Cursus comprises two parallel linear ditches with banks either side closed off at the end.

Also discovered was a gap in the northern side of the Cursus, which may have been an entrance and exit point for processions taking place within the pathway.

These discoveries hint that the site was already being used as an ancient centre of ritual prior to the stones being erected more than 5,000 years ago, the team said.

Archaeologist and project leader at Birmingham University, Professor Vince Gaffney, said: “This is the first time we have seen anything quite like this at Stonehenge and it provides a more sophisticated insight into how rituals may have taken place within the Cursus and the wider landscape.”

More on this story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-15917921

Stonehenge Special Acess Tours  – beyond the fences: http://www.histouries.co.uk/stonehenge/private-access-tour.htm

Tours of Stonehenge and Wessex
HisTOURies UK – Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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