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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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English Heritage announced that the first phase of the long-awaited improvements to the setting and visitor experience of Stonehenge will be launched to the public on Wednesday 18th December 2013

Artist’s impression of the permanent exhibition which features, among other things, precious objects on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Artist’s impression of the permanent exhibition which features, among other things, precious objects on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

“This Will Change People’s Experience of Stonehenge Forever” 

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “This world famous monument, perpetually described as a mystery, finally has a place in which to tell its story. The exhibition, will change the way people experience and think about Stonehenge forever – beyond the clichés and towards a meaningful inquiry into an extraordinary human achievement in the distant past. The exhibition will put at its centre the individuals associated with its creation and use, and I am very proud with what we have to unveil to the world in December.”

From 18 December 2013, entrance to Stonehenge will be managed through timed tickets and advance booking is strongly recommended. Online booking opens on 2 December at www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge.

Organise a private guided tour of Stonehenge and explore Wiltshire rich heritage
Tours depart from Bath and Salisbury: http://www.HisTOURies.co.uk

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SIX Saxon skeletons dating back over a thousand years and Bronze Age round barrows have been discovered in Amesbury.

The remains, unearthed at a brownfield development site in London Road, are thought to be those of adolescent to mature

Ancient skeletons uncovered in Amesbury

Ancient skeletons uncovered in Amesbury

males and females.

Five skeletons were arrayed around a small circular ditch, with the grave of a sixth skeleton in the centre. Two lots of beads, a shale bracelet and other grave goods were also found.

The site is now being excavated for other artefacts by Wessex Archaeology led by Phil Harding from Channel 4’s Time Team.

Mr Harding said: “Given that the Stonehenge area is a well-known prehistoric burial site, it was always very likely some interesting discoveries would be made here. The fact that these round barrows were previously unknown makes this particularly exciting.

“Finding the skeletons also helps us to get a clearer picture of the history of this area. To my knowledge these are the first Pagan Saxon burials to be excavated scientifically in Amesbury.”

Contractor Mansell Ltd, part of the Balfour Beatty Group, was preparing the site for a housing development for Aster Group, when the discovery was made.

Site manager Brian Whitchurch-Bennett, said: “When we’re working in an area of historical importance we always undertake archaeological investigations to make sure that our construction works don’t damage hidden remains or artefacts. The findings within this particular site really are a one off. We’ve been amazed by the number of discoveries and the level of preservation. It’s certainly a project to remember.”

In May 2002 the Amesbury Archer was discovered during excavations of a new housing development.

The archaeologists are expected to be on site for six weeks. Footage from the site may also be included in an archaeological production for ITV’s History Channel, due to be aired in January 2014

By Elizabeth Kemble (Salisbury Journal) : http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/10428999.Ancient_skeletons_uncovered_in_Amesbury/

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Archaeologists, excavating near the Royal Borough, have discovered the 4400 year old skeleton of an upper class woman
bones-1

Windsor may have been popular with royalty rather earlier than generally thought.

Archaeologists, excavating near the Royal Borough, have discovered the 4400 year old gold-adorned skeleton of an upper class woman who was almost certainly a member of the local ruling elite.

She is the earliest known woman adorned with such treasures ever found in Britain.

The individual, aged around 40, was buried, wearing a necklace of folded sheet gold, amber and lignite beads, just a century or two after the construction of Stonehenge some 60 miles to the south-west. Even the buttons, thought to have been used to secure the upper part of her now long-vanished burial garment, were made of amber. She also appears to have worn a bracelet of lignite beads.

The archaeologist in charge of the excavation, Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, believes that she may have been a person of power – perhaps even the prehistoric equivalent of a princess or queen.

It’s known that in southern Britain, some high status men of that era – the Copper Age – had gold possessions, but this is the first time archaeologists have found a woman of that period being accorded the same sort of material status.

It’s thought that the gold used to make the jewellery probably came originally from hundreds of miles to the west – and that the amber almost certainly came from Britain’s North Sea coast. The lignite (a form of coal) is also thought to have come from Britain.

The funeral rite for the potential prehistoric royal may have involved her family arranging her body so that, in death, she clasped a beautiful pottery drinking vessel in her hands. The 25 centimetre tall ceramic beaker was decorated with geometric patterns.

Of considerable significance was the fact that she was buried with her head pointing towards the south.

Men and women from the Stonehenge era were often interred in opposing directions – men’s heads pointing north and women’s heads pointing south. Europe-wide archaeological and  anthropological research over recent years  suggests that women may have been associated with the warm and sunny south, while mere men may have seen  themselves as embodying the qualities of the colder harder north!

The woman’s skeleton and jewellery were found 18 months ago – but were kept strictly under wraps until now, following the completion of initial analyses of the woman’s bones – and metallurgical analysis of the gold.

The discovery is part of a still ongoing excavation which started a decade ago. The elite gold-and-amber-adorned Copper Age woman is merely the most spectacular of dozens of discoveries made at the site – including four early Neolithic houses, 40 Bronze Age burials, three Bronze Age farm complexes and several Iron Age settlements.

The excavations are being funded by the international cement company CEMEX, whose gravel quarry near Windsor is the site of the discoveries.

Archaeologist Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, who is directing the ongoing excavation, said that the woman unearthed at the site “was probably an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items. She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority, or possibly part of an elite family – perhaps a princess or queen.”

 

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Travel companies from across the country spent two days visiting Wiltshire’s hotspots this week in a bid by VisitWiltshire to increase tourism.

Travel company representatives during their visit to Bradford on Avon with, in the foreground, Fiona Errington from Visit Wiltshire and Julie Cooper from the town's Tourist Information Centre

Travel company representatives during their visit to Bradford on Avon with, in the foreground, Fiona Errington from Visit Wiltshire and Julie Cooper from the town’s Tourist Information Centre

The group, made up of 48 visitors from tour operators and coach companies, spent the first day visiting Castle Combe, Longleat, Bradford on Avon and Bowood House and Hotel.

The second day took in the sights of Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Sarum College, Salisbury Cathedral and Marlborough.

David Andrews, chief executive of VisitWiltshire, said: “This event is a fantastic opportunity to show off the vast tourism offering in the county to national operators, putting Wiltshire firmly on the map.”

Julie Roberts, of Johnsons Quality Coach Travel in Warwickshire, said: “We go on quite a few of these tours to get a snapshot of different areas.

“It is a chance to see the suitability of attractions for our customers and the tours usually feature a mixture of things we already offer as well as new locations.”

Hilary Christmas, of Norman Allen Group Travel in Herefordshire, operates tours all over the world and said: “If we can be more familiar with what there is to do, it will help us no end and allow us to advertise correctly.

This tour of Wiltshire has been very positive. I have never been to Bradford on Avon and it is astoundingly beautiful.”

Peter Wragg, chairman of VisitWiltshire, said: “Tourism in Wiltshire is worth £1billion per year and employs 21,000 people. This is about getting people to visit the county and increase Wiltshire’s exposure.”

Aricle by Katie Smith – http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk

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Volunteers are helping English Heritage to test build three Neolithic houses which, in their final form, will be the highlight of the outdoor gallery of the new Stonehenge visitor centre, offering an authentic glimpse of the lifestyle and technology of the Neolithic people who built Stonehenge

A newly released computer image of the outdoor gallery

A newly released computer image of the outdoor gallery

The archaeological experiment is taking place at Old Sarum near Salisbury, using extremely rare evidence of buildings from Neolithic England recently unearthed near Stonehenge. The lessons learned from the experiment will inform their reconstruction at the new visitor centre in January 2014.

When completed, they will form the focal point of the outdoor gallery that will complement the exhibition indoors featuring important objects on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

 Reconstruction Based on Rare Evidence Unearthed Nearby

The three houses have been selected from about ten that were discovered in 2006 and 2007 by Professor Mike Parker Pearson at Durrington Walls, a large henge monument 3km north-east of Stonehenge which was believed to be the largest Neolithic settlement in north-west Europe.

Radiocarbon tests show that these buildings date from around the same time as the sarsen stones were being put up at Stonehenge, about 2,500 BC. From the vast amount of remains of animal bones and pottery near the houses, it seems as if late Neolithic people were gathering at Durrington on a seasonal basis, probably at midwinter. As well as the houses, there were several timber monuments and an avenue linking the complex to the River Avon.

Not Everyday Domestic Dwellings

It is thought that these houses were not typical everyday domestic dwellings but that  people lived in them for certain periods in the year. The scale of the site and the evidence of feasting and a high-nutrition diet raise the distinct possibility that the occupiers were involved with the construction of and celebrations at Stonehenge.

The excavation uncovered the floors of the houses and the stake holes where the walls once stood. Above ground, the appearance of the houses is unknown. One of the aims of this project is to test different materials and structures to see which ones work best.

“An Immediate and Sensory Link to the Past”

Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “The reconstructed houses will be an immediate and sensory link to the distant past, and will bring visitors as close as they can to appreciate what life was like for the extraordinary individuals who built Stonehenge.

“We have lots of evidence to inform this reconstruction, but there is also a lot of educated guess work. Building the prototypes will enable us to test things such as the roofing structure, roofing materials and various construction techniques, and learn more about late Neolithic people, their tools and technology, ideas of comfort and privacy and social organisation, among other things.”

Volunteers started building the prototypes at Old Sarum in early March and are expected to finish the experiment in May. They have also helped in the collection of raw materials, in some cases using prehistoric tools such as flint axes. Materials include 12 tonnes of chalk, 2,500 rods of hazel or willow wattling, 10 oak logs, 600 bundles of sedge, 600 bundles of water reed and hundreds of timber stakes and rafters.

Public Events

On 5th and 6th May and from 25th to 27th May, the public can take part in open days at Old Sarum, Wiltshire, to see the Neolithic house prototypes. Guided tours including hands-on activities are available. Tickets can be purchased at the door. For more information please contact 0800 333 1183.

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It feels as if we’ve always cherished the ruins of our stately homes, great abbeys, castles and ancient monuments. Yet our love affair with historic buildings is relatively recent. It’s been a revolution that flew in the face of industrial change and has been inspired both by acts of personal bravado and government intervention.

Main Image: BBC/English Heritage

Main Image: BBC/English Heritag

A new series on BBC Four this month called “Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past” looks at those pioneers of the past who fought to save the physical remains of the nation’s history. Some like William Morris, Octavia Hill and John Betjeman are familiar names, others – the “men from the ministry” /who worked quietly behind the scenes – are unsung heroes.

 
The first episode charts the birth of the heritage movement and the battle to save Britain’s great sites from destruction. The second episode looks at the interwar years, the rise of the day out to a historic site, and the struggle for the future of the English country house. And the final episode examines how in the second half of the 20th century, the definition of what did and did not constitute “heritage” changed.heritage-bbcfour

Made in partnership with English Heritage, the series features contributions from many of EH’s experts and draws upon its research into the early acts of heritage legislation – including the landmark Ancient Monuments Act of 1913.

A timely reminder to all of us about just how important these buildings remain, how we so nearly lost so many and the lessons we mustn’t forget.

Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past starts tomorrow at 21.00 on BBC Four
Links source: http://www.primeresi.com/heritage-the-battle-for-britains-past/12094/

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