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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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Within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the National Trust manages 827 hectares (2,100 acres) of downland surrounding the famous stone circle.

Walking across the grassland, visitors can discover other prehistoric monuments, including the Avenue and King Barrow Ridge with its Bronze Age burial mounds.

Bronze Age burial mounds rise among beech trees at King Barrow Ridge

Bronze Age burial mounds rise among beech trees at King Barrow Ridge

Nearby, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows is another fascinating example of a prehistoric cemetery. While Durrington Walls hides the remains of a Neolithic village.

The best approach to the famous stone circle is across Normanton Down, a round barrow cemetery dates from around 2600 to 1600BC.

stonehenge@nationaltrust.org.uk

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

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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! 

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Stonehenge access toursAn opportunity to get close to the stones and learn more about the monument and the surrounding landscape.

The visits will be led by David Dawson, Director of the Society, who will point out the main features of the circle and its surrounding landscape and explain the cycle of its construction and rebuilding during the Bronze Age.

This is an opportunity to inspect and photograph (for non-commercial purposes only) the stones closely, and see the inscriptions, including the famous ‘daggers’ believed to date from prehistoric times, Wander at will inside the circle, indeed do whatever you wish other than touch, climb on the stones, picnic or play music, none of which is allowed!

23rd August (from 7.30pm to 8.30pm).

Meet at Stonehenge car park 10 minutes before booked time. Tour lasts no more than one hour.

COST
Adults £22 (WANHS members £20)*
Children £13*

Book here: http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk/events/index.php?Action=2&thID=710&prev=1

For information on special access inside the Stone Circle see below:

 

Please note that special access is limited, open to no more than groups of 20 or so, and outside normal hours. Visits are either early mornings or evenings, and not every day (the English Heritage Website has details).

 

It is well worth making the effort to go inside the Circle, especially if you are travelling from abroad, and it may be your only opportunity. You may hear people who have only walked around the rope barrier at a distance describe Stonehenge as ‘a pile of rocks in a field’, that’s their preception on viewing it at a distance – but nothing could be further from the truth. It is only when you get close to the stones the true and awesome scale of the structure becomes apparent. If you have read ‘Solving Stonehenge’, with the aid of its many plans and illustrations, the extraordinary achievement of the prehistoric builders in designing and setting out the massive structure to an accuracy of just a few centimetres will astonish you

 

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A major West museum which last week feared it would have to close in a funding crisis has been saved and will be better than ever thanks to a whopping £370,000 lottery bonanza.

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum has been awarded the cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of a month which started with local council chiefs refusing its pleas for more cash.

The lottery money will not only save the museum’s immediate future, but create a new gallery focusing on its prize collections of Bronze Age artefacts.

The Devizes-based museum has long been recognised as housing one of Britain’s most important prehistoric collections outside of London, but after Wiltshire Council refused to increase its annual grant, raised the level of council tax the museum had to pay and reinforced a costly pensions deal, the museum said redundancies would follow and the museum could end up being mothballed. But now the future is bright for the museum after the successful lottery bid, which has been made as part of the beneficial ripple effect of the £25million plan to revive the visitor experience at Stonehenge.

Museum chairman Negley Harte said “We are delighted as this project is vital for the future sustainability of the museum. “The grants from the HLF and English Heritage will enable us to develop this new gallery to tell the stories of this unique collection in a more engaging way. It will bring more visitors to the museum, help us with our battle to make the museum financially sustainable and bring economic development to Devizes,” he added. The new gallery will tell the story of the people who built and used the world renowned monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury. The new Prehistoric Galleries will provide an opportunity to display for the first time in generations the unique gold and amber finds from Wiltshire that date back to the Bronze Age, over 4,000 years ago. “This was a time of shaman and priests, learning and culture and contacts across Europe.

The museum will be able to build on its existing learning and outreach programme, and inspire local people and visitors to become engaged and informed about the prehistoric landscapes of Wiltshire,” added a museum spokesman. Regional Heritage Lottery Fund boss Richard Bellamy said the links between the museum at Devizes and Wiltshire’s famous Neolithic sites were key. “These Neolithic and Bronze Age collections provide a fascinating insight into our prehistoric past, and they have the potential to play a key role in telling the wider story of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site,” he said.

Source: http://www.thisisbath.co.uk

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Intense and brooding images of Stonehenge and other prehistoric monuments in a new exhibition are taking visitors deep into the heart of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wessex’.

Archaeologists debate the purpose of Stonehenge, but for Hardy it was a haunting symbol of isolation and suffering.

The exhibition by three artists at Salisbury Museum mirrors the Dorset author’s emotional response to the archaeological sites he knew and used with such effect in his novels.

His use of landscape was highly symbolic and deeply emotive. Nowhere is that more clear than in his description of Stonehenge, which features in the climactic scene of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

In the dead of night, Tess stumbles upon the monument, and lies down to rest on an ancient altar, giving the allusion of her character as a sacrificial offering to a society that has cast her out. Hardy describes the isolation of the monument on Salisbury Plain, and once inside, the feeling of enclosure.

Symbolism is central to Hardy’s writing, which may be why so many artists use his work as their inspiration.

Artists Dave Gunning, David Inshaw and Rob Pountney have collaborated to show the dramatic landscapes and archaeology in media ranging from charcoal to steel etching and oil paint.

They share a common interest in how Hardy used landscape to symbolise the emotional and physical experiences of his characters.

He revived the Saxon name ‘Wessex’ as a part-real, part-dream landscape, thinly disguising place names so that Salisbury becomes Melchester and Dorchester becomes Casterbridge. Salisbury Plain is sometimes called the “Great Grey Plain”.

Dave Gunning, who was awarded the Year of the Artist Award in 2000-1 by the British Arts Council, has spent more than 25 years studying the prehistoric landscape in the West Country, particularly the ancient monuments within the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and Avebury.

David Inshaw is one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists. His work is often inspired by literature that takes landscape and nature as its focus.

Rob Pountney has always been fascinated by Thomas Hardy’s work, and says the use of dramatic contrasts of light and shade in his work captures the striking visual aspects of the geological and archaeological features of the Wessex landscape, and his interpretation of Hardy’s response to them.

Salisbury Museum is the perfect place for the exhibition, which opened on Saturday and runs until April 14.

In Jude the Obscure, Hardy bases the college that Sue Bridehead attends on the training college for schoolmistresses that his sisters attended. This was the King’s House, Salisbury, and is now home to the museum.

Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Stinsford to the east of Dorchester.

He became ill with pleurisy in December 1927 and died at Max Gate just after 9pm on January 11, 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed. The cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as “cardiac syncope
Link: http://www.dorchesterpeople.co.uk

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THE discovery of a Stone Age temple on Orkney looks set to rewrite the archeological records of ancient Britain with evidence emerging it was built centuries before Stonehenge.

Stonehenge Wiltshire

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 Archeologists have so far found undisturbed artefacts including wall decorations, pigments and paint pots, which are already increasing their understanding of the Neolithic people.

Experts believe the huge outer wall suggests the site was not domestic, while the layout of the buildings has reinforced the view it might have been a major religious site. Archaeologists think the temple was built 500 years before Stonehenge, regarded as the centre of Stone Age Britain.

However, only 10% of the site at Ness of Brodgar has been excavated and it could be years before the scale and age of the discovery is fully understood.

It sits close to the existing Ring of Brodgar stone circles and the standing stones of Stenness, near to the town of Stromness.

The uncovered wall around the edges of the site was built with 10,000 tonnes of quarried rock and may have been up to 10 ft high.

Thermal technology also indicates the site could cover the same area as five football pitches, with some parts potentially older than Stonehenge, in south-west England, by as much as 800 years.

Charcoal samples from beneath the wall indicate it was built around 3200 BC. A 30mm high figurine with a head, body and two eyes, and called the “Brodgar Boy”, was also unearthed in the rubble of one of the structures.

About 18 months ago, a remarkable rock coloured red, orange and yellow was unearthed. This is the first discovery in Britain of evidence that Neolithic peoples used paint to decorate their buildings.

Project manager Nick Card said the discoveries are unparalleled in British prehistory and that the complexity of finds is changing the “whole vision of what the landscape was 5000 years ago.” He said it was of “a scale that almost relates to the classical period in the Mediterranean with walled enclosure and precincts”.

Mr Card added: “It’s a huge discovery; in terms of scale and complexity there really is nothing else quite like it.

“At first we thought it was a settlement but the scale and complexity within the buildings makes you think along the lines of a temple precinct. It’s something you would associate with the classical world.”

Archeologist Julian Richards, who has written several books on Stonehenge, added: “The indication is that building was taking place when Stonehenge was still, relatively speaking, insignificant. We have tended to think we know how things were in the Neolithic period, then something like this turns that on its head.”

Full story: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/orcadian-temple-predates-stonehenge-by-500-years.16330802

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