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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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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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With the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, equally remarkable Avebury and the mighty Iron Age hill fort of Old Sarum, there really is plenty for the whole family to enjoy on a day out in Wiltshire. Discover the secrets of this seemingly ‘sacred landscape’ or get away from it all and explore a romantic ruined castle.

Please note English Heritage have now switched to our winter opening hours, meaning that while many properties are open at weekends, there may be restricted access during the week. Please check opening times before travelling.

PLACES TO VISIT : WILTSHIRE (ENGLISH HERITAGE)

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Visit Stonehenge! Sun worship temple? Healing centre? Huge calendar? How did they carry the great stones so far and build this amazing structure using only basic tools?

Old Sarum

Old Sarum

Site of the original Salisbury, this mighty Iron Age hill fort was where the first cathedral once stood and the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark during 5000 years of history.

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle

Set in landscaped grounds beside a lake in peaceful Wiltshire countryside, these 14th century ruins provide a relaxed, romantic day out for couples, families and budding historians alike.

Avebury

Avebury

With its huge circular bank and ditch and inner circle of great standing stones, covering an area of over 28 acres, Avebury forms one of the most impressive prehistoric sites in Britain

Hatfield Earthworks (Marden Henge)

Hatfield Earthworks (Marden Henge)

The earthworks of a Neolithic henge and monumental mound, by a loop in the River Avon. Recent archaeological find of building equivalent to a priest’s quarters.

Woodhenge

Woodhenge

Dating from about 2300 BC, markers now replace rings of timber posts, which once possibly supported a ring-shaped building. Discovered in 1925 when rings of dark spots were noticed in a crop of wheat.

 

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Tower Tours at Salisbury Cathedral are regarded as the ‘ultimate’ visitor experience. Led by one of our knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides, you climb 332 steps in five stages to discover the hidden medieval structure that supports the amazing spire, see behind the scenes, hear the Cathedral’s history, and see the breathtaking views over Salisbury and beyond from 224 feet above ground level.
Salisbury Cathedral Guided ToursThis Christmas there are four ways to experience a tower tour at Salisbury Cathedral.
29 November – 24 December 2012

Daily from 29 November through to 24 December there are two options available to choose from:
Tower Tour 12.15pm (90 minutes tour) Climb to the base of the spire and see the views over the city and surrounding countryside whilst learning about the history of the Cathedral from a specialist guide. £10.00 per person (£8.00 seniors, students and children 7-17 years)
Tower Tour and Tea 2.15pm (please note there will be no Tower Tour and Tea on Sunday 2 December and Sunday 16 December) A shorter Tower Tour (60 minutes maximum) followed by tea in the Cathedral’s award-winning Refectory with Christmas cake/mince pies. £13.00 per person (£11.00 seniors, students and children 7-17 years)
Pre-book your place online at http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk or call 01722 555156.

Christmas Spire Special
And for six days, we are offering a Christmas Spire Special providing the opportunity to see Salisbury City’s Christmas Lights from above. Beginning at 4.30pm, visitors enjoy a guided tour of the Cathedral and Chapter House with Magna Carta before climbing 332 steps to the base of the Cathedral spire on a ‘Tower Tour Teaser’ *, finishing with either a 2-course supper or seasonal refreshments.
Saturday 8, Thursday 13 and Thursday 20 December – with 2 course supper £20.00 (ends 7.30pm)
Friday 7, Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 19 December – seasonal refreshments £13.00 (ends 7.00pm)
*alternatively move into the quire and experience the beauty and peace of Evensong sung by our superb Cathedral Choir. 

To book please call 01722 555120.

Tower Tours

Enjoy spectacular views as you explore the roof spaces and tower, climbing 332 steps in easy stages by narrow winding spiral staircases to reach the foot of the spire 225 feet above ground level. From here you can see up into the spire through the medieval scaffold, and from the outside you can look over the city and surrounding countryside.

Tower tours cost £10.00 for adults, £8.00 for children/seniors and £27.00 family (2 adults + 3 children) which includes a donation to the Cathedral. Scheduled tours run at least once a day for 11 months of the year (subject to daily conditions).
From Monday to Saturday, scheduled tours run between 1 -5 times a day all year round (see timetable below). There are two scheduled tours on Sundays between April – September.

http://www.salisburycathedral.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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An adaptation of William Golding’s powerful novel dramatising the building of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral in the 14th century is full of strong performances, writes Jane Shilling.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding's novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding’s novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The spire of Salisbury cathedral rears over the city, its apex surmounted by an oddly festive bobble of red light. The novelist William Golding lived and taught in Salisbury for many years and his novel, The Spire, imagines the building of the great pinnacle — the tallest in England — which was added to the original structure in 1320, a century after the foundation stone was laid.

Its construction was a miracle of faith over physics. The land on which the cathedral stood was swampy, and the foundations seemed insufficient to support the additional weight. Golding’s novel imagines the spire as the vision of a driven man, Dean Jocelin, who believes that he has been commanded by God to build it to glorify Him and bring the congregation closer to heaven.

As in all acts of spiritual conviction, there is a fine tension between the exaltation of God and Jocelin’s sinful human pride. Golding’s novel brilliantly conveys this by means of Jocelin’s interior monologue. Roger Spottiswoode, who has adapted Golding’s novel for the stage, has a harder task.

Gareth Machin, the artistic director of the Salisbury Playhouse, sets his production on an all-but-bare black set of cloistral simplicity, beautifully lit by Philip Gladwell to define the sharp angles of stone and flesh – we see mortality as a constant haunting presence in the skulls so clearly visible beneath the actors’ skins.

Mark Meadows as Dean Jocelin is the image of a man in whom spiritual and temporal desires are irreconcilably and, in the end, fatally at war. He is able to override the doubts of his brethren at the Cathedral by sheer force of will, combined with the wealth of his aunt Lady Alison (a spirited performance by Sarah Moyle) who takes a highly pragmatic attitude to atoning for the sins of the flesh committed in her youth by putting the riches thus acquired to holy use. The scene in which she explains to her nephew the venal means by which his early preferment came about is a fine study in tragic-comic devastation.

Strong performances by the supporting cast, particularly Vincenzo Pellegrino as the master mason, Roger, animate this gallant essay in dramatising Golding’s vastly complex fiction. So powerful a presence is the cathedral in the drama that it would be perverse not to combine a visit to the play with a trip to the beautiful building that inspired it.

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9672496/The-Spire-Salisbury-Playhouse-review.html

Link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/news.php?id=682

Until Nov 24. Tickets:             01722 329333      ;
www.salisbury playhouse.com

On Friday 16 November, 7.30pm – 9.00pm, the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and Gareth Machin, the play’s director, can be heard in conversation as they explore Golding’s tale of Jocelin’s vision in the very location itself, sitting underneath the spire. There will also be readings from the novel and an opportunity to ask questions. Themes include: Jocelin’s vision – was it foolish or inspired? Golding’s juxtaposition of faith and science, the challenges of staging ‘The Spire’ – and the challenges of maintaining the real spire.
Tickets, £8.00 (adults) and £2.50 (students) for ‘A burning will….exploring The Spire’ are available online from http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or from Salisbury Playhouse box office,            01722 320333      . All proceeds towards the Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme.

Special tower and floor tours at Salisbury Cathedral focussing on what really happened when the 6500 tonnes tower and spire were added take place on Saturdays 3, 10 and 24 November, and Monday 5, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 22 November.
‘The Spire’ tower tours, £10.00 (£8.00 concessions), begin at 2.15pm (allow 90 minutes) Pre-booking essential online at: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or telephone            01722 555156      .
Floor tours begin at 11.00am (allow 60 minutes) No booking or tickets required – just turn up. Visitors are requested to make a donation to help towards the fabric of the Cathedral.

Further information:
Salisbury Cathedral special events based on ‘The Spire’:

Sarah Flanaghan,             01722 555148       /             07771 510811       or s.flanaghan@salcath.co.uk
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire
Gemma Twiselton,             01722 320117       or press@salisburyplayhouse.com
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire can be seen from 1 – 24 November, box office            01722 320333      .

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A priceless prehistoric gold lozenge excavated in the 19th century will be put on public display for the first time when the new Neolithic gallery at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes opens next year.

The museum was awarded a £370,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund earlier this year to finance the new gallery, which will be built at the rear of the museum and is due to open in May.prehistoric gold lozenge

Secure display units will enable the museum to show items that were thought too valuable for public display.

Foremost of these is the large gold lozenge that was found in the Bush Barrow grave near Stonehenge, dating from around 1900BC, which was excavated by William Cunnington in 1808.

David Dawson, director of the museum, said: “A replica of the lozenge has always been on display here but as far as I am aware the original has never been put on show.

“The HLF grant has now enabled us to afford high- security measures.”

Other items from the grave to be put on show are a mace, the head of which was made from a rare flecked fossil stone from Devon, while the handle was embellished with bone zigzag mounts, and a smaller lozenge, which may well have been mounted on the handle of the mace.

There are also more recent finds in the new galleries including items from the grave of the Roundway Warrior, also excavated by William Cunnington in 1855, items from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery that was excavated in 1991 and artefacts from a dig by the Army at Barrow Clump near Figheldean on Salisbury Plain earlier this year.

Building work on the new galleries is due to begin in December and the fitting out is scheduled to run from January to the end of March. The objects will be installed during April, ready for the grand opening in May.

Dr Dawson said: “We want to open the galleries in time for our summer season.”

Full Aricle: http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/9974709.Devizes_treasures_set_to_be_revealed/

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