Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Wessex Tours’ Category

TOURISTS entering English Heritage’s new £27 million visitor centre at Stonehenge will quickly confront its most spectacular exhibit – a man who was born 500 years before the earliest stone monument appeared at the site.

Stonehenge Man would have fitted in very well on a film set (Image: English Heritage)

Stonehenge Man would have fitted in very well on a film set (Image: English Heritage)

He may have a touch of Hollywood about him, but this “Stonehenge Man” was once real. His face has been reconstructed from a 5500-year-old skeleton found in the area. Local protest groups continue to press for him to be reburied, but forensic analysis has allowed scientists to create the most lifelike model yet of an individual from British prehistory. Their work reveals how he lived and ate, and may even shed light on the origins of Stonehenge itself.

The well-preserved skeleton was discovered in an elaborate tomb in the 1860s, providing a rare example of the anatomy of Neolithic people. His face has been brought to life by Swedish sculptor Oscar Nilsson, using information from bone and tooth analyses. The length of the man’s bones, the skeleton’s weight and his age – estimated at between 25 and 40 years old – were used to determine the thickness of the skin on his face and muscle definition.

Nilsson used a vinyl copy of the skull, made by Andrew Wilson at the University of Bradford, UK, as a base for his clay reconstruction of muscles, guided by markers denoting the fleshiness of the face. He created moulded silicon skin and added pigment before punching in the hair.

Ridges on the skull reveal that this man was muscular – which is not surprising given the Neolithic lifestyle. He had highly masculine features, such as a well-defined chin and jawbone. “I had to give him a beard – there were no razors then,” says Nilsson.

Human skeletal biologist Simon Mays from the University of Southampton, UK, was unable to deduce the cause of death from the skeleton and he speculates that Stonehenge Man died of an infectious disease that killed too quickly to leave a trace on bones. Mays did, however, find two leg wounds: a deep muscle injury and a bony projection.

Tooth analysis by Alistair Pike, also at the University of Southampton, was particularly revealing. Pike extracted a section of enamel, then removed particles from different stages of the tooth’s growth. A mass spectrometer revealed the ratio of two forms, or isotopes, of strontium at the different stages, which can indicate where his drinking water came from when matched to an area’s geology.

Teeth take about four years to form, so it is possible to track the movements of an individual during that time. Stonehenge Man seems to have travelled as a child. He was born in an area of old geology, thought to be somewhere in Wales, and moved to an area matching Stonehenge when about 3 years old. If he came from Wales, says Pike, there could be a connection to the movement of bluestones, the oldest stones at Stonehenge. “The two communities may have been connected for centuries,” he says.

The man’s teeth show little wear for his age, suggesting a soft diet by prehistoric standards. The carbon isotopes in the teeth vary according to the types of plants eaten, and with the amount of nitrogen, which comes from meat in the diet. His carbon pattern shows he ate more meat than his contemporaries, possibly in stews. This and the elaborate burial suggest he was an important man in the community.

Unfortunately, the man’s teeth were unusually clean. “If we had been able to analyse his tartar, we could have identified species he was eating by sequencing proteins in trapped fragments, while bacteria could have revealed the health of his gut,” says Pike.

The team did not have enough time before the visitor centre opened to do DNA analysis of Stonehenge Man’s colouring, but this would have been difficult anyway because handling over the years has contaminated the skeleton’s DNA. They guessed at hazel eyes and dark brown hair, with a hint of ginger, to reflect probable Celtic origins.

If this model of the handsome Stonehenge Man is true to life, then he would not look out of place today. “He could be sitting next to you on the subway,” says Nilsson.
by Sandrine Ceurstemont

Details in The New Scientist:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24811-stonehenge-man-not-just-a-pretty-face.html#.Usfc6pCYbIV

Wessex Guided Tours
The Best Tours in British History

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This rich archaeological landscape offers a wealth of prehistoric temples, Neolithic harvest hills for fertility rituals and communal tombs. Visit mysterious Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest artificial mound, the Neolithic communal tomb of West Kennet Long Barrow, Old Sarum, Overton Hill Sanctuary, Avebury, Britain’s largest henge and Stonehenge. These tours depart from Bath but can be organised from Salisbury or even London

At Wessex Guided Tours we aim to provide the best planned, best led and altogether the most fulfilling and enjoyable archaeological tours available.  Our private day excursions offer the best opportunity to explore and experience some of Britain’s most iconic and significant ancient sites, guided by our archaeologist guides.

We specialise in archaeology tours, and as a result we believe we offer an excellent Stonehenge Access Toursspecialist service.

Private Tours:

Our itineraries are original, imaginative, well-paced and carefully balanced. Knowledge of the subject matter and the destinations combine with detailed attention to practical matters to ensure an enriching and smooth-running experience.

If you are travelling as a small group, you can design your own day trip or simply select one of our regular itineraries but have exclusive use of the vehicle for the day. We will collect you from any location within central London, Bath or Salisbury. The duration of your vehicle hire is 8-10 hours depending on the places that you are visiting and traffic conditions on the day.

Our most popular tours include:

Stonehenge, Bath and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites.

Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour: Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites. Britain’s most beautiful landscapes. Visit one of England’s most impressive Cathedrals at Salisbury.

Wessex Guided Tours
The Best Tours in British History www.HisTOURies.co.uk

Read Full Post »

Salisbury Cathedral is running an action-packed free open evening Night Visions: An Evening at Salisbury Cathedral on Friday 17 May from 6.30pm to 10.00pm.  The event is part of Culture 24s nationwide Museums at Night initiative, the annual festival of late night openings when hundreds of museums, galleries and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events.

Salisbury Cathedral ToursDavid Coulthard, Director of Marketing and Visitor Services, said “Last year’s Night Visions was an extraordinary success with more than a thousand visitors enjoying a fabulous evening in the Cathedral with music, stories, special tours and hands on activities.  This year we’re doing even more and look forward to having a cathedral full of people joining in the fun.  Starting at 6.30pm we’ve devised three and a half fast moving hours of different activities to entertain and appeal to families and our younger and older visitors alike.  There are four elements to the evening: music, stories, tours and hands-on activities. Come along, we might just surprise you!”

Musical activities include a ‘come and sing’ workshop, a short performance by Salisbury Cathedral Junior Choir, and organ demonstrations. Outside, you can enjoy stories in the lantern-lit cloister garden, follow the special mystery object treasure hunts in both the cathedral and cloisters, and especially for children there’s a picture quiz on the medieval frieze in the Chapter House and historical costumes to try on – even have your photo taken with King John!  There’s a quirky history ‘Things-you-never-knew’ trail of the Cathedral and exhibitions of embroidery and copes.  ‘Hands-on’ activities include decorating beautiful illuminated letters and patterned candle-holders, or creating a collage using stone rubbings with a touch of gold leaf.  Or there’s decorating biscuits, ‘Have-a-go’ stonemasonry and even some medieval games.

For the more energetic there are swift ‘roof tour tasters’ to see some of the Cathedral’s roof spaces and get a brief taste of what our full tower tours are like.

And while you’re in the Cathedral Close, visit Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum for their Museums at Night event Music for All between 6.00pm  9.00pm. There’s live music from local music groups, meet historical figures behind Salisbury’s musical past, see the museum collections come to life, enjoy story-telling with Lizzie Bryant and gallery activities with artist Susie Gutteridge

Salisbury Cathedral link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk

Wessex Tours
Mystical Landscape.  Magical Tours

Read Full Post »

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.”

 

Read Full Post »

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)

Wessex Guided Tours
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

 

Read Full Post »

The Chalke Valley History Festival is unique, with a literary history festival, living history through the ages, and a new schools programme.  Attracting some 13,000 in only its second year in 2012, 2013 promises to be even better…

The Chalke Valley History Festival has been created to further the enjoyment and understanding of our rich and varied history. All proceeds go to the Chalke Valley History Trust, created to help further the education of history in our schools. We look forward to seeing you there…

chalk-valleyLiving History.

The Festival will become a giant encampment of living history through the ages, from Romans to the Second World War, and displayed by some of the very best re-enactors and historical interpreters in the UK.  With an air show featuring Spitfires and other warbirds, with Sword School, Have-a-Go Archery, an interactive First World War trench experience, and a battle re-enactment of the Battle of Vitoria, there will be much to see for all the family.

Literary Festival

Throughout the week, the Festival plays host to many of our most popular, passionate and leading historians, from Max Hastings and Neil Oliver, to Michael Morpurgo and Dan Snow, and from Horrible Histories through to Boris Johnson and Tom Stoppard. Covering a wide variety of subjects from Ancient Rome to the Iron Curtain and with debates, discussions, lectures, seminars and events for all the family, this is Britain’s premier History Literary Festival.

Schools Programme

Two days of history featuring a wide range of curriculum-based subjects delivered by leading and best-selling historians, including Tom Holland, Michael Burleigh and Laurence Rees. From 1066, through the Tudors and the First World War, and the rise of the Nazis to the Second World War, the programme will offer a series of lectures, seminars, living history and inter-active demonstrations to bring history alive, excite and inspire Year 10 and 12 students.

http://www.cvhf.org.uk/

The Best Tours in British History
Wessex Guided Tours – www.HisTOURies.co.uk

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Wessex Guided Tours
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: