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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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Chalke Valley History Festival near Salisbury is Britain’s biggest festival devoted entirely to history.

The 2012venue is the second such festival to be held in a 22 acre field set amongst the gentle downs of the Chalke Valley, surely one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain, 12 miles south-west of Salisbury.

Chalke Valley History Festival

Chalke Valley History Festival

The Chalke Valley History Festival is in its second year now & really getting into its stride. The festival is being held just outside Ebbesbourne Wake, one of the villages within the Wilton Community Area. As well as literary talks covering an amazing variety of topics & periods in history, there are also other activities to get involved in. Among the impressive line-up of speakers at the festival, there are many household names such as Sir Max Hastings, Amanda Vickery, Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo, Ian and Victoria Hislop, Tom Holland, Dan Snow and Michael Wood.

If you’re interested in history, this is an event you won’t want to miss: “The Chalke Valley History Festival is Britain’s biggest festival devoted entirely to history. This is our second Festival and we are much bigger this year with over fifty events and an extraordinary array of speakers. Joining us are some of this country’s most popular and influential historians who are shaping our understanding of the past and setting the context for understanding the future.”

Check out the Chalke Valley History Festival website for more information & to buy tickets. http://www.cvhf.org.uk/

Another good reason to visit Wiltshire…………………..

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The first formation to be reported in 2012. It was first reported on Sunday 15th April and is in oilseed rape (canola/colza) measuring approx. 140 feet in diameter. A pretty 12 pointed double flower at Lurkeley Hill on the outskirts of the village of East Kennett close to Marlborough in Wiltshire

East Kennett, Wiltshire
Crop Circle 2012
 This is a beautiful pattern to open the 2012 season, although because we were unable to photograph it straight away (the pictures here were taken when the formation was approximately 5 days old), we assume the plants have sprung back up quite a lot. 

Follow our Blogs and on Twitter for all the latest Crop Circle news (https://twitter.com/#!/HisT0URies)

Wiltshire Crop Circles

In the early 1970’s Crop circles used to be unexplained patterns that were generally found in corn fields – hence the terminology ‘corn circles’. However, in more recent years teams of ‘circle-makers’ within the South of England have openly admitted creating some of these fantastic formations, and have constructed them in crops as diverse as Linseed and Rapeseed.

Most frequently these art forms have appeared in Wiltshire near ancient monuments that are themselves considered to be built on sites of powerful natural energies. Many people believe that it’s no coincidence that the phenomenon appears close to these ancient sites, and some have even reported crop circles forming in under 20 seconds under incandescent or brightly coloured balls of light.

Whatever you choose to believe about the crop circle phenomenon, there is no doubt that the circles are responsible for attracting huge amounts of media attention, which consequently results in thousands of visitors coming to Wiltshire every year in order to catch a glimpse of some of the more spectacular ones.

Link: http://www.wccsg.com
Link:  http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/

Needless to say we will be offering guided tours of all the best formations in the Wiltshire throughout 2012

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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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More than 30,000 Roman coins were found by archaeologists working in Bath in 2007, it has been revealed.

The silver coins are believed to date from 270AD and have been described as the fifth largest UK hoard ever found.

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins were found close to the Roman Baths

The coins are fused together and were sent to the British Museum. Conservators are expected to take at least a year to work through them.

A campaign has now been started at the Roman Baths to try to raise £150,000 to acquire and display them.

The size of the find is not as large as the Frome Hoard in April 2010 when more than 53,500 coins were discovered by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset.

The coins found in this hoard date from a similar time and are thought to be the largest ever discovered in a Roman town in the UK.

Roman Baths spokesman Stephen Clews said: “We’ve put in a request for a formal valuation and then hope to buy the coins to display them at the baths.

“At the time there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.

“The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector,” he added.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-17480016

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The world’s oldest sea-going boat, the Dover Bronze Age Boat is to sail again 3500 years after it crossed the English Channel.

A new project, ‘Boat 1550 BC’ aims to rebuild the boat, which had lain hidden under the centre of Dover for 3,500 years until it was rediscovered in 1992 during the construction of an underpass.

The oak-built boat sailed across the Channel at a time when Stonehenge was still in use, and before Tutankhamun became ruler of Egypt.

The team will use Bronze Age tools and ship-building techniques to reconstruct the Dover Bronze Age Boat, a vessel thought to have crossed the Channel in 1500BCThe team will use Bronze Age tools and ship-building techniques to reconstruct the Dover Bronze Age Boat, a vessel thought to have crossed the Channel in 1500BC

The half-size replica will take two years to construct The half-size replica will take two years to construct

The world's oldest sea-going boat: it will take two and a half years to reconstruct in a half-size replicaThe world’s oldest sea-going boat: it will take two and a half years to reconstruct in a half-size replica

The project aims to understand how people were able to cross the Channel in 1550 BC, using ancient boatbuilding techniques and Bronze Age tools to construct a half-size replica boat.

The boat will launch in the sea when it’s completed in two and a half years time, and will be part of a touring exhibition which visit France, Belgium and the UK to mark the 20th anniversary of the boat’s discovery.

The boat was located during the construction of an underpass and sparked several frantic days of rescue excavations to save it from destruction.

It was removed from the site in sections and rebuilt in the museum.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Deputy Director, Peter Clark, said: ‘I have been working towards this moment for more than ten years. It’s very exciting. As the days and weeks go by we will learn so much about how our ancestors were able to build such a remarkable vessel.’

The Dover Bronze Age boat on display in a museum. Researchers aim to find out how people crossed the channel in 1550BC The Dover Bronze Age boat on display in a museum. Researchers aim to find out how people crossed the channel in 1550BC

The boat was located during the construction of an underpass and sparked several frantic days of rescue excavations to save it from destructionThe boat was located during the construction of an underpass and sparked several frantic days of rescue excavations to save it from destruction

The researchers will reconstruct the boat using ancient techniques and Bronze Age tools to understand how people crossed the channel in the time of Stonehenge The researchers will reconstruct the boat using ancient techniques and Bronze Age tools to understand how people crossed the channel in the time of Stonehenge

‘We can only speculate about how often people crossed the channel and how close were the ties, but one thing is certain, this project will bring the modern communities in Northern France, Belgium and England just that little bit closer together.’

Link Source:  http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2110578/Worlds-oldest-sea-going-boat-sail-scientists-rebuild-Dover-Bronze-Age-Boat-ancient-tools-understand-people-crossed-channel-1500BC.html

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Around 8,000 years ago, prehistoric hunters killed an aurochs and their grilling techniques were frozen in time.

THE GIST

Remains of a butchered and cooked female aurochs (a prehistoric cow) have been identified from a Stone Age Netherlands site.
The hunters appear to have cooked the meat over an open fire, eating the bone marrow first and then the ribs.
Aurochs hunting was common at the site for many years, but humans drove the large horned animals to extinction

aurochs bones AmesburyStone Age barbecue consumers first went for the bone marrow and then for the ribs, suggest the leftovers of an outdoor 7,700-year-old meaty feast described in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The remains, found in the valley of the River Tjonger, Netherlands, provide direct evidence for a prehistoric hunting, butchering, cooking and feasting event. The meal occurred more than 1,000 years before the first farmers with domestic cattle arrived in the region.

Although basic BBQ technology hasn’t changed much over the millennia, this prehistoric meal centered around the flesh of an aurochs, a wild Eurasian ox that was larger than today’s cows. It sported distinctive curved horns.

Another big difference is how meat was obtained then.

NEWS: Mammoths Roasted in Prehistoric Kitchen Pit

“The animal was either caught in a pitfall trap and then clubbed on the head, or shot with a bow and arrow with flint point,” co-author Wietske Prummel, an associate professor of archaeozoology at the University of Groningen, told Discovery News.

Prummel and colleague Marcel Niekus pieced together what happened by studying an unearthed flint blade found near aurochs bones. These show that after the female aurochs was killed, hunters cut its legs off and sucked out the marrow.

According to the study, the individuals skinned the animal and butchered it, reserving the skin and large hunks of meat for carrying back to a nearby settlement. Chop marks left behind by the flint blade show how the meat was meticulously separated from the bones and removed.

Burn marks reveal that the hunters cooked the meaty ribs, and probably other smaller parts, over an open fire. They ate them right at the site, “their reward for the successful kill,” Prummel said.

The blade, perhaps worn down from so much cutting, was left behind and wound up slightly scorched in the cooking fire.

Niekus told Discovery News, “The people who killed the animal lived during the Late Mesolithic (the latter part of the middle Stone Age). They were hunter-gatherers and hunting game was an important part of their subsistence activities.”

The researchers suspect these people lived in large settlements and frequented the Tjonger location for aurochs hunting. After the Iron Age, the area was only sparsely inhabited — probably due to the region becoming temporarily waterlogged — until the Late Medieval period.

NEWS: Pre-Stonehenge Megaliths Linked to Death Rituals

Aurochs must have been good eats for Stone Age human meat lovers, since other prehistoric evidence also points to hunting, butchering and feasting on these animals. A few German sites have yielded aurochs bones next to flint tool artifacts.

Aurochs bones have also been excavated at early dwellings throughout Europe. Bones for red deer, roe deer, wild boar and elk were even more common, perhaps because the aurochs was such a large, imposing animal and the hunters weren’t always successful at killing it.

At a Mesolithic site in Onnarp, Sweden, for example, scientists found the remains of aurochs that had been shot with arrows. The wounded animals escaped their pursuers before later dying in a swamp.

The aurochs couldn’t escape extinction, though.

“It became extinct due to the destruction of the habitat of the aurochs since the arrival of the first farmers in Europe about 7500 years ago,” Prummel said. “These farmers used the area inhabited by aurochs for their dwellings, arable fields and meadows. The aurochs gradually lost suitable habitat.”

The last aurochs died in 1627 at a zoo in Poland.

Source: http://news.discovery.com/history/ancient-barbeque-aurochs-110627.html

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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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A TRADITION dating back 5,000 years is to be recreated in Amesbury to mark the mid-winter solstice.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

The town is holding its first lantern parade for centuries and hundreds of people are expected to take part.

The procession will take place on Wednesday, December 21 and walkers will set off from Stonehenge as the sun sets at about 4pm.

Carrying glowing lanterns, they will follow the original processional route of the Avenue away from the stones and walk across farmland before entering Amesbury and arriving in the town centre at 5.30pm.

Mulled wine, mince pies, craft stalls and plenty of festive cheer will be there to greet the walkers as they arrive.

Art students at Avon Valley College have teamed up with Amesbury based A&R Metalcraft to produce a lantern to lead the procession.

The lantern, which will be carried by a Solstice Fairy, will be kept burning through the night before being retured to Stonehenge at sunrise on the mid winter solstice.

It will then go on show at the Forge Gallery in Amesbury where people will be able to display their photographs, poems and pictures of the lantern parade in a large community collage.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Michelle Topps from the gallery. “Salisbury has its cathedral, Bath its waters and Amesbury has its ancestors.

“By remembering them we can establish a real sense of place for both locals and visitors alike. People have settled in Amesbury for 8,000 years and their influence is everywhere”. Mayor Andy Rhind-Tutt said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our community to come together for this magical experience, recreating a 5,000 year old tradition and especially during the build up to the Olympics, when we will see the real torch travel through our town. I hope this will create a legacy for the future at this festive time of year and as many people as possible join in.”

Everyone is invited to take part in the parade and lantern kits and vouchers are available from the Bowman Centre, community shop or the Forge Gallery for £5 from Wednesday, December 7.

The voucher will entitle you to a lift to Stonehenge from Amesbury town centre on a Wilts & Dorset bus and refreshments after the parade. They are available to buy separately for £2 if people already have a lantern.

Full article: http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk

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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
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