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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
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Thought I would upload these images that I took (very early)  this morning from the inner circle of Stonehenge.  Sunrise was at 6.40 am and we had perfect weather.  I was with a family from Ohio who were overwhelmed with the experience.  We then went onto visit Avebury Stone Circle, Silbury Hill and West Kennet long Barrow.  A great day was had by all


Mike – Stonehenge Tour Guide
HISTOURIES UK – The Best Tours in History

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Stonehenge, the most famous of our English megalithic monuments, has excited the attention of the historian and the legend-lover since early times. According to some of the medieval historians it was erected by Aurelius Ambrosius to the memory of a number of British chiefs whom Hengist and his Saxons treacherously murdered in A.D. 462. Others add that Ambrosius himself was buried there. Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote in the twelfth century, mingles these accounts with myth. He says, “There was in Ireland, in ancient times, a pile of stones worthy of admiration called the Giants’ Dance, because giants from the remotest part of Africa brought them to Ireland, and in the plains of Kildare, not far from the castle of Naas, miraculously set them up. These stones (according to the British history) Aurelius Ambrosius, King of the Britons, procured Merlin by supernatural means to bring from Ireland to Britain.”

This ancient enigma keeps everyone inquiring what truth lies in those huge stones and luckily you have come upon a site that will help you realize everything about Stonehenge.

You have wound upon an educational articles not as old as Stonehenge, but sure one of the oldest and very likely the first covering all faces of this mystical monolithic construction.

From the present ruined state of Stonehenge it is not possible to state with certainty what was the original arrangement, but it is probable that it was approximately as follows (see the following picture):


There was an outer circle of about thirty worked upright stones of square section (picture 2). On each pair of these rested a horizontal block, but only five now remain in position. These ‘lintels’ probably formed a continuous architrave (Pl. I). The diameter of this outer circle is about 97½ feet, inner measurement. The stones used are sarsens or blocks of sandstone, such as are to be found lying about in many parts of the district round Stonehenge.

Picture 2. Plan of Stonehenge in 1901. (After Archæologia.) The dotted stones are of porphyritic diabase.

Well within this circle stood the five huge trilithons (a-e), arranged in the form of a horseshoe with its open side to the north-east. Each trilithon, as the name implies, consists of three stones, two of which are uprights, the third being laid horizontally across the top. The height of the trilithons varies from 16 to 21½ feet, the lowest being the two that stand at the open end of the horseshoe, and the highest that which is at the apex. Here again all the stones are sarsens and all are carefully worked. On the top end of each upright of the trilithons is an accurately cut tenon which dovetails into two mortices cut one at each end of the lower surface of the horizontal block. Each upright of the outer circle had a double tenon, and the lintels, besides being morticed to take these tenons, were also dovetailed each into its two neighbours.

Within the horseshoe and close up to it stand the famous blue-stones, now twelve in number, but originally perhaps more. These stones are not so high as the trilithons, the tallest reaching only 7½ feet. They are nearly all of porphyritic diabase. It has often been asserted that these blue-stones must have been brought to Stonehenge from a distance, as they do not occur anywhere in the district. Some have suggested that they came from Wales or Cornwall, or even by sea from Ireland. Now, the recent excavations have shown that the blue-stones were brought to Stonehenge in a rough state, and that all the trimming was done on the spot where they were erected. It seems unlikely that if they had been brought from a distance the rough trimming should not have been done on the spot where they were found, in order to decrease their weight for transport. It is therefore possible that the stones were erratic blocks found near Stonehenge.

Within the horseshoe, and near its apex, lies the famous “Altar Stone” (A), a block measuring about 16 feet by 4. Between the horseshoe and the outer circle another circle of diabase stones is sometimes said to have existed, but very little of it now remains.

The whole building is surrounded by a rampart of earth several feet high, forming a circle about 300 feet in diameter. An avenue still 1200 feet in length, bordered by two walls of earth, leads up to the rampart from the north-east. On the axis of this avenue and nearly at its extremity stands the upright stone known as the Friar’s Heel.

In 1901, in the course of repairing the central trilithon, careful excavations were carried out over a small area at Stonehenge. More than a hundred stone implements were found, of which the majority were flint axes, probably used for dressing the softer of the sandstone blocks, and also for excavating the chalk into which the uprights were set. About thirty hammer-stones suitable for holding in the hand were found. These were doubtless used for dressing the surface of the blocks. Most remarkable of all were the ‘mauls,’ large boulders weighing from 36 to 64 pounds, used for smashing blocks and also for removing large chips from the surfaces. Several antlers of deer were found, one of which had been worn down by use as a pickaxe.

Note:

More Overmuch nine hundred stone rings subsist in the British Isles. Of these, Stonehenge is the most best known.

The megalithic monuments of Britain and Europe pre-history those of the oriental Mediterranean, Egyptian, Mycenaean and Greek civilization.

The Druids had nothing to do with the building of the stone rings. Druids are known to have taken their ritual activities generally in sacred forest woodlet.

Nicholas – Stonehenge and Salisbury Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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