Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours

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Monthly Archives: September 2013

SEE SALISBURY’S CHRISTMAS LIGHTS FROM THE TOP OF SALISBURY CATHEDRAL TOWER!

Salisbury Cathedral is running special Twilight Christmas Tower Tours from Thursday 28 November, the day Salisbury Christmas Market opens, until the start of the New Year.  Beginning at 3.15pm you climb 332 steps through the Cathedral’s secret roof spaces to the base of the Cathedral spire from where you can step outside to see spectacular views of medieval Salisbury City’s Christmas illuminations at twilight.  Then it’s time for a delicious cream tea in the Refectory restaurant, and afterwards those who want to complete their afternoon by attending Choral Evensong at 5.30pm can simply go back into the Cathedral.

David Coulthard, Director of Marketing and Communications, said “We first Salisbury Cathedral Christmasran Christmas Twilight Tower Tours last year and they were hugely popular – especially with those planning a day out in Salisbury to attend its festive Christmas Market!  It’s a fabulous option as it combines our popular tower tours, led by knowledgeable and personable guides, and wonderful photo opportunities of the city’s Christmas lights and market from the highest vantage point possible, with homemade cream teas!  We believe many will enjoy completing their afternoon by attending Evensong with its time for reflection and the beautiful sound of the cathedral choir.”

The Cathedral is also offering its regular 90 minute daily tower tour beginning at 12.15pm.  Visitors can enjoy spectacular views in daylight and explore the roof spaces and tower, climbing to the foot of the spire in easy stages by narrow winding spiral staircases to see over the city and surrounding countryside.

Twilight Christmas Tower Tours run between 28 November to 23 December at 3.15pm, and from 26 December to 2 January at 2.15pm.  Tickets, to include tower tour and cream tea, cost £13.50 (adults), £11.50 (concessions), £40 (family ticket, 2+3). The standard daily lunchtime Tower Tour at 12.15pm costs £10.00 (adults), £8.00 (concessions), £27.00 (family ticket, 2+3).

All tours are limited to 12 people per tour and early booking is recommended.  Book online at http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk , email frontdesk@salcath.co.uk or telephone 01722 555156.  Please note you need to be 7 years or older, and over 1.2m tall, to go on any tower tour.

There are also special Christmas lunches in the Refectory from Monday 9 December onwards.  To make your booking (groups welcome) telephone 01722 555175.

Salisbury Cathedral is just a few minutes level walk from Salisbury’s German-inspired Christmas Market (28 November – 21 December) located around the Guildhall Square, so make a day of it by visiting both.  }http://salisburychristmasmarket.co.uk/

The Cathedral is open every day, guides provide a warm welcome and lead regular tours of the Cathedral and Chapter House, home to the finest original Magna Carta 1215.

Salisbury Cathedral Events: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/special.events.intro.php

Wiltshire’s official tourist information: http://www.VisitWiltshire.co.uk

Needless to say we will be operating private guided sightseeing tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge.  Please visit our website: http://www.stonehengetravel.co.uk/

Salisbury Tour Guide
The Stonehenge Travel Co, Salisbury

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Experience sunset from within the inner circle of Stonehenge. A truly magical experience!

Go beyond the fences in 2014 on our legendary Magical Tour……

What better way to experience the magic and mystery of Stonehenge than with a private viewing at sunset. On our exclusive small group guided tours from Salisbury, visitors will be able to access the historic stone circle, and explore the surrounding area rich in history, myths and legends

“Experiencing the inner circle of Stonehenge at Sunset is a unique and, for many, a magical and moving experience”

Magical Tour Highlights:

  • Experience Stonehenge at Sunset from within the Inner Circle
    Expert local Stonehenge guide and small group guaranteed
    King Arthurs Avalon including Glastonbury Tor, Glastonbury Abbey and Challice Springs                 Walking Tour of Avebury Stone Circle
    Drive through the Warminster Triangle and see mysterious Wiltshire crop Circles
    West Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill
    Walk the Stonehenge Avenue
    Learn how to Dowse and here about the many Ley Lines

On this tour we discover the myths and legends of King Arthur, the stories behind this famous British hero. We depart from Salisbury, Wiltshire (approx. 10am) Stonehenge sunset tourand travel through  the spectacular west country of England and travel to the mystical Isle of Avalon, allowing time to walk up Glastonbury Tor for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

We will visit the vibrant, bustling town of Glastonbury to visit the Abbey and Arthur and Guinevere”s grave site. There will be time for lunch among the New Age shops and quirky little boutiques. Then, for the later part of the afternoon we move on to the ancient complex of Avebury, truly a giant among stone circles. The largest collection of Neolithic monuments in England, we spend the final part of the tour being guided around the huge stone rings of Avebury and see the mysterious Silbury Hill, Europe’s tallest prehistoric man made monument.

We end the day by heading back through the ancient Kingdom of Wessex and onwards to Stonehenge visiting and mysterious crop circles on-route. This landscape is peppered with burial chambers and stone circles, each one thousands of years old and rising above all of them on Salisbury Plain is Stonehenge. With 5,000 years of history our expert guide will explain what we now know, and then reveal theories and ideas that still have historians debating right up to today. Astronomical clock, calendar, place of worship, burial site for the elite? You can ponder the theories as you walk amongst the stones and experience sunset from with the inner circle

“A person only has so many great moments in life. You know the kind of moments I’m talking about; the ones where time moves slowly, everything feels amazing, and you walk away with a sense of awe. You will have such moment on our Stonehenge sunset tour.”

Click here to view this tour: http://stonehengetravel.co.uk/sunset-experience-stonehenge-inner-circle.htm

Stonehenge Travel Co, Salisbury

‘Missing piece’ of Stonehenge Avenue uncovered

Archaeologists have uncovered a missing piece of the Stonehenge Avenue, the route leading to the prehistoric monument.

During works to decommission the nearby A344, archeologists discovered two ditches belonging to the Avenue, buried beneath the roadbed.
Stonehenge visitor experience

The 2.5km Avenue has long been considered the formal processional approach to the monument, and is aligned with the solstice axis of Stonehenge. But its connection with the monument had been severed by the A344.

Archeologists were unsure whether the remains of the severed section of the Avenue would be intact. But two ditches were found near the Heel Stone, about 24 metres from the entrance to the monument.

A section of the A344 running past Stonehenge was closed permanently in June. The road will be grassed over to improve the Stonehenge visitor experience.

Heather Sebire, properties curator and archaeologist at English Heritage, said: “The part of the Avenue that was cut through by the road has obviously been destroyed forever, but we were hopeful that archaeology below the road would survive.

“And here we have it – the missing piece in the jigsaw.  It is very exciting to find a piece of physical evidence that officially makes the connection which we were hoping for.

“It was always agreed that once the road came up it would be excavated. We hoped the ditches would be there but there was a slight unknown element, so we were delighted to find they were there.

“We are fairly sure the Avenue outlines the walkway towards the stones.

“It was constructed in 2300 BC so is a later addition to the stone circle, but people would have processed along it to the monument. It leads directly into what we think is the entrance, and links the monument to the river Avon.

“It’s quite a dramatic finding.”

Once the A344 has been grassed over, it will be used as the visitor route into Stonehenge. Visitors will be able to walk along the Avenue, tracing the route along which people in prehistoric Britain most likely made their way to the monument.

Submitted by Emma McFarnon (HistoryExtra.com)
Full article: http://www.historyextra.com/news/%E2%80%98missing-piece%E2%80%99-stonehenge-avenue-uncovered

Why not take a guided tour of Stonehenge and find out more

The Stonehenge Travel Company

Expert casts light on Stonehenge mystery

Revellers gather at the World Heritage site at Stonehenge in
Wiltshire to watch the sunrise during the summer solstice,
marking the longest day of the year

Revellers gather at the World Heritage site at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to watch the sunrise during the summer solstice, marking the longest day of the year


The thousands of people attending the summer solstice at Stonehenge this year – and for the past 13 years – might have got it completely wrong, for experts have revealed that the ancient monument just happens to align with the solstice sunrise.
Instead, the stones were built to align with an Ice Age landform, a series of naturally occurring fissures cut into ridges in the landscape – and it’s pure coincidence these align with the midwinter sunset in the south west and the midsummer sunrise in the north east.
That is the latest expert view from a lengthy project to discover as much as possible about Stonehenge, led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who has had the first chance in more than a century to have a dig around under the A344, one of the two major A-roads that surround the stones.
The road was closed earlier this year, and will ultimately be grassed over, but its Tarmac ran over the path of The Avenue, the ancient pathway that once led to the stones from a nearby river and places where Stonehenge’s users are thought to have lived.

When they dug up the road, they discovered The Avenue is half-natural.
“This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one,” said Prof Parker Pearson. “So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land.
“It’s hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they were so interested in the solstices. It’s not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it’s about how this place was special to prehistoric people,” he said.
As well as being allowed to scrape away the layers of history under the newly-closed road, the dry and hot summer of 2013 has also helped to yield new information – thanks to a short hose.
English Heritage keep the grass around the stones well-watered to maintain the lush greenery, but the hose doesn’t reach one corner where the grass turned brown like much of the West this summer.
In the brown patch, two members of staff spotted discoloured areas of grass – or parchmarks – which are the tell-tale sign that mighty stones once stood there.
That means experts are now convinced – even though the presence of stones there once was not picked up on the high-tech surveying equipment over the years – that the outer sarsen circle would have been a complete circle.

“The problem is we’ve not had a decent dry summer in years,” said Prof Parker Pearson. “Stonehenge is regularly watered, and these have shown up only because the hose was too short.”

Stonehenge theories
Local legend had Stonehenge built by Merlin, who brought the bluestones from Wales. For many years, it was assumed the stones’ alignment with the sunrise on the summer solstice meant its purpose was for sun worship. More practically, a follow-up theory had Stonehenge built as a huge and elaborate astronomical clock. One book claimed it was the landing marker for aliens.

Stonehenge Guide

Neolithic skull fragment discovered on banks of Avon from around the time Stonehenge was built.

Archaeologists say ‘exceptional’ find by dog walker near Pershore, Worcestershire, raises more questions than answers.

Part of a 5,000-year-old skull found on the banks of the Avon.
Archaeologist says that where the fragment was found
was unlikely to be where it was buried.
Photograph: Richard Vernalls/PA

A 5,000-year-old mystery has been sparked after part of a human skull was found on a riverbank. Archaeologists said the unbroken piece of upper skull was in “fabulous” condition with the intricate marks from the blood vessels still visible on the inner surface.
There are suggestions it may have belonged to a middle-aged woman from the neolithic period – around the time Stonehenge was built. The skull is also prompting questions about where it may have come from.
A dog walker stumbled across the fragment, which measures 15cm by 10cm (6in by 4in), this year but initially thought it was part of a ball or a coconut shell. The next day he returned to the site on the banks of the Avon near Pershore, Worcestershire, for a closer look and, realising what it was, called police.
West Mercia police contacted experts at Worcestershire Archaeology, who sent the skull to be radiocarbon dated.
“When I first saw the skull, I thought it may have been Anglo-Saxon or Roman but I knew that it was not recent due to the colour,” said Nick Daffern, senior archaeologist. “But we were all surprised when the radiocarbon dating put it at between 3,338 BC and 3,035 BC, or about the middle neolithic period.
“It is so well preserved, it is unthinkable that this had been in the river for any length of time which begs the question as to where it has come from.
“We know of Roman, Saxon and medieval burials along the river, but this is very rare – it is an exceptional find. “
He added: “I don’t think it was found where the remains were buried. I think we’ve got a riverside burial and then flooding has brought this down the river. Finding that burial site though would be like finding a needle in a haystack.”
Daffern said that without the rest of the skeleton it was difficult to draw conclusions about the person found, and certainly there is no clue as to how they met their death.
“Myself and a forensic anthropologist believe it is a woman due to the slightness of the skull and the lack of any brow ridges although our conclusions are very tentative because we’re dealing only with the top of a skull,” he said.
“There’s no trauma to the bone, and where it has broken those are natural breaks, nor is there any sign of disease so we’ve no idea as to cause of death.
“The natural fusion of the bone in the skull leads me to believe it may be an older woman, possibly in her 50s, but that is very tentative again. Unfortunately, it remains a bit of a mystery.”
The find is a few miles from Bredon hill, which has been a scene of human activity down the ages and still boasts the earthen ramparts of an iron age hill fort. However, finds of neolithic remains are rare.
“Whenever we come across neolithic remains, there seems to be a solid dividing line between where they buried their dead and where they lived, and that is no accident,” he said. “But it is frustrating as an archaeologist because although we have the physical evidence, we still don’t have the answers as to why.”
The skull is only the second set of neolithic remains to be found in the county, although two large 6,000-year-old “halls of the dead” were found in nearby Herefordshire this year but without any human remains present.

Article from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/30/neolithic-skull-fragment-avon-river-pershore
Stonehenge Tourist Guide

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