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Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta 800th Anniversary 2015

Salisbury Cathedral, home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta, will be taking a leading role in the 2015 celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the historic and iconic document the legacy of which has been its enduring global influence. Magna Carta’s clauses on social justice form the cornerstone of modern democracy and liberty worldwide and are as pertinent today as they were 800 years ago.

Magna Carta

Robert Key, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta 800th anniversary committee, said “Salisbury Cathedral is extremely proud to own the finest preserved of the four surviving original 1215 documents. We know how important the Magna Carta is to people from across the globe and what it represents for them. The 1215 Magna Carta is inscribed in the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register, underlining the fact that the documents held by Salisbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and The British Library are regarded amongst the world’s most significant documentary heritage.”

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said “Plans are being advanced here at Salisbury Cathedral to commemorate the forthcoming 800th anniversary of Magna Carta by promoting the values and ideals that it represents. Our ambition is to present a wonderful mix of spiritual and secular celebrations, promoting justice and freedom in a practical sense, and running a full programme of learning and outreach events for people of all ages. We aim to inspire further activity in the years that follow by leaving a lasting national and international legacy.”

Salisbury Cathedral intends to re-display and re-present its Magna Carta in the newly-conserved Chapter House, safeguarding the document for the future and using the latest interpretation techniques to communicate Magna Carta’s historic background and modern significance to the many extra visitors it expects to welcome in 2015. It also hopes to conserve and repair the Cathedral’s medieval Cloisters where the Chapter House is located.

Plans for further celebrations are underway, and aim to include a lecture series chaired by the Dean of Salisbury featuring international speakers exploring topics inspired by Magna Carta. The Cathedral also has ambitions to present a Medieval Fair for all the family, a pageant involving hundreds of local people, a special concert, a Celebratory Eucharist and a week-long flower festival, as well as other events. Alongside this activity, the Cathedral’s education department will work closely with schools throughout the year to deliver curriculum-focused programmes supporting citizenship and history.

Salisbury Cathedral is working closely with partners to deliver its ambitious programme, these include: The British Library, Diocese of Salisbury, Lincoln Cathedral, Magna Carta 800th Committee/ Magna Carta Trust, Wiltshire Council, Dorset County Council, Salisbury City Council, Visit Wiltshire, UNESCO, and AGEAS Salisbury International Arts Festival.

Brief background information on Magna Carta 1215
Magna Carta is one of the most celebrated documents in English history, regarded as the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy, and its legacy has been its enduring worldwide influence. It was written in Latin, the language of all official documents of the period, on a single skin of vellum (calfskin). It consists of 63 clauses written on 76 tightly packed lines, written with the standard medieval time and space-saving abbreviations. It is one of the most celebrated documents in English history whose importance cannot be exaggerated.  It is often claimed to be the cornerstone of English liberty, law and democracy and its legacy has been its enduring and worldwide influence.  The critical importance of the charter is that it imposed for the first time detailed written constraints on royal authority in the fields of taxation, feudal rights and justice, and limited unjust and arbitrary behaviour by the king.  Magna Carta has become an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world. The other surviving copies are held by the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral Chapter House opening times to see Magna Carta 1215 are:
Monday-Saturday: 1 April – 31 October, 9.30am – 4.30pm, 1 November – 31 March, 10.00am – 4.30pm
Sundays:  all year, 12.45pm – 4.30pm.



The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company, Salisbury
Expert Guided tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury


Scientists claim to have solved the mystery of Stonehenge’s location

Archaeologists who have been undertaking excavation work in the surrounding area of Stonehenge have claimed to have solved the mystery as to why the large circle of standing stones was constructed in the position it is in. However, it seems rather premature to be popping open the champagne bottles just yet as the evidence is far from conclusive.

Visit StonehengeThe team of scientists working in Amesbury, a short distance from where the landmarks sits on a hillside, believe the discovery of a ‘warm’ water spring provides all the answers they were looking for.  It is claimed that Ice Age man was drawn to the nearby pools which never froze over and settled in the area to have access to the water.

The pools are fed by a spring which keeps the water at a constant 11 degrees, even in winter. Scientists visited the area in minus ten degree temperatures and found that the pools had not frozen over.

“The belief has always been that Stonehenge would not have been built here without there being something special about the area, said Andy Rhind-Tutt, chairman of the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust. “We believe the answer lies in the springs which feed the River Avon.”

The reason for Stonehenge’s location has remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of British prehistory, with no one theory accepted as correct. While the latest finding is interesting, it certainly appears too superficial to explain all the other evidence relating to Stonehenge’s location – were the warm springs a big enough motivation for Mesolithic settlers to drag megalithic blocks over 240 kilometres? Is the fact that it sits perfectly on a solstice axis now considered insignificant?

Hopefully scientists don’t believe this research is enough to close the file on the mysteries of Stonehenge.

By April Holloway (

Join a guided tour from Salisbury and  learn more.
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company, Salisbury Wiltshire

New pre-historic galleries at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes has just opened 4 new fantastic pre-historic galleries following a £750,000 project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Wiltshire Council, the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty and other sources.

Wiltshire Heritage MuseumFor the first time for many years some of the “crown jewels” of Stonehenge can be viewed in state of the art exhibition cases.  It includes the largest collection of Early Bronze Age gold ever put on public display in England.

David Dawson, Director of Wiltshire Museum said: “Devizes is mid-way between two of the world’s most important ancient monuments – the great prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury. Visiting the Wiltshire Museum completes the experience of seeing these two iconic sites.

A visit to the Wiltshire Museum is essential to really understand the rich history of the WHS and life in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age.

You can read about the new galleries here.

Stonehenge visitor centre opens on 18 December and the new interpretation gallery features loans from Wiltshire Museum.

The Salisbury Museum opens its newly refurbished prehistoric galleries in Spring 2014.


Our guided tours from Salisbury will be including this fascinating museum in 2014.

Stonehenge Guided Tours, Salisbury


Avebury and Stonehenge Landscape – the bigger picture


If you want to get a sense of how truly extraordinary Avebury is there are two ways of doing it. One is to see it from the air and the other is to take a tour with one of our fantastic volunteer stone circle guides. Now you can combine the two as stone circles guide Mike Robinson accompanies you on a bird’s eye journey around the henge.

Our stone circles guides are out in all weathers, year round, sharing their passion for Avebury, its archaeology and the people who’ve helped reveal its story. So when you next visit why not pop along to the Barn Gallery of the Museum and book yourself onto a tour?

But if its the Stonehenge Landscape that has you hooked, fear not, our dedicated team of volunteer guides offer year round landscape walks there too.

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Amesbury dig may unravel Stonehenge mysteries

Archaeologists have started a new excavation of Amesbury in an attempt to uncover some of the mysteries of Stonehenge. Amesbury is located in southern Wiltshire, England, and in recent years has revealed some incredible archaeological discoveries, including numerous monuments and artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic era.  The major dig due to start soon could help to explain why Stonehenge was built where it was.

Amesbury DifExcavations since 2005 have indicated that Amesbury and the surrounding area has been settled for around 10,000 years, much earlier than previous thought.  Findings have included large scale prehistoric structures and settlements and numerous monuments around Stonehenge.

The last significant finding occurred at a site called Vespasian’s Camp, approximately 1 mile from Stonehenge, which showed traces of human settlement 3,000 years before nearby Stonehenge was apparently built.  David Jacques, a researcher who has directed eleven small excavations between 2005 and 2012, has described the site as “potentially one of the pivotal places in the history of the Stonehenge landscape.”

New excavations will be seeking to establish Amesbury as the oldest continuous settlement in the UK. At the moment, neighbouring region, Thatcham, has evidence for the oldest settlement with well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic settlement dating back to 7,700 BC. In Amesbury, evidence of settlement has been found dating back to 7,596 BC, but archaeologists have not yet reached the bottom section of the trench where previous digs took place, indicating that much older evidence may be found beneath. The team is hoping to find evidence of settlement going back to 10,000 BC.

But the dig is about much more than establishing the oldest date of settlement. The team or archaeologists believe that findings may help to explain why Stonehenge is where it is.

“No-one would have built Stonehenge without there being something really special about the area, said Andy Rhind-Tutt from Amesbury Museum.” There must have been something there beforehand and Amesbury may well be it – [it could be] one of the greatest Mesolithic sites in the country.”

The dig will finish on 25th October and findings from the excavation will be reported then.

By April Holloway (

The Stonehenge Travel Company (
Stonehenge Guided Tours from Salisbury

Stonehenge Stone Circle Access Visits with Permission from English Heritage

Stone Circle Access visits take place outside the normal opening times at Stonehenge, and are very early in the morning or late in the evening, and are not offered during the normal opening times.

The visit must be pre-booked and paid for in advance of your visit by completing the Stone Circle Access application. Each visitStonehenge Access lasts for one hour, and we allow only a maximum of 26 people within the stones.

A Stone Circle Access visit is not a guided tour, and touching of the stones is not permitted. The visits provide the opportunity to go into the centre of the stone circle which is not possible during normal opening hours when visitors have to stay outside the stone circle.

As the visits are out of hours, there are no audio guides available and the gift shop and catering outlet are also closed.  However, if you have a stone circle access reservation you can also visit Stonehenge during normal opening times on the same day for no additional cost.

To enhance your Stone Circle Access visit you can order a guidebook, which will be ready for your collection at the time of your visit.

Booking and Availability

As visits to the inner stones are high in demand, your booking request must be sent well in advance of your proposed time. (We cannot accept last minute bookings which are within 24 hours of your requested date.)

Stone Circle Access is not available throughout the year on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings as we have scheduled grounds maintenance at these times.

English Heritage are now taking bookings for January to September 2014. Please make sure you fill in the appropriate Application Form (see ‘Related Documents’). If you wish to make an enquiry about availability then please call +44 (0)870 333 0605, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Please note that the booking office is closed at weekends and bank holidays.

You can also email them at with a booking form.

Please note:  English Heritage reserves the right to cancel any arranged visits at short notice and will not be held liable for any costs incurred.

Visit there Wesbsite for full details:

The Stonehenge Travel Company offer local expert guides and personal small group tours from Salisbury.  Please take the time to visit our website:

Opening date announced for new Stonehenge facilities

English Heritage has announced that new visitor facilities at Stonehenge will open to the public on 18th December 2013, accompanied by a host of group travel benefits.  

Stonehenge in all its glory

New exhibitions and a visitor centre

Highlights of the attraction include a new visitor centre housing permanent and temporary exhibitions featuring a ‘Stone Circle’ which visitors can stand inside to experience a virtual solstice. You can also discover some of the theories around the origins of the monument and see some of its archaeological finds displayed on site for the first time.

There is a shop, café with seating for up to 260 people, plus an external exhibition featuring a cluster of Neolithic houses which will be built from January 2014 and completed by Easter.

Frequent visitor shuttle service, able to carry 850 visitors an hour to the Stone Circle, is available, and there is also one stop en route so that visitors can opt to walk part of the way if they wish through the ancient archaeological landscape surrounding the monument.

Group booking information

A Stonehenge-only booking line (exclusively for group travel organisers and tour operators to use) will open on 1st October. Pre-booked timed tickets will be required for all groups of 11 or more, with a ten per cent discount plus free entry for organisers.

Organisers will find dedicated parking for up to 30 coaches, with a drop-off bay outside a group’s reception building, where you can collect pre-printed tickets and free audio tours in ten languages.

For further group travel information contact:

0870-333 0604

The Stonehenge Travel Company
Salisbury, Wiltshre


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 , email 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.  }

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:

Wiltshire’s official tourist information:

Needless to say we will be operating private guided sightseeing tours of Salisbury and Stonehenge.  Please visit our website:

Salisbury Tour Guide
The Stonehenge Travel Co, Salisbury

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:

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 (
Full article:

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