As Stonehenge celebrates 30 years as a World Heritage Site, National Trust rangers and volunteers in Wiltshire are working closely with farmers to restore the chalk grassland landscape that would have been familiar to the monument’s original builders.
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THE history of the Stonehenge landscape could be rewritten completely after a new discovery by archaeologists.
Remains of a huge ceremonial gathering place were found near Larkhill, dating back to 3650 BC – about 700 years before Stonehenge was built.
The remains, which were discovered during archaeological excavations ahead of construction of new services accommodation, are of a Neolithic enclosure, a major ceremonial gathering place measuring about 200m in diameter.
So far pottery, worked flint, animal bones and human skull fragments have been found in the ditches surrounding the enclosure, which would likely have been used for temporary settlement, exchanging animals and other goods or for feasting and other ritual activities, including the disposal of the dead.
Dr Matt Leivers of Wessex Archaeology said: “This is an exciting new find, and one that transforms our understanding of this important monumental landscape.”
The majority of the site lies within the Larkhill Garrison, where it will remain unaffected by the current works.
Only about 70 enclosures of this type are known across the UK, and they’re thought to be some of the earliest built structures in the British landscape.
Nearby, at Bulford, archaeologists have found a unique double henge, the only known example in Britain, which dates back to around 2900 BC.
Martin Brown, the principal archaeologist for WYG, who are managing and directing the archaeological work on both site, said: “These discoveries are changing the way we think about prehistoric Wiltshire and about the Stonehenge landscape in particular.
“The Neolithic people whose monuments we are exploring shaped the world we inhabit: they were the first farmers and the first people who settled down in this landscape, setting us on the path to the modern world.
“It is an enormous privilege to hold their tools and investigate their lives.”
Article by Rebecca Hudson. Salisbury Journal
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company
A new paper published in the Journal of the Geological Society has lent support to recent theories about the origin of the mysterious ‘bluestones’ of Stonehenge.
It has long been known that some of the rocks that make up Stonehenge must have travelled a long distance before becoming part of the monument. Whilst the larger sandstone blocks (‘sarsen’ stones) that make up its outer circle are thought to have a local origin from the Marlborough Downs area, the smaller ‘bluestones’ are exotic to the region.
The term ‘bluestone’ in relation to Stonehenge encompasses around twenty different rock types, including rhyolites, dolerites and ‘calcereous ashes.’
In 2011, a megalithic bluestone quarry was discovered at a site in South West Wales known as Craig Rhos-y-felin. Since then, it has been suggested as the source…
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English Heritage is celebrating 30 years of World Heritage Site status for Stonehenge this weekend.
To launch the 30th Anniversary celebrations, students from local Stonehenge School and Avon Valley College are today unveiling a special plaque highlighting the World Heritage Site status of the iconic Wiltshire monument.
Thousands flock to the site for summer solstice every year. Photo: ITV West Country
n 1986 Stonehenge and Avebury were among the first seven sites in the UK to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
World Heritage Site status gives Stonehenge and Avebury international recognition alongside sites such the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Galapagos Islands as a place of exceptional importance to all humanity.
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As religious beliefs and the location of human settlements have developed over time, so have our burial rites and memorials to the dead.
Our knowledge of these rituals is instrumental in understanding the communities which have inhabited England throughout our known history. Sites such as the recently uncovered Anglo Saxon cemetery in Norfolk, in an excavation by archaeologists from MOLA and funded by Historic England, open up the history of our attitude to death and inform the protection of these important sites.
Here is a short chronology of 5 fascinating burial sites in England:
Upper Palaeolithic (40,000- 10,000 years ago)
Gough’s Cave, Cheddar Gorge.
Goughs Cave, by Rwendland via Wikimedia commons
A scheduled monument, Gough’s Cave in Somerset provides rare evidence of human activity in the period from about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. Organic and other fragile materials often survive well in caves and rock shelters, making them…
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The bluestones at Stonehenge are the smaller rocks you can see standing inside the huge sarsens that form the outer circle and the inner trilithons.
They range in size from stumps barely visible in the turf through to slender pillars standing nearly 2.5m tall (plus another metre or more below gound) with the largest weighing between 2 and 3 tonnes.
These rocks definitely come from the Preseli Mountains in southwest Wales, 150 miles from Stonehenge as the crow flies. Their place of origin was first established in 1923 by the geologist H. H. Thomas and has been confirmed by modern geochemical analysis. They used to be known as the “foreign stones” because it was recognised that they weren’t local to the Stonehenge area.
The name bluestone is a collective term and there are two main types – spotted dolerite and rhyolite.
It’s not obvious why they’re called bluestones to most…
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Shop ’til you drop at Salisbury’s annual Christmas Market, held in the beautiful Market Place. (24th November – 18th December)
With beautifully decorated chalets, inspiring and desirable gifts and a very warm welcome, be sure to pay a visit to the Salisbury Christmas Market this year.
Meet Father Christmas, enjoy the food and drink stalls and hear traditional music from local choirs and schools whilst you shop.
Many of the chalets sell British made products, making it the perfect place to pick up a unique gift.
After exploring the stalls, make time to explore Salisbury’s other attractions too, including twilight tower tours of Salisbury Cathedral and candle-lit services, where you can see the twinkling lights of the city from up high.
With special offers running in many of the city’s hotels, you can turn your visit into a festive break.
Make the most of your visit to this beautiful city with a visit to the historic Cathedral and surrounding Close or explore the beautiful surroundings with a trip to Winchester, Stonehenge, or the New Forest. There’s a whole city to discover in Salisbury with ample parking and easy access to public transport, together with a wide range of shops, restaurants, cafes and plenty of places to stay both inside or near to the city. Wht not organise a guided tour of Salisbury and perhaps Stonehenge or even join a coach tour from London
Content provided by VisitWiltshire
The Stonehenge Travel Company, Salisbury, Wiltshire