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Hollywood film crews have descended on Wiltshire to film the latest blockbuster from the Transformers franchise.
Scenes from the sci-fi epic – Transformers: The Last Knight are being filmed in Wiltshire using the famous Stonehenge monument.
There is no doubt that the spin-offs of such a big budget movie could be enormous and will be felt throughout the local tourism industry and economy. History proved this much when Harry Potter was filmed in Alnwick. At present there are an estimated 200 crew members staying in accommodation in the area and spending money in local shops and restaurants. In the longer run, the film will bring the type of international publicity for the area that no amount of advertising could buy. It is fantastic that they have chosen our beautiful county as a film location.
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Archaeologists have discovered the oldest prehistoric building ever found in the Stonehenge landscape – but fear a new road tunnel could severely damage the site.
Dating from around 6,300 years ago – at least 1,300 years before Stonehenge – it was built immediately adjacent to a sacred Stone Age spring.
Academics have dubbed it an “eco” house because the base of a fallen tree was used as one of the walls.
The building is important as it appears to have been constructed by indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers at the time when the very first semi-agricultural European-originating Neolithic settlers were arriving in the area.
The tools found in the building are Mesolithic (ie, pre-Neolithic) – but the period they date from is the dawn of the early Neolithic. Archaeological discoveries are revealing that, within just a few generations, the population at the site had adopted Neolithic tool-making traditions – or alternatively had been physically displaced by Neolithic settlers.
The potentially semi-permanent nature of the newly discovered house is suggested by the deep post-holes used to construct it and by a large cobbled area (covering at least 90 square metres – and including a pathway), immediately adjacent to it.
The cobbled path led down to a spring which Mesolithic people used as a place for making ritual offerings.
So far, archaeologists at the site, just over a mile east of Stonehenge, have found tens of thousands of objects placed by these Stone Age people in the spring – including more than 20,000 flint tools, a large sandstone animal skin smoother, a slate arrow head from Cornwall or Wales, pieces of burnt flint and more than 2,400 animal bones .
Archaeologists are now worried that the Government’s plan to improve the Stonehenge landscape by putting the A303 in a cutting and tunnel, will change the local water level and thus destroy or severely damage the spring and any important and potentially unique water-logged archaeological remains.
“I am very concerned that any reduction in the groundwater level at the spring site and elsewhere in the Avon valley might potentially be a threat to archaeologically important waterlogged organic artefacts and ancient environmental evidence,” said University of Buckingham archaeologist David Jacques, directing the excavation.
The newly discovered Stone Age dwelling is believed to have measured around five by three metres and included a sunken area measuring five square metres where animal skins were scraped and cleaned and clothes were made.
The residents also developed an innovative way of keeping warm in winter. They used hot stones, pre-heated in a hearth, as a form of central heating.
In a joint statement, Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust said: “Our understanding of the site will no doubt be enhanced by the work recently undertaken by the University of Buckingham and we are confident that its importance will be taken into consideration as the various options for the Government’s road scheme are developed. We look forward to hearing more about this important Mesolithic site and seeing the full academic results when available.”
Five Neolithic houses have been recreated at Stonehenge to reveal how the ancient monument’s builders would have lived 4,500 years ago.
The single-room, 5m (16ft) wide homes made of chalk and straw daub and wheat-thatching, are based on archaeological remains at nearby Durrington Walls.
Susan Greaney, from English Heritage, said the houses are the result of “archaeological evidence, educated guess work, and lots of physical work.”
The houses open to the public, later.
The “bright and airy” Neolithic homes are closely based on archaeological remains of houses, discovered just over a mile away from Stonehenge.
Dated to about the same time as the large sarsen stones were being erected, English Heritage said experts believe they may have housed the people involved with constructing the monument.
Excavations at Durrington Walls, not only uncovered the floors of houses but stake holes where walls had once stood – providing “valuable evidence” to their size and layout.
“Far from being dark and primitive, the homes were incredibly bright and airy spaces” – Spokesman English Heritage
“We know for example, that each house contained a hearth and that puddled chalk was used to make the floor,” said a spokesman for English Heritage.
“And far from being dark and primitive, the homes were incredibly bright and airy spaces with white chalk walls and floors designed to reflect sunlight and capture the heat from the fire.”
‘Labour of love’
Using authentic local materials including 20 tonnes of chalk, 5,000 rods of hazel and three tonnes of wheat straw, it has taken a team of 60 volunteers five months to re-create the homes.
Susan Greaney, a historian at English Heritage, said it had been a “labour of love” and an “incredible learning experience” for the volunteers.
“One of the things we’re trying to do at Stonehenge is to re-connect the ancient stones with the people that lived and worked in the surrounding landscape,” she said.
“Now visitors can step through the door of these houses and get a real sense of what everyday life might have been like when Stonehenge was built. ”
They are furnished with replica Neolithic axes, pottery and other artefacts
Article source: BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-27656212
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The desire to provide Stonehenge with a more appropriate setting lies at the heart of current developments around the monument, of which the new visitor centre and the closure of the A344 are the most visible. However, this desire is far from new, and first came to the fore in the wake of the First World War. From 1917 to to 1921, Stonehenge had a military aerodrome – the No. 1 School of Aerial Navigation and Bomb Dropping – as a near-neighbour. After 1918, the aerodrome became a focus for debate about just what constituted acceptable and unacceptable modern intrusions into the Stonehenge landscape, ironically at a time when Stonehenge itself was undergoing considerable transformation involving concrete and heavy machinery.
As well as looking at the brief history of the aerodrome itself, this talk will also look back at the Stonehenge landscape prior to 1917 – was it really a timeless landscape of rolling downland pasture, occupied mainly by sheep, shepherds, antiquarians and the occasional landscape painter? And what happened to the aerodrome and its buildings? And did the Royal Flying Corps really ask for the stones to be removed because they were a hazard to low-flying aircraft?
A talk by Martyn Barber, English Heritage. This lecture is in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm from September to April.
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 – 19:30
Salisbury Museum: http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/lectures/battle-stonehenge-aerodrome-monument-and-landscape
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