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Visiting Stonehenge and need a local tour guide?

The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company are based near Stonehenge and widely considered at the local Stonehenge experts.  Operating both scheduled Stonehenge tours and customised bespoke driver / guide tours from Salisbury, Bath and London.   If you are travelling independently and would like to make your visit to Stonehenge truly memorable then why not use one of our expert local tour guides.  We can arrange for them to meet you at the English Heritage visitor centre any time of day throughout the year

Perfect Individual, family and group tours
Stonehenge Inner Circle special access tours
Sunrise or Sunset private access tours
Stonehenge landscape tours including Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, The Cursus and ceremonial landscape.
Astronomical tours.
Virtual reality tours
Nearby Avebury Stone Circle and West Kennet Long Barrow

“The best way to approach Stonehenge is on foot across the landscape, the same way that the ancient Neolithic and Bronze Age people did over 4000 years ago”

Stonehenge close up

Our guides can meet you at Stonehenge for a guided inner circle tour.

“Travelling on foot is a great leveller of centuries, reminding you of the impact sites such as Stonehenge must have had millennia ago” 

Our Stonehenge tour guides are all experienced, local and passionate about prehistory and ancient Britain.  Some have archaeological backgrounds, others are authors, story tellers, astronomers – all eager to share their in-depth knowledge with you.  We can often arrange these tours at short notice but we recommend booking in advance

Please email us for further information: tours@StonehengeTravel.co.uk

The Stonehenge Travel Company
The Local Stonehenge Experts
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

 

Massive Wooden Fire Monument Is Older Than Stonehenge

Carbon dating shows that the site dates back to 3300 B.C.

Sonehenge, the iconic Neolithic site in Wiltshire, England, has intrigued researchers for generations. In recent decades, however, archaeologists have found that Stonehenge isn’t the only ancient megastructure in that area—in fact there are a lot, including Woodhenge, the Southern Circle and Durrington Walls’ recently discovered “super-henge”. Now, new research is putting the spotlight on another monument: an ancient structure consisting of two giant wooden circles, located 23 miles away in Avebury, which predates Stonehenge by 800 years, reports the BBC.

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Aerial view of the wooden circle site (Historic England)

Researchers used bits of charcoal collected from the site 30 years ago to carbon date the structure to 3,300 B.C. Tia Ghose at LiveScience reports that researchers are not certain exactly what the circles were used for, but they were palisades constructed of thousands of logs that were purposely burnt down, perhaps in some sort of fire ritual. The research appears in the magazine British Archaeology.

“The date of 3300 B.C. puts the palisades in a completely different context; it’s the end of the early neolithic, when there’s a blank in our knowledge of the big monuments of the time,” Alex Bayliss, an archaeologist with Historic England, tells Simon de Bruxelles at The Times. “We have an entirely new kind of monument that is like nothing else ever found in Britain.”

Ghose reports that the site was originally found sometime in the 1960s or 1970s when a pipeline was laid in the area. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, though, the area was partially excavated. Researchers found the charred remains of the two circles, one of which was 820 feet in diameter. In total, the enclosures were made of over 4,000 trees and stretched an incredible 2.5 miles. Bayliss says it’s possible that one of the circles was for men and one for women during the fire ritual.

Constructing the monuments was no easy undertaking. The builders would have dug massive trenches, fitting oak posts into holes in the bottom. Then they would have then refilled the trenches to make the palisade.

Ghose reports that during the first excavation, researchers dated a shard of pottery to the time Stonehenge was constructed. Other finds in the area also indicated that it was in use during that time. But advances in carbon dating led to the new findings.

Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, tells de Bruxelles that the new date is sure to stir up debate. “Having this massive palisade structure, not just at Avebury but even in southern England, at 3300 B.C. is completely unexpected,” he says. “The dates are so surprising some archaeologists are going to question it.”

Ghose reports that animal bones, pottery and remains of housing show that people occupied the site and nearby areas for centuries after burning the great circles, which is consistent with historical patterns in England during those times.

Join us on a guided tour of Stonehenge and Avebury and learn more about this important discovery

Stonehenge and Avebury Guided Tours
The local Stonehenge Experts
http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

Dog tooth found near Stonehenge ‘evidence of earliest journey’

A tooth unearthed near Stonehenge shows dogs were man’s best friend even in prehistoric times, it has been claimed.

The tooth, dug up at Blick Mead in Wiltshire, is believed to be evidence of the earliest journey in British history.

Tests found the dog was born in the York area

Tests found the dog was born in the York area

It is thought to be from a pet Alsatian-type dog that travelled 250 miles from York with its owner.

Archaeologist David Jacques said it was significant as it was not known people travelled so far 7,000 years ago.

The shape and size show the tooth was from a domestic dog, he said.

It also suggests people were visiting Stonehenge 2,000 years before the monument was built.

‘New understanding’

“The fact that a dog and a group of people were coming to the area from such a long distance away further underlines just how important the place was four millennia before the circle was built,” Mr Jacques said.

“Discoveries like this give us a completely new understanding of the establishment of the ritual landscape and make Stonehenge even more special than we thought we knew it was.”

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Bones found near the tooth suggest the dog would have feasted on salmon, trout, pike, wild pig and red deer.

Researchers at Durham University used carbon dating to discover the age of the tooth and isotope analysis on the enamel.

Mr Jacques, a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham, said: “We know it was probably born in the area of York.

“It was drinking from the area when it was young, it went on a journey of about 250 miles to the Stonehenge area with people and it ate what the people were eating on this site at Blick Mead.

“You would not get a wolf travelling 250 miles but you’re much more likely to get a dog doing that because it’s travelling with its people.”

Previous excavations have uncovered tools from Wales and the Midlands and evidence people lived near Stonehenge for long periods of time, near the natural springs used hollowed out tree trunks for shelter.

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-37574881

Join us on a guided tour and explore Stonehenge and the nearby landcaspe. rich in archaeological finds.

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
The Local Stonehenge Experts
www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

 

Archaeology Day Tours of Wiltshire’s World Heritage Sites.

Stonehenge and Avebury form part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site which stands testament to the ages. The explanations behind why the sites are located where they are and what their exact purposes are still remain a mystery to this day with a magnetism that has drawn people to them for centuries.

We are pleased to offer exclusive Archaeology Tours visiting both Stonehenge and Avebury throughout 2016. We believe we offer an excellent up-to-date specialist service; giving you the opportunity to learn in great detail about these amazing prehistoric sites, but also leaving you time to explore your surroundings by yourself.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Bath Guided Tour from London

Britian’s most beautiful landscapes
Tour Leaders are qualified archaeologists
Walk the paths of ritual specialists and builders of Britain’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring prehistoric sites, at Stonehenge and Avebury.
Explore the Roman and Georgian history of Bath.
Guaranteed small groups 8 – 18 participants.

This feature-packed archaeological tour takes in the iconic stone circles of Stonehenge

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Small Group Guided Tour of Avebury

and Avebury and a delightful break in the beautiful Roman city of Bath.

Leaving from London by luxury mini coach, this Stonehenge tour will explore its iconic standing stones with expert analysis by a trained archaeologist. Nearby Avebury is an even more impressive site, covering a much wider area and you will also encounter Neolithic burial tombs and the less visited ancient site of Woodhenge.

Mid-day is spent in gorgeous Bath offering history of a different era. There are colorful remnants of its glorious Roman past to see and regency mansion houses from Georgian times. The famous Roman baths are a must see.

Guided tour itinerary:

The morning starts with a visit to Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, home to the ‘Stonehenge Builder’s’ village and the most convincing evidence for human sacrifice. We then travel a short distance to Stonehenge. We enjoy a leisurely paced walk through the landscape immediately surrounding Stonehenge, visiting the Stonehenge Cursus, Bronze Age burial mounds and walk along the Stonehenge Avenue. We complete our morning at Stonehenge with a guided walk around the stone circle, our archaeologists bringing to life this enigmatic, ancient and mysterious monument.

At mid-day we arrive at the beautiful Georgian city of Bath. Here we allow our guests aprox 2 hours to enjoy the centre of this city, famous for Jane Austen, Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. We also use this opportunity for our guests to have lunch.

We conclude our visit to Bath with a coach tour of the most impressive examples of architecture Bath has to offer, visiting the Assembly Rooms, Royal Circus and Royal Crescent.

The Afternoon is spent at the Avebury World Heritage Landscape. We visit Silbury Hill, the largest man-made hill in prehistoric Europe. We enter the 5500 year old burial chamber of West Kennet Long Barrow, entering a sacred space originally reserved only for ritual specialists and the dead.

We finish by visiting the largest stone circle in Europe at Avebury, with its beautiful medieval village situated inside. As John Aubrey in the 1600’s notes [Avebury]…”does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church.”

 

Please also note as part of the Stonehenge, Salisbury and Avebury Archaeologist Guided Tour, the detailed walk around the Stonehenge Cursus, Stonehenge Avenue and Bronze Age burial mounds only runs between March to October, this is due to time restrictions in the winter months
View 2016 Tour Departures and book now

We also offer a Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury guided tour

Bringing History Alive……………..

Links:
STONEHENGE & AVEBURY WORLD HERITAGE SITE
VISIT WILTSHIRE WORLD HERITAGE SITE INFORMATION

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
The Stonehenge Travel and Tour Company
http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

 

Huge ritual monument found hidden near Stonehenge.

The super-henge of Durrington Walls has been hiding a secret for thousands of years. A huge row of megalithic stones buried beneath.

SUPERHENGE

A huge ritual monument which dates from the time of Stonehenge has been discovered hidden under the bank of a nearby stone-age enclosure.

Durrington Walls, a roundish ‘super-henge’ has long puzzled archaeologists because one side is straight while the rest of the structure is curved.

As early as 1810, historian Richard Colt Hoare suggested that its shape had been left ‘much mutilated’ by centuries of agriculture.

But now ground penetrating radar has found that the straight edge is actually aligned over a row of 90 massive standing stones which once stood 15ft high, and formed a c-shaped arena which has not been seen for thousands of years.

The stone line, which curves into a c-shape towards one end, is likely to have marked a ritual procession route, and is thought to date from the same time as the sarsen circle at Stonehenge.

Archaeologists believe the stones were pushed over and a bank built on top, but they are still trying to work out exactly why they were built. Nothing exists like it in the world.

“It’s utterly remarkable,” said Professor Vince Gaffney, of the University of Bradford. “It’s just enormous. It is definitely one of the largest stone monuments in Europe and is completely unique. We’ve never seen anything like this in the world.

“We can’t tell what the stones are made of, but they are the same height as the sarsens in the Stonehenge circle, so they may be the same kind.

“It was probably for a ritual of some sort, or it could have marked out an arena. These monuments were very theatrical. This a design to impress and empower.

“Not only does the new evidence demonstrate a completely unexpected phase of monumental architecture at one of the greatest ceremonial sites in prehistoric Europe, the new stone row could well be contemporary with the famous Stonehenge sarsen circle or even earlier.”

Durrington Walls, which sits in a depression not far from the River Avon, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, is one of the largest known henge monuments, measuring around 1,640 feet in diameter and built around 4,500 years ago in the Neolithic, or new stone age.

It is surrounded by a ditch of up to 54ft wide and a bank of more than three foot high and is built on the same summer solstice alignment as Stonehenge. Some archaeoolgists have suggested that the builders of Stonehenge lived at Durrington. A nearby wooden structure, called Wood Henge was thought to represent the land of the living while Stonehenge represented the realm of the dead.
But the discovery of the stones suggests that Durrington Walls had a far earlier and less domestic history than has previously been supposed.

The Bradford archaeologists have been working alongside an international team of experts as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes project which has been mapping the entire area around with the latest technology.

“Everything previously written about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be re-written,” said Paul Garwood, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham and principle prehistorian on the project.

Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Avebury and Stonehenge World Heritage Site, said the new results were providing ‘unexpected twists in the age old tale.’

“These latest results have produced tantalising evidence of what lies beneath the ancient earthworks at Durrington Walls. The presence of what appear to be stones, surrounding the site of one of the largest Neolithic settlements in Europe adds a whole new chapter to the Stonehenge story.”

The research will be presented at the British Science Festival in Bradford this week.

Story By: Sarah Knapton, Science Editor – The Telegraph
Stonehenge and Avebury Guided Tour Experts
The Stonehenge Travel Company
Salisbury Wiltshire

Wiltshire house rivalled Stonehenge as a hub for ancient Britons

Neolithic building on vast site at Marden Henge is welcoming public visitors again after thousands of years buried beneath farmland.

marden2

Pieces of flint tools dropped more than 4,300 years ago on the floor of a house as old as Stonehenge have been laid bare on the edge of Marden Henge, a giant ditch and bank enclosure so buried in rich Wiltshire farmland that it has almost vanished from view.

“We’ve over-fetishised Stonehenge for far too long, because those giant trilithons are just so damn impressive,” said Dr Jim Leary, director of this summer’s excavation with the Reading University archaeology summer school, in the lush Vale of Pewsey. “It could well be that this was really where it was at in the Neolithic.”

The rectangular building will welcome visitors next weekend for an open day which is part of the national festival of archaeology. The house, believed to be one of the best preserved from the period ever found in the UK, and made to look smarter with tonnes of white chalk brought from miles away and stamped into a kind of plaster, is as neatly levelled and regular as the nearby postwar bungalows built on top of part of the henge bank.

The house and other parts of the huge site have already produced finds including beautifully worked flint arrowheads and blades, decorated pottery including some pieces with the residue of the last meals cooked in them, shale and copper bracelets and a beautiful little Roman brooch – and the tiny jawbone of a vole. Analysis of the mass of seeds and charred grains recovered will reveal what the people were growing and eating.

Pig bones – probably the remains of at least 13 animals, food for hundreds of people – and scorch marks from a charcoal firepit suggest the house was never a permanent residence but connected with great gatherings for feasts. When it was abandoned the entire site, pig bones and all, was cleaned and neatly covered with earth, so it would never be used again.

The structure originally stood on a terrace overlooking a mound, within a small earth-banked circle, in turn part of the enormous Marden Henge.

Leary, joined by archaeology students, professionals and amateurs from all over the world, who will continue working on the site for years to come, is peeling back the layers of a monument that was once one of the biggest and most impressive in Britain. Ramparts three metres high enclosed a vast space of 15 hectares, far larger than the Avebury or Stonehenge circles, and too large for any imaginable practical use.

Leary believes the purpose must have been status, showing off wealth and power in the ability to mobilise a massive workforce. “Avebury had the huge ditches, Stonehenge upped the ante with the massive trilothons, Marden had this enormous enclosure.”

The site is so vast that it takes Leary and fellow director Amanda Clarke 40 minutes to walk from the team working on the house to the diggers who have uncovered a previously unrecorded Roman complex including the foundations of an impressive barn.

Like the Durrington Walls henge a few miles downstream, and Stonehenge itself, Marden was linked to the river Avon by a navigable flow, now a sedge- and nettle-choked stream, which forms one side of the henge.

“Avebury in one direction and Stonehenge in the other have been excavated and studied for centuries because the preservation of the monuments on chalk is so much better. Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the archaeology of the fertile valleys because the land is so good the monuments have often been ploughed out above ground – but it is a key part of understanding the story.”

Marden’s banks, cut through by later roads or lying under modern farm buildings, grazing cows and ripening crops in many places, once stood three metres tall, towering over an equally deep ditch. The outer ring enclosed a complex of smaller monuments, including the Hatfield Barrow, which was once 15 metres tall, and now survives only as a 15cm ripple in the field. It was excavated in 1807 and, after a collapse caused by the shaft, later completely levelled by the farmer.

The site welcomes visitors every day, but the open day will have finds on display, tours and activities. It will be among more than 1,000 events across the country over the last fortnight of July, including lectures, site tours and visits to archaeology stores and structures normally closed to the public.

  • The Reading University archaeology summer field school open day takes place at Marden Henge, Wiltshire, on 18 July. The Council for British Archaeology festival of archaeology runs nationwide from 11-26 July.

 – The Guardian

Stonehenge and Avebury Guided Tours
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English Heritage has opened five recreated Neolithic houses, in the shadow of Stonehenge.

The recently built Neolithic houses built by volunteers next to the new Stonehenge visitor centre have proved popular with tourists.  Overseas visitors have found them fascinating. This recent international article in Newsweek gives an indepth insight:

Stonehenge Reconstructions Show Brits Have Always Been Houseproud

English Heritage has opened five recreated Neolithic houses, in the shadow of Stonehenge, revealing how the builders of the monument lived 4,500 years ago. At first glance, we could be forgiven for thinking they were built in the modern age. Certainly, their building techniques are very similar to those used on Victorian cottages in nearby Wiltshire villages. The walls were made from cob, a mixture of the local chalk and hay, slapped, when wet, onto seven-year-old hazel stakes. These walls were then topped with thatched roofs, made from knotted straw tied onto a woven hazel frame.neolthic-houses

Far from being dark, little Hobbit spaces, the interiors are surprisingly bright, illuminated by the white chalk walls and floors, and open door. A tall man can easily stand up straight inside. In the middle of the room, the ash-log fire on the hearth sends up smoke, which seeps through the thatch. As the smoke slowly dissipates, it creates a thin carbon dioxide layer against the straw that stops any spark from the fire igniting the thatch. As if that weren’t ingenious enough, the thatch expands in the rain, providing an even more waterproof membrane.

The houses are pretty small – around 5m across – but they were certainly big enough to hold a family: English Heritage has managed to fit in 15 people easily into a single house, gathered around the fire.

It wasn’t just the architecture that was astonishingly avant-garde. Furniture in 2,500 BC, when Stonehenge and these cottages were thought to have been built, was pretty advanced too. Neolithic man slept on animal skins on wooden beds, with cupboards and shelves carefully inserted into the wall. In the house and outside the front door, there were handy pits, filled with handsome, striped pottery, known as “grooved ware”, the first pottery in Britain with a flat base. The pits also contained a selection of flints and animal bones, carved to create every conceivable mod con. Near Stonehenge, archaeologists have found chalk axes, bone tweezers, flint awls for piercing holes in bone and leather, flint saws and flint “fabricators” to create sparks for igniting fires.

The beauty of these objects – and the advanced engineering of the houses – seems particularly astonishing when we consider how early on in European, and global, civilisation they were made. In 2,500 BC, the Great Pyramid was being built at Giza, in Egypt. It was 500 years before the Minoan civilisation flourished at the Palace of Knossos; 900 years before the Mycenean civilisation in mainland Greece; and 2,000 years before the Parthenon was constructed. Jesus Christ is 500 years closer to us today than he was to the people who lived in these houses

Constructed over five months by 60 English Heritage volunteers, the buildings were closely based on the remains of Neolithic houses discovered in 2006 and 2007 at Durrington Walls, a ceremonial earthwork enclosure just north-east of Stonehenge. Radiocarbon dating has placed that settlement at about the same time that the mammoth sarsen stones from north Wiltshire, and the smaller bluestones from south Wales, were being raised at Stonehenge. So they’re among the earliest houses ever found in Britain.

Just like those nearby Wiltshire villages today, Durrington Walls consisted of a series of these cottages – and there may be 100s more, yet to be found – clustered closely together, but separated by woven wooden fences.

Again like lots of modern villages, Durrington Walls was built next to the River Avon – a crucial water source, home not just to trout and salmon, but to beavers and otters, much prized for their fur. Edible plants grew in the nearby damp soil, and red deer came to drink at the water’s edge. Deer antlers were used both as pickaxes and rakes to build the ditch and banks that circle Stonehenge. One red deer antler pick was found, laid carefully right on the floor of the ditch, perhaps to celebrate the end of the work.  

The Flintstone diet wasn’t so different to ours, either: surviving cow and pig bones, some of them still with butchering marks on them, reveal a meat-rich diet, although there’s little trace of any cereal grain.

Already at this early stage, there are plenty of signs of human migration by water, too. The Amesbury Archer – whose burial was discovered in 2002, 5km east of Stonehenge – was born in the Alps, probably in what is now Switzerland. His origins were found thanks to chemical analysis of his teeth. The Amesbury Archer is thought to have been buried in 2,400 BC, a century after Stonehenge was built.

His body was surrounded by a glittering array of treasures: three copper knives, 16 flint arrowheads and a pair of gold hair ornaments, the earliest gold found in Britain. He was also buried with two archers’ stone wrist-protectors, which gave him his moniker. Alongside him, there were five delicately-carved and shaped Beaker pots, which gave their name to the neolithic Beaker culture, which spread right across western Europe, from present-day Holland to Spain, France and Germany.

The more archaeological research is made into Stonehenge man, the more evidence emerges that Britain wasn’t some remote backwater in the Neolithic Age, waiting for the Romans to provide it with the basics of civilised life. In the new Stonehenge visitors’ centre, hidden in a fold of Salisbury Plain close to the stones, there stands the skeleton of another early Neolithic Briton – whose recent bone analysis reveals quite how advanced this supposedly primitive civilisation was. The skeleton – excavated from a long barrow at Winterbourne Stoke, 3km west of Stonehenge – belonged to a man active in 3,000 BC, when the first earthwork enclosure at Stonehenge was built. Examining the enamel in his teeth – and the levels of strontium and oxygen, elements which vary in quantity from location to location – archaeologists have determined that he was probably born in Wales, moved to Wiltshire at two, went back to Wales at nine, and then shuttled between Stonehenge and Wales from 11 to 15. These regular journeys might explain the Welsh bluestones at Stonehenge – they were religious and sentimental reminders of the old country. This Neolithic man wasn’t so different from us. He was 1.72m, only 25mm shorter than the average British male today. He was 76kg, and lived off a classic West Country diet of dairy products and meat – mostly beef, mutton and venison.

Dr Simon Mays, the English Heritage scientist who carried out the bone analysis, determined that he’d led a peaceful life, with no injuries apart from a damaged knee ligament and a torn back thigh muscle. There was no sign of any illness, disease or nutritional stress in the body. He seems to have died in his late 20s or 30s. Life expectancy was a lot shorter, then, but what’s clear is that the great British obsession – class – was already alive and well 5,500 years ago. Our man was buried in one of the area’s grandest mausolea – and was initially the only body there, until he was joined around a thousand years later by other bodies in less prominent spots in the 82m-long grave.

There are around 350 of these long barrows in Britain. Half of them had no one buried in them at all; another quarter had five to 15 people in them; and only a quarter were allotted to a single person. So we are dealing with a major toff here, moving between his various smart residences in Wales and Wiltshire. A second home for the rich is nothing new.

The Durrington Walls houses may also help unlock one of the great secrets of mankind -–what was Stonehenge actually for? No one can be definitively sure but one of the most popular current theories is that it was a sort of holy cemetery. Its circles of cold stone, with cremated human bones all around, have been called “the land of the dead”. This is contrasted with “the land of the living” – with the timber houses of Durrington Walls, next door to another circular monument, Woodhenge, also built out of timber. Just walking around the Neolithic houses, we begin to see why this part of the West Country is so rich in Neolithic and Bronze Age finds. Not only is the open, rolling country so well-suited to farming – as it still is today – but also it’s purpose-built for house construction.

As visitors stroll around Stonehenge, they still kick up great lumps of chalk, studded with fragments of flint – the same chalk that built those ancient houses, the same flint that lit those long-extinguished ash fires. Suddenly, the Stone Age doesn’t seem so far away.

Stonehenge Reconstructions Show Brits Have Always Been Houseproud
http://www.newsweek.com/2014/06/20/meet-flintstones-265268.html

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