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How many people did it take to build Stonehenge? Volunteers drag ONE-TONNE concrete slab to recreate Stone Age effort

 

  • Volunteers dragged the a concrete slab using neolithic-style wooden sled
  • The slab weighed half as much as the smallest blue stone at Stonehenge
  • A video appears to show 20 people pulling the slab along logs with ropes
  • Organisers looked to ancient wooden sleds from Asia and non-industrialised cultures for monument building as inspiration

By Abigail Beall and Ryan O’Hare for MailOnline

Towering above the grassy Salisbury Plain, its eerie rock monoliths are steeped in myth and magical stories, yet despite decades of research the original purpose of Stonehenge remains a mystery.

ucl-henge

Towering above the grassy Salisbury Plain, its eerie rock monoliths are steeped in myth and magical stories, yet despite decades of research the original purpose of Stonehenge remains a mystery. But UK researchers have tried to answer one of the many logistical questions surrounding the beginnings of the monument – how many people it took to build it. In an effort to to solve the quandary, UK researchers recruited a group of volunteers to recreate the Neolithic building efforts, by dragging a one-tonne slab of concrete using logs and rope.

But UK researchers have tried to answer one of the many logistical questions surrounding the beginnings of the monument – how many people it took to build it.

In an effort to to solve the quandary, UK researchers recruited a group of volunteers to recreate the Neolithic building efforts, by dragging a one-tonne slab of concrete using logs and rope.

Towering above the grassy Salisbury Plain, its eerie rock monoliths are steeped in myth and magical stories, yet despite decades of research the original purpose of Stonehenge remains a mystery.

But UK researchers have tried to answer one of the many logistical questions surrounding the beginnings of the monument – how many people it took to build it.

In an effort to to solve the quandary, UK researchers recruited a group of volunteers to recreate the Neolithic building efforts, by dragging a one-tonne slab of concrete using logs and rope

Read the full story and watch the video here

Join us on a Stonehenge guided tour and here all the  latest theories from our local experts

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

 

Roman villa unearthed ‘by chance’ in Wiltshire garden

An “elaborate” Roman villa has been unearthed by chance by a home owner laying electric cables in his garden in Wiltshire.

roman-villa

The villa was described as “extraordinarily well-preserved”

It was discovered by rug designer Luke Irwin as he was carrying out some work at his farmhouse so that his children could play table tennis in an old barn.

He uncovered an untouched mosaic, and excavations revealed a villa described as “extraordinarily well-preserved”.

Historic England said it was “unparalleled in recent years”.

Thought to be one of the largest of its kind in the country, the villa was uncovered near the village of Tisbury during an eight-day dig. It is being compared in terms of its size and its owners’ wealth to a similar, famous site at Chedworth in Gloucestershire.

Finds including hundreds of oysters, which were artificially cultivated and carried live from the coast in barrels of salt water, suggest that the villa was owned by a wealthy family.

The dig also turned up “extremely high status pottery”, coins, brooches and the bones of animals including a suckling pig and wild animals which had been hunted.

“We’ve found a whole range of artefacts demonstrating just how luxurious a life that was led by the elite family that would have lived at the villa,” said Dr David Roberts, of Historic England. “It’s clearly not your run-of-the-mill domestic settlement.”

‘Not been touched’

Dr Roberts said the villa, built sometime between AD 175 and 220, had “not been touched since its collapse 1,400 years ago”, which made it “of enormous importance”.

“Without question, this is a hugely valuable site in terms of research, with incredible potential,” he said. “It’s one of the best sites I have ever had the chance to work on.”

FULL STORY ON THE BBC WEBSITE

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Rare Saxon coin comes home to Wiltshire

A RARE Saxon coin found in a field near Pewsey has just gone on show at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes after a public appeal raised the cash to buy it.

Saxon coin now back in Wiltshire (58503866)

Saxon coin now back in Wiltshire (58503866)

The tiny gold coin which was bought for £18,000 at an auction in London in December is now displayed under a magnifying glass so visitors can see its full splendour.

Members of the museum celebrated the return of the coin to Wiltshire with a reception last Thursday complete with Mark Routledge dressed as a Saxon warrior.

Museum director David Dawson this week spoke of the anxious moment he spent on the phone bidding for the coin that was found in a field at East Grafton.

He said: “It was incredibly nerve wracking. I was very pleased to get it for £18,000. To be honest we would have paid a bit more. But you never know if there is going to be a private collector who is willing to pay whatever they have to get something they really want.

“I was shut away in my office during the bidding but the whole museum must have heard my whoops after I made the final bid and secured it. We are delighted to now have the coin on show.”

The coin which dates from AD 675 was originally thought to have been French but it has now been confirmed that it was minted in Kent.

At the time of the auction at Spinks in London Mr Dawson said: “We are delighted to have secured this important coin to be displayed at the Wiltshire Museum. It is a powerful demonstration of the importance of the Vale of Pewsey and the Kingdom of Wessex.

“We are very grateful to the almost 50 people from Wiltshire and across the world who have supported the purchase of this important coin, along with the help of our grant funders.”

The museum was awarded grants towards the purchase by the Arts Council England, the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund.

In addition, donations and pledges were given through a fundraising appeal launched by the museum.

The coin dates to the time of the beginnings of Christianity in Wiltshire and just after the burial of King Raedwald at Sutton Hoo.

Mr Dawson said the remarkable find shed new light on the Vale of Pewsey in the Saxon period. East Grafton was part of the parish of Bedwyn until medieval times.

There are a number of pagan Saxon cemeteries nearby and there was an early Saxon Royal manor at the Iron Age hill fort at Chisbury, just to the north of Great Bedwyn.

Later in the Saxon period, the focus moved to Great Bedwyn where there was a Royal Manor and an important Minster church. Bedwyn was held by King Alfred and it also had a Saxon mint in the time of King Edward the Confessor soon after 1,000 AD.

Bedwyn was very important and it was only with the building of its Norman castle that the focus moved to Marlborough.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “We are delighted that Wiltshire Museum was successful in acquiring at auction such an important coin.

He said: “Very few coins of such quality exist, and we are pleased to have played a role in ensuring that this beautiful example can remain forever in the very locality in which it was found.

“It’s a wonderful addition to the museum’s collection.”

Article source: Joanne Moore / Monday 7 March 2016 / Gazette and Herald News

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Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours

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

 

950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

Plans are under way to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in the town linked to the most famous conflict in English history.

The events aim to mark the significance of the battle which altered the course of history in medieval England and led to the Norman Conquest.

William the Conqueror established a royal castle at Old Sarum (Salisbury, Wiltshire), in the middle of the earthworks, shortly after 1066. This, says English Heritage, transformed the site, effectively dividing the hillfort in two: an inner set of fortifications, which became William’s castle, and a huge outer enclosure, within which a cathedral was built in 1075

BattleOfHastings

Here, we tell you everything you need to know about Old Sarum in Wiltshire…

1) Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury. It is two miles north of where the city now stands

2) The Romans, Normans and Saxons all left their mark there: Old Sarum was used as an Iron Age hillfort between about 400 BC and AD 43 – one of the largest in England – before being occupied shortly after the Roman conquest of Britain, when it became known as Sorviodunum. The Romans occupied the site until about AD 410.

William the Conqueror established a royal castle at Old Sarum, in the middle of the earthworks, shortly after 1066. This, says English Heritage, transformed the site, effectively dividing the hillfort in two: an inner set of fortifications, which became William’s castle, and a huge outer enclosure, within which a cathedral was built in 1075

3) The royal castle, created shortly after 1066, was “a major administrative centre”, says English Heritage. The sheriffs of Wiltshire were established in the castle, and the cathedral later provided a body of clerks who assisted with major projects

4) Old Sarum is historically important as the site of the Oath of Sarum of 1 August 1086. Facing revolt and invasion, William I [aka William the Conqueror] gathered the powerful, landholding men of the realm to a ceremony in which they swore allegiance to him. The ceremony, described by English Heritage as “a striking assertion of royal power”, underlined William’s position as the source of tenure of all land across England.

5) Between 1173 and 1189 Henry II’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was kept under house arrest at Old Sarum for having incited her sons to rebel against their father

6) The cathedral was demolished during the medieval period: dissatisfaction with the site and poor relations with the garrison in the castle caused the cathedral to be moved to its present site in Salisbury (New Sarum) in the 1220s. After this time, royal interest in the castle waned. English Heritage explains: “The castle seems to have limped on as an administrative centre into the 15th century, the end finally coming in 1514, when Henry VIII made over the ‘stones called the castle or tower of Old Sarum’ to Thomas Compton, together with the right to carry away the materials.”

7) Old Sarum lived on as a famous ‘rotten borough’ that continued to elect members of parliament until the Reform Act 1832. The parliamentary constituency had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain unrepresentative influence within the unreformed House of Commons. Thomas Pitt became the owner of the site, and the votes attached to it, in 1691. Arguably, had it not been for this, Pitt’s famous grandson William might never have entered the House of Commons, because he first sat in parliament as a member of Old Sarum.

8) Today, people visiting Old Sarum can see the earthworks of the Iron Age hillfort, the inner stronghold of the Norman castle on the motte at its centre, and the remains of the cathedral
Source: English Heritage

A great year to visit Old Sarum Castle Website

2016 Events at Old Sarum

Old Sarum can be visited independently or it is easy to arrange a private guided tour from Salisbury with the local experts.

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
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10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Salisbury, Wiltshire

Historically a centre of the cloth industry, Salisbury – the county town of Wiltshire – is situated at the point where the Rivers Nadder and Bourne flow into the River Avon. The city is famous for its cathedral, a masterpiece of the early Gothic style that dates to 1220 when the building’s foundation stone was laid.

A checkerboard layout, with enclosed gardens between the houses, was a model for medieval town planning. On receiving market privileges from the king, a bridge was built across the Avon in 1244, thereby creating perfect conditions for Salisbury to become a major trading center.

1 Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral was built in a relatively short time – from 1220 to 1266 – in a typically English style consisting of a nave, long choir, retrochoir, main west transept and east choir transept (shielded from the choir by false arches). The interior of the cathedral, which is of bright-colored limestone and darkly gleaming Purbeck marble, displays the horizontal sequencing of the trusses, strengthened by continuous ledges. The construction of the walls is divided into three zones, with arches, a gallery-like triforium and a passageway above. A ribbed vault in four parts encloses the nave at a height of only 82 ft. The interior fittings of the cathedral, considerably altered in the 18th century, include elaborate tombstones dating back to the 13th century.

Although there are a few medieval fragments, the stained glass – primarily 19th and 20th centuries – is exquisite, particularly the Gabriel Loire window in the Lady Chapel. The Gothic cloister and the octagonal chapterhouse both date from the 14th century, the latter having a single central pillar acting as a vault support, a fine wall-frieze with pictures from the Old Testament and tracery windows divided into four sections with 19th century glass. Items stored there include one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the foundation of the British constitution, as well as other Anglo Saxon documents and the inspection report on the cathedral tower written by Sir Christopher Wren in 1668.

Address: Chapter Office, 6 The Close, Salisbury

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Salisbury – TripAdvisor.com

2 Cathedral Close

Cathedral Close
Cathedral Close

Within Salisbury Cathedral Close and separated from the rest of the town by three gateways, a number of notable Elizabethan and Georgian houses have lovely green lawns and date from the 14th to 18th centuries. These were the residences of the dean, ecclesiastical officers and teachers at the cathedral school. Of special interest is Mompesson House, with its elegant interior fittings and wonderful collection of glass. Another nearby home worthy of a visit is Arundells, residence of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

Address: The King’s House, 65 The Close, Salisbury

3 Old City Centre

Old City Center
Old City Centre

The old city center includes the 15th century parish church of St Thomas of Canterbury as well as the wide market place with its 15th century market cross, the Guildhall (1788) and the 15th century Plume of Feathers Inn. Nearby is the Red Lion Hotel with its fine 1820s facade and pretty inner courtyard, and Joiner’s Hall, an attractive half-timbered building dating from the 16th century.

Through the North Gate are the meadows of the River Avon with their fine views of the cathedral. John Constable captured these on canvas in his famous painting of 1820.

Address: Pennyfarthing House, 18 Pennyfarthing St, Salisbury

4 Old Sarum

Old Sarum
Old Sarum

Old Sarum was the precursor of present-day Salisbury, built two miles to the north of the city center on a hill, which even in prehistoric times was fortified. The Romans built the camp of Sorviodonum here, while under the Saxons a town settlement grew up on the site. William the Conqueror chose this strategically favorable spot to build a castle in 1075, and in 1220 the inhabitants of Old Sarum were moved to New Salisbury. Today, only a few remains of the castle within the inner circumference wall can be seen, and the cathedral ruins within the outer wall.

Location: Castle Rd, Salisbury

5 Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Graham Tiller

The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum has permanent displays and special exhibitions throughout the year that highlight the art and history of England and the Salisbury area. This is one of the most fascinating areas in Britain, rich in mediaeval history and home to the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge. The award-winning museum is home to the Stonehenge Gallery, Monkton Deverill Gold Torc, as well as unique costume, glass and chinaware collections.

Address: 58 The Close, Salisbury

6 Larmer Tree Gardens

Larmer Tree Gardens
Larmer Tree Gardens

The Larmer Tree Gardens, set in the ancient forest known as Cranborne Chase, were established by general Pitt Rivers in 1880 as pleasure grounds for “public enlightenment and entertainment” and were the first privately owned gardens to be opened for public enjoyment. You’ll find Indian buildings, a Roman Temple and an open-air theatre amidst acres of gardens inhabited by pheasants, peacocks and other exotic birds.

Location: Rushmore Estate Office, Tollard Royal, Salisbury

7 Salisbury Festival

Salisbury Festival takes place in spring with a different theme each year, and includes orchestral, choral and chamber concerts, recitals, film screenings and lectures. Numerous venues are used, including St Thomas Hall, the cathedral and other historical buildings.

Another important event is the Southern Cathedrals Festival, an annual festival that rotates every year between the cities of Winchester, Salisbury and Chichester. The festival takes place mid-July and includes daily concerts and a program featuring a mix of orchestral, choral and chamber concerts, recitals and fringe events. The repertoire is equally varied and includes classical and sacred music as well as newly commissioned works performed in the host city’s cathedral. Another great event, The Salisbury Arts Festival, runs for two weeks each May and features dance, music, street performances and art exhibitions.

Address: 144 East Main St, Salisbury

8 The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum

The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum
The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum Tony Hisgett

The Wardrobe is an elegant building housing The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum, an award-winning museum detailing the history of English County Regiments. The building dates to 1254 and contains exhibits on the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments.

From the gardens you can stroll down to the River Avon with its views of the Water Meadows. Another military museum to visit is the award-winning Museum of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment.

Address: 58 The Close, Salisbury

9 Cholderton Charlies Rare Breeds Farm

Cholderton Charlies Rare Breeds Farm has breeds dating back hundreds of years, reflecting an animal heritage as interesting as its buildings and monuments. In addition to the many animals is a nature trail, water gardens, a picnic area and adventure playground for children. Also popular are the many opportunities to feed piglets and other young animals.

Location: Amesbury Road, Cholderton, Salisbury

10 Malmesbury House

Malmesbury House
Malmesbury House Beth Camp

Malmesbury House is located on The Close near Salisbury Cathedral where many of the city’s historical attractions are found. The house has seen many faces, both architecturally and in its visitors, and was originally a canonry in the 13th century before being enlarged.

The west facade was added decades later to accommodate rooms displaying magnificent rococo plasterwork, and notable visitors included King Charles II and the composer Handel. (Although privately owned, tours are occasionally permitted.)

Location: The Close, Salisbury

Surroundings

Wilton House

Wilton House
Wilton House David Spender

Built by architect Inigo Jones in 1653 after the original Tudor home was destroyed by fire, Wilton House is a masterpiece of the Baroque style and most notable for its huge white Double Cube Room. Decorated with gold-painted flowers and garlands of fruit and rounded off with a brilliantly colorful painted ceiling, the room is also fascinating for its portraits by van Dyck, as well as portraits of Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria and their three children. Equally impressive is the Single Cube Room, its painted ceiling having scenes from Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, written in 1590 while a guest at Wilton House, as well as paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Reynolds. The landscaped park surrounding the house harbors a magnificent stock of old trees. Another unusual feature is the Palladian bridge (1737) over the River Nadder.

Be sure to visit the picturesque Village of Wilton, the old capital of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later of Wiltshire. It is famous for its carpets, plus home to antique shops and a weekly market.

Location: The Estate Office, Wiilton, Salisbury

Official site: www.wiltonhouse.co.uk

Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury

Located 19 miles southwest of Salisbury, Shaftesbury is a picturesque little market town famous for its ruined Benedictine abbey. Only the foundation walls remain as a reminder of the abbey’s existence, while in the Shaftesbury Abbey and Garden there’s a model of the building as it once was as well as finds from the Middle Ages.

Shaftesbury is also a notable tourist destination due to the steep cobbled streets of Gold Hill, picturesquely lined on one side with tiny houses dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, while on the other side there’s a 13th century ochre-colored wall. Visitors enjoy superb views across the Blackmoor Vale to Somerset.

St Peter’s Church is the only one of the 12 medieval churches that’s been preserved, and possesses an interesting crypt and a fine doorway. Also of note, the Shaftesbury Gold Hill Museum has many exhibits detailing local history.

Location: Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

Stourhead

Stourhead
Stourhead

Stourhead, 26 miles west of Salisbury, is one of the finest landscaped gardens of the 18th century and unchanged since its inception. The unique design of the garden includes an artificial lake with caves, classical temples and landing stages surrounded by hills planted with trees. The park and the stately Palladian mansion were designed in 1721, with elegant period furniture provided by Chippendale, while the gallery contains paintings by Canaletto, Raphael, Nicolas Poussin and Angelika Kaufmann. King Alfred’s Tower, erected to commemorate the Saxon king, towers over the surrounding parkland and affords fine panoramic views.

Location: Mere, Wiltshire

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle
Old Wardour Castle Mats Hagwall

Old Wardour Castle, near Tisbury, is a 14th century structure on the edge of a beautiful lake. A battle was fought here in 1643 when Parliamentarian forces besieged the castle causing extensive damage. More recently, Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves starring Kevin Costner was filmed here. The castle’s unusual hexagonal ruins are surrounded by landscaped grounds, and are a picturesque location for picnics or a relaxing day out.

Location: Tisbury, Salisbury

This excellent article was written by Bryan Dearsley of Planetware

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
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Glaciers, not ancient people, moved Stonehenge from Wales to Wiltshire

It’s a question that has plagued archaeologists and stone enthusiasts for centuries: what’s the deal with Stonehenge?
Stonehenge-Sunset-Access-May-2013 (8)

No one has ever been quite sure where the famous circle of giant bluestones came from or how they came to be arranged in such a precise formation in the wilds of Wiltshire.

A recent paper from researchers at UCL suggested that the stones were collected in at quarries Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin around 5,000 years ago, then dragged from Wales to Wiltshire by men.

But archaeologists writing the Archaeology in Wales journal says that UCL got it all wrong.

This newer report says there are “no traces of human intervention in any of the features” that the UCL researchers “so excited”.

Instead, the Arachaeology in Wales paper’s authors, Dr Brian John, Dr Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes, think they have evidence that suggests the rocks were moved by glaciers.

Accusing the UCL team of getting carried away by a good yarn, Dr John wrote, “There is substantial evidence in favour of glacial transport and zero evidence in support of the human transport theory.

“We think the archaeologists have been so keen on telling a good story here that they have ignored or misinterpreted the evidence in front of them.

“That’s very careless. They now need to undertake a complete reassessment of the material they have collected.”

Yahoo News

Visit Stonehenge and explore the ancient landscape with a local expert tour guide and hear all about the many new theories. Our Stonehenge Special Access Tours allow you to enter the inner circle and walk freely amongst the Stones at sunset or sunrise

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Mystical Landscape Magical Tours
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Visit Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

Situated in southern England in the county of Wiltshire the village of Avebury is close to two small streams….the Winterbourne and the Sambourne which unite to form the source of the River Kennet. After being re-inforced by a number of springs this beautiful English river rapidly gains in stature as it passes through the North Wessex Downs on its way to Reading where it eventually flows into the River Thames of which it has become the main tributary. The waters of the Kennet therefore pass through London before reaching their ultimate destination in the North Sea.

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Small Group Guided Tour of Avebury

Around 4,500 years ago, when the site of England’s capital was a thinly inhabited marshland, the area around Avebury almost certainly formed the Neolithic equivalent of a city. By coincidence this waterway has become a link between the two largest cultural centres of their day to have ever existed in the British Isles. As London now contains most of England’s largest buildings Avebury is the location of the mightiest megalithic complex to have ever been constructed in Britain. This henge with its enormous ditch, bank, stones and avenues survives in a much depleted state but the nearby Silbury Hill which is the largest man-made mound in pre-industrial Europe still dominates the surrounding landscape. The two largest surviving British long barrows of West Kennet and East Kennet are also prominent a short distance away and in recent years the remains of two massive palisaded enclosures have also been found. The quote that antiquarian John Aubrey made of Avebury……”it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church” recognises the true importance of what has now been largely absorbed into the modern landscape of Wiltshire. If we could return to the time when the Romans occupied the British Isles it is a sobering thought that we would have to go back as far again to find an Avebury that was already several centuries old.

The history of the modern village is inevitably linked to the prehistoric monuments that surround it. Abandoned for several thousand years the land around the stones became occupied once more when people of the Saxon period began to settle in the area. Their arrival and subsequent development of the present village was to have a dramatic effect on the history of the stones. The relationship between the local inhabitants and the monuments has now added an unfortunate dimension to the Avebury story that helps make it one of the most fascinating historical sites to be found in the British Isles if not the world.

It remains a magical place as so many who have been there will agree. A visit to Avebury is a very personal event. It still seems to retain, somehow, the spirits of all those who laboured in its creation or whatever it was that led them to create it. If you have never been there a visit will not be an empty experience. You will come away with a head full of questions and probably a realisation that somewhere over the years modern society has lost something important.

The Stonehenge Travel company operate guided tours of Avebury and Stonehenge departing from Salisbury.

Avebury links:
http://www.avebury-web.co.uk/avebury_now.html
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/avebury/
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury
http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/avebury-stone-circle-and-avebury-manor-and-garden-p134483

Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Mystical County, Magical Tours…..
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
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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.

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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

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