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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
DISCOVER the magic of Stonehenge and the fun of an off-road safari on a trip to Salisbury Stonehenge attracts tourists from across the globe to Salisbury.
But the attractions of the city don’t start and end with the incredible prehistoric monument.
Go on safari across a chalk plain, watch polo and test your fitness on a climb up the tower of Britain’s tallest church spire.
There so much to discover on a trip to Salisbury in Wiltshire.
1. Look up to discover Salisbury Cathedral – it has the tallest spire in Britain at a whopping 123 metres tall. Inside you’ll find one of the most significant churches in the country as it houses one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. For great views, take the Tower Tour. It’s a 332 step trip to the top and the reward is stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
2. Find yourself steeped in legend on a visit to Stonehenge. It’s a magical place shrouded in history steeped in legend. If you stand on Salisbury Plain at sunrise or sunset it’s easy to understand why the ancient Britons believed Stonehenge was special. Its orientation on the rising and setting sun is one of its many outstanding features, but why it was built in this way remains a mystery. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/
Join the local Stonehenge experts for a guided tour: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/plan-your-visit/stonehenge-guided-tours-p1550943
3. Watch polo, or even sign up for a beginners’ lesson at Druids Lodge Polo, which is open all year round six days a week (closed on Mondays). From October to March polo takes place in the floodlit arena which is hidden away in a sheltered area near the main house and stables. Druids Lodge provides pony hire, polo livery and high quality tuition for all levels and is the home club for a number of school and university teams. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/druids-lodge-polo-p1938583
4. Go for the ultimate race car experience – on a virtual car! Kids over 12 can have a ago and it’s a great experience to keep them happy during the half-term week. The Ultimate Race Car Experience (URCE) is an exciting brand new, purpose built facility, providing the very latest in full motion race car simulators. You’ll find it at Sarum Business Park,Lancaster Road, Old Sarum, in Salisbury. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/ultimate-race-car-experience-p1827763
5. Get up close to aircraft and see restoration taking place at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection.. It’s a great thing to do when the weather’s bad as it’s mainly all indoors. The collection of aircraft, cockpits, replicas and models weapons and equipment show the story of flight and flight test in the UK. Many of the cockpits are open and you can sit in and use the controls. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/boscombe-down-aviation-collection-p1416553
6. Explore the streets of Salisbury by following the Murder Mystery Walking Treasure Trail of the city. It’s a self-guided fun and imaginative way to explore the city. As you follow the route, there are clues to solve and spot on the buildings, statues and monuments you pass. A great way to keep the kids happy on a walk. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/salisbury/things-to-do/treasure-trails-the-salisbury-murder-mystery-walking-treasure-trail-p1773823
7. Get on your bike! Cycling around is a great way to discover a new area. Hire yours at Hayball Bike Hire and peddle away. Flat, safe traffic-free trails, make Salisbury a cycle friendly city and you can even cycle all the way up to Stonehenge.http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/hayball-bike-hire-p1957623
8. Go carting! Take the kids and try your hand around the track at Wessex Raceway Indoor Carting centre. It’s got a unique a700-metre indoor asphalt track, free of pillars with no ramps or bridges – which allows ALL our adult karts to reach a maximum speed of over 50 miles per hour! http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/wessex-raceway-indoor-karting-p547143
9. Learn how to juggle at the Discovery Day Circus Workshop at Salisbury Museum over half-term on February 16. Experts will be on hand to teach this top skill at a drop-in session from 10am-1.30pm. http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/whats-on/discovery-day-circus-workshop-p1953053
10. Go off road and on safari with Salisbury Plain Safaris for an exciting trip to discover wildlife and local history. Go on tour in a luxury Land Rover Defender 110 that takes groups of up to six. Tours include a refreshment break and chances to get out and explore areas and tracks to parts of the Plain that are simply not accessible to cars and buses.
Spectacular views of Europe’s largest chalk downland and the UK’s largest military training area. http://www..visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/salisbury-plain-safaris-p1960783
Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours
Some of the stones used to create Stonehenge may well have been first erected in Wales, a new study has suggested.
Some of the stones used to create Stonehenge may well have been first erected in Wales, a new study has suggested.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of quarrying for the world heritage sites’ bluestones in Pembrokeshire – 500 years before they were erected in Wiltshire.
They believe the most likely explanation is that the stones were first used in Wales before being transported 140 miles to Salisbury Plain where they formed part of the monument’s inner horseshoe.
Geologists have known since the 1920s that the bluestones were brought to Stonehenge from somewhere in the Preseli Hills but only now has there been collaboration with archaeologists to locate and excavate the actual quarries from which they came.
Stonehenge was built during the Neolithic period, between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Both of the quarries in Preseli were exploited in the Neolithic, and Craig Rhos-y-felin was also quarried in the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago.
Project director Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from UCL Institute of Archaeology, said: “We have dates of around 3,400BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3,200BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2,900BC.
“It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view.
“It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”
The discovery has been made by a team of scientists from UCL, the universities of Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
Professor Kate Welham, of Bournemouth University, believes the ruins of any dismantled monument are likely to lie somewhere between the two megalith quarries.
“We’ve been conducting geophysical surveys, trial excavations and aerial photographic analysis throughout the area and we think we have the most likely spot,” she said.
“The results are very promising – we may find something big in 2016.”
The Stonehenge bluestones are of volcanic and igneous rocks, the most common of which are called dolerite and rhyolite.
The scientists identified the outcrop of Carn Goedog as the main source of Stonehenge’s ‘spotted dolerite’ bluestones and the outcrop of Craig Rhos-y-felin as a source for one of the “rhyolite” bluestones.
The special formation of the rock, which forms natural pillars at these outcrops, allowed the prehistoric quarry-workers to detach each standing stone with a minimum of effort.
“They only had to insert wooden wedges into the cracks between the pillars and then let the Welsh rain do the rest by swelling the wood to ease each pillar off the rock face” said Dr Josh Pollard, of the University of Southampton.
“The quarry-workers then lowered the thin pillars onto platforms of earth and stone, a sort of ‘loading bay’ from where the huge stones could be dragged away along trackways leading out of each quarry.”
Radiocarbon-dating of burnt hazelnuts and charcoal from the quarry-workers’ camp fires reveals that there were several occurrences of megalith-quarrying at these outcrops.
The megalith quarries are on the north side of the Preseli hills, and this location undermines previous theories about how the bluestones were transported from Wales to Stonehenge.
Previous writers have often suggested that bluestones were taken southwards from the hills to Milford Haven and then floated on boats or rafts, but this now seems unlikely.
“The only logical direction for the bluestones to go was to the north then either by sea around St David’s Head or eastwards overland through the valleys along the route that is now the A40,” said Prof Parker Pearson.
“Personally I think that the overland route is more likely. Each of the 80 monoliths weighed less than two tonnes, so teams of people or oxen could have managed this.
“We know from examples in India and elsewhere in Asia that single stones this size can even be carried on wooden lattices by groups of 60 – they didn’t even have to drag them if they didn’t want to.”
The new discoveries may also help to understand why Stonehenge was built.
Prof Parker Pearson and his team believe that the bluestones were erected at Stonehenge around 2,900BC, long before the giant sarsens were put up around 2,500BC.
“Stonehenge was a Welsh monument from its very beginning. If we can find the original monument in Wales from which it was built, we will finally be able to solve the mystery of why Stonehenge was built and why some of its stones were brought so far,” he said.
Further excavations are planned for 2016.
The findings, Craig Rhos-y-felin: A Welsh Bluestone Megalith Quarry For Stonehenge is published in the journal Antiquity
The Stonehenge Travel Company
The question as to how Stonehenge’s bluestones travelled about 200 miles from Wales, where they’re thought to have originated, to Wiltshire, England, is only one part of the historic rock site’s mystery. Why these stones hundreds of miles away were chosen for the rock structure is another.
“What might Stone Age eyes and ears have perceived in this landscape, and what aspects made it become important to the builders of Stonehenge?”
That’s the question researchers at the Royal College of Art in London have been working toward answering, according to a recent study, part of the Landscape & Perception project, published in the the Journal of Time & Mind.
Researching the rock outcrops in areas where some Stonehenge rocks are thought to have originated, the team found a higher percentage of “sonic rocks,” also known as “lithophones” that produce metallic sounds when hit with a hammerstone. They can sound like a bell, gong or tin drum, according the RCA.
In July, the researchers also tested the rocks at Stonehenge. The RCA’s article about the study stated that the team didn’t expect too much of this test because lithophones require space for the sound waves to vibrate. The researchers also felt the stones being anchored to the ground would dampen any acoustic properties they might have.
The researchers were therefore surprised when they found the rocks still produced sound and had sufficient space to vibrate.
Here’s more about the findings from the Royal College of Art:
Magical stones. So were the bluestones, coming from a mysterious soundscape, invested with special magic, special sanctity, in the eyes of the megalith builders? The L&P project investigators believe so, and that this may have been the prime reason behind the otherwise inexplicable transport of these stones nearly 200 miles from Preseli to Salisbury Plain. There were plentiful local rocks from which Stonehenge could have been built, yet the bluestones were clearly considered special.
The old stones speak. Today, ringing rocks, lithophones, are considered as mere curiosities, but it’s a mistake to project our modern prejudices on to prehistory: we know from cross-cultural studies that in much of the ancient world, echoes from rocks, cliffs or inside caves, or rocks that made musical or unusual sounds when struck, were thought to contain spirits or magical forces. In particular, ringing rocks, ‘lithophones’, were held in high regard. The architects of Stonehenge may well have held similar beliefs.
Watch the video here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/12/02/stonehenge-may-have-been-built-for-ritualistic-concerts-study/ (article source)
Join us on a Stonehenge guided tour from Salisbury, Bath or London and hear all the latest new theories
The Stonehenge Travel Company, Salisbury, England
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