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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.
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.
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Stonehenge may have been a centre of ritual musical activity.
A team of researchers has borrowed technology from the architectural and video games industries to bring the ruins of Stonehenge to life. The end product of the group’s endeavours is a virtual reality tour of the ancient site that recreates what it what have looked and sounded like several thousand years ago.
Though the purpose and origins of Stonehenge are still shrouded in mystery, researchers such as Rupert Till from the University of Huddersfield believe it probably served as a venue for ritual musical activity.
Mathematical reconstructions of the site and its acoustics have indicated that it may once have been capable of resonating at low frequencies when the wind blew or when percussive instruments were played within the circle of stones. Till and his colleagues suggest that the brainwaves of those present may have become synchronized with these frequencies – a phenomenon known as entrainment – in order to generate altered states of consciousness and even send people into a kind of trance.
Unfortunately, many of the stones have been eroded or removed over the past few millennia, so experiencing this first-hand is no longer possible. Yet the new virtual reality reconstruction of the site offers the next best thing, by digitally recreating the sights and sounds of Stonehenge as it was back in its heyday.
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26-space coach park is set to be built at Stonehenge and will operate for two years, councillors in Wiltshire have agreed.
English Heritage will convert farmland next to the existing coach park and will include walkways for pedestrians.
Concerns had been raised over increased traffic, landscape impact and what would happen after the two-year period.
Wiltshire Council’s conditions include ensuring the land can easily be returned to its original state.
Last month, the council rejected plans to resurface an overflow car park on the grounds of visual impact on the landscape.
More than 1.3 million people have visited the prehistoric monument since the opening of a new visitor centre in December 2013.
Seven councillors approved the vote, with three against and one abstaining
Full story on the BBC news website
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Plains, Trains and Automobiles: Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination
Take some time out and escape to Wiltshire this year. Find out more about this mysterious and beautiful part England.
The newly completed Stonehenge visitor centre deserves an extended visit. We recommend staying in Wiltshire and exploring the surrounding area, rich in history, myths and legends. Salisbury, Stonehenge and South Wiltshire is a truly unique destination. Set among some of the most beautiful countryside and with a 5,000 year old history the area is steeped in history but with its eye firmly fixed on the future.
Salisbury is a bit of a rail hub with main lines and frequent trains going east to London, south to Southampton and west to Bath and Bristol. Frequent trains run from London’s Waterloo station taking approximately 80 minutes to do the journey. There are normally two trains an hour operating up until very late evening. During the week, the cheap tickets are not available until after the morning commuter rush. Don’t worry if your accommodation is in London, its very easy to get to Salisbury or Bath from London by train and the trains run till late so there is still time to get back to London last thing.
Here are some examples of how accessible Wiltshire is using the Inter-City services from central London:
• London (Paddington) – Bath and Bristol via Swindon (55 mins),Chippenham (70 mins) and Great Bedwyn (90 mins).
• London (Waterloo) – Salisbury (90 mins) and Tisbury (103 mins).
Salisbury is one of England’s most wonderful cities – a medieval masterpiece with something for everyone. From traditional English pubs to cosmopolitan street cafes and from hard-to-find specialist shops to major high street stores, you’ll find it in Salisbury. And at its heart there is the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, towering over the city as it has for over 750 years. Step outside of the city and you are in another world. Green hills, crystal clear rivers and picturesque towns and villages just waiting to be discovered. And, of course, there’s Stonehenge. The world’s most famous stone circle stands just a few miles north of Salisbury – a must see destination.
Stonehenge Stone Circle is the most famous and enigmatic Megalithic site in the United Kingdom. Dominating the landscape of Salisbury Plain in the county of Wiltshire, the giant standing stones of Stonehenge – some weighing up to 50 tonnes – are a mysterious icon left by mysterious ancient peoples. You may have a special interest in burial chambers, the construction of Stonehenge, the purpose and culture of the people that built the henge.
English Heritage Stonehenge Visitor Centre. The fantastic new £27m visitor centre at Stonehenge is now open, offering tourists an interactive experience and the chance to examine prehistoric objects. Visitors are transported by shuttle bus more than a mile (2km) from the venue to see the stones.
Discover prehistoric sites and rare species preserved on Salisbury Plain. An ocean of grassland and a sweep of big sky. Ancient monuments loom out of the mist; camouflaged soldiers crouch in the undergrowth. Salisbury Plain is a landscape of extremes. It is the largest remaining area of chalk grassland in Northwest Europe and home to 2,300 prehistoric sites yet also the largest military training area on British soil.
Avebury Stone Circle Avebury rivals – some would say exceeds – Stonehenge as the largest, most impressive and complex pre-historic site in Britain. Avebury is part of a wider complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, with many other ritual sites in English Heritage care. West Kennet Avenue joined it to The Sanctuary, and another stone avenue connected it with Beckhampton. West Kennet Long Barrow and Windmill Hill are also nearby, as is the huge and mysterious Silbury Hill. This extraordinary assemblage of sites seemingly formed a huge ‘sacred landscape’, whose use and purpose can still only be guessed at. Avebury and its surroundings have, with Stonehenge, achieved international recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Mysterious Crop circles Salisbury Plain is well known for its crop circles and much mystery still remains as to why they occur and the meanings behind their complex formations. A tour of the ancient hills and vales of Wiltshire which are, inexplicably, the world capital of crop circles Crop circles in Wiltshire often occur around the heart of the county in and around Avebury, usually first appearing in April and continuing into the summer months. Crop circle guided tours can be arranged from Salisbury or Bath
Guided Tours from Salisbury can return to Salisbury or why not make the most of your sightseeing and be dropped off in Bath, Southampton or even London. Popular destinations can include: Salisbury Cathedral and the Magna Carta | Old Sarum Hillfort | Stonehenge Stone Circle and the new visitor centre | Woodhenge and Durrington Walls | Ancient Chalk Hill Figures | Pewsey valleys | Salisbury Plain and mysterious crop circles | Avebury Stone Circle | West Kennet Long Barrow | Silbury Hill | Lacock Village | Castle Combe Village | The Cotswolds | Glastonbury Tor and The Isle of Avalon
Needless to say private guided tours are bespoke and can be tailoured to suit your needs in the date(s) you wish to travel. Stonehenge private access tours allow you to enter the inner circle of Stonehenge before or after it is officially open to the public.
A once in a lifetime opportunity!
We would be delighted to arrange a private guide tour of Wiltshire and help you with your Salisbury Travel plans. Email us: tours@StonehengeTravel.co.uk or visit our website: http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
Some Salisbury and Stonehenge links:
Visit Wiltshire: Discover things to do and places to visit across Wiltshire. Plan your visit, book hotels and accommodation and find out what’s on in the county. http://www.VisitWiltshire.co.uk
Download the Visit Wiltshire Apps here: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/plan-your-visit/apps
Magnificent Salisbury Cathedral with the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom, home to the finest of the four surviving original Magna Carta 1215: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/
Old Sarum Hillfort: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-sarum/
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, in Wiltshire, England was opened in 1966 and was the first drive-through safari park outside Africa: http://www.Longleat.co.uk
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years: http://www.WiltonHouse.co.uk
Amesbury Museum & Heritage Centre: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/amesbury-museum-and-heritage-centre-p1536253
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum: Showcasing the medieval Cathedral town of Salisbury and the ancient wonders of Stonehenge. http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/
The Cathedral Express. Wonderful days out by steam train: http://www.steamdreams.com/
English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
The Stonehenge Tourism Website: http://www.Stonehenge-Tourism.com
London to Salisbury Trains: http://www.thetrainline.com/
Guided Tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk
For Stonehenge and Salisbury News follow us on Twitter: @SalisburyTours
Local Wiltshire Tour Guide
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