Saturday, 29 December 2012

Give Sighthill’s Stonehenge a sporting chance say campaigner

The Sighthill Stone Circle – hailed as a mini Stonehenge – was completed in 1979 and is the first of its kind in the UK for 3,000 years.

Sighthill Elspet Gibson and Thurston Cherry came to celebrate
 the winter Solstice at the Stone circle, they broght a candle 
torch 21st December 2012 pic: Roberto Cavieres
But Glasgow City Council want to transform Sighthill into an athletes village if it wins its bid to host the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The £250million regeneration will go ahead regardless of whether the city wins the games bid.
That means the astronomically-aligned stone circle in Sighthill Park is under threat.
A petition has so far attracted 500 signatures – with backing from well-known faces including writer and artist Alasdair Gray andGlasgow musician Stuart Braithwaite, founder of Mogwai.

Duncan Lunan, who created the Sighthill Stone Circle, said: “My wife Linda and I were asked to a meeting with the council and were told to our complete shock that the ‘circle is going and there’s nothing you can say to change it’.

“There’s definitely a lot of people that don’t want it to go. So many people in signing the petition have gone on to say why they go there.

“We’re not saying there shouldn’t be development in the area, but the stone circle is the first of its kind for 3,000 years. The plans could be easily modified.”

The Sighthill circle was designed by Duncan and erected by the Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project between 1978-79. It’s dedicated to four prominent experts in the field of ancient astronomy, all with close connections to Glasgow.

Following the change of Government in 1979 the circle was never completed, and it has never become the local and visitor attraction which was intended. Four unused stones lie there to this day.
Duncan added: “As well as signing the petition, we would ask people to write to the council and tell them why they support it.”
Duncan organised a mid-winter solstice at the stone circle last Friday.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “The 2018 Youth Olympic Games bid is a very exciting opportunity for the city.
“The redevelopment of Sighthill is a key component of our bid. Even if we do not win the bid, Sighthill will be transformed 20 years earlier than it would otherwise have been.

“At this stage of the development of the proposal, it is too early to comment on what will be done with the standing stones at Sighthill Park in terms of their location or incorporation into the masterplan for the area.”

Sighthill History

The circle was built in 1979 and it is dedicated to four outstanding researchers in the field of ancient astronomy: the late Professor Alexander Thom and Dr. Archie Thom, Prof. Archie Roy and Dr. Euan MacKie, all of whom are closely connected to the city of Glasgow. For more details please see the Brief History section

If you want to sign the petition, visit
News Source:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 21 December 2012

Celebrating the winter solstice at Stonehenge - picture of the day

A photographic highlight selected by the picture desk. Revellers celebrate the pagan festival of winter solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK
Ben Stanshall/AFP/Getty Images
Revellers celebrate the pagan festival of winter solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK. And this year the photographers among them are rewarded by a clear view of the sun in a cloudless sky

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 8 December 2012

New External Gallery at Stonehenge. Neolithic Houses Project

One of the most exciting features of the new visitor centre will be an external gallery which will include three reconstructed Neolithic houses. Using archaeological evidence and authentic materials, these buildings will provide a real and tangible link for visitors to the distant past. People will be able to walk into these houses and see how people may have lived 4,500 years ago.
Graphic of reconstructed Neolithic houses at Stonehenge
During excavations at Durrington Walls in 2006-7, something quite extraordinary was discovered – prehistoric houses dating to 4500 years ago. Recent radiocarbon dating has shown these houses were inhabited in around 2,500 BC; exactly the time sarsen stones were being erected nearby at Stonehenge.
The closeness of the dates raises the distinct possibility that the people who occupied the seasonal settlement at Durrington were involved in the construction of the sarsen stone settings and in celebrations at Stonehenge.
Using traditional and locally sourced building materials and following the archaeological findings from Durrington Walls, we plan to recreate three Neolithic houses.
We will attempt to answer questions such as:
  • What did the roof look like?
  • What is the best ‘recipe’ for making a hard chalk floor?
  • What was it like to be inside these houses?
This is an experimental archaeology project.

Neolithic House Builders (Phase 1)

A reconstruction of a Neolithic house
Be part of an archaeological experiment and help us present the story of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Using traditional building methods and locally sourced materials, you will help recreate a Neolithic house based on archaeological findings.


Old Sarum
Castle Road

Role Description

Key Tasks

Depending on which stage of the house building project you are part of there will be the following tasks:
  • Stage 1 - Preparing hazel for wattling, making rope withies for securing roof and stakes, gathering materials
  • Stage 2 - Setting out stakes, hazel wattling, preparing chalk cob, cob wall construction
  • Stage 3 - Thatching, laying chalk floor, helping to make furniture and dressing house

Hours and Time Frame

It is planned that the project will run from Tuesday to Saturday during March to May 2013. We are looking for volunteers to commit to at least five days volunteering across the project. Inductions will be held each Tuesday morning and we would require all volunteers to attend an induction session on their first day of volunteering.

Skills and Qualities

  • An interest in working in the historic environment
  • An interest in working outdoors
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to undertake physical work for a period of time
  • To be flexible and enthusiastic
  • To communicate effectively with other members of the team

Support and Training

Full training will be provided by English Heritage and it will include:
  • Induction with team leader
  • Training on construction methods and using tools
  • Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

What English Heritage Expects from Volunteers

Volunteers should:
  • Maintain good working relationships with staff, other volunteers and members of the public
  • Attend appropriate training and learn about the work of English Heritage
  • Be reliable in attendance
  • Observe organisational policy and procedures
  • Protect English Heritage property from theft, damage or loss, within the limit of their responsibilities
  • Safeguard confidential information about English Heritage and refer any controversial matters relating to the work of English Heritage to their manager

Other Information

  • Volunteers may be reimbursed for travel costs between home and volunteering location within agreed limits
  • A volunteer pass allowing free access to English Heritage sites is available after a satisfactory period of 4 months and the completion of 60 hours of service
  • A certificate for your personal profile to demonstrate work carried out for English Heritage to show future employers or further education establishments

How to apply

To register your interest see how to apply.


Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Stonehenge Winter Solstice. 21st December 2012

English Heritage will once again allow people access to Stonehenge for the celebration of the Winter Solstice, the first day of the winter season. Sunrise is at 8.09am on Friday 21 December and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely. Entrance will be available from roughly 7.30am until 9am, when the site will close - before re-opening as per usual to paying visitors at 9.30am.
The exact time of the Solstice this year, when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun, is at 11.11am on 21 December, however it is generally accepted that the celebration of this special event takes place at dawn and therefore access is permitted at Stonehenge earlier that morning.

Over the last few years, the popularity of Winter Solstice has grown considerably, with many families and young people joining the druid and pagan community in the celebrations.

Peter Carson, Head of Stonehenge, said: “We are delighted to offer people a warm welcome to Stonehenge this Winter Solstice but as facilities are limited, we are not able to accommodate any more people than last year. We don't have the luxury of using nearby fields in winter for parking and encourage people to make use of the special bus service running from Salisbury. We are working very closely with the local authorities and agencies plus the druid and pagan community to ensure that access to Stonehenge will once again be a success.”

Additional notes
Access may not be possible if the ground conditions are considered poor or if it is felt that access might result in severe damage to the monument.
Public have in previous years used byway 12 for parking on the morning of 21st December. Additional car parking for approximately 800 cars will be available on the A344 (which will be closed to through traffic), plus the Stonehenge Visitor Centre Car Park.

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Monday, 19 November 2012

Explore the Bronze Age monuments of the Stonehenge landscape

Explore the Bronze Age monuments of the Stonehenge landscape (24th November 2012) with Sonia Heywood ' you'll soon discover that they are much more than simple burial mounds. Investigated by curious antiquarians in the last 300 years, they have a 4,000 year history that tells us much about our past. On our four mile walk we'll be visiting the Cursus Barrows, Winterbourne Stoke Barrows and the Monarch of the Plain. We'll also have fine views of the King Barrows and Normanton Down Barrows.All walks are booking essential. Details such as start points will be sent on booking.

General Details
Meeting at the Stonehenge car park (not NT) by the bright green National Trust information panel. A car parking charge applies for non-members of the Trust or English Heritage.
Dress for the weather and wear stout footwear.
Access is by pedestrian gates; most terrain is grassland, often uneven underfoot. Cattle and sheep graze the gently sloping downs. Please note, we may be crossing the A344 road, at your own risk.
Accompanied children welcome - YACs free
Dogs on leads welcome
This walk is run in partnership with Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum - accompanying artefact handling sessions are available at the museum, priced £6, or £5 if booked alongside this walk. Contact the Museum on 01722 233151 or see for information and to book.

 For details and to book, contact our booking office on 0844 249 1895.

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Will the world end on the Winter Solstice 2012, like the Mayan Calendar?

The end of the world in 2012?

Many prophecies about the end of the world surround this date because it corresponds to the last day of the Mayan calendar.
The Mayan calendar finishes one of its great cycles in December 2012, which has fueled countless theories about the end of the world on this years Winter Solstice  (December 21st 2012 11:11)

End of days?
Will the world keep spinning after the
Maya Calendar ends?
Most likely!

© Tchaikovsky
One theory suggests a galactic alignment which would create chaos on Earth because of the gravitational effect between the Sun and the Black hole called Sagittarius A, which is located at the center of our galaxy.
Another theory involves a 'polar shift', which means a reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. Scientists believe that the Earth is overdue for a geomagnetic reversal. However this can take up to 5,000 years to complete and does not start on any particular date.
Just a new beginningNASA scientists have been thoroughly studying and analysing the possibility of the Earth ending in 2012, but concludes that 21st December 2012 it will be nothing more than a normal December solstice.
There is simply no scientific evidence to support any claims of an apocalypse on Earth in December 2012.

No planetary alignment
In response to theories about planetary alignments leading to an apocalypse on Earth on December 21, 2012, the scientists say no planetary alignments will occur in the next few decades. But even if they did, the effects on our planet would be negligible.
NASA also say the 'polar shift' theory is totally impossible. Although continents move slowly throughout time, a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia and wouldn’t cause any harm to life on Earth.
The scientists conclusion is that the end of the Mayan calendar does not imply the end of the world, only the end of the Mayan long-count period. The 'long count' is a part of the Maya calendar shaped like a wheel. When we reach the end of the wheel, it will simply turn to the beginning again, just like our modern Gregorian calendar starts again every January 1st

Solstice’s influence on cultures

The December solstice has played an important role the lives of many people in ancient times. To this day, the world is still influenced by various traditions linked to the observance of the December solstice.

Wiltshire Crop Circle Connection ?

A curious crop circle formation that appeared near Avebury Stone Circle  in 2008 links our solar system this December 2012.
Strange goings on..........................


"There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies, and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year 2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy. But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there... I will be at Stonehenge for the Winter Solstice on December 21st and hope to see December 22nd

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Monday, 5 November 2012

Stonehenge work begins at Longbarrow A303 roundabout

Six months of work to a roundabout near Stonehenge in Wiltshire has started.

New lanes are being added to the Longbarrow roundabout, at the junction of the A360 and A303, and its centre is to be realigned.

The work is part of a £27m project to build a visitor
centre and close the A344 beside the monument
The work is part of a £27m project to build a visitor centre and close the A344 beside the monument

The Highways Agency says the work is needed in preparation for the closure of the A344 which runs beside the Stonehenge monument.

It is part of a £27m project to build a visitor centre and also grass over the stretch of road near the stones.
The 3,500-year-old World Heritage site receives more than one million visitors a year.
Once the A344 has been shut, the northern and eastern approach to the roundabout will need to take the extra traffic caused by the closure.

Mark Arberry, from the Highways Agency, said: "This is an important contribution to the long term management plan for Stonehenge to improve the setting of the monument and ensure its preservation as an iconic World Heritage Site."

Full article:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wiltshire film aims to entice London Tube commuters to visit

A short film selling Wiltshire as a winter tourist destination is playing to people on the London Underground.
The 20 second film showcases the county's tourism hot spots from Stonehenge to the white horse

It has been produced by Visit Wiltshire as a way of boosting tourism throughout autumn and winter.

"We hope to inspire people on the Tube to explore the county and remind them it's only 90 minutes away," said Fiona Errington of Visit Wiltshire.

The film is showing at 13 Underground stations until 12 November.

Tourism generates an estimated £1bn to Wiltshire's economy each year and supports more than 20,000 jobs.

Click here to watch the Video
Visit Wiltshire:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

High-res laser scan reveals Stonehenge secrets

First high-resolution laser survey of ancient site shows importance of solstices and efforts to make those events more dramatic.
Laser scanning
Laser scanning
Photonics technology has revealed in unprecedented detail the efforts made by prehistoric people to celebrate the summer and winter solstice at Stonehenge, the ancient man-made monument in the south of the UK.
Thought to have been erected between 4000 and 5000 years ago, the monoliths at Stonehenge are arranged in such a way that they align with the exact position of the Sun as it rises on the day of the summer solstice, and as it sets on the winter solstice.
Now, using a three-dimensional laser scanner provided by the German company Z+F, surveyors and archaeologists have discovered that the stones aligned along the north-east to south-west axis of Stonehenge were specially shaped and worked to highlight their particular significance, with the technology revealing features that had previously been thought likely to have weathered beyond all recognition.
In its detailed report on the high-resolution survey that it commissioned, English Heritage wrote: “Analysis of the laser scan data has revealed significant new evidence that enhances our understanding of various aspects of Stonehenge, from the techniques employed in construction, through the addition of prehistoric carvings in the Early Bronze Age, to collapse, breakage and the activities of tourists.”
According to the report, one of the key results of the laser scan was to reveal that the view of the monument from “the Avenue”, the ancient processional way to the north east of Stonehenge, was particularly important:
“To approach and view the stone circle from this direction means that the midwinter sunset had special meaning to prehistoric people, and that they made deliberate efforts to create a dramatic spectacle for those approaching the monument from the north east,” noted the organization.
Analysis of the laser survey has also shown that the stones on the outer sarsen circle, which are visible when approaching from the north-east direction, have been completely “pick dressed” – meaning that the brown and grey crust on the surface had been removed, exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface. In contrast, the outer faces of surviving uprights in the south-western segment of the circle were not pick dressed.
High-res scan
The laser scan, which was carried out in March 2011 and analyzed over the past six months, has also revealed dozens of previously undiscovered axehead carvings. Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, said: “We didn’t expect the results of a laser scan to be so revealing about the architecture of Stonehenge and its function.”
The laser scanner collected data with a resolution of 1 mm across the entire stone circle, and of just 0.5 mm for four stone surfaces of particular interest. It revealed more than 700 surface features in all, including damage, graffiti and conservation efforts as well as the prehistoric carvings and markings.
The analysis is groundbreaking, in that it represents the first time that results of such a high-resolution, sub-millimeter laser scan have been published for a project on the scale of Stonehenge.
“Other large monuments have been subject to high-resolution survey, [but] this project is the first attempt at applying high-resolution survey to investigate a monument of this size and importance,” notes English Heritage in its analysis report.
“The use of both laser scan and photogrammetric data collection created different data formats that could be analysed in different ways, providing opportunities for comparison between the data sets and numerous options for visualizing the surface of the stones.”
English Heritage also says that the suite of techniques developed for the Stonehenge projects can now be used in other conservation projects, including the new method of “luminance lensing”. This approach, which the organization expects to have wide-ranging applications, can be used to analyze detailed data “meshes” of the sort generated by laser scanning.
North-east view
North-east view
Incomplete circle? “No evidence”
The laser scan has also helped to shed some light on some of the longest-running controversies between archaeologists regarding Stonehenge. One of those is the suggestion that the monument, with its fallen and apparently missing stones, was never actually completed – a theory that is still hotly debated today, with others believing that the “missing” stones were in fact stolen from the completed circle at various points in time.
The theories for the “non-completion” case typically focus on the use of small, irregular and inadequate stones that have since fallen down, the absence of many stones from the south-western side of the monument, and the absence of any evidence documenting the removal of stones.
Stressing that the laser scan and analysis only informs (rather than solves) the ongoing debate, the English Heritage report says that new information from that scan “has revealed that significant portions of most fallen stones have been removed from Stonehenge”, adding that “fallen stones were easy prey for stone robbers”.
Overall, concludes the report, 27 of the original 30 upright stones of the original circle were “certainly erected”, adding that there is no convincing evidence that the circle remained incomplete. “In the light of the significant degree of stone robbing, it is possible that a complete Sarsen Circle once existed,” it suggests.
One thing that does not appear to be under debate is the success of the latest laser scan (Stonehenge had previously been laser-scanned in 2003, but at lower resolution), and how optical technologies can contribute to high-profile conservation and archaeology projects.
“By far one of the most encouraging and exciting aspects to this project is that even though Stonehenge has been subject to decades of extensive study, the application of cutting-edge technology has brought significant new discoveries,” the report concludes.
Full article:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Monday, 8 October 2012

Revealed: Early Bronze Age carvings suggest Stonehenge was a huge prehistoric art gallery

A detailed laser-scan survey of the entire monument has discovered 72 previously unknown Early Bronze Age carvings chipped into five of the giant stones.
For part of its existence as an ancient temple,Stonehenge doubled as a substantial prehistoric art gallery, according to new evidence revealed yesterday.
A detailed laser-scan survey of the entire monument has discovered 72 previously unknown Early Bronze Age carvings chipped into five of the giant stones.
All of the newly discovered prehistoric art works are invisible to the naked eye – and have only come to light following a laser-scan survey which recorded literally billions of points micro-topographically on the surfaces of the monument’s 83 surviving stones. In total, some 850 gigabytes of information was collected.

Detailed analysis of that data – carried out on behalf of English Heritage - found that images had been engraved on the stones, normally by removing the top 1-3 millimetres of weathered (darker coloured) rock, to produce different sized shapes. Of the 72 newly discovered images revealed through the data analysis, 71 portray Bronze Age axe-heads and one portrays a Bronze Age dagger.
Prior to the laser survey, 46 other carvings (also of axe-heads and daggers) were known or suspected at Stonehenge – mostly identified visually back in the 1950s. The laser-scan survey has now confirmed the existence of those other images and provided more details about them.
The 72 new ‘rock art’ discoveries almost treble the number of carvings known at Stonehenge – and the monument’s largely invisible art gallery now constitutes the largest single collection of prehistoric rock carvings in southern Britain. Although now largely invisible to the naked eye, back in the Early Bronze Age the images, composed of then-unweathered (and therefore lighter coloured) stone would have been clearly visible.

The revelations are likely to be of huge importance to archaeologists’ understanding of a key part of Stonehenge’s life as a prehistoric temple.
It’s known that, when the main phase of the monument was initially built in the middle of the third millennium BC, it was designed primarily as a solar temple, aligned on the mid-winter and mid-summer solstices. But, as Stonehenge evolved over subsequent centuries, the extent to which other religious functions were added is not yet known.

Certainly, in the period 1800-1500 BC, vast numbers of individual monumental tombs were constructed in the landscape around Stonehenge and additional features (various circles of ritual pits) were laid out around the monument. The carved axe-heads and daggers also belong to this enigmatic period - and may signify some sort of expansion or change in the great stone circle’s religious function.

In Indo-European tradition axe-heads were often associated with storm deities – and some surviving European folklore beliefs suggest that upwards-facing axe blades were used as magical talismans to protect crops, people and property against lightning and storm damage. It’s potentially significant that every single one of the Stonehenge axe-head images have their blades pointing skywards, while the daggers point downwards. The axe-heads – the vast majority of the images – may therefore have been engraved as votive offerings to placate a storm deity and thus protect crops.
It may also be significant that the vast majority of the carvings either face a nearby set of tombs (from roughly the same period) – or the centre of Stonehenge itself. Rare evidence from elsewhere in Britain suggests that axe-head and dagger carvings could have funerary associations.

The laser-scan data shows that many of the axe-head images have exactly the same dimensions as up to half a dozen other images in the prehistoric Stonehenge ‘art gallery’. This in turn suggests that real axe-heads were being used as ‘stencils’ to help produce the images. If that’s the case, the largest axe-heads portrayed - up to 46 centimetres long – depict objects which were far bigger than archaeologists have ever found and which must have been for purely ceremonial or ritual use.
The laser-scan survey was carried out for English Heritage by a Derby-based survey company – the Greenhatch Group – last year. A subsidiary of York Archaeological Trust – ArcHeritage, also operating on behalf of English Heritage – then spent many months analysing and cataloguing the vast quantities of data.
“The new discoveries are of huge importance. They also demonstrate how emerging technologies can extract previously unsuspected and crucial information from a monument like Stonehenge,” said Marcus Abbott, Head of Geomatics and Visualization at ArcHeritage.
“As the previously invisible images started appearing on our computer screens, we stared in disbelief at the sheer quantity of carvings being revealed – and treble-checked all our data,” he added.
The survey and analysis has also yielded other new insights into Stonehenge. It’s revealed, through an examination of how finely the stone surfaces were worked, that the entire prehistoric temple was constructed to be viewed primarily from the north-east. That’s the side of the monument which is approached by what archaeologists have long believed to be a processional way, aligned with the solstices.
Because, it now seems that Stonehenge was built to be viewed from that direction, it suggests that some sort of religious procession made its way towards the monument, along that route, probably on mid-winter’s and mid-summer’s day.
Detailed analysis of the data also shows that one of the stones at the now ruinous south-west side of the monument was also very deliberately worked and shaped to allow a line of sight through to the setting sun on mid-winter’s day. This, along with other new evidence, suggests that the south-west side of the monument was once fully functional – and will reduce support for those who have, up till now, argued that Stonehenge was never completed. The implication therefore is that at some stage in its history there was a deliberate attempt at its destruction.
Particularly puzzling is the laser survey discovery that the prehistoric stone masons, who helped create Stonehenge, used two different stone-working techniques. The stone-dressing work on the monument’s great circle (both uprights and lintels) was accomplished by working parallel to the long sides of the stones, while the five stone ‘trilithons’ (the great horse-shoe arrangement of linteled stones) within the great circle were dressed by working at right-angles to the sides of the stones.
This previously unknown fact – revealed by the laser scan operation – suggests that the great ‘trilithons’ may have been constructed slightly before the great circle rather than being contemporary with it.
Full article: David Keys -

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Stonehenge Close up. Led by one of English Heritage’s experts.

Exclusive English Heritage Members' Only Event

Gain a rare and fascinating insight into the famous World Heritage Site with an exclusive tour around the site led by one of English Heritage’s experts. Start the tour with exclusive early morning access to the stone circle at Stonehenge accompanied by our expert. Visit key archaeological sites including Durrington Walls, Woodhenge and The Cursus and learn more about the archaeological landscape and investigative work that has gone on in recent years.

Includes tea, coffee and a breakfast roll.The morning will start with access to the stone circle from 8am until 9am, then the tour will continue by coach taking in Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. After a break for refreshments we will continue to explore Kings Barrow Ridge and The Cursus.This event has been graded as Moderate Access due to the amount of walking and the ground conditions. Part of the walking routes are on steep, uneven paths.

How to Book - 1st November 2012

Tickets are available to book from 10am on Thursday 18 October by calling our dedicated ticket sales team on 0870 333 1183  (Mon-Fri 8.30am - 5.30pm, Sat 9am - 5pm).
Member (Adult)  £30.00

Booking link:


With English Heritage annual membership you can explore over 400 castles, stately homes, ruins and more for free! Adult memberships start from just £47 and also include free entry for up to 6 children (up to 19 years old). With discounts for couples and seniors too, an English Heritage Membership offers a great value way for the whole family to enjoy exciting days out all year round. As a member of English Heritage you'll also be helping us to safeguard our heritage for the future. English Heritage membership

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stonehenge Environmental Improvements. Project: Re-Creation Neolithic Houses

English Heritage is undertaking a major project to improve the setting of Stonehenge and to provide new facilities for visitors. A major part of this project is the build of a new, sensitively designed and environmentally sustainable visitor centre.
The visitor centre is due to open in Autumn 2013. A key aim for the new Stonehenge visitor centre, is to ‘create a sense of prehistoric people using, working and living in the landscape’. To meet this objective an external gallery will be created.
In this space, three life-size Neolithic houses will be constructed, based on those excavated at nearby Durrington Walls. Using archaeological evidence and authentic materials, this will create an interactive and experiential space, providing a real and tangible link for visitors to the distant past.

Visitors will be able to walk into these houses, see how people may have lived 4,500 years ago and experience something of the lifestyle of the builders who constructed Stonehenge. The houses will be prototyped at Old Sarum Castle in early 2013.

The contractor will work with volunteers supplied by English Heritage to gather the necessary materials and then erect the prototype houses. This process will inform the construction of the houses at the visitor centre.

Additional Information

How to Apply: To express interest in the opportunity and request an Invitation to Tender please email These will be issued: 2/10/12 The closing date for receipt of tenders will be: 12:00pm, 30/10/12 Interviews will be held in
the week commencing: 11/10/12 An appointment will be made: 16/11/12
Suitable for SMEs
Suitable for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations

Value of contract

£50000 - £60000


Contact: Robert Campbell
English Heritage
29 Queen Square
Tel: 07775003115

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Archaeologists to reconstruct the Devil's Frying pan, 'Cornish Stonehenge' that collapsed

Structure built on top of a huge tomb used between 4,000BC and 2,300BC.
Became a popular picnic spot for Victorian families before collapsing in the 1967

An ancient tomb dubbed Cornwall’s answer to Stonehenge is to be rebuilt 5,000 years after it was first constructed by early man.

Carwynnen Quoit (a term for a giant tomb) - known as ‘The Giant's Quoit’ - marked a macabre mass burial site used between 4,000BC and 2,300BC.
The 'Giant's Quoit' before it collapsed in the 1960's. An ancient tomb dubbed Cornwall's answer to Stonehenge it is to be rebuilt.

The stone structure, set in five acres of farmland, was originally built on top of a huge tomb thought to contain the remains of Neolithic men.

It was later used by the Victorians for picnics and was a meeting place for members of the traditional Celtic religion.

But the Stonehenge-like structure collapsed in 1834 and was rebuilt but then fell again in 1967 following an earth tremor.
Officials at The Sustainable Trust and English Heritage are now planning to rebuild the structure which lies in Troon, Cornwall.

Pip Richards, trust director, said they have begun a dig at the site and want to turn it into a tourist attraction like Stonehenge.

She said: 'It’s such a waste for these stones to just lie on the floor.

'English Heritage will need to be satisfied that the monument will stand for 100 years before permission to proceed is granted, but we are confident.

'The dig is helping show us where the stones would have originally stood

'So far we have found shards of pre-historic pottery and a green stone pestle or axe-head.'

The capstone is 3.3m long, 2.5m wide and 0.3m thick and would originally have had a covering of earth.

Carwynnen is one of around 12 megalithic tombs, or quoits, that survive in Cornwall.

It is believed quoits were built as tombs for complete bodies and when the one at West Lanyon collapsed two centuries ago excavation revealed a number of skeletons.

Some archaeologists believe the structures were left partially open and  bones were removed and returned.


Carwynnen is one of around 12 megalithic tombs, or quoits, that survive in Cornwall.

It is believed quoits were built as tombs for complete bodies and when the one at West Lanyon collapsed two centuries ago excavation revealed a number of skeletons.
Some archaeologists believe the structures were left partially open and bones were removed and returned.
By Mark Prigg -

Stonehenege Tour Guide


Saturday, 22 September 2012

'Wizard for the 21st century' uses crystal balls to predict the Equinox so accurately that each model is fine-tuned to your postcode

A 'wizard' for the 21st century has conjured up a 'Solar Eye' device which uses fixed crystal balls to accurately plot the Equinox.
Blacksmith Pete Smith, from Hereford, took two years of trial and error to perfect his 'solar sun dial' which optically traces the relationship between the sun and earth.
The hand-crafted Solar Eye not only predicts the precise timing of the equinox, but shows how the sun's zenith, or highest point, changes throughout the year.
The model is so accurate that - when he sells miniature models - he tweaks them depending on the buyer's postcode, as the Equinox is slightly different in, for instance, Cornwall than it is in the Orkney Islands.

Pete Smith with his Solar Eye device, which optically traces the relationship between the sun and earth

The model - two spheres of optical quality glass mounted on a brass cradle - also reveals when the Full Moon is at its zenith and can also be used as simple sun dial. 
Pete, one of the country's top blacksmiths, lectures at the renowned National School of Blacksmithing at Holme Lacy near Hereford.
He said: 'The Solar Eye uses two optically corrected glass balls, one clear, one coloured, which are aligned so that the point of coloured light thrown by the smaller sphere tracks in the same lateral direction as the sun.
'At the same time the clear optical ball throws a larger shadow which tracks on the ground in the opposite way so at the equinox the shadow is eclipsed by the coloured light.
'I was born on the autumn equinox in 1952 so I suppose that's where my life-long fascination with astronomy must have started.
'About two years ago I had the notion that I could chart the passage of earth and the sun by mounting two spheres of optical quality glass.
'It led to a lot of trial and error as I forged the metal mounts to hold the glass spheres and I had a lot of broken glass in my forge as the metal shrank to tight and cracked them. 
'The tolerances were tiny but in the end I worked it out and discovered my idea might just work.'

He added: 'The large outdoor version is made in bronze which is really quite expensive, but it is designed to weather and would sell for about £2,000, the tiny versions cost around £30.”
The optical specifications of the Solar Eye are so intricate that Pete sets up individual devices for different latitudes on the globe by using post codes or Google.
Pete, from Presteigne, Powys, added: 'I can set them up for different latitudes by post code, so one for Cornwall would be a slightly different shape to one set for Orkney.
'People say they find them pleasing to the eye which, as craftsman, is very much part of what I want to achieve and I strive to make things that are simple but beautiful.

'At the moment I'm experimenting with a more sophisticated device that will mimic the set-up of Stonehenge and predict eclipses.”

Pete is one of only eleven 'Licentiates' honoured by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths and his more conventional masterpieces include the entrance gates for Hereford Cathedral. 
He has completed projects and restoration work for most of the national heritage organisations including English Heritage, the National Trust and Heritage Scotland.
His installation art pieces include a 40-foot long metal Loch Ness Monster and a metal and cheese cloth replica of Stonehenge on a by-pass roundabout.


Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 14 September 2012

Stonehenge. Driving to distractions

Events in the car are far more distracting for motorists than monuments like Stonehenge

It’s 18 years since a Wonderbra advertisement was blamed for dozens of road accidents. Now, it’s Stonehenge and the Angel of the North distracting drivers. A quarter report that the standing stones on Salisbury Plain have caught their attention when they should be keeping their eyes on the road ahead, and of those drivers, one in eight has crashed or come close to it. What, then, is to be done about it? Should Stonehenge be moved further from the road? Or the Angel of the North hidden behind a hessian screen?
Perhaps perspective is needed here. We suspect that inside jobs remain far more distracting than public monuments – a wasp on the loose, what the children are up to in the back, a lost mint, tuning the radio, even the satnav display. Anyone with the willpower to stop a moment to rummage in the glove compartment should have no trouble dealing with Stonehenge.

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Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Handfasting Ceremony inside Stonehenge, following the Celtic tradition

The most beautiful and memorable Handfasting and Marriage Ceremony is assured.
HandfastingThis is when the couple base the entire ceremony on and around the handfasting. Usually held outdoors, maybe in a forest or woodland area.
is a special location for handfastings. The inner circle has been closed to public access since 1978. However, we are able to obtain permission to have a wedding ceremony and/or handfasting within the inner circle of stones. This can be arranged at dawn or dusk. A Full handfasting will include 'Calling on the Elements within a Ceremonial Circle'.

Handfasting, following the Celtic tradition, is a betrothal or wedding ritual in which the couple's clasped hands are draped with a cord or ribbon while the couple holds hands.
The ‘tying the knot’ is sometimes referred to as 'Bonds of Matrimony'.

This is an ancient, Celtic, nature-related, spiritual tradition that took place long before weddings became a legal function of the UK government. It is an old ceremony of commitment, first recorded 4,000 years' ago!

This Celtic ceremony of unity represents the intention of two people to make their lives together and ideally to love and cherish one another. Their hands, or more accurately, their wrists, were literally tied together. Each partner holds the hands of the other - right hand to right hand, left hand to left - their wrists crossed. The ribbon is wound around the wrists over the top of one and under and around the other, thus creating the infinity symbol.
ONE YEAR and ONE DAY Handfasting
a betrothal of a year and a day, which the participants can then decide whether to renew or not at the end of that period.
PARTIAL Handfasting
Sometimes a couple prefer a Traditional Wedding Ceremony and include a handfasting as part of their ceremony - immediately after saying their vows.

According to Celtic Spirituality, God is found in all things, not only the human heart, but also in all of God's creations.
The elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water are called upon to cast blessings upon the couple. The ritual is designed to enable us to get in touch with the life force within ourselves, to sense an interconnectedness with all life, and to access the energies of the living earth.
Handfastings are conducted in a circle, which is a symbol of eternity - sign that life, love and happiness have no beginning and no end. All who enter the circle must do so in perfect love and keep sacred the ceremonial space.
"The most beautiful and memorable Handfasting and Marriage Ceremony is assured"
*STONEHENGE: Since 1978 visitors are no longer permitted access within the circle of stones.
It is highly probable we can arrange your ceremony WITHIN the Circle of Stones at sunrise or sunset.
Just how special will that be? Wedding, Renewal of Vows or a Handfasting?
N.B If you have the slightest interest in arranging our Celebrant perform your ceremony, you are encouraged to check availability.
Special Access into Stonehenge is often booked 5 to 6 months in advance, with a few open dates in between. Weekday weddings are generally easier to schedule at shorter notice

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Artificial reef planned in style of Stonehenge

A South Florida entrepreneur is working on an artificial reef that will be a smaller-scale replica of England’s Stonehenge and placed 3 miles off Key Biscayne.

A Miami-Dade County’s collection of artificial reefs includes sunken ships, Army tanks, pieces of a passenger jet, radio towers and a cemetery modeled after the mythical Lost City of Atlantis. In the next year or so, Stonehenge may be added.

 A scale replica of England’s mystical stone monument is slated to be deployed in waters 40 to 60 feet deep about three miles off Key Biscayne in a special management zone that already harbors several other artificial reefs. Built of carved limestone from a Homestead quarry and reinforced with fiberglass composite rods, the concentric stone circles are expected to be a haven for marine creatures and scuba divers.
“Stonehenge will be the largest artistically-inspired, manmade reef ever created,” declared project mastermind Gary Levine of Hollywood, president of Reefbuilders International. “It will be beneficial to the ocean and to divers.”
Levine says Stonehenge, taking up about a half-acre of the ocean floor, will be larger than the neighboring Neptune Reef, the Atlantis-like graveyard Levine created in 2007 that was taken over by the Neptune Society, a cremation services company. Levine says Stonehenge will have more than 15,000 cubic feet of stone weighing 1.2 million pounds. The tallest of the stone structures will rise 24 feet from the bottom, he said.
“We’re going to build it in its completed form — not in its current form where half of it is missing,” he said.
Levine and his Reefbuilders colleagues have recently begun carving limestone blocks into Stonehenge configurations. They plan to transport the structures in 200-ton barge loads out to the deployment site, with the first phase placed in early spring 2013. Levine said the columns will be oriented just like the real things standing in the English countryside — lining up with the summer and winter solstices.
The original Stonehenge was constructed by unknown architects beginning about 5,000 years ago and believed to be a burial ground and celestial observatory.
The new artificial reef has the tentative blessing of Miami-Dade’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources/Environmental Resources Management section, according to Steve Blair, chief of the restoration and enhancement section.
“As far as we’re looking at it, the materials are appropriate. It can be enhanced to increase habitat benefits from it,” Blair said.
Blair said he would like to see smaller enclosed spaces added to the collection of stone columns to create hiding places for smaller creatures such as lobsters and reef fish. Once that issue is resolved and a specific site selected, the county will look at final approval.
Meanwhile, Levine — an entrepreneur with ventures including selling aircraft, running a weight-loss clinic and raising live rock for aquariums — is looking for help to fund the project, which he estimates will cost $400,000 to $500,000.
He said he’ll offer 65 “naming opportunities” for individuals or groups who support Stonehenge.
“We want to talk to people who use the ocean and love the ocean to support the project,” Levine said.
The last major artificial reef deployed in Miami-Dade coastal waters was the 210-foot freighter Ophelia Brian in December 2009.
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Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Could Stonehenge feature in Hollywood blockbuster ?

Could Stonehenge be about to feature in a Hollywood Blockbuster?

Film crews have been at the famous site and it's thought they're working on Thor: The Dark World.

English Heritage have confirmed cameras have been at the historic monument in the early hours of August 29th although  aren't able to reveal which production company is involved.

The sequel to the 2011 film Thor is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Australian heartthrob Chris Hemsworth, Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman as well as Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Ecclestone.

It is due to be released in Autumn 2013.

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 31 August 2012

Blue Moon Expected over Stonehenge - Friday, August 31st: A Can't-Miss Astrological Phenomenon

If you have ever heard the phrase "once in a blue moon," you might have wondered if there is an actual blue lunar body in our wonderous world somewhere. In fact, there is, but it isn't really blue. The term refers to the occurrence of two full moons within one calendar month, and Friday, August 31st, you'll be able to catch it twice.

Anthony Cook, an astronomer at the Griffin Observatory, explained how and when to catch the moon. First, you'll be able to see it Friday morning between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on the West Coast, and then again when it comes into view at around 7:13 p.m. Although the phenomenon may not be noteworthy enough to change your schedule to see it, most will be able to take a look at one time or another if they look at the sky.

Although the moon isn't actually blue, there is a chance that it might be rather orange tomorrow when it shows itself, but Cook said that it would most likely simply be a very bright shade of white. He said that there was "nothing unusual really" about the blue lunar body, adding, "It will look like the usual moon."

Oddly, there are some atmospheric conditions that could make the blue seem to be blue, but they have nothing to do with the actual blue moon phenomenon. The occurrence is fairly rare. The last time one was present was December of 2009. "The next time will be on July 31, 2015," Cook said.

It is likely that if the moon does turn orange, or blue or any other color, that someone will announce that it's the end of the world. However, don't be alarmed. The end isn't here...yet.
by Gabriel Legend -

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Stonehenge: a new dawn

Work has begun on a project to make a visit to Stonehenge as awe-inspiring as the stones themselves – and to allow visitors to explore the majesty of the surrounding landscape
Stonehenge – 'as old and as ­important as the Egyptian necropolis at Giza'. Photograph: Yoshihiro Takada/amanaimages/Corbis

It is one of Britain's most popular tourist attractions, a Unesco World Heritage Site and a relic of utmost importance in unravelling our past. It serves as an icon of Britain, its trademark trilithons a visual shorthand for heritage, hippies and unknowable mystery. It has been immortalised by Constable, Wordsworth, Hardy and Vonnegut. Spinal Tap named a song after it and in the film Help!, the Beatles sang nearby. It's also a symbol of proprietorial greed, its £7.80 entrance fee allowing passage through a dank tunnel and a walk around, rather than among, the stones; according to a random sample of visitor reactions, Stonehenge is "just a pile of rocks", "smaller than I thought it would be" and a "rip-off".

Stonehenge, encompassed by an aura of utilitarian tat – a shabby entrance, chain-link fences and the thunder of two busy roads – is as old and as important as the Egyptian necropolis at Giza, but you wouldn't guess that from its presentation, which has all the aesthetic allure of a bus station. Last month, after nearly 30 years of dead-end schemes, English Heritage finally began work on an attempt to bring Stonehenge back to its proper setting, starting with the construction of a new visitor centre – a graceful low-rise building hidden a mile and a half to the west at Airman's Corner – which promises to tell the story of the people who built the historic site.

The centre will feature artefacts on loan from local museums, as well as 21st-century multimedia and the ubiquitous gift shop. Its construction also promises to sweep away a busy road, the fence, the car park and the jumble of "temporary" buildings installed close to the stones in 1968. A low-key transit system will ferry visitors to and from Stonehenge and stop off at points between, allowing sightseers to explore the wider landscape. "People arrive here and focus on the stones but lose an opportunity to see what else is out there," says English Heritage's head of Stonehenge, Peter Carson, from the current car park, close to the monument. "The new entrance should allow them to appreciate the landscape before they see the jewel in the crown."

It is what visitors to Stonehenge have been missing all this time: the complex of ancient earthworks and burial mounds flecked across a chalk downland is as much a part of the monument as the stones themselves. The removal of the road and fence that runs to the north will unite Stonehenge with the Heelstone, the outlying monolith that marks the end of the Avenue, the ancient processional route to the stones. Stonehenge is perched at the head of a low ridge, an eminence of chalk that seems inconsequential from almost every viewpoint except this one. When approaching the circle via the Avenue, the monument appears to rise above the wild flowers of Stonehenge Down. It might be coincidence, but it feels more like an act of showbusiness designed to provoke a response.

Elsewhere on the down, earthworks even older than the henge are spattered across the landscape and access to them will be eased. A visit to the Stonehenge Cursus, a mysterious earthwork more than one-and-a-half miles long, will be aided by a stop off on the transit system, while the sites of 10,000-year-old mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) postholes 75cm in diameter and the oldest man-made feature anywhere on the down, will be exhumed from under the car park, where they are currently marked by white blobs of road paint, daubed mini-roundabout-style over the tarmac.

Nothing speaks louder about our current treatment of Stonehenge than these splodges; for somewhere that should be brimming with mystery and ancient magic, Stonehenge has had to wait a while to truly delight us.

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Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 3 August 2012

Jeremy Deller's inflatable Olympic Stonehenge, a big hit with young and old on Parliament Hill

WHAT the Neolithic peoples who built Stonehenge really thought when they stood back and admired their handiwork will forever be a mystery.
What is almost certain is that they didn’t bounce up and down on it – unlike the inflatable version in Parliament Hill fields.
However, yesterday, queues of up to 300 waited patiently for their turn for a leap on Sacrilege, an inflatable bouncy castle-style installation dreamt up by artist Jeremy Deller.
Everybody, from toddlers to pensioners, were lining up for a go, despite a spot of drizzle.
This “interactive” artwork is a 110-ft wide creation and has been touring the country before Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office booked it as part of the capital’s celebrations for the Olympics.
Not all the bouncers, however, were clear on Stonehenge’s history.

Jack Hughes, 11, said confidently: “The Scottish built the monument in BC, a long time ago before King William, the stones are very spiritual, they used them for signs and protection.”
Jack Deasy, nine, added: “Stonehenge was built by people a long time ago in the Stone Age to mark where their land started.”
Peter Eiseman-Renyard, 66, from Camden, was a bit more informed. “I am a bit of an archeological buff,” he said. “It was not the druids who built it, apparently it was the Beaker folk who were from the Stone to Bronze Age. It is brilliant. It is a joke, it is silly, it is of absolutely no use.”
Sacrilege’s creator artist Jeremy Deller said his bouncy creation was “a way for everyone to learn about these places in quite a silly way.” “It is difficult not to like it when you are bouncing around on it,” he added.
“City Hall teamed up with us but Boris has not had a bounce on it, even though it is really up his street in so many different ways.
“I have bounced on it but it is quite tough on the legs, you can over exert yourself, you should warm up before going on it.”
Speaking before Team GB struck gold in rowing and cycling yesterday (Wednesday), he added: “I was quite liking that Britain was doing so badly in the Olympics, it is brilliantly typical of Britain to host it and do terribly.”
The bouncers kept on coming.
Maggie Eiseman-Renyard, said: “When I first came to the UK as a student tourist from New York in 1966, I took a coach trip to Stonehenge and I was appalled that people wanted to drink, play football and climb on the real thing.”
Lucy Brooks added: “There are tours to Stonehenge but they cost quite a bit of money. But this is awesome, without spending any money or leaving London we have seen some of our great British heritage on our doorstep.
“My 10-year-old daughter is a budding artist and I can see her looking at the construction and thinking about it – it is wonderful.”


Stonehenge Tour Guide

Friday, 27 July 2012

Stonehenge Landscape. Your guide to the summer night sky

Big, open skies are a defining feature of the countryside and on a clear night you can see some 4,000 stars sparkling in our universe.

Take a look below at our great stargazing spots, and why not download one of our Dark Skies walking guides?  Situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the prehistoric ceremonial landscape of Stonehenge occupies a large, sparsely populated area of ancient downland ideal for star gazing. The monuments here are directly connected to the skies above, with stones aligned to moonrises and moonsets, in addition to the Midsummer and Midwinter solstices. Keep an ear out for the Stone Curlew's haunting 'coo-ree' bird call, particularly in autumn.
Your guide to the summer night sky Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire
The Perseid meteor shower is set to peak around 12/13 August, but it’s well worth 
keeping an eye out for meteors any time from July 23 to August 22. The thin, crescent 
moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. 
For best viewing, pick a cloudless night and look to the northeast after midnight.

The July and August skies are filled with all manner of interesting objects that can be viewed in dark sky conditions. Arrive before sunset to see the ancient earthworks at their best in slanting evening light. The banks of the 4,000-year-old Stonehenge Avenue can be seen leading north-east, away from the stone circle. 

The Perseid meteor shower is set to peak around 12/13 August, but it’s well worth  keeping an eye out for meteors any time from July 23 to August 22. The thin, crescent  moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show.  For best viewing, pick a cloudless night and look to the northeast after midnight. 
Overhead there is the summer triangle starting with Vega (a bright white star which is  almost overhead, part of the constellation Lyra), Deneb to the left in Cygnus (the swan  constellation) and Altair, south east in Sagitta/Aquila. These stars can be used as  pointers to other stars. Go to Vega and look westward to find the bright reddish star 
Arcturus, part of Bootes the Kite. The pretty group of curved stars to the east of Arcturus  is Corona Borealis, a cornet of stars. The Plough/Big Dipper is in the north west sky and becomes the tail and rear end of the Great Bear/ Ursa Major. 

If the sky is dark and clear of any clouds you should be able to make out the Milky Way,  a ribbon of millions of stars threading its way across the heavens. If you are using binoculars this really is a stunning sight.

Download the PDF here

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Stonehenge's £27m makeover will end its days as a traffic island

English Heritage project will put grass over the A344, remove fences and demand that visitors book a time slot in advance

The A344, which almost clips Stonehenge, will be closed in new plans to transform the tourist attraction. Photograph: Observer
As ever, the verdict from the visitors arriving by the coach-load at Stonehenge was mixed: wonderful monument, poor access, disappointing facilities.
And what is it with those two busy roads rumbling within a few metres of the stones?
But finally, after years of planning, scheming and wrangling, changes are afoot.
On Wednesday work officially began on a £27m project to transform the area around Britain's most famous monument from a "national embarrassment" into a tranquil and dignified setting.
The project, which will take two years to complete, is bound to be controversial – anything involving Stonehenge is. Few will argue against the key concept of making it possible to walk to the stones from the landscape without risking collision with a juggernaut. The removal of stock fences and ugly security barriers is also bound to be welcomed by just about everyone.
English Heritage will be limiting the number of people who can arrive by car or coach via its planned new visitor facilities. In the future, tourists will have to book to be sure of a place in the car park and on the shuttles that will ferry them to the stones. A visit to England's greatest prehistoric site will take a little bit of thinking ahead.
Bad news for people like Dave Willetts, who was to be found gazing at the stone circle not just for cultural reasons but for religious ones. He is a pagan and likes to pop up from time to time.
"I don't live too far away, I looked out of the window, saw that for once there were blue skies and thought I'd come and see if the stones were still here. I don't like to plan too much.
"But it's about time they did something about the place. It is astounding that this amazing monument feels like it is in the middle of a traffic island."
Simon Thurley, the chief executive of English Heritage, agreed the "new dawn" was coming not a day too soon.
"The stones have never failed to awe visitors but the setting had been a national embarrassment and disgrace," he said.
"After nearly 30 years, English Heritage finally has a scheme that will transform the setting of the stones and our visitors' experience of them."
The most dramatic change will be the closure of the A344, which very nearly clips the heel stone at the northern tip of the site.
The road close to the stones will be grassed over, linking Stonehenge with a downland dotted with barrows and ancient paths including the Avenue, which starts on the banks of the river Avon near Amesbury and curves around to Stonehenge.
This was the route that ancient people used to arrive at the stones and the closure of the A344, together with the removal of two fences, means people will once again be able to walk along the Avenue and up to the circle.
The view is one of the best, with the stones gradually emerging out of the landscape. But visitors will still not be able to get right up to the stones; they will be intercepted by staff and asked to pay the admission fee (currently £7.80 for an adult).
English Heritage will encourage people to arrive, instead, at its new exhibition and visitor centre, being built 1.5 miles west of the stones at Airman's Corner. Here they will be able to learn about the history of the site, before trundling up to the monument on the "visitor transit system", carriages hauled by a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
The ramshackle collection of buildings and tents that currently serve as ticket booths, cafes (rock cakes £2.05) and shops will be knocked down, while the notorious underpass beneath the A344, with its dated murals of prehistoric people, will be filled in.
A possible catch is a limit in the number of people who will be able to arrive via the visitor centre, due to open in autumn 2013. A timed ticket system will be introduced to try to make sure the centre is not overwhelmed. No more than 7,650 people a day will be given a ticket.
The project will not satisfy everyone. Many members of the pagan and druidic communities want greater access, right up to the stones.
Though fences are being removed, security guards will continue to make sure the stones remain out of bounds for most of the time.
And the A303 will continue to roar just south of the site. A plan to build a tunnel so that traffic was not visible or audible to visitors to Stonehenge was rejected by the government because of the high costs.
Apart from a £2.6m Department for Culture, Media and Sport grant, which was spent before government funding was withdrawn in June 2010, the money for the project comes from a combination of sources – including £10m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, gifts from charitable trusts and individuals, and English Heritage profits from its commercial activities at the stones.
English Heritage says there remains only £500,000 left to raise. With 1 million people visiting Stonehenge every year – and that number could grow with people keen to see how the project is shaping up – finding the extra cash should not be a huge problem.

Steven Morris

  • Stonehenge Tour Guide