Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Be guided by expert around many of Wiltshire's Stone Age monuments

TV archaeologist Julian Richards is to lead a series of walks around the World Heritage site of Avebury this summer and autumn.
Dr Richards, who presented BBC’s Meet the Ancestors, is a noted expert on the archaeology of Avebury and Stonehenge and will be leading the Wessex Walks on Wednesday, June 6, Saturday, September 1, and Sunday, October 21.
The seven-mile circular walks begin at the Avebury stone circle and takes in many of Britain’s finest Stone Age monuments, including the West Kennett Long Barrow and Silbury Hill, the 130ft tall, 4,700-year-old artificial mound, sometimes referred to as Britain’s answer to the pyramids.
A home-made packed lunch is included in the £80 cost.

The Wessex Walks are part of a programme of study days running at museums, galleries and sites all over Britain throughout 2012.

The days are a new venture devised by specialist archaeological tour operator Andante Travels.
Annabel Lawson, archaeologist and director of Andante, said: “Study days offer the opportunity to look at something old in a new way. Our expert guides are able to open new interests for our guests, and frequently offer privileged access to their world while they do so.”

For more information ring Andante on (01722) 713800 or email
Link: http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Olympic Flame will stop at Stonehenge en-route to London

Olympic torch relay organisers have reassured tourism bosses that the Olympic flame will visit the iconic backdrop of Stonehenge, after it was left off the official relay route through the West.

The Olympic torch will visit the Stonehenge prehistoric
monument as part of its journey around Britain
 before the London 2012 Games
Instead of forming part of the public route through Wiltshire in July, the Olympic flame will be taken at dawn to the stones for a closed photo opportunity the morning after its overnight stop in nearby Salisbury.

The decision does mean, however, the public will not be able to descend on Stonehenge to see the once-in-a-lifetime moment it is carried around the Neolithic monument

English Heritage, which manages the stones, and Olympic Torch Relay bosses confirmed the early morning visit after publishing a route which did not include Stonehenge or Avebury.

Western Daily Press reader Margaret Scott said: "Obviously Stonehenge is one of the major tourist attractions in Britain and it just seemed ridiculous if the torch relay is going to Amesbury but not going a mile to the west to be run around Stonehenge. They surely are not missing it out?"
A spokesman for English Heritage said that they had been informed by the Olympic organisers that the torch would be driven to Stonehenge and back again early on July 12th, before it is scheduled to leave Salisbury Cathedral, for a photocall.
"Rest assured the opportunity to have the Olympic torch at Stonehenge is not going to be missed," said a spokesman.
The National Trust has also confirmed that the torch is due to be carried up to the top of Glastonbury Tor on Tuesday May 22 – again not as part of the published route, which merely suggests the relay will pound the streets of the town. But it appears there is not such good news for another of the West's historic sites.

Source: http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk
Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A historic walk along Durrington Walls, Wiltshire

Distance 4 miles (6.4km)
Classification Easy
Duration 2 hours
Begins Woodhenge car park 
OS grid reference SU151434

Walk in a nutshell
An exploration of the parts of the Stonehenge world heritage site that most visitors miss out on. Starting at Woodhenge, the walk includes a visit to Durrington Walls, the Cuckoo Stone and the ancient burial mounds on King Barrow Ridge.
Why it's special
This is a trip back to 2500BC and beyond. While the Stonehenge stone circle was a place of burial in Neolithic times, Durrington Walls was where people actually lived and held feasts and rituals. The round barrows on King Barrow Ridge may also be around 4,500 years old.
Keep your eyes peeled for
Durrington Walls – the largest complete henge in Britain. The area outside the ditch and bank was once a settlement, perhaps containing hundreds of houses, making Durrington Walls potentially the largest village in north-west Europe at the time. Woodhenge stood nearby as an impressive timber circle surrounded by a bank and ditch.
Recover afterwards
In the restaurant of Amesbury's Antrobus Arms hotel , a 17th-century coaching inn where the Beatles stayed when shooting the film Help! on Salisbury Plain.
If it's tipping down
Head for the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum in the King's House, a Grade I-listed building opposite Salisbury Cathedral, to revel in exhibitions of local archaeological finds (and there's fun stuff for kids too).
How to get there
From Salisbury railway station, take the X5 or the Stonehenge tour bus to Amesbury, then the 16 to Woodhenge.
Step by step

1 From the car park go through the nearest gate and head away from Woodhenge through the north field. Walk downhill into Durrington Walls.
2 Next, turn left and walk to the corner of this field. Pass through gates either side of the road, heading towards a stone (the cuckoo stone). From here continue to the next gate.
3 You are now on the route of the old military railway between Amesbury and Larkhill; turn right and follow the path.
4 When you reach a crossroads and National Trust sign to King Barrow Ridge, turn left and follow the shaded bridleway.
5 At the junction turn right through a gate to continue along the ridge, crossing the Stonehenge Avenue on your way to a line of 200-year-old beech trees and a view of Stonehenge.
6 Continue forward to New King Barrows, a fine row of early bronze-age burial mounds, originally capped in white chalk so they would have been visible from a far distance. Retrace your steps back towards the junction then turn right to follow the bridleway.
7 Take a left turn through a gap in the hedge to join the old military railway. This leads back to the gate in the corner of the Cuckoo Stone field.
8 Head across the grassland to Woodhenge and back to Woodhenge car park.

Local Guided Tours of the area: HisTOURies UK and SalisburyGuidedTours

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Stones Speak: Stonehenge Had Lecture Hall Acoustics

The stone slabs of England's Stonehenge may have been more than just a spectacular sight to the ancient people who built the structure; they likely created an acoustic environment unlike anything they normally experienced, new research hints.
"As they walk inside they would have perceived the sound environment around them had changed in some way,"said researcher Bruno Fazenda, a professor at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom. "They would have been stricken by it, they would say, 'This is different.'"
These Neolithic people might have felt as modern people do upon entering a cathedral, Fazenda told LiveScience.
Fazenda and colleagues have been studying the roughly 5,000-year-old-structure's acoustic properties. Their work at the Stonehenge site in Wiltshire, England, and at a concrete replica built as a memorial to soldiers in World War I in Maryhill, Wash., indicates Stonehenge had the sort of acoustics desirable in a lecture hall.
Stonehenge itself is no longer complete, so Fazenda and colleagues used the replica in Maryhill as a stand-in for the original structure. At both locations, they generated sounds and recorded them from different positions to see how the structure influenced the behavior of the sound.
At the replica, they found a reverberation time of just less than one second, the amount of time optimal for a lecture hall. Unlike an echo, which is a single response created when sound waves reflect off something, reverberation occurs when a sound is sustained by a quick succession of reflections arriving at different times.
Modern cathedrals can have reverberation times of about 10 seconds or more, while concert halls are designed so reverberation in them will last between two and five seconds, Fazenda said.
About one second of reverberation is "just enough for us to start becoming aware of it," he said.
Based on their work at Maryhill, the researchers believe the many stones within Stonehenge would have diffracted and diffused sound waves, creating reverberation. The large amount of diffusion and diffraction would have also lead to good sound quality regardless of where the listener was standing in relation the source of sound within the structure.
"What we found in Maryhill as a model for Stonehenge was you could almost stand behind a stone and keep talking with a good level of voice, and people would be able to hear you somewhere else," he said.
For the Neolithic people who built this structure, this sort of acoustic environment was likely quite unusual. They appear to have lived in smaller, thatched-roof homes made of wood, which would not have reflected sound as effectively. And the region around Stonehenge has no significant geographical features, like high cliffs, which are associated with echoes, or large caves, which are associated with reverberation, Fazenda said.
While some have suggested that Stonehenge was designed to create certain acoustic effects, Fazenda said he sees no evidence for this.
Rather than search for an acoustic motivation behind the construction of this mysterious structure, this research is intended to help better understand how the ancient people might have used the structure, he said.
Fazenda collaborated with Rupert Till of the University of Huddersfield in the UK and with archaeologist Simon Wyatt on this project.

Link source: http://www.livescience.com/20044-stonehenge-acoustics.html
You can follow LiveScience senior writer Wynne Parry on Twitter @Wynne_Parry. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Historic Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wiltshire. Walks

Stonehenge Amesbury Wiltshire walk

Where time stops: the National Trust protected fields around Stonehenge .
Walk in a nutshell
This is a walk steeped in history that takes you through sweeping National Trust-protected downland, past a number of exceptional prehistoric sites and alongside the world-famous Stonehenge.
Walk ID 4755
  1. Classification Moderate
  2. Distance 11.3km (7 miles)
  3. Typical duration 3 hours 30 minutes
  4. Height gain 146m
  5. Starting point Parish church of St Mary and St Melor, Amesbury
  6. OS grid reference SU152413 (Explorer map 130)
Why it's special
The walk starts in the town of Amesbury, said to be where Arthur's queen Guinevere ended her days, and leads you through picturesque countryside littered with grassy ridges and mounds that are actually ancient burial chambers and mysterious earthworks. You'll pass through the King Barrows, a collection of round and long burial mounds situated on a prominent ridge and divided into two groups by what's known as the Stonehenge Avenue. By step 6 of the walk you'll be in the centre of the Cursus, a massive earthwork 3km long and 100m wide that's aligned with the equinox sunrise and is several hundred years older than the earliest phase of Stonehenge. Towards the end of the route you'll pass the Normanton Down Barrows, a cemetery of round burial mounds dating from 2600BC to 1600BC with a clear line of site to Stonehenge about a kilometre away.
Keep your eyes peeled for
The great bustard, extinct in the British Isles since 1832 and reintroduced to Salisbury Plain in 2004. The males have a wingspan of 2.5 metres.
But bear in mind
Access into the stone circle at Stonehenge is only possible if you book and pay in advance, and happens outside normal visiting hours.
Recover afterwards
Spitting distance from the end of the walk is the Antrobus Arms hotel, where you can grab a doorstop sandwich in the bar or fill up at the Sunday carvery.


If it's tipping down
Head 30km west to Longleat Safari Park. The lions and tigers may be soaking wet but you'll be nice and dry in the car. Or give up on the outside all together and explore the nooks and crannies of the house.

How to get there

By car
Amesbury is on the A345, 8km north of Salisbury. There is a small public car park near the parish church.
By public transport
Buses run to Amesbury from Salisbury train station and take about 15 minutes.
1. With the parish church of St Mary and St Melor on the right, walk towards the bridge over the river Avon, then on a little further.
2. Round a bend, go along Stonehenge Road on a pavement passing Park Farm, then beside a dual carriageway (still on a pavement) for a short distance. Pass the thatched cottages and cross the road with care.
3. Take a footpath through a walkers' gate into a National Trust area where the New King Barrows stand on the right.
4. Turn left on a track signed to Cursus and Larkhill and walk beside a wooded area to a corner.
5. Turn left and take the stile ahead on a National Trust-permitted path to follow a fenceline in pastures. Cross a stile, then another, before bearing slightly left to head for a stile in the distance.
6. Climb over it and turn left, now at the centre of the Stonehenge Cursus. Walk on to pass the car park of Stonehenge, cross the road to continue on a track, Stonehenge just over to the left and the Normanton Barrows in view ahead.
7. Cross the road and take the track directly in front of you, walk along it for a short way and turn left at a signpost marked Amesbury across the field (at this point you are walking parallel with the A303). Cross this field to the next boundary and turn right.
8. Turn right on to a green track on a steady incline.
9. Turn left on a permissive path. Bear left from a marker to a corner of a fenceline.
10. Turn right to continue above deep swathes of landscape, following the fenceline beside a plantation for a short distance.
11. Turn right over a low fence and continue in the same direction downhill to a road.
12. Turn left along the narrow country road to pass a thatched house and go on into West Amesbury. Pass a large thatched cottage and West Amesbury House, then continue uphill to meet Stonehenge Road.
13. Turn right into Amesbury and retrace your steps to the start of the walk.
Map of Amesbury walk Map of Amesbury walk Photograph: Guardian
Stonehenge Tour Guide