Thursday, 17 December 2015

Winter Solstice celebrations will take place next week at Stonehenge

WINTER Solstice celebrations will take place at Stonehenge next week.
King Arthur Pendragon at a previous winter solstice

English Heritage will welcome people to the stones on December 22 to celebrate the first day of the winter season.
Many people believe that the Winter Solstice always falls on December 21. But the celebration of the winter solstice at Stonehenge is not fixed to a specific calendar date because of a mismatch between the calendar year and solar year.
Sunrise is just after 8am on Tuesday December 22 and visitors will be able to access the monument field as soon as it is light enough to do so safely. Entrance is free and will be available from roughly 7.45am until 10am, when the site will close before re-opening as normal.

Kate Davies, general manager of Stonehenge, said: “We are delighted to offer people a warm welcome to Stonehenge this Winter Solstice, and once again we have worked closely with the druid and pagan community to ensure that access is a success.
"If you are planning on coming, please consider travelling by bus or shared transport, dress very warmly and be prepared for wet weather.
"We do ask all those attending to please respect the stones and the people celebrating solstice with you.”

Senior druid, King Arthur Pendragon, who will be in attendance at the solstice, said: "From our point of view, it's one the very special moments because we think the ancients were more concerned about winter than summer. From Tuesday the days get longer, so it's about hope and renewal. It's very important to celebrate the winter solstice as it's the return of the sun.

"All are welcome to join me afterwards at a second ceremony by the Hill stone where we'll have poetry, music and song, and anyone is welcome to bring along their own song or guitar"
Parking is limited and there is in excess of a thirty minute walk, in low light, from the parking areas to the monument. People planning to attend should bring a torch and strong, waterproof footwear.
A limited number of Blue Badge permits will be available for disabled parking and there will be dedicated accessible transport to the stone circle which will begin just prior to the opening of the monument field. Please apply to for permits.

Salisbury Reds will be running a shuttle bus service from Salisbury to Stonehenge from 6.30am.
For traffic, weather and news updates on the morning of solstice, please follow @eh_stonehenge and #wintersolsticeSH on Twitter.

Story by Rebecca Hudson Salisbury Journal

Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Was Stonehenge moved by glaciers - or our prehistoric ancestors?

In the report, experts describe a number of different landforms and sediments which can be related to the events of the Ice Age.

The famous rocks of Stonehenge were not dragged by pagans but moved by glaciers, according to a team of Welsh academics.
Previously, a team of experts from University College London (UCL) claimed to have resolved the archaeological enigma, confirming that the stones were excavated and transported from two sites in Pembrokeshire by our prehistoric ancestors.

Sunset at Stonehenge the day before Summer Solstice  Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph

The team of archaeologists and geologists said Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, both in the Preseli Hills, had definitely been quarried for the mysterious stones.
They believe that between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, rocks were taken from the Welsh mountain range by people and dragged away to where they currently stand, in Wiltshire.
But in a recent conflicting report, scientists have refuted UCL’s findings.
Dr Brian John, Dr Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes have published their own research in the Archaeology in Wales journal, claiming there are “no traces of human intervention in any of the features that have made the archaeologists so excited”.

The group does not accept the idea of a Neolithic quarry in the Preseli Hills and says the supposed signs of ‘quarrying’ by humans at Craig Rhos-y-Felin were entirely natural.
They also believe that the archaeologists at UCL may have inadvertently created certain features during five years of “highly selective sediment removal”.
And while the team of scientists – including researchers from UCL, University of Manchester, Bournemouth University, University of Southampton, National Museum Wales, and Dyfed Archaeological Trust - believe their evidence, published in the journal Antiquity, presents detailed proof of human involvement, this latest study suggests Stonehenge’s famous bluestones were moved by glaciers, not people.
Huge ritual monument found hidden near Stonehenge
Stonehenge: that's a right mess the builders left
UCL’s report said evidence proved quarry workers cut out rocks for the bluestone settings at Stonehenge.
But Dr John and his team are convinced that the debris at Stonehenge comes from glaciers which transported rocks east towards Salisbury.
In the article, Dr John and his team describe a number of different landforms and sediments which can be related to the events of the Ice Age, and in particular to the last glaciation of this area which occurred around 20,000 years ago.
The report accepts that there might have been a prehistoric camp site at the rocky crag in Wales, but suggests it was used by hunters rather than by quarrymen.
In his paper written with Dr Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes, Dr John says: “There is substantial evidence in favour of glacial transport and zero evidence in support of the human transport theory
“We think the archaeologists have been so keen on telling a good story here that they have ignored or misinterpreted the evidence in front of them.
“That’s very careless. They now need to undertake a complete reassessment of the material they have collected.”

Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Monday, 7 December 2015

Stonehenge was built in Wales and 'dragged off' to Wiltshire 500 years later, study suggests

Holes found cut into rocky outcrops near the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire match the stones of the famous monument.

Stonehenge Equinox: Copyright Stonehenge Tours
Stonehenge could have been first built in what is now Wales where it remained for 500 years until it was “dismantled and dragged off” to Wiltshire, archaeologists have suggested.
The claim followed the “fantastic” discovery of holes cut into rocky outcrops near the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire that match the stones of the famous monument but which were cut centuries before it was built, The Guardian reported.

The holes have been dated to between 3,400 and 3,200 BC but Stonehenge was not created in Wiltshire until 2,900 BC.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of University College London, said: “It could have taken 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.”
He suggested that the “first Stonehenge” was in Wales and “what we’re seeing at Stonehenge [in Wiltshire] is a second-hand monument”.
“Normally we don’t get to make that many fantastic discoveries. But this is one,” he said.
The holes were found on Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin. Similar stones that were left behind and what appeared to be “a loading bay” area were also found.
It had been thought that the original builders of Stonehenge had taken giant bluestones from the Preseli Hills to build the inner ring of stones at the monument for reasons that were not fully understood.
A paper by the research team, which also includes academics from Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton universities, are published in the journal Antiquity. A book by the Council for British Archaeology, called Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery, has also been published

Read the full story in the Independent, written by Ian Johnston

The Stonehenge Tourist Blog

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Stonehenge film released to show how site would be without traffic on A303

A film showing how Stonehenge would look without the busy A303 running through the site has been released in collaboration by English Heritage, the National Trust and Historic England.
A still from the English Heritage film showing Stonehenge with and without traffic. Credit: English Heritage

The film has come out a year after the Government announced plans to build a 2.9km tunnel around Stonehenge to hide part of the road and ease congestion.
Once built it's hoped the tunnel will give people better access to the site and help preserve local habitats for skylarks, brown hare and Adonis Blue butterflies.

In a statement on their website English Heritage said:
"Tens of thousands of vehicles thunder past Stonehenge on the A303 every day. The heavy traffic and constant noise from the road compromises our enjoyment and understanding of the monument and the road cuts the stones off from much of the surrounding ancient landscape and many prehistoric monuments."
"On 1 December 2014, the Government announced that it would invest in a tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove much of the A303 trunk road from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust all welcomed the announcement, describing it as a 'momentous decision'."
– English Heritage
The A303 around Stonehenge has long been a problem spot for congestion in the South West as the road goes down from two lanes into one and becomes particularly busy as visitors make their way to Stonehenge.

The Department for Transport unveiled plans last year for a £2 billion investment to create a "super highway" on the A303 which remains a crucial route between London and the South West.
But not everyone agrees a tunnel is the answer to the congestion problem. Many historians say digging up the area around the site could cause irreparable damage to the landscape and other historical artefacts.

Watch the film and read the full story on the ITV website

Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements 2015

English Heritage will once again welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Sunrise is just after 8am on Tuesday 22 December and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely

Please read and respect the Conditions of Entry for Winter Solstice 2015 and the English Heritage website.
Public Transport is being provided by Salisbury Reds buses and will be running from 06:00 from Salisbury.  

Please be aware that parking is very limited. There is a thirty minute walk, depending on where you are parked, in low light or darkness, from the parking areas to the monument. You are therefore strongly advised to bring a torch with you for personal use.

Why 22nd December? 
Many people – not least diary manufacturers – believe that the Winter Solstice always falls on 21st December. But the celebration of Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is not fixed to a specifiic date – this is because of a mismatch between the calendar year and the solar year.

Please note that there are no other amenities or facilities available to visitors until such time as  commences.

Conditions of Entry
Please read Conditions of Entry.

Solstice Events U.K are offering their usual Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours from London
Booking essential (click here to book direct)

Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Winter and Summer Solstice Fast Facts

Here is a look at the solstice. The winter solstice will take place on December 22nd, 2015. (CNN)
Druid Winter Solstice celebrations
at Stonehenge
Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on December 21 or 22, when the sun appears at
its most southerly position, directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn (23 degrees 27 minutes south latitude). The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of winter. It is the exact opposite in the Southern Hemisphere.

Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on June 20, 21, or 22, when the sun reaches its most northerly point, directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees 27 minutes north latitude). The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and marks the beginning of summer.
A solstice is different from an equinox, the two times each year when the sun is directly above the Earth's equator and day and night are of equal length. Equinoxes mark the beginning of spring (March) and fall (September).
Solstice loosely translated in Latin is "sun stands still". For several days before and after each solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky, i.e., its noontime elevation does not seem to change from day to day
Historically, the solstice has been celebrated by numerous cultures around the world. Thousands of people annually celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.
At sunrise at Stonehenge on the longest day of the year, the rising sun appears behind one of the main stones, creating the illusion that the sun is balancing on the stone.
The site was closed for 16 years after rioting broke out between police and revelers for several years at solstice gatherings. Stonehenge was re-opened to the public on solstice in 2000.
Click here for full story

Solstice Events U.K are offering their usual Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours from London
Booking essential (click here to book direct)

Stonehenge Tourist Guide


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Stone age settlement unearthed near Stonehenge

Archaeologists have found evidence of a stone age settlement around Stonehenge. 
The discovery has revealed a Mesolithic home dating back to the 5th Century BC Credit: PA
The discovery has revealed a Mesolithic home, formed from the giant base of a large fallen tree used to make the wall and roof. It's thought to date back to the 5th century BC
Experts fear that further discoveries could be lost if the government goes ahead with plans to build a tunnel for the A303.

Original source: ITV NEWS

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Friday, 23 October 2015

A century on from Stonehenge sale. English Heritage welcome families to Stonehenge during half term.

ENGLISH Heritage is welcoming families to Stonehenge during the October half term next week to take part in an interactive, theatrical performance which will take families back one hundred years to the dramatic auction of 1915 where Stonehenge was put up for sale!

On September 21, 1915, the New Theatre in Salisbury’s Castle Street was packed out as London auctioneer, Sir Howard Frank, gazed down from his rostrum as he desperately tried to drum up interest among the assembled bidders for the country’s greatest prehistoric monument – with the ancient stones eventually being sold for just £6,000.

Last month English Heritage marked the 100th anniversary of Stonehenge – the most iconic prehistoric monument in Europe – being sold off one that historic auction to local Wiltshire man Cecil Chubb. The auction marked a turning point in the care of the ancient monument. A series of major restorations and excavations began a few years later and Stonehenge went from isolated ruin to national treasure. Today it is cared for by English Heritage, and thanks to extensive work now sits within a restored landscape that gives a sense of its original setting.
Now families are being invited to come and play their part and help bring the monumental historical moment to life in this centenary year, with this fun theatrical performance – specially developed for English Heritage by historical theatre company Time Will Tell who encourage audiences to learn about history by becoming active participants within their amusing and thought provoking theatre. The play is in two parts and is set to take place outside the visitor centre by the Neolithic Houses, every day of half term from Monday 26th October to Sunday 1st November, between 10am and 4pm.
As the custodian of over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites throughout the country, English Heritage’s endeavours to bring the story of England to life for over 10 million visitors each year and it is hoped that the latest activities at Stonehenge next week will offer children a fun way of learning about one of the world’s most fascinating prehistoric monuments. 

The Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre will also be open to entertain the most inquisitive of minds and there is also the opportunity to pick up a family audio tour, explore our reconstructed Neolithic Houses and imagine what life would have been like for a Neolithic family four and a half thousand years ago!
For further information about the fun at Stonehenge and other events during the school half term and throughout autumn and winter visit the English Heritage website at
Jez Gale, Chief Archivist / / Heritage News
The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Hog roasts a favourite for Stonehenge locals in 25th century BC

Site near Stonehenge continues to throw light on ancient Britons' daily lives, including culinary habits
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Hog roasts and cheese were among the favourite dishes eaten by a community living close to Stonehenge during the 25th century BC, according to a recent study published by the University of York.
Researchers found compelling evidence on ancient Britons' culinary habits by analysing the archaeological site at Durrington Walls, a late Neolithic monument in Wiltshire.
DNA evidence found on the remains of pottery pointed to mass-consumption of whole-roasted pigs and cows, while dairy products such as cheeses, yoghurts and milk, found in lesser quantities, seem to have been reserved for the elite or ceremonial use.
Durrington Walls was recently uncovered as the largest preserved stone monument in Britain, thought to have been built 4,500 years ago.
According to the study, it was most probably used as a settlement for workers who built Stonehenge. However, unlike Stonehenge, which was primarily a burial place, Durrington Walls was the site of a lively community, which explains why archaeologists have been able to find more than 11,000 fragments of food-related items such as animal bones and pottery.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, of University College London and director of the Feeding Stonehenge project, said: "This new research has given us a fantastic insight into the organisation of large-scale feasting among the people who built Stonehenge. Animals were brought from all over Britain to be barbecued and cooked in open-air mass gatherings."
The study shines a light on working patterns as well. With cattle brought in from across Britain and extensive feasting patterns, the study concludes that this was a slave-free community, with volunteers making up the bulk of the population.
Dr Oliver Craig, reader in archaeological science at the University of York and lead author on the paper, also points out that evidence of food-sharing at Durrington Walls shows a "greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory". He adds: "The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed."

Full Article: The Week

Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Stonehenge visitor guide: advice, tickets, parking and tours

Our UK expert's guide to visiting Stonehenge, including information on parking, buses, tickets, prices, tours, the best time of year to go and nearby hotels and restaurants

Stonehenge visitor guide: advice, tickets, parking and tours
There's a carnival atmosphere during the winter and summer solstices, when entrance is free Photo: GETTY
Cremation ground? Sun worship site? Alien landing pad? The sight of Stonehenge with its broken circle of stones and mighty central trilithons standing in apparent isolation on Salisbury Plain has been mesmerising travellers for centuries. Right now it’s enjoying a renaissance, partly because its 1960s concrete excrescences have been swept away and replaced with an airy visitor centre a mile down the road, returning the stones to their full glory and explaining what is known of their story, but also because new finds and interpretations are announced all the time. The latest discovery of huge buried stones underneath the henge at Durrington Walls, a couple of miles away, reinforces the idea that Stonehenge is one component of a planned Neolithic landscape on a vast scale.

How to get there

Public transport: Green Traveller has made a video on getting to Stonehenge without using a car, including by bike, see
Bus: The Stonehenge Tour (01202 338420; leaves from Salisbury, 10 miles/15km to the south, which has a mainline railway station. Bus only costs £14 adults, £9 children 5-15 or £40 families (up to two adults and three children) and including entry to Stonehenge and the hilltop site of Old Sarum £27, £17 or £78. You can pay extra to add Salisbury Cathedral entry. The first bus leaves Salisbury at 10am and the last one leaves Stonehenge at 6pm in autumn and 4pm in winter (hours are longer in summer, so check nearer the time.)

Vehicle: The visitor centre and car park (free for ticketholders) sit to the north of the A303, where the A360 and B3086 meet at Airman’s Corner. In summer traffic can back up to the Countess Roundabout: it may be worth westbound drivers taking the back route via the B3086 and the Packway south to Airman’s Corner.

Tour or no tour?

Interpretation and signage at the visitor centre are excellent, but audio guides for adults (£2) and for families (£6) are available on site (pick them up before you get the shuttle to the stones) or you can download them free onto your device from the App Store or Play Store. For an in-depth guide to the stones and their broader context, Blue Badge Tourist Guides can be booked from approximately £230 per day. Stonehenge Guided Tours offer daily guided tours of Stonehenge and many include 'special access' tours.

Highlights for adults

Getting off the shuttle halfway, at Fargo Plantation, and wandering through the trees to see the mysterious – and much older - oblong ditch known as The Cursus, before approaching the stones as they should be approached (if possible): on foot.

Highlights for children

Seeing the recreated face of a 5,000-year old Neolithic man in the visitor centre and then being able to play in his house (the Neolithic village outside, based on remains found at Durrington Walls, often with re-enactors and demonstrations.)

Stonehenge visitor guide: advice, tickets, parking and toursInside the new visitor centre  Photo: GETTY

Best time to visit

Winter. At the end of the day, to catch the sun going down behind the stones to the southwest – even better if it’s frosty. And of course the winter and summer solstices, when entrance is free, but you have to contend with mighty crowds.

Where to eat

The café in the visitor centre is light and bright with long wooden tables and decent food: you have to try the rock cakes, obviously, and the kitchen produces soups, sandwiches and salads and uses lots of produce from local suppliers.
For a pub lunch, drive six miles for a roaring fire and Sunday roasts at the Swan at Enford ( or a bit further for homemade food at the excellent Red Lion Freehouse at East Chisenbury (

Stonehenge visitor guide: advice, tickets, parking and toursStonehenge is enjoying a renaissance thanks to a new discovery at Durrington Walls  Photo: GETTY

 Best view

Pass the entrance to the stones and follow the fence round to the north, veering down the faint parallel lines in the grass known as The Avenue. About 100 yards downhill, turn and look back to see the stones silhouetted against the sky.


Park at Woodhenge Car Park ( near Durrington Walls and walk to Stonehenge across National Trust land. It takes about an hour, at a leisurely pace. Irritatingly, you have to walk past the stones to validate your tickets at the visitor centre, then double back.

Costs/contacts/opening hours

Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE (0370 333 1181; opens daily 9.30am to 7pm (March to October to March) and 9.30am to 5pm (October to March). Gift Aid tickets bought online cost £16 adults aged 16-59, £9.60 children aged 5-15 (infants free), £14.40 concessions (16-17 years or over 60s) and £41.60 families (up to two adults and three children). Tickets are timed entry. English Heritage and National Trust members and carers for disabled visitor must book their free tickets in advance.

By  - The Telegraph

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Monday, 7 September 2015

Newly discovered ‘superhenge’ dwarfs Stonehenge

Prehistoric monument would have had stones higher than double-decker bus.
Researchers have discovered a major prehistoric stone monument three kilometres away from the famous Stonehenge standing stones.  The enormous Durrington Walls “superhenge” dwarfs Stonehenge and may have as many as 90 large standing stones associated with it.

Artist’s impression of the Durrington Walls superhenge and the nearby timber circle Woodenhenge. Image: Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute

Built about 4,500 years ago it has remained hidden for millennia. The use of non-invasive geophysical technologies including ground penetrating radar have begun to reveal the superhenge’s secrets.
Details of the work by the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project were revealed today, on the first day of the British Science Association’s annual festival of science. The festival is hosted this year by the University of Bradford.
Durrington Walls is one of the largest known henge monuments yet discovered. It has a 500m diameter and a 1.5km circumference. Massive effort would have gone into its construction, as it is surrounded by a ditch up to 17.6m wide.
This can be seen, in part, on the ground, but what lies beneath is more surprising. Technology has allowed scientists from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and the University of Bradford to look back through time and see the original monument.
They discovered a row of up to 90 buried standing stones, some of them 4.5m high, taller than a double decker bus.
Many survived because they were pushed over before being buried under the superhenge. Others have disappeared but underground evidence provided by radar and other equipment revealed the pits in which they once stood.
The scientists suggest the stones and henge formed a C-shaped arena. None of the stones have yet been excavated but it is expected they will match the sandstones used to build Stonehenge.
Previous surveys of the surrounding terrain had led scientists to assume only Stonehenge and a smaller henge nearby possessed significant stone structures.
This new survey reveals however that Durrington Walls also had a large row of standing stones. Its dimensions and construction are unique to British archaeology the scientists say.
“This discovery . . . has significant implications for our understanding of Stonehenge,” said Prof Vincent Gaffney of Bradford, who co-leads the project.

The Irish Times will provide daily coverage from the UK festival of science, which continues until Thursday.

IRISH TIMES: Dick Ahlstrom Bradford

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Monday, 27 July 2015

4,000-year-old skeleton found near Stonehenge

A 4,000-year-old Bronze Age skeleton of a child has been discovered in the foetal position near Stonehenge.

The Bronze Age skeleton was found with a necklace (Picture: PA)
The kid, found wearing an amber necklace, was unearthed by a team from the University of Reading, who are excavating Wilsford henge in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire.
It is believed the skeleton will help shed light on the lives of those who lived and worshipped at nearby Stonehenge.
Efforts will now be made to determine the age and gender of the child and where they were from after the find was made on Tuesday.

The Vale of Pewsey, situated between Stonehenge and Avebury, is the subject of a three-year dig but over the last six weeks, archaeologists have focused on Marden henge and Wilsford henge.
Built in 2400 BC, Marden henge is the largest henge – a prehistoric monument – in the country.
Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading’s department of archaeology, described the skeleton as a ‘wonderful discovery’.

He said: ‘Finds from the first five weeks of the dig were exciting – but as so often during excavations the best is revealed last. The skeleton is a wonderful discovery which will help tell us what life was like for those who lived under the shadow of Stonehenge at a time of frenzied activity.
‘Scientific analysis will provide information on the gender of the child, diet, pathologies and date of burial. It may also shed light on where this young individual had lived.’

Read full story at the Metro

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Stonehenge's sun-disc revealed: Rare 4,500-year-old gold decoration found in grave near sacred site goes on display

  • The 4,500 year old thin disc of gold is decorated with a cross and circle
  • It is one of just six sun-discs to have been found in Britain and may have belonged to a chieftain of a tribe living in the area around Stonehenge 
  • The golden disc is one of the earliest known pieces of metalwork in Britain
  •  It was found in a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire in 1947
This sun-disk is made from a thin sheet of gold that has had the design of a cross and circle beaten into it. The indentations decorating each are thought to be intended to catch the sunlight. It is one of only six sun-disks to have been found in Britain and has now gone on display to the public for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum

One of the earliest known pieces of metalwork in Britain, found just a few miles from Stonehenge, has gone on display to the public for the first time.
The gold sun-disc, which was forged around 4,500 years ago at around the same time the main circle of Stonehenge was erected, was discovered in the Bronze Age burial mound of a local chieftain.
Thought to represent the sun, the thin sheet of embossed gold features a cross at the centre surrounded by a circle. Each is decorated with dots that glint in the sunlight.

The disc, which is one of only six sun disc found in Britain, may have once formed part of a headdress or garment.

Experts believe the disc, which is around two inches (5cm) wide, may have been made with gold imported to England from Ireland, where there is evidence that gold was being mined at the time.
However, new research has raised the prospect that it could be made of Cornish gold as rich deposits in the area were being exported to Ireland and elsewhere at the time.

The mysterious sun-disc, which was discovered alongside the remains of a skeleton of an adult male at a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh in 1947 , is now on public display for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire to mark the summer solstice.
David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Museum, said: 'This is an incredibly important object as it was one of the earliest pieces of metal to appear in Britain.
'Gold is precious to us, but to people at the time they had not seen metal at all and it would have been completely new and something far out of their experience.
'We think it was owned by a local chieftain and was buried with him when he died. His family clearly valued it enough to put it into his grave so he could carry it with him to the afterlife.'
The discovery of the sun-disc in the grave at Monkton Farleigh has helped to shed light not only on the wealth of people living at the time but also their relationship with death.
Sun worship is thought to have been common in the early bronze age and the highly reflective golden metal disk would have had special significance in that culture.
Stonehenge has long been associated with the sun as many of the stones appear to be aligned with phases of the sun. 
Thousands of people still descend on the ancient monument each year to watch the sun rise on the summer solstice.
At the time when the sun-disc found at Monkton Farleigh was made, the sarsen stones at Stonehenge had just been erected.

Read the full story here:

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Friday, 5 June 2015

Want to catch the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year?

This years (2015) summer solstice celebrations will be on Saturday 20th June and Sunday 21st June.

English Heritage will be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice Celebrations on 20th – 21st June 2015. 

Please help them to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on these pages.

The Summer Solstice this year occurs on a Saturday/  Sunday, the roads around Stonehenge will be very busy. We strongly advise visitors to leave their cars at home and travel to Stonehenge using public transport.   The nearest train station is Salisbury and there will be a regular bus service from Salisbury to Stonehenge.


Stonehenge is located approximately 2½ miles (4 kms) from the town of Amesbury.  The nearest bus and railway stations are in Salisbury, which is 12 miles (19 kms) away from Stonehenge.

A high volume of traffic is anticipated in the Stonehenge area on the evening of Saturday 20th June.  The Summer Solstice parking facilities close to Stonehenge, although fairly extensive, are also finite. Traffic may be slow, as you approach Stonehenge, but please do not be tempted to abandon your vehicle and park it either on the A303 or other neighbouring roads and public rights of way.  Cars parked illegally or causing an obstruction will be towed away.

The local bus company, Salisbury Reds, will be running a special service from Salisbury railway station and Stand U in New Canal, to a drop-off point near Stonehenge.  The buses will also stop at any recognised bus stop along the line of the route, which is via Amesbury. Find out more about the Salisbury Reds solstice bus service.

Solstice Events UK will be offering their usual small group guided tours from London and Bath.

The Stonehenge Tourist Guide

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Stonehenge souvenirs chart tourism history. New English Heritage Exhibition.

Souvenirs of Stonehenge - ranging from the tacky to the tasteful - are due to go on show at the World Heritage site.
The exhibition includes stamps, souvenirs and guidebooks charting the
monument's rise from isolated ruin to world famous tourist attraction

The exhibition, opening on Friday, charts Stonehenge's rise from isolated ruin to famous tourist attraction.
Postcards, china, stamps and souvenir books are among the "Stonehengiana" going on display, amassed by curator and archaeologist Julian Richards.
Mr Richards said the exhibition showed that visiting the stones was "part of a long tradition".

The exhibition, called Wish You Were Here!, begins with the Victorians and traces the Neolithic monument's development into one of the world's most visited sites
Managed by English Heritage, the ancient circle attracts more than a million visitors a year.
However, the organisation said Stonehenge may have been considered a tourist attraction as early as the Roman period.

The crumbling curiosity also proved a draw for the Victorian tourist who visited in sufficient numbers to warrant the first guidebooks and souvenirs.
By 1901, the rise in visitor numbers and damage to the stones saw an admission charge introduced to pay for a police constable to protect the site.
Postcards went on sale in the early 1900s, and, from the 1970s onwards, growing international recognition saw Stonehenge feature in an eclectic mix of art, music and popular culture from spoof rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap to the Thor comic books.

"I am fascinated by how Stonehenge has been experienced by visitors over the years and the way in which it has been used as an inspiration for art and music," said Mr Richards, who picked up many of the artefacts on the auction website eBay.
"The 1823 guidebook shows that even 190 years ago there were enough people fascinated by Stonehenge to want to visit it and for a book to be written about it."
The exhibition runs until 31 August.

Article source - BBC NEWS

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Friday, 24 April 2015

New Stonehenge Discovery: Misaligned Stones Reveal Previously Unknown Purpose Of Mystery Megalith

A new discovery about Stonehenge sheds a whole new light on the purpose of the mysterious, 5,000-year-old megalith — literally. While archaeologists have long been certain the ancient monument was created as a religious altar for worship of the summer sun, the new discovery shows that the winter sun was just as important to the long-lost civilization that built the strange structure.

The discovery relates to the tallest stone in the semi-circular structure, a stone that most researchers have long assumed was aligned incorrectly, because while the rest of the massive stones that make up Stonehenge align with the sun at the summer solstice, that particular stone does not.

But according to researcher Tim Daw, who is also a groundskeeper at the ancient site, just because the stone does not align with the mid-summer sun doesn’t mean it isn’t in the right place.

By 1901, the stone had mostly fallen. At the time, it was raised back to what was believed to be its original position. But the stone did not line up with the summer solstice, so Stonehenge experts simply assumed the 1901 restoration job was carried out poorly — and the stone was in the wrong place.

But Daw’s findings say that the stone was in the right place all along. The 1901 restoration workers did not make a mistake. In fact, the stone lined up not with the summer solstice, but the winter solstice — as did five other stones around it, which have long since fallen and were never restored.

“My research shows that not only was the standing stone out of symmetry with the central solstice alignment originally, but that its now fallen partner had also been, and so were surrounding stones, including the Altar Stone,” Daw said.

“The stones point to the midwinter solstice sunrise and midsummer sunset. This alignment had been missed by previous investigators,” Daw said. “This isn’t some nebulous sighting line on a distant star. This is 100 tons of stone deliberately pointing to the major event at the other end of the day the rest of the monument celebrates. One stone out of line might be a coincidence but that it is five of the major stones, at least, shows it was a designed feature.”

Daw is the same researcher who made headlines last year when he discovered, largely by accident, impressions in the ground that proved Stonehenge was originally a full circle, not just a semicircle. But what happened to the rest of the stones remains one of the many mysteries of Stonehenge.

Article source:

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Monday, 13 April 2015

1000's more tourists can visit Stonehenge as new coach park is given the go-ahead

Thousands of extra tourists a day will be able to visit Stonehenge after council planners gave the go-ahead for a new 26-space coach park at the visitors' centre a mile and a half away.

Numbers to the increasingly popular English Heritage site Stonehenge have gone up by 300,000 in the last year, but parking has remained a problem

English Heritage asked Wiltshire Council planners for permission to convert a field near the Airmen's Cross visitors' centre into a new coach park alongside the one built at the same time as the visitors' centre back in 2013.
Visitor numbers have rocketed up by a third at Stonehenge since the centre opened just before Christmas 2013, with 300,000 more people visiting the Wiltshire monument last year than the previous highest of a million.

Most of those come by coach on organised tours from London, but operators warned they were struggling to find the space in the coach park, and English Heritage warned coaches were turning up anyway, and dropping passengers off in potentially dangerous spots around the centre.

Planners gave English Heritage permission for the coach park but this was temporary for two years, amid fears of the impact on the landscape and the increased traffic.
The same planners turned down a similar English Heritage application to make the grassed temporary car park permanent, saying the government body had not sufficiently landscaped its plans to help hide the cars on the open spaces of Salisbury Plain.

Read the full story in the Western Daily Press:

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Has the Stonehenge mystery been solved? New theory emerges for Britain's most famous prehistoric site

The World Heritage site could be "an ancient Mecca on stilts" according to Julian Spalding, an art critic and ex-director of some of the UK's top museums

It's been the subject of speculation for hundreds of years with theories ranging from stones flown from Ireland by Merlin to the work of the Devil.
Others claim Stonehenge is an astronomical calendar or a Druid temple.
But now a new theory has emerged that claims the prehistoric monument - one of Britain's most treasured sites and a World Heritage site - was “an ancient Mecca on stilts”.
The idea is that the mega stone structure, built between 3000 and 2000BC, would not have been used for religious ceremonies at ground level but instead propped up a huge circular platform.
Julian Spalding, an art critic and ex-director of some of the UK's top museums, argues for the existence of “a great altar” able to support hundreds of worshippers.
Aerial view of megalithic monument of Stonehenge
Treasured: Stonehenge is on the World Heritage List - Getty

He told The Guardian: "It's a totally different theory which has never been put forward before.
"All the interpretations to date could be mistaken. We've been looking at Stonehenge the wrong way: from the earth, which is very much a 20th-century viewpoint.
"We haven't been thinking about what they were thinking about."
Among the myriad of theories around the makings of Stonehenge is one that the Wiltshire stone circle is "a unique, possibly failed experiment".
Professor Ronald Hutton an expert on Paganism from Bristol University said one of the giant sandstone slabs had broken in two during construction, but that rather than throwing it away and crafting a new one, the builders simply "put one broken bit on top of the other broken bit, jammed a lintel on top and hoped they'd stay together.

Last September a hidden complex of monuments was found around Stonehenge using hi-tech methods of scanning below the Earth's surface.
The find, from a four-year study using subterranean scans, includes evidence of 17 wooden or stone structures and dozens of burial mounds, 6,000 years old.
Most of the monuments are merged into the landscape and invisible to the naked eye.
The four-year study, the largest geophysical survey ever undertaken, covered an area of 12 square kilometres and penetrated to a depth of three metres.
Last summer an outline of missing stones revealed by a drought showed that the monument was not left unfinished as some had believed, but was once a perfect circle.
Spalding, whose theory is detailed in a book released this week called Realisation: From Seeing to Understanding - The Origins of Art, has pointed to monuments constructed by ancient civilisations in China, Peru and Turkey where sacred circular monuments were built high up.

Original source and full article in the Mirror News paper:

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A great week for stargazing

In the 1960s, archeologist Jacquette Hawkes famously said, “Every generation gets the Stonehenge it deserves — and desires.” It’s an appropriate statement even now, 50 years later, and given that vernal equinox occurs at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 20th, just a few hours after a total solar eclipse over the North Atlantic, it's timely to consider it again.
It's said that Stonehenge was built in order to observe and predict the various celestial phenomena that occur rhythmically throughout the year. Such phenomena guided centuries of human striving, and in ancient times, the knowledge of their occurrence was prerequisite to participating in the celebration of life’s most sacred mysteries. Archaeological findings confirm that this was true at Stonehenge, Chizen Itza, the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Greek Temple to Artemis, in the region of the megaliths of the Great Plains. Observance of the celestial phenomena from these sites was the right of the initiated, who then used these celestial moments for the practical purposes of establishing religious ceremony, civic organization, agricultural practice, funerary rites, even architectural form — all facets of human experience designed in accord with the harmony of the cosmos

Now, let's fast forward to the 21st century. How are the celestial phenomena observed and celebrated now? Taking equinox as an example, we find that the time and date of such a phenomenon is no longer determined by human beings observing the celestial environment from specific geographic locations on the Earth. Rather, astronomers use what is called an “International Celestial Reference Frame,” 200 extra-galactic points that are measured in order to determine the Earth-Sun positions relative to one another. These positions are calculated from points beyond or outside that relationship. Does this matter? In many ways it reflects our thinking about ourselves in our celestial system, as though because we no longer consider ourselves physically at the center, we are somehow outside of the system, looking at it without actively participating in it; somehow we are subject to its randomness, but are not held responsible for what we ourselves might be contributing to its ongoing nature.

The ancients believed that they must participate in the observable rhythms of a living universe, that they must find their way to the sacred places of the Earth and set aside time to honor its gifts and make a contribution in return. And while some of the methods through which these rites were performed are abhorrent to contemporary humanity, we might do well to consider the principle behind them. The ancients believed that each human being comes from a star. Astrophysicists today will say we are made of the exploded remnants of dead stars. These are totally different pictures, demonstrating the unique nature of the world chaos that humanity is confronted with from one age to the next, and as Hawkes stated, it reveals to us that we each get the Stonehenge we deserve.
Because the moon will be at new phase on equinox, this is a great week for stargazing. The barest crescent of the moon may be visible near the now-setting red planet Mars in the west one hour after sunset on Saturday, March 21. Just above them, and throughout the season, Venus blazes as our brilliant evening star, having recently appeared as close to Mars as possible — a scene that won't repeat again until late 2017. Venus is now making ready for an early summer encounter with Jupiter, and we can watch them from now until then, as they draw closer and closer together. This week, Jupiter can be seen nearing the heart star Regulus, in the constellation Leo, arcing from the east high up in the south these nights, while Saturn is visible in the morning sky, in the region of the Scorpion, where we find the red supergiant star Antares, which name means "rival of Mars." Antares is a brilliant star to the naked eye, as well as through binoculars or telescopes, flickering and flaring above the horizon, making it easy to understand cultural associations of this star with passion and intensity. As a supergiant, Antares is 10,000 times brighter than our sun.

After equinox, it appears as though the sun is moving in the northern celestial hemisphere, which means that the next full moon, April 4, which phase occurs when the moon arrives on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, will occur in the southern celestial hemisphere. This trading of places between sun and moon in the celestial horizon signaled to most northern hemisphere cultures that now the festivals of renewal could take place, be it the festival of the renewal of fire in the Asian tradition, the observance of the Passover in the Jewish tradition, or the festival of Easter in the Christian tradition. And this year, the vernal full moon as it is also known, will itself be totally eclipsed, just as the sun will be at vernal equinox. The lunar eclipse will be visible from Norther Michigan, starting in the 6 a.m. hour, and achieving totality at almost 8 a.m., half an hour after it has set for us.

Mary Stewart Adams is the program director (and resident stargazer) at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City. She is filling in for columnist Bryan Shumaker. Contact Adams
Mary Stewart Adams is the program director for Emmet County's International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, and can be heard each week on Interlochen Public Radio with her "Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

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