Discover the Neolithic at Stonehenge - events & workshops
NEOLITHIC TEXTILE AND CRAFT WORKSHOP
Mon 7 Dec 2015
10:00 - 16:00
SUITABLE FOR Adults
Work with textile experts Sally Pointer and Gareth Riseborough to discover more about the research and processes used to create replica Neolithic and Bronze Age clothing for Stonehenge and get hands-on experience with ... continues...
Will Self: has English Heritage ruined Stonehenge?
The summer solstice, King Arthur, the Holy Grail … Stonehenge is supposed to be a site of myths and mystery. But with timed tickets and a £27m visitor centre, does it herald a rampant commercialisation of our heritage?
A303 upgrade to be fast tracked because of flooding crisis
The prospect of fast-tracking an upgrade of the second artery into the region comes as travel in the West country has been thrown into turmoil as the only mainline into Devon and Cornwall collapsed into the sea at Dawlish... continues...
Researchers recreate the sound of a ritual heard there 4,000 years ago
"Visitors to Stonehenge in Wiltshire rarely experience the historic site without the rumble of traffic noise from the nearby A303. But UK researchers have managed to recreate the sound of a ritual there, as heard by our ancestors 4,000 years ago... continues...
"We are testing the timetables for the service, and for the first few weeks we will be making constant changes. Please check here each week for confirmation of the timetable that we will be operating each weekend."
"Stonehenge is being scanned using modern laser technology to search for hidden clues about how and why it was built. All visible faces of the standing and fallen stones, many of which are obscured by lichen, will be surveyed. Some ancient carvings have previously been found on the stones, including a famous Neolithic "dagger"... continues...
Stonehenge 'was built by rolling stones using giant wicker baskets'
It is one of the abiding mysteries of Britain's Neolithic past.
For all the awe-inspiring wonder of the standing stones at Stonehenge no one has ever worked out how our ancient ancestors were able to heave boulders weighing many tonnes over such huge distances... continues...
The Heritage Lottery Fund announced last night that they'd be giving ten million pounds towards the Stonehenge visitor centre improvements. Government axes £10m. HLF provides £10m. See we're all in this together and charities can make up the slack. Keep buying those scratchcards. Yes I am being sarcastic... continues...
"Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it was claimed today.
The same technique that allows vehicles and machinery to run smoothly today could have been used to transport the monument's massive standing stones more than 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory... continues...
"LEADING experts on Stonehenge will be gathering in Salisbury to debate the monument's purpose next weekend. The event, called Solving Stonehenge, is part of Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum's 150th anniversary conference on October 2 and 3... continues...
"The largest exhibition of John Constable work, ever exhibited in Wiltshire, is heading to Salisbury next summer.
"To mark the 200th anniversary of the artist's first visit to the city, the Salisbury and Wiltshire museum is hosting a multi-million pound exhibition of his paintings of Salisbury Cathedral, the city and Stonehenge... continues...
Wiltshire museums join forces to tell story of Stonehenge
"English Heritage, the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, and the Wiltshire Heritage Museum have agreed to collaborate on presenting and interpreting the story of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site... continues...
This years winter solstice observance at Stonehenge will mark the centenary of Dr. G.W. MacGregor Reid being recorded undertaking such activities by the Wiltshire Constabulary. The Most Ancient Order of Druids had chosen Dr. G.W... continues...
A new book on the geometry of Stonehenge and the author seems to have simplified the setting out of the stones, Aubrey Holes etc using techniques available at the time.
Experimental archaeology was used at a site in Oxfordshire to check out the feasibility of the theories.
It seems to be a well researched and sober account... continues...
Not a fortress, or a temple, or a calendar. Stonehenge was a hospital
"By the agrarian revolution of the third millennium BC Stonehenge was already an important site, but its extension about 2300BC was clearly intended by its guardians to make it a major pilgrimage attraction... continues...
The Unesco World Heritage site, Stonehenge, is "a destination in trouble", a new survey has found.
The National Geographic Traveler magazine marked the site 56 out of 100 against criteria including historic preservation and tourism management.
Survey panellists said Stonehenge was a "mess", "over-loved" and "crowded"... continues...
An airship has flown over Stonehenge to celebrate the 5,000-year-old landmark's inclusion on a shortlist to decide the seven wonders of the modern world.
Fifty robed druids performed a ceremony inside the circle to mark the event... continues...
Public inquiry on Stonehenge plan (or, "When will it end?")
Plans for a £67m visitor centre at Stonehenge, complete with its own rail link, are to go to a public inquiry.
Salisbury District Council approved the plans last week but the plans were "called in" by the government... continues...
The Prime Minister is being urged to step in to decide on the future of traffic around Stonehenge.
The RAC has written to Tony Blair, asking him to get personally involved after a series of u-turns and delay.
The motoring foundation favours putting the A303 through a 1.3-mile tunnel, bored into the Wiltshire countryside... continues...
Rain grounded an airborne celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the first aerial photographs of Stonehenge.
A balloon carrying photographers was due to fly over the ancient Wiltshire landmark to recapture images taken in 1906 by Lieutenant Philip Henry Sharpe... continues...
Plans to build a new visitor centre, with its own rail link, at Stonehenge have been approved by councillors.
English Heritage's original application was refused by Salisbury District Council amid fears a rail link would damage the environment.
But after an appeal, planners on Monday approved the scheme with conditions... continues...
English Heritage plans for a new Stonehenge visitor centre are being recommended for approval.
Salisbury District Council had refused the original plans amid fears a train to ferry visitors to the site would damage the environment.
There were also concerns about whether the nearby A303 would be upgraded... continues...
"Aerial Photography and Archaeology - 100 Years of Discovery"
This travelling exhibition will display historic and modern photos and illustrations. It will be at Stonehenge from August 1-7, when a Virgin balloon will give 'some visitors'* the chance to take their own aerial snaps... continues...
Scientists seek fresh chance to dig up Stonehenge's secrets
The Observer - 25 July 2005
Stonehenge has always mystified. Julius Caesar thought it was the work of druids, medieval scholars believed it was the handiwork of Merlin, while local folk tales simply blamed the devil... continues...
The government is to re-examine plans for a road scheme aimed at diverting traffic away from Stonehenge after the cost of the project doubled.
The scheme, which includes building a tunnel for the A303 near the ancient Wiltshire site, was estimated to cost £183m when it was announced in 2002... continues...
Robert Turner, who farms hundreds of acres around Stonehenge, is slowly returning many of them to the original sheep-cropped grass. Surprisingly, he has to reduce the fertility of the land to achieve this.
by Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent, The Guardian, Monday November 22, 2004
Stonehenge's past brought to light
The sign advises the solitary car pootling down the deserted road, past the reassuring AA phone box, to "fork left for Exeter" - unless the driver decides to fork right onto the infant A344, park on ... continues...
Proposed road cutting would dominate World Heritage Site, say Salisbury Greens. If the A303 proposals were approved, the new road cutting would become the most prominent monument within the Stonehenge World. Heritage Site: the 21st century monument to the car, a kind of inverted Cursus, rivalling the original Cursus in size... continues...
"Plans to build a road tunnel under Stonehenge are to be examined at a public inquiry. The project's aims have widespread support, but campaigning groups argue the proposed 2.1km (1.3 mile) tunnel is too short and will damage the site... continues...
'Amesbury Archer' treasures on display for the first time
It is now over a year since archaeologists, working on a routine excavation on the site of a proposed new school in Wiltshire, unearthed the richest Bronze Age burial yet found in Britain... continues...
Visited Stonehenge today via the new Visitors Centre at Airman's Corner. The Exhibition Room was excellent, the gift shop was what it was, and the cafe was probably the best it could be catering for hundreds of visitors a day (don't expect anything more than the most basic of light-lunch-type-food). I was looking forward to the land-train but instead travelled on a small bus which used the remains of the A344 as access to Stonehenge. It's still a bit of a mess up by the site of the old carpark and I was disappointed to find the wire fence still in place around the ancient monument. To view the Stones from the Avenue you have to go around into the adjacent field. However, Stonehenge was wonderful today with a far wider circumference to walk around than previously. The English Heritage staff were friendly and helpful but I was still left with the feeling of being 'delivered', 'processed' and 'dispatched' with exit through the gift shop. Next time I'm going to try and walk up the by-way from Larkhill to fully take in the barrows and magnificent sweep of the landscape.
A friend has a double NT membership which is about to expire so we took advantage of it yesterday morning and set off for Stonehenge quite early.
What can I write about Stonehenge that hasn't already been written ... its a fantastic 'landscape' with Stonehenge itself the centre of barrows scattered in every direction - seeing the landscape from the central perspective of the henge was illuminating. The stones are stately and yes, awe-inspiring; I had to resist the urge to run across the grass and touch them; the avenue is clearly visible leading up to the Heel Stone.
Starlings gathered there in great numbers - perhaps preparing for autumn (thanks for your comment Drew) always a spectacular sight to observe.
I've said many times before that I'm not into knocking tourists as I am one myself ... at Stonehenge, however, it is BIG BUSINESS. The site opens to the public at 9.30am - we arrived at 9.40am by 10am the car-park was almost full (lots of coach parties) with hundreds of people milling around. It is almost impossible to experience the scale and grandeur of the Stonehenge landscape in the presence of so many people ... so if you can't make the 'out of hours' visit, arrive at 9.30am and you will have a better overall experience.
Edit: Just came across this, which is something I wrote on 25/8/09 in reply to Rupert Soskin's thread on 'the theory of blood-sports at Stanton Drew'. I add here as a very different visit to the Stonehenge complex.
I had the great treat a month or so back of being taken around the Stonehenge complex by someone called PeteG (who posted here until quite recently). We started at the spring by the river Avon where the Avenue begins, we walked through the Durrinngton Walls site (easy to imagine a village with livestock existing there), walked towards Stonehenge along the Avenue until just the top came into view with no visitors, no cars, and no road visible. It almost felt like 'time travelling' (I do have a vivid imagination). Then we walked over to the barrows and along the cursus. Some of it was done by car but all in all we walked a lot of ground and, as you point out in your dvd, it is an enormous site.
What came to life on that occasion was that Stonehenge was part of a community where life was lived on sorts of levels ...for me the midwinter alignments (heel stone and its missing partner) will always make the henge feel like some sort of temple as the midwinter solstice had always been the most important time of the year and why the Christians nicked it ... it was too important to leave lying around.
Needless to say, a unique and fantastic place. However, at the risk of sounding snobby - a bit too commercialised for me. It is certainly worth visiting - a 'must see' site - but I must admit I prefer Avebury.
Visited this site on 12.6.10 - the first time for nearly 4 years. It was a lot busier this time with coaches and tourists from all over the world - plenty of Americans and Australians. There was also security guards at the car park which I don't remember last time. Near the ticket office was a lone 'Druid' protesting about people visiting the site - or something like that. He had some pretty colourful banners hanging from the railings and was selling handbooks on King Arthur I think? I have read about the changes planned for visiting the site (new visitor's centre etc) so I wanted to visit again before things get changed. I plan another visit once the changes have taken place to compare if things are for the better?
I looked carefully at the weather forecast and decided that it might be a reasonable sunset at the (near) solstice.
There was a marquee in the car park with an exhibition about astromony with telescopes looking at the sunspots. Sheltering from the bitter Arctic wind, I got into a long and very interesting conversation with an archeaoastronomer (Simon Banton) about various alignments in the area.
(He reckons that when the new visitor centre is built with its twin "pavilons" the sun will appear to rise between them at some date in the year! A new legend in the making?)
Paid my entrance fee and joined about 15 other people by the Heel Stone. The sunset didn't disappoint. Dramatic clouds with the sun appearing and disappearing every few minutes, a wonderful half hour. I hope my "duplicate" photos don't offend but the ambiance changed so quickly.
While chatting to the people there I found out that there were to be talks given by three experts within the circle after the general public had left. They might have a couple of spare spaces! Blagged my way in after a warming hot chocolate and mince pie!
Listened to a short talk by a chap from the Armagh Observatory(?) about Comets and the Zodaical Light and then went into the circle. I missed out on the other two lectures as I was fascinated by the way the stones took on a strange and mysterious presence in the pitch dark. The pictures I've added to the "Artistic/Interpretive section might give a flavour of the feeling.
By this time the extreme cold was beginning to get to me and I made a strategic retreat to a warm car.
A memorable experience.
To see the stones up close and with only 12 other people present, as we did on Saturday evening, was a completely different experience to the standard "tourist" one.
Forget about the security man in his bright yellow coat, texting his friends and ignoring all questions; forget about the fact that they close the toilets and the cafe, so the fact that you may have paid TWICE as much as other visitors doesn't count for anything when you need to go to the loo or want a hot cuppa whilst you are waiting to go in; forget about the fact that you know EH are cashing in on the fact that some people feel a need to see more than a quick view from behind a guarded wire. Forget all that because.....
.....we spent an hour, walking among the stones, kiddy as kippers with a dozen like-minded folk and were able to take some fantastic photos. As the sun set, the golden glow of the sun against the blue sky was contrasted with the grey of snowclouds gathering. And just as the first few spots of sleety rain fell, a rainbow arched over the site. Just beautiful.
I got to nosey into the excavtion site (only shown to "day tourists" on a live feed in a marquee by the car park) and we could wander round freely (as long as we didn't stand on the stones or light any flames) enjoying this site in all of it's glory (almost)
I had been wary of visiting SH for a number of reasons but this was actually a very impressive visit and one which, whilst not ideal, is better than most get these days. As a birthday present, it was hard to beat.
Stonehenge is a victim of its own success. TV documentaries and increased knowledge of the site's significance have seen to that. It gets close to a million visitors every year; no way would that amount of people be able to walk into the stones even if EH decided to remove the ropes. Even with small groups of people on special access the ground in the centre quickly becomes churned mud. Close up, you can see graffiti on the stones--and I'm not talking about prehistoric--the painted remains of 'radio Carolina' plus patches where paint remover has killed the rare lichen growing on the stones.
Like it or not, Stonehenge is unique and needs to be protected to avoid further damage. Anyone who really wants to go in CAN--by special access or on the solstices.
Back around 1989, a load of us went to a mates wedding in Southampton. On the long trek back north we called at Stonehenge. It was shrouded in fog, and there were few visitors. We jumped over the wall and down to the underpass, which was possible then, and got in for free. We reckoned it was obscene having to pay what they were asking to enter the greatest stone circle ever.
It didn't disappoint, although the clinical surroundings did. I just looked at the stones in awe. I wished I had come sooner. My mum and dad visited when you just walked over grass and entered the chalk floor of the circle at will. Impossible to allow that today, even though I moan about the regulations, I begrudgingly agree to them.
Up to that point I read all about stone circles, but hadn't read much about Stonehenge, due to focusing on sites closer to home. That day I bought my first Stonehenge book, and since then have been fascinated by the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in Wessex.
The Cumbrian sites still take some beating with their savage surroundings.
Stonhenge is dwarfed by its environment, and this is highlighted if you have just come from Avebury. I had not intended to visit, when I planned my trip, but wandered south anyway. A peculiar sight lay before me when I crested Kings' Barrow Ridge. A tiny jumble of grey shapes lay encircled by a multicoloured ring and a black ring, all cradled in a grey Y. As I drew closer, the rings defined themselves as a crowd of people and a high fence. I have never seen double yellow lines this far out of town. They explain why people have to pay 2 quid to park. The green sentry box made me laugh, as did the tourists looking out through the fence at me, looking in at them, but I was left wondering why the peeps are guided to walk widdershins round the stones. Accident or design? Stonehenge has always seemed to me to have been built by people who did not understand our indigenous circles, as a symbol of their power and authority, in much the same way as the Romans took on Christianity, and the modern day authorities' attitude to visitors of all hues ( unless they have the right "credentials" ) seems to flow from that. I am sure a lot of you get great pleasure from visiting, and I mean no slight to any of you. Maybe I will buy a ticket next time, and try to open my mind, but I enjoyed Stonehenge best from the wonderfully eery barrows on the ridge. Don't miss them!
Driving along the A303 Stonehenge takes you by surprise. One minute your looking at the map thinking "must be close" next its right there in front of you in all its glory! But...
The last time I saw a fence like the one surrounding Stonehenge was around an army base on the outskirts of Londonderry (its that bad) which would have been pretty depressing if I hadnt been so excited by being there after such a long journey down from Scotland.
What the hell though..you have to see this, really, despite English Heritage turning the place into such a circus! Its majestic and iconic and completely a one off in terms of construction. What this must have been like in its heyday is just mind blowing which is why its now regulary swarming with familes on a day out and tourist parties. Lets face it if they gave access the stones themselves some idiot would attack/deface them. The only way to avoid this is to lessen its impact as a tourist destination and frankly its already too late. The proposed tunnel and vistors centre is only going to turn this into another "Newgrange" where you get an alotted time to go round before being herded on the bus again, sad but you wait and see..
See it, marvel at its brilliance and then get in your car, turn the ignition on and turn your face north to Avebury and beyond cos this is a lost cause!
Access ahem, I won't bother with directions! The tunnel has ramps. The path's pretty good. I assume everyone in the world knows you can't get right up to the stones which are roped (or more accurately, 'stringed') off. £5 entrance fee on 16 September 2003. Various concessions. (Except if you forget your relevant documents as John forgot his UB40 or whatever it's called at the moment!)
Tuesday 16 September 2003
Oh bl**dy hell! I've always said it's not 'overrated' and it's not. Sad? Yes. Undignified? Something like that. Overrated? No. How can it be? It's both spectacular and totally unique. AND it's a whole complex of 'monuments'.
Of course it's horrible having to share it with so many other people. And of course they're irritating especially when they're not very interested, 'over-interested' or just plain too damn loud.
But I found I can 'tune them out' and really feel like I got a lot out of the place by being patient waiting for it to happen. I can't say it's easy and maybe I'm just lucky or less easily disturbed or something. I don't know.
Once that happened though, I found that I could see or imagine all the things that I can remember hearing about the place - some of the sight lines and so on. The avenue, the place of the monument in the overall 'landscape'.... Of course there's no point in me describing it - we pretty much all know it back-to-front.
Time flew. One of these days I'm going be able to give myself enough time for a proper look around. Maybe I just need to go more often than after 33 years and then 8 years!!! I've had a pretty good look at the stones and the henge now. Cursus and a few of the barrows next I reckon.
It is a mindbender and I'd love to be able to do it justice. I'd love even more if it could do itself justice. I suppose English Heritage don't do such a bad job in some ways given the amount of attention (positive and negative) the place gets. But there must be a much better way. It should at the very least be free to people who can't afford to go!!!!
And you should be able to book to go right up to the stones without extra charge. And they do seem to use Stonehenge's entrance fee to subsidise EH and its other places, esp non-prehistoric ones! And...and...and....
29th June 2003, My first visit to Stonehenge. Coming over the hill to see that induced a spontaneous and collective shout of some unmentionable Anglo-Saxon. It was so much bigger than any picture lets you believe. Trapped behind it's chicken coup it had little or no ambience, as the hoards of people with their gadgets welded to their ears walked blindly round. Stonehenge is best looked at from a distance, where you can blank out the swarms and cars and the ice-creams. I know this sounds depressing, and the stones do need to be looked after but I can't help the way I feel.
I've never paid that much heed to "The Henge" before, possible because of a combination of the fence and loads of people with nasty Stonehenge t-shirts. I dunno
Anyway, I'm back with gibbon-tale between legs. I took the gibbonnettes down for the Solstice, and being a responsible Primate, stayed straight all night. We saw in the dawn from the barrow near the Hele Stone, and then started to run back to where the rest of our mob were slumped ...
we were working our way round, when I realised I was on my own ... "little sods", I thought, "they'll be around here somewhere"... they weren't ... I was on entirely on the different side of the circle, and when I finally loped back, I had been gone for *ages*
I remember, when I was a child, between seventy and eighty years ago, being told that the stones could be successfully counted only by laying a loaf of bread beside each. To mark each stone by something to prevent one being missed or counted twice over seems natural ; but why a loaf of bread? [...] I think it probable that I had this from a nursery-maid who came from Mere in Wiltshire, and who had a taste for the marvellous.
This is going to be a long story, for which I apologise, but I've not seen it reproduced elsewhere. It is (I think) from Walter de Mapes' / Walter Map's writings. He died in about the year 1200. His main work is 'De Nugis Curialium' so I am assuming this is taken from there (but I've not been able to find another English translation). However the list on Wikipedia that describes its contents doesn't really have anything that looks relevant. It's got lots of weird stuff (phantom animals, the wild hunt, vampires, a Northumberland ghost story) but not Stonehenge. So I'm a bit bemused for the moment. Anyway it makes a change from Geoffrey of Monmouth's (also 12th century) version.The following quote, wherever it originally comes from and whoever translated it, is taken from 'The Beauties of England and Wales' by John Britton (v15, 1814), p365. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pi1JAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA365
After Emrys (ie Ambrosius) had tranquillized every place, he made a journey to Salisbury (ie Sarum) to behold the graves of those whom Hengistyr had caused to be slain of the British. At that time three hundred monks formed a community in the monastery of Ambri Mount; for so it was called, because it was founded by a person named Ambri. And Emrys was grieved to see that spot devoid of every mark of honour; so he summoned to him all the stone-masons and carpenters in Britain, to erect a trophy which whould be an eternal memorial around that sepulture. But after they had assembled together their ingenuity failed them;
thereupon Tramor, Archbishop of Caer-Llion, drew near, and thus spoke to Emrys: 'My Lord cause thou to come before thee Merdin (Merlin) the bard of Gortheyrn, for he is able to invent a wonderful structure, through his skill, to be of eternal duration.'
So Merdin was brought to Emrys; and the king was joyful to see him; and Emrys desired him to foretel the events that were to happen in this island. But Merdin replied: "It is not right to declare those things except when there is a necessity; and were I, on the contrary, to speak of them, the spirit that instructs me would depart, when I should stand in need of it." Upon that the king would not press him further, but enquired of him how he could invent a fair and lasting work over that spot.
Thereupon Merdin advised a journey to Ireland to the place where stood the Cor-y-Cawri, or the circle of the giants on the mountain of Cilara. For thereon he said, are stones of an extraordinary quality, of which nobody has any knowledge; for they are not to be obtained by might nor by strength, but by art, and were they at this place in the state they are there, they would stand to all eternity.
So Emrys said, laughingly, by what means can they be brought from thence? Merdin replied, laugh not, because I speak only seriousness and truth; those stones are mystical, and capable of producing a variety of cures; they were originally brought thither by giants from the extremities of Spain; and they placed them in their present position. The reason of their bringing them was, that when any of them was attacked by disease, they used to make a fomentation in the midst of the stones, first laving them with water, which they poured into the fomentation; and through that they obtained health from the disease that might affect them, for they put herbs in the fomentation; and those healed their wounds.
When the Britons heard of the virtues of those stones, immediately they set off to bring them. Uthyr Pendragon being commissioned to be their leader, taking 15,000 armed men with him; Merdin also was sent as being the most scientific of his contemporaries. At that time Gillamori reigned in Ireland, who, on hearing of their approach, marched against them with a great army, and demanded the object of their errand. Having learned their business, he laughed, saying, 'It is no wonder to me that a feeble race of men have been able to ravage the isles of Britain, when its natives are so silly as to provoke the people of Ireland to fight with them about stones.' Then they fought fiercely, and numbers were slain on both sides, until at length Gillamori gave way, and his men fled.
Then Merdin said, "Exert your utmost skill to carry the stones," but it availed them not. Merdin then laughed, and without any labour but by the effect of science, he readily brought the stones to the ships. So they then brought them to Mount Ambri.
Then Emrys summoned to him all the chiefs and graduated scholars of the kingdom, in order, through their advice, to adorn that place with a magnificent ornament. Thereupon they put the crown of the kingdom upon his head, celebrated the festival of Whitsuntide for three days successively; rendered to all in the island their respective rights; and supplied his men in a becoming manner with gold, silver, horses and arms.
So when every thing was prepared Emrys desired Merdin to elevate the stones as they were in Cilara; and this he accomplished. Then every body confessed that ingenuity surpassed strength.
So sacred are these stones that, "it is generally averred hereabouts," writes Aubrey, "that pieces of them putt into their Wells, doe drive away the Toades, with which their wells are much infested, and this course they use still. It is also averred that no Magpye, Toade, or Snake was ever seen here."
Aubrey quoted in 'Jottings on some of the objects of interest in the Stonehenge Excursion' by Edward Stevens (1882), but I will find out the original source.
It remains to tell of my latest visit to the "The Stones" [as the temple is called by the natives]. I had resolved to go once in my life with the current or crowd to see the sun rise on the morning of the longest day at that place. This custom or fashion is a declining one: ten or twelve years ago, as many as one or two thousand persons would assemble during the night to wait the great event, but the watchers have now diminished to a few hundreds, and on some years to a few scores. The fashion, no doubt, had its origin when Sir Norman Lockyer's theories, about Stonehenge as a Sun Temple placed so that the first rays of sun on the longest day of the year should fall on the centre of the so-called altar or sacrificial stone placed in the middle of the circle, began to be noised about the country, and accepted by every one as the true reading of an ancient riddle. But I gather from natives in the district that it is an old custom for people to go and watch for sunrise on the morning of June 21. A dozen or a score of natives, mostly old shepherds and labourers who lived near, would go and sit there for a few hours and after sunrise would trudge home, but whether or not there is any tradition or belief associated with the custom I have not ascertained. "How long has the custom existed?" I asked a field labourer. "From the time of the old people - the Druids," he answered, and I gave it up.
At about 2am he goes to find a few hundred people already waiting, and the road to Amesbury looking like a 'ribbon of fire' from all the cyclists pedalling in.
Altogether about five to six hundred persons gathered at "The Stones," mostly young men on bicycles who came from all the Wiltshire towns within easy distance, from Salisbury to Bath. I had a few good minutes at the ancient temple when the sight of the rude upright stones looking black against the moonlit and star-sprinkled sky produced an unexpected feeling in me: but the mood could not last; the crowd was too big and noisy, and the noises they made too suggestive of a Bank Holiday crowd at the Crystal Palace.
A foolish rabbit makes an appearance and hundreds of people shriek and run to catch it. Then lots of people start packing onto the fallen stones 'like guillemots on a rock' and start messing about. Nearer the sunrise some posh people in motorcars turn up and are all greeted with whoops and silly remarks until they hurry to hide themselves in the crowd. It all sounds very raucous.
He returns another time at 3am and sits there alone musing on time and the mystery of it all, and wishes somebody could psychically tune in and see something from the past. 'In the last few years' various stories had been circulating about a child from the London slums who'd had a vision there of 'a great gathering of people' but he reveals this to be untrue and traceable back to a local boy with a creative imagination. Perhaps it says something about the Edwardian interest in the paranormal?
from 'Afoot in England' by William Henry Hudson (1909).
Some gleanings from Jerome F Heavey's article 'The Heele Stone' in Folklore 88, no2, pp238-9 (1977).
The name 'Heel Stone' is at least three centuries old: John Aubrey mentioned a certain stone that had a large depression shaped like a friar's heel. The story hasn't changed much since that time - basically the Devil threw a stone at a friar who'd been spying on the construction of stonehenge, and it struck him on the heel, and his heel left an imprint.
Heavey suggests the name actually comes from the most obvious characteristic of the stone - the fact it 'heels' or tilts. This word was in the written language with this meaning in the 16th century, and doubtless in use for much longer before that..
Whatever, the story about the friar and the devil conveniently explains the position of the stone too, lying some distance from the main stones, and looking for all the world as though it could have been thrown there. Heavey does conclude by admitting 'we shall never know', though.
No messing about here with your fate, unlike in Charles Dickens' story.
The common people about Stone-henge entertain a notion, that no one could ever count the number of the stones, as they now stand; and that, should any one succeed in this attempt, instant death would be the consequence of his temerity.
From p35 of 'A Tour Through the South of England, Wales, and Part of Ireland, Made During the Summer of 1791' by Edward Daniel Clarke (now online at Google Books).
Aptly, Edward's servant saw that Stonehenge would have entailed a lot of work for someone: "For my part, I am a little of our valet Jeremy's opinion, who exclaimed upon the first view of this place, that "It must have been a tedious great waggon, to bring such stones over Salisbury Plains!" Every idea one forms of Stone-henge, is faint, except those we receive upon the spot, in the contemplation of its awful charms and stupendous features."
Like at many a megalithic monument, the stones of Stonehenge cannot be counted. Or at least, the poet Sir Philip Sidney couldn't count them. He made mention of this in his 'The 7 Wonders of England', written pre-1581.
"Neere Wilton sweete, huge heapes of stones are found,
But so confusde that neither any eye
Can count them just, nor reason try,
What force brought them to so unlikely ground."
Perhaps it was common knowledge and not just a personal problem with figures, since Alexander Craig mentions it in 'To His Calidonian Mistris' (published 1604):
"And when I spide those stones on Sarum plaine,
Which Merlin by his Magicke brought, some saine,
By night from farr I-erne to this land,
Where yet as oldest Monuments they stand:
And though they be but few for to behold,
Yet can they not (it is well knowne) be told.
Those I compared unto my plaints and cryes
Whose totall summe no numers can comprise."
..a literary reference occurs in William Rowley's The Birth of Merlin, a play published in 1662, but believed.. to have been staged forty or fifty years previously.
..and when you die,
I will erect a monument upon the verdant plains of Salisbury:
no king shall have so high a sepulchre,
with pendulous stones that I will hang by art,
Where neither lime nor mortar shall be used,
a dark enigma to thy memory,
for none shall have the power to number them.
That the tradition was well known is indicated by the fact that King Charles II spent October 7, 1651, 'reckoning and rereckoning its stones in order to beguile the time'. Colonel Robert Phelips, who accompanied his sovereign, added, 'the King's Arithmetike gave the lye to that fabulous tale.
Celia Fiennes, travelling in about 1690, had no trouble, and 'told them often, and bring their number to 91.'
The 'Countless Stones': A Final Reckoning
S. P. Menefee
Folklore, Vol. 86, No. 3/4. (Autumn - Winter, 1975), pp. 146-166.
That was a good Inn down in Wiltshire where I put up once, in the days of the hard Wiltshire ale, and before all beer was bitterness. It was on the skirts of Salisbury Plain, and the midnight wind that rattled my lattice window came moaning at me from Stonehenge. There was a hanger-on at that establishment (a supernaturally preserved Druid I believe him to have been, and to be still), with long white hair, and a flinty blue eye always looking afar off; who claimed to have been a shepherd, and who seemed to be ever watching for the reappearance, on the verge of the horizon, of some ghostly flock of sheep that had been mutton for many ages. He was a man with a weird belief in him that no one could count the stones of Stonehenge twice, and make the same number of them; likewise, that any one who counted them three times nine times, and then stood in the centre and said, "I dare!" would behold a tremendous apparition, and be stricken dead. He pretended to have seen a bustard (I suspect him to have been familiar with the dodo), in manner following...
On Midsummer morning a party of Americans, who had left London for the purpose, visited Stonehenge for the purpose of witnessing the effects of the sunrise on this particular morning. They were not a little surprised to find that, instead of having the field all to themselves as they had expected, a number of people from all parts of the country side, principally belonging to the poorer classes, were already assembled on the spot. Inquiries failed to elicit any intelligible reason for this extraordinary early turn out of the population except this, that a tradition, which had trickled down through any number of generations, told them that at Stonehenge something unusual was to be seen at sunrise on the morning of the summer solstice.
Stonehenge may roughly be described as composing seven-eighths of a circle, from the open ends of which there runs eastward an avenue having upright stones on either side. At some distance beyond this avenue, but in a direct line with its centre, stands one solitary stone in a sloping position, in front of which, but at a considerable distance, is an eminence or hill. The point of observation chosen by the excursion party was the stone table or altar, near the head of and within the circle, directly looking down the avenue. The morning was unfavourable, but fortunately, just as the sun was beginning to appear over the top of the hill, the mist disappeared, and then for a few moments the on-lookers stood amazed at the phenomenon presented to their view. While it lasted, the sun, like an immense ball, appeared actually to rest on the isolated stone of which mention has been made, or, to quote the quaint though prosaic description of one present, ' it was like a huge pudding placed on a stone.'
[..] Unless it is conceivable that this nice orientation is the result of chance,—which would be hard to believe,—the inference is justifiable that the builders of Stonehenge and other rude monuments of a like description had a special design or object in view in erecting these cromlechs or circles, or whatever the name antiquarians may give them, and that they are really the manifestations of the Baalistic or sun worship professed by the early inhabitants of Great Britain [..]
Slightly unfair on those 'poorer classes' who turned up, because the Americans were surely there for similarly vague reasons, and they'd come all the way from London (hmm.. plus ca change, eh).
On the last day of the 19th century, two of the uprights of the outer Circle fell. There is an old saying that the fall of one of these stones foretells the death of a Sovereign. In January 1901, however, just before the seeming fulfilment of the omen in the death of Queen Victoria, the two newly fallen stones were raised and set up again. At the same time a worse thing was done amid the protests of all the old lovers of Stonehenge. The great Leaning Stone which for nearly three centuries had reclined on the top of a short bluestone in front of it, and in this posture was the central figure, so to speak, of the Stonehenge known to all who had ever visited Salisbury Plain and to the whole world beside through the drawings of Turner and Constable - this hoary monster, bowed under the weight of innumerable years, was dragged up from its recumbency, bolted, concreted, and stiffened into an unnatural uprightness and now stands rigid and awkward as an aged man stayed up into an affectation of youth.
You know how when you pop past Stonehenge and you don't want to pay, you stand there pressing your nose to the fence at the Heel Stone? Well, the recumbent stone you can also see between you and the main circle is known as the Slaughter Stone. Katy Jordan records this story in her book 'The Haunted Landscape'. It was told to the folklorist Theo Brown by T C Lethbridge.
A vicar he knew accompanied a small party there for a couple of days. The first day they wandered round the stones till they came upon the so-called Slaughter Stone. Here they paused, until a small dog in the party sat down and howled dismally. The next day they returned to the same spot and the dog repeated its performance. Everyone was most impressed and told Mr Lethbridge about it later. 'The dog knew,' they said.
Lethbridge had been very amused by this tale, because the stone's name is simply a piece of romantic supposition, and there is no evidence that the stone has ever had any sacrificial function. His interpretation of the event was that the dog had sensed the mood of the people as they looked at this 'site of slaughter' and had howled in response to their unease.
Brian Davison as the Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Stonehenge recounted how a team from the University of Bristol came to take samples of the bluestones. There was a lot of mock apprehensiveness, because there are many stories of storms brewing up from nowhere / bad luck following the tampering with of barrows and other ancient sites.
"We joked and said, 'Well, you know, even if people don't see us, the gods will see us and we'll be struck down'. Well, we finished our work about 9 o'clock at night, and cleared away, and said, 'Well there you are, it's all superstition. Nothing's happened. No thunderbolts. No claps of thunder.' But that was October 1987. Six hours later we had the hurricane."
Geoffrey of Monmouth put down his version of events in 1136AD:
King Aurelius Ambrosius (aka King Arthur's uncle - Uther Pendragon's brother) had been in a terrible battle, and wanted a fitting monument for the 300 of his men that had died. He asked Merlin's advice, who suggested that if he wanted a 'work that shall endure forever' he should 'send for the dance of the Giants' from Killare in Ireland. Apparently the Dance of the Giants was a stone circle in Ireland, and Merlin just wanted to transfer them as they were to the new plot on Salisbury Plain. Whether the stones were giants turned to stone, or just metaphorical giants I don't think is mentioned.
The king sent his men over to Killare, where they proceeded to beat up the Irish - but when it came to actually removing the stones noone could shift them. Merlin 'put together his own engines' (engines?) and 'laid the stones down so lightly as none would believe.'
They were then carried by ship to England and reconstructed on the Plain.
Another explanation was that the devil had been enlisted, by Merlin, to bring the stones over. They belonged to an old Irish woman. The devil said that if she let him have them, she could have as much money as she could count out of his purse while he was removing them. She agreed, but of course the devil had no intention of paying out. He made the stones disappear instantly, so she had only counted out one coin.
The devil was boasting that no-one knew how he had acquired the stones, but a friar was listening who had secretly watched the whole scene. When the friar spoke up, the devil threw one of the stones at him. You can now see the mark where it hit him - on the heel - on the heel stone.
Or maybe not. Maybe it's just the heel stone because it's out at the back. Or just that it heels (leans) over. Is the Heel Stone even an ancient name for the stone?
Entry taken from "A Complete and Universal DICTIONARY of the English Language" by Revd. James Barclay - dated 1812.
STONEHENGE, a remarkable monument of antiquity situated on Salisbury Plain. It stands on the summit of a hill, which rises with a very gentle ascent; and consists of stones of enormous size, placed upon one another in a circular form: many of which are really stupendous, and cannot fail of filling the beholder with surprise and admiration. All the stones added together make just 140. One, at the upper end which is fallen down and broken in half, measures, according to Dr. Hales, 25 feet in length, 7 in breadth, and, at a medium, 3 and a half in thickness. The stones are supposed to have been brought from the Grey Weathers, upon Marlborough Downs, but the difficulty in bringing them hither, and especially in laying them one upon another, is inconceivable, as no mechanical powers now known are sufficient to raise those that lie across to their present extraordinary situation. It is supposed to have been a temple belonging to the Antient (sic) Druids. Stonehenge is 2 miles W. of Amesbury, and 6 N.N.W. of Salisbury.
Since the closing of the road / opening of the new visitor’s centre I had been keen to re-visit Stonehenge. Not to look at the stones but the new exhibition centre.
The visitor’s centre is very easy to access and looked quite impressive on the approach to the large car park. Despite the foul weather the car park had several coaches and many cars already parked up. Several groups of school children excitedly waited with their teachers for their turn to board one of the land trains.
Karen went for a much needed coffee whilst I headed for the ticket booth. The lady looked a little surprised when I said I only wanted a ticket for the exhibition centre and not to see the stones themselves but a ticket was duly issued. It is nearly £20.00 per adult to see the stones and exhibition – I have no idea how much it would be to just see the exhibition. Fortunately I have a CADW card so admission was free for me.
As you enter the building you first come to a 360 degree surround visual display of what it is like to be in the centre of the stones at the mid-summer / mid-winter solstice. The film is run on a loop and I thought it was well done although it only lasts a few minutes (ship ‘em in – ship ‘em out) came to mind.
From here you enter the main exhibition room which has another large visual presentation along the far wall and several displays along the other walls. There are (I think) 8 free standing glass display cabinets in the centre of the room which were really interesting. I particularly liked the pretty ‘ceremonial’ mace head. The ‘reconstructed’ head of the controversial skeleton on display is excellent and very life-like. I spent quite a long time moving slowly from cabinet to cabinet.
There is a lot to see – pottery, bone tools, stone tools, flint arrow heads, flint scrapers etc.
I then went out the back door to have a look around the reconstructed round houses. The rain continued to pour and as such there were few people about. The replica (fiberglass) megalith on the wooden sledge was impressive and gives a good idea of the scale involved in moving these massive stones. You can even test your strength in trying to move it!
There was a private event going on in one of the huts and a flint knapping demonstration in another. I spent a bit of time chatting to an E.H. chap in the other round house who explained to me how they built the hut and showed me the clever way they made the door. A small mouse scuttled past – not a bad place to live!
I then headed for the café to meet up with Karen and we finished our visit with a look around the shop. The shop is much bigger than the old one and you can buy just about anything with a Stonehenge theme – a Stonehenge snow globe anyone? Some of the prices were eye watering and clearly aimed at the overseas market – an engraved glass vase £500.00, a limited edition teddy bear for £110.00………. I decided not to bother!
All in all I was very impressed with the new visitor centre and it is certainly much better than the old one. However, I did come away with a few negatives.
Firstly, with the exception of the chap I was speaking to in the round house, all the staff I encountered seemed quite miserable? There was little interaction with visitors and very few smiles to be seen. Everything seemed a bit much trouble. I know not everyone is happy in the job all the time but it is a lot of money to visit Stonehenge so a smile and a friendly face wouldn’t go amiss!
Also, when we were sat in the café we looked outside to see children trying to keep out of the rain (and keep warm) whilst eating their sandwiches. Why hasn’t E.H. provided a ‘school room’ where children can eat their sandwiches in the warm and dry on days like today? I am sure Stonehenge generates enough income to pay for one. Most large ‘attractions’ (which is what Stonehenge is) have these facilities. Perhaps I am doing a disservice and they do have one but I didn’t see it?
Even if you have been before the new visitor centre / exhibition room makes Stonehenge a place to re-visit. Just make sure you take plenty of money with you.
For many, many years past, hundreds of Wiltshire people, and even strangers to the county, have made a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to see the sun rise on the 'longest day,' when, standing on the supposed 'altar stone,' the sun, immediately on rising, appears over the apex of the large 'lion stone,' which stands at a considerable distance from the outer circle on the Amesbury road.
Scores of persons started from Salisbury in vehicles of various kinds on Tuesday night; others 'tramped' it to and fro - eight miles each way - and slept beneath a rag under the shelter of the magic stones. Up to midnight the sky was bright and clear, and then a heavy mist and lowering clouds appeared, the result being that the 'pilgrims' - many of them footsore and weary - returned home to be heartily laughed at.
The above appeared in the Western Gazette of June 23, and is worthy of a nook in your columns.
H. Glover Rayner. Southampton.
Just to demonstrate that nothing much changes. Notes and Queries (1882) s6-VI (132): 26.
This is the ipad travel app charts, where an interactive iphone app has climbed to number 1. The collaboration between app designers Ribui, Dr. Rupert Till of the University of Huddersfield, and archaeologist Win Scutt, allows you to watch the sun rise and set with a clear sky and no one in the way, any day of the year from the comfort of your own home. It features a digital model that reconstructs the different stone phases of Stonehenge, drawing upon recent archaeology. You can pause the app and zoom around and above the site.
You can also look around and see what the site might have looked like, and even what it might have sounded like. You can see information about other nearby sites, a woodhenge model here, info on the cursus there.
Available for iphones, itouches and ipads, the app is a digital way to pull down the fences, and go to Stonehenge any day of the year.
In partnership with English Heritage as part of the BBC's 'Ancient Britons' series the Stonehenge Road Show arrived at Swindon's Outlet Village on 23/2/11. Naturally aimed at children (half-term) it was a pleasure to observe. Yes, there was a 'life-size' inflatable trilithon (nothing to offend anyone though), a couple of experimental archaeologists dressed in sheepskin and a display of artefacts - antler picks, fragments of bluestone and sarsen, flint tools and sarsen mauls. David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, was manning the display and encouraging the kids to touch and handle them.
I didn't stay too long but long enough to see a group of kids (one of them in a Superman outfit) pulling a large fake sarsen along on wooden rollers.
Great fun for them I should think.
A considerable change has taken place in the position of the stones which form this extraordinary relique of the ancient superstitions of our Countrymen. This change took place on the 3d instant, and is attributed to the rapid thaw which on that day succeeded a very hard frost. The following is an Extract of a Letter from Salisbury on the subject:
"On the 3d inst. some people employed at the plough, near Stonehenge, remarked that three of the larger stones had fallen, and were apprised of the time of their fall by a very sensible concussion, or jarring, of the ground. These stones prove to be the western of those pairs, with their imposts, which have had the appellation of Trilithons. They had long deviated from its true perpendicular. There were, originally, five of these trilithons, two of which are, even now, still remaining in their ancient state. It is remarkable, that no account has ever been recorded of the falling of the others, and, perhaps, no alteration has been made in the appearance of Stonehenge for three centuries prior to the present tremendous downfall. The impost, which is the smallest of the three stones, is supposed to weigh 20 tons. They all now lie prostrate on the ground, and have received no injury from their aerial separation."
They fell flat westward, and levelled with the ground a stone also of the second circle, that stood in the line of their precipitation. From the lower ends of the supporters being now exposed to view, their prior depth in the ground is satisfactorily ascertained; - it appears to have been about six feet. The ends, however, having been cut oblique, neither of them was, on one side, more than a foot and an half deep. Two only of the five trilithons, of which the adytum consisted, are now, therefore, in their original position. The destruction of any part of this grand oval we must peculiarly lament, as it was composed of the most stupendous materials of the whole structure.
From the 'True Briton', January 18, 1797.
Elsewhere that month, in the London Packet, no doubt with what passes for humour 200 years ago: "The falling of the two upright stones, on the 3d of this month, at Stonehenge, which had been interpreted into an omen of the downfall of the Monarchy, is found to have been owing to the burrowing of a few rabbits. Underminers of every description cannot be watched with too much vigilance."
Stonehenge was visited by H.V. Morton (of bull-nose Morris fame) in the 1920s. He wasn't impressed, it seems:
"How impossible it is to feel any sympathy or understanding for the distant builders of Stonehenge. It is a gloomy temple. One feels that horrible rites were performed there, even more terrible, perhaps, than the burning of pretty Berkeley Square ladies in wicker-work cages as depicted by the Victorians. Stonehenge is like a symbol of all the dark beliefs at the root of ancient theology. Here is a fitting sanctuary for the Golden Bough.
Even so, it is lifeless. The ghost of the priest-king has been laid long ago. The wind whistles mournfully between the monoliths, and sheep crop the grass on the ancient barrows which lie in the shadow of the dead temple."
"In Search of England" - H.V. Morton (1927 Methuen)
I liked this slightly surreal anecdote from p453 of Dec 5th 1857's 'Notes and Queries'. Its truth can only be guessed at.
Stonehenge.-- I visited Stonehenge in October, 1850. A man with one leg, who got his living by lionising visitors, told me that one of the larger stones had recently fallen (being the third that had done so within the memory of man): pointing to the prostrate giant, he said, in his fine old Saxon, "my brother was at work drawing yon barrow; and he was handy and saw it swerve." [..] C. MANSFIELD INGLEBY.
It has been reported in the national press that during the recent storms one of the upright stones at Stonehenge toppled over. This in turn brought down one of the cross stones. The upright which has gone down is in the centre of the three standing on the North West side, the cross stone has broken in two and in the words of the Daily Mail "looks to be made of some sort of composition"
It is more than a century (1798) since the last fall of sandstone (?)
It was reported later in the year that the damage done at Stonehenge was due to tourists! They erode the ground around the stones causing a build up of water. This softens the soil and when storms of the magnitude that hit Britain over the New Year 1901 occur, can cause structures to fall.
This is not word for word but taken from notes, Mr H
Although Stonehenge is in the care of English Heritage, a deal has presumably been done with the National Trust, because National Trust members get in free as well. So don't forget your membership card if you are a member of either......
(Were they the inspiration for Julian's interest in the stones? )
In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people - the druids. No one knows who they were, or what they were doing, but their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock - of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge, where the demons dwell,
Where the banshees live and they do live well.
When a man is a man and the children dance
To the pipes of pan.
'Tis a magic place where the moon doth rise
With a dragon's face,
Where the virgin's lie
And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky.
And you my love, won't you take my hand.
We'll go back in time to that mystic land
Where the dew-drops cry and the cats meow,
I will take you there,
I will show you how.
And oh how they danced, the little children of Stonehenge, beneath the haunted moon, for fear that the daybreak might come too soon...
...And where are they now, the little people of Stonehenge? And what would they say to us, if we were here... tonight.
Mr Barclay explains why he rejects the theory of a prehistoric origin of what he sees as a roman monument, created as a result of the "wise policy of the Roman Governor, Agricola, who endeavoured to conciliate the native population of Britain".
"A detailed survey of every stone that makes up Stonehenge using the latest technology, including a new scanner on loan from Z+F UK that has never before been used on a heritage project in this country, has resulted in the most accurate digital model ever produced of the world famous monument. With resolution level as high as 0.5mm in many areas, every nook and cranny of the stones' surfaces is revealed with utmost clarity, including the lichens, Bronze Age carvings, erosion patterns and Victorian graffiti. Most surprisingly, initial assessment of the survey has suggested that the 'grooves' resulting from stone dressing on some sarsen stones (the standing stones) appear to be divided into sections, perhaps with different teams of Neolithic builders working on separate areas."
From the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine for June 1903 - William Gowland's descriptions of the Recent Excavations at Stonehenge. A fence was put around the area (to protect it from military goings-on), a track through the henge diverted, and a madly leaning stone put upright. Includes a very clear plan.
Reporting on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website, Audrey Pearson writes of the 1924 book, The Stones of Stonehenge: A Full Description of the Structure and of its Outworks by E. Herbert Stone that -
"MIT's copy of this illustrated book on Stonehenge is something special. It belonged to Harold "Doc" Edgerton (1903-1990), the MIT Institute Professor who perfected the electronic stroboscope. Edgerton has pasted many of his own photographs of Stonehenge into his copy, turning it into a volume that's been "extra-illustrated" by a notable figure in the history of photography."
Chancellor says financial burden of protecting Stonehenge 'impossible' to take on...
111 years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the price was "absolutely impossible for any purchaser to consider" (familiar or what?!) and thus it fell to Sir Edmund to save or spoil the monument. Whether he was a good guy or the reverse depends on your point of view.
Unlock the mysteries of Stonehenge as a Neolithic astronomical observatory and Druid temple with the help of this download KMZ file for Google Earth. Created using the free Google CAD program SKETCHUP, the 3D model allows real time modelling of the monument using Google Earth.
Site with information about Druids, ancient and modern, Stonehenge, descriptions and photographs of key events, latest news, recommended books, comments and essays, together with pages of useful data, contacts and links.
The online gallery of Bill Bevan's photography work at Stonehenge. Bill is working on a series of exhibitions related to Stonehenge. These include 'an intimate portrait' of the monument which draws the viewer closer and closer to the Stones, and a multimedia visual poem which approaches the place of Stonehenge in the modern cultural landscape and explores the people associated with the monument. The online exhibition comprises images for an intimate portrait and a small number of elemnts of the visual poem. The work is the result of a personal journey of discovery made at the Stones during one week in September 2007. i hope you enjoy. Bill 2009.
A social history of Stonehenge - relates the story of the free festivals, travellers and other counter-cultural protest movements, as well as that of the neo-Druids and other pagans, interwoven with a history of antiquarianism and archaeology.
Read carpenter Gordon Pipe's fascinating theories and follow his real experiments about how to move huge megaliths, perhaps in the same way the ancients did, using levers. Coming from a carpenter, not an academic, his theories ring absolutely true.
Four sarsen stones at Stonehenge placed inside the internal bank of the henge, roughly on the line of the Aubrey Holes (see SU 14 SW 4 for Stonehenge). Two, known as the North Barrow and South Barrow, are surrounded by circular ditches, which gave rise to suggestions that they might have been round barrows. As a result, the have been listed by Grinsell as Amesbury 12 and 13, a possible saucer barrow and possible bowl barrow respectively. They are not barrows. Both now lack their stones. The North Barrow has seen excavation, confirming the presence of the stone hole. The other two unenclosed Station Stones still feature their sarsens, one upright and one fallen. The four sarsen Station Stones are assigned to Phase 3a in Cleal et al's (1995) new phasing of Stonehenge. The ditches around the two "barrows" are assigned to Phase 3b, the date in each case being broadly Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age.
The naming of the Altar Stone is due, apparently, to Inigo Jones, who made the first 'plan' of Stonehenge in 1620, although the real purpose of the stone is entirely unknown.
The Altar Stone, which is a fine-grained pale green sandstone, is not from the Prescelly Mountains of Pembrokeshire, the source of the of the blue stones, but from the Cosheston Beds (a division of the Old Red Sandstone of South Wales) which crop out on the shores of Milford Haven, further south in the same county.
No other stone composed of this rock is known at Stonehenge, though occasional fragments of it, very probably detached from the Altar Stone itself, have been found in the soil of the site.
Significantly, chips of an entirely different grey-green micaceous sandstone have also been collected on the site, and have been identified with a particular outcrop of the Cosheston Beds at Mill Bay on the south shore of Milford Haven, about 2.5 miles above the ferry at Pembroke Dock.
The Alter stone lies just above the ground surface in the middle of Stonehenge.
The Altar Stone (80) is the largest of all the 'foreign stones' at Stonehenge. It is a rectangular recumbent block of sandstone, 16 ft. long by 3.5 ft. wide by 1.75 ft. deep, embedded in the earth so that its top is level with the surface, about 15 ft. within the central sarsen trilithon.
Two fallen members of this trilithon now lie across it (stones 55 and 156), and their weight has probably pressed it down to its present position. Like the adjoining bluestones, it has been carefully dressed to shape, but its exposed surface is now considerably abraded by the feet of visitors.
Funny thing is, when I last visited Stonehenge 4 years ago I never even noticed the reinforced concrete. I did this time although to be fair it probably 'blends in' as best it can. I don't suppose there are too many options if you want to ensure the stone stays standing?