Experts help unlock stone's secret past
Matlock Mercury:Published on Friday 23 September 2011 09:35
A stone at the popular tourist site Gardom's Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District may in fact be a 4,000 year old seasonal sundial, experts suggest. Academics in astronomy and landscape history from Nottingham Trent University will present the findings from a study of the site at the European Society for Astronomy in Culture conference in Portugal this week.
The project involved surveying and analysing the orientation of the single standing stone, which is linked to a nearby stone age monument, including its deterioration through erosion.
The experts have been able to make their prediction based on the stone's orientation, the dip of its slope and the altitude of the sun at midsummer.
It is thought that late Neolithic people may have used the illumination of the slanted side of the 2.2m high stone as a marker for seasons and, crucially, seasonal migration, which was so important at the time.
Single standing stones are quite rare in the Peak District, and the possible use as a seasonal sundial is unique within the British Isles.
The univeristy's Dr Daniel Brown said: "We know that people here moved from summer pastures on higher hills to winter retreats located in valleys.
"This single standing stone gives us an idea of how ancient man perceived the skies and how ancient monuments and landscapes can reflect this."
Fin Cop 2010
Fin Cop is going to be excavated again in July and August of 2010 by Clive Waddington of Archaeological Research Services in conjunction with the National Park Authority, Longstone Local History Group, English Heritage and Natural England and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Open days will be held every Saturday of the five week dig; July 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st meeting in the Monsal Head car park, overlooking the viaduct, at 11am and 1pm.
Body Find Sparks Peak District Stir
Dr Clive Waddington and the Longstone Local History Group, excavated Fin Cop in July 2009, several open days for public viewing were held...
"It is believed the Iron Age hillfort is between 3,000 and 2,000 years old. Radiocarbon dating of surviving material is likely to enable more accurate dating. Tools and weapons made from stone from the Lake District and the Yorkshire Wolds or Lincolnshire were also found. The corpse will be analysed to try to determine its sex, age and origin. The adult skeleton, which had been thrown into a ditch and covered with stones, was uncovered during a three-week dig at the site".
Liz Roberts Grough Website.
The results will be announced at a Derbyshire Archaelogical Day in Chesterfield in January next year.
Archaeologists Unearth Mini Stonehenge
A mini "Stonehenge" has been uncovered by archaeologists in Cornwall.
The 5,000 year-old "circle henge", an early religious site, was discovered during work on the A30 bypass at Goss Moor, between Indian Queens and Bodmin, and is the first of its kind found in the region.
The 10 metre diameter site at Deep Tye Farm, which could have been the setting for human sacrifice, has excited archeologists. Stuart Foreman, from Oxford Archaeology, which is doing the work, said: "Excavated sites of this period are comparatively rare in Cornwall."
The excavation, costing £500,000, is part of a planned set of examinations by archaeologists working ahead of road builders on the £93 million Goss Moor bypass. The discovery won't delay work on the road. The henge was unearthed less than a mile from the Castle-an-Dinas hillfort by a 10 metre wide trench that has been dug along the entire seven kilometre length of the bypass route.
Also known as a "pit circle", the circle henge dates from the late neolithic, or "new stone" period, between 3,000 and 2,000BC. "The site is an important one for the region," said Mr Foreman. "The Deep Tye Farm site is a modest example of this type of monument, which can reach quite lavish proportions. Stonehenge is the best known example."
Large-scale henge monuments are known in the region, including the earthwork at Castilly Henge, which lies at the eastern end of the road scheme near the Innis Downs roundabout. Mr Foreman explained that the site unearthed was relatively small compared to others.
11:00 - 18 February 2006
The curse of Stonehenge will remain until it is handed back to the druids
Friday January 27, 2006
This world heritage site is a national disgrace. Consultants have made millions but achieved nothing in 20 years.
West of Amesbury on the A303, the road dips and rises towards a meadow in the distance. In the meadow stands a clump of grey stones, looking like dominoes rearranged by a shell from the neighbouring artillery range. The clump is Britain's greatest stone-age monument.
Nobody can touch it. Stonehenge is cursed. I have bet every chairman of English Heritage - Lord Montagu, Sir Jocelyn Stevens and Sir Neil Cossons - that no plan of theirs to meddle with the stones will ever work. This week the latest tunnel proposal collapsed, following last year's rejection of a new visitor centre. The fate of the site is consigned to that Blairite neverland called "consultation", joining St Bart's and Crossrail among the living dead, projects which move only because they are maggot-ridden with costs.
Article continues at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1696043,00.html
Protesters plan to leave quarry
Eco-Warriors who have camped for five years at a Peak quarry say they are planning to leave now victory is in sight.
The protesters have been campaigning to save the quarries from further workings, because of their proximity to the historic Nine Ladies Stone Circle.
A deal between Stancliffe Stone and the Peak District National Park Authority to indefinitely adjourn a bid to reopen Endcliffe and Lees Cross quarries means the firm will investigate other options for supply.
Now protesters say that as soon as the future of the site is guaranteed they will pack their bags and leave.
Veteran campaigner Malcolm Dixon, 36, said: "Obviously it is good news. We are looking for assurances that Stancliffe Stone won't quarry here. If we get a positive outcome we will be packing up."
Robin Nash, 24, who has occupied the site for two years, said: "Initially it sounds like a very positive thing. If we get confirmation it is really great news."
Last year Matlock company Stancliffe Stone had been told if it wanted to reopen the quarries it would have to meet certain conditions. The company was set to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal in March.
Now the deal with the national park will delay the court action if work can be found for the firm's 68-strong workforce.
Chair of the Peak Park Authority Tony Hams said if the court was happy with the deal, it would give both parties breathing space.
He added: "It means we have more time to consider any other options that come up but in no way does it preclude going back to the court or any other options we might be considering for those quarries."
Stancliffe Stone general manager Mike Jones said: "If the Court of Appeal grants the proposed adjournment we will work closely with the Peak Park and the local community to explore a viable alternative to quarrying at Endcliffe and Lees Cross."
The campaigners have built tree houses on the 32-acre site and dug a complex of deep tunnels and defences in stone cavities.
If the future of the quarries is guaranteed, they face the prospect of leaving the place they have called home for the past five years.
"We will spend some time taking the site down," said Mr Nash. "We will leave it as a natural place of beauty as it originally was.
"It is a bit of a shell-shock. But if the news is for real then it is brilliant."
By Tim Cunningham
Cave Art Museum Gets Major Grant
A Derbyshire museum has been given £4.26m to expand its facilities.
The money will be spent on building a centre of excellence at Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge which contains the country's oldest cave art.
The grant has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will pay for a new museum and education centre telling the story of the Ice Age.
Plans are now being drawn up, and if approved, work could start next year, with the centre opening in 2007.
The trust which runs the site will have to find £1m towards the project.
The carvings include a 12,000-year-old representation of bison, horse and birds.
They are the only examples of Palaeolithic cave art in the UK, and the artists who made them would have witnessed a British landscape still being shaped by glaciers.
A local road will also be re-routed to protect the site.
From the BBCi-Derbyshire website. A similar article featured on www.24hourmuseum.co.uk
Ancient henge discovered near city
By David Holmes, Chester Chronicle
Wiltshire may have Stonehenge but now Cheshire has a wooden henge after archaeologists made the discovery near Chester.
Researchers working at Poulton, on the Duke of Westminster's land, were amazed to find the Bronze Age burials they had been investigating were preceded by a much earlier 'ritual' presence.
A circle of holes indicated the existence of the wooden henge together with a large hole in the centre which was potentially a form of 'totem pole'.
Now Durham University is to undertake both soil analysis and the dating of wood fragments.
Site director Mike Emery said: 'This will firmly place the burial ground and the timber circle in their proper historical context, as well as providing valuable environmental evidence, which will help to recreate what life was like thousands of years ago.'
Mr Emery said examples of such circles were more commonly located in the south, and had been interpreted as ritual monuments that were the precursors of more famous monuments, such as Stonehenge.
He added: 'The uncovering of the site of a timber circle, possibly a 'henge' monument, is of great and rare importance in the north-west.'
Mr Emery said this earliest phase was currently under excavation and a more detailed report would be given in 2005. 'What can be stated is that the Poulton site was part of a ritual/religious landscape that was established some 5000 years ago,' he commented.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of human activity at the site from several periods of human history. And the 2004 excavations have proved to be the most successful to date.
Work on the Bronze Age Burial Ground (1600-1000BC) is now complete. Cremated human bone has been found along with coarse, hand-made pottery and animal bone fragments.
The causeway into the area is aligned to the position of Orion's Belt in the summer sky. It also aims, unerringly, for a gap in the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge.
It is now evident that the ring-ditch is one of several, others being located close by.
Mr Emery says the importance of the Poulton Bronze Age 'barrow' group cannot be underestimated. 'The existence of such a burial group opens up the unique and exciting prospect of locating a Bronze Age village, nearby,' he said. 'Such settlements are rare.'
Within the medieval graveyard (1153-1600 AD) 63 complete, or partial, skeletons were excavated to the west of the Chapel Tower. One group of burials was particularly poignant. This consisted almost entirely of children, two of whom had their hands clasped together.
Further evidence of the Romans (90-410AD) was unearthed consisting of a mass of pottery and building material.
Mr Emery said test-trenches suggested the remains of a substantial Roman building lies 'tantalisingly close by'. A planned programme of more extensive geophysical survey will aim to pinpoint the focus of Roman activity.
From the ic Cheshire online website.
Seahenge Focal Point of Museum Revamp
Norfolk's famous Bronze Age timber circle should finally go on public show in 2007.
A display of part of Seahenge, which in 1999 was controversially dug up from the shoreline at Holme, near Hunstanton, will form the focal point of a major redevelopment of Lynn Museum at King's Lynn.
The scheme, costing just over £1m, is due to start next summer, with the museum reopening in early 2006.
But it is not expected that conservation of the 55 posts forming the 4000-year-old ring will be completed until mid-2006.
Specialists at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth are carrying out the painstaking process of freeze-drying the wood after it has been impregnated with poly-ethylene glycol - nicknamed "peg".
This will remove all the water vapour and preserve the sponge-like cell structure of the timbers, which would crumble to dust if left to dry out. The work is being paid for by English Heritage.
"What we are looking to do is reopen the museum building, once the building works have been completed, with temporary displays and we will wait until we've got the Seahenge timbers ready before installing the permanent displays," explained area museums officer Robin Hanley.
"Obviously it's a very complicated preservation job and it's ground-breaking in many respects, but it looks like the ring timbers will be coming out of conservation in the middle of 2006.
"We will look at mounting a display at the beginning of 2007 and then it will hopefully be finished by the summer of 2007.
"What we didn't want to do is keep the museum closed until the timbers are available," said Dr Hanley.
"We do need a period of time, once the timbers have come out of conservation, to design a display around them. It will require custom-built fittings for all the timbers.
"We want to do the very best we can, which is why at the moment we are looking at a whole range of different approaches to the display.
"When the Seahenge timbers come in they are going to be a key part of telling the West Norfolk story, which is what the permanent displays will do."
Preserving the large upturned tree stump which was at the centre of the circle is expected to be a much longer undertaking.
"It's such a massive piece of timber," said Dr Hanley. "It may take an additional couple of years before the central stump is ready.
"What we are expecting that we will need to do in the short-term is to have a replica of the stump alongside the original ring and replace that with the original one when it comes out of conservation."
The museum closed at the end of September so preparations for the project, which has a £778,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to begin. It will result in a better entrance, a new study area and extra learning space on a mezzanine floor and removal of the suspended ceiling, revealing the interior of the historic converted chapel building.
Dr Hanley promised that although the finished displays would not be ready for the reopening "there will be lots for people to see and activities".
Sue Skinner. EDP24 website.
Badgers Cause Chaos At Stonehenge
From BBC's Newsround page:
Badgers are getting into a heap of trouble near the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge.
The nocturnal burrowers are digging into ancient burial mounds at the site about five miles away from the stones.
The Ministry of Defence, which owns the land, is trying to shift the snuffly diggers to areas of less import.
Big fences are being considered to stop the badgers returning to their setts, or burrows. Killing the creatures has been ruled out.
English Heritage, which looks after sites of historical interest, has said: "Culling badgers has not been considered by English Heritage and is not our policy."
English Heritage is now conducting research to find out more about the impact the badgers are having on the area.
Council Criticised Over Destruction Of Ancient Site
A TV archaeologist criticised a county council today over the destruction of the landscape around one of Britain's top prehistoric sites.
Thornborough Henges, near Ripon, has the greatest concentration of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in the country.
It represents the largest prehistoric quarrying operation in Britain and construction firm Tarmac has proposed extending its activities in the area.
Dr Mark Horton, a presenter on the BBC's Time Flyers programme, criticised North Yorkshire County Council over the destruction of the landscape around the site.
Dr Horton, head of archaeology at the University of Bristol, said: "I've been appalled by what I've seen at Thornborough. Archaeological sites like this should be protected and plans such as these shouldn't even be proposed.
"That such landscape destruction could even be considered around Stonehenge, or even our lesser-known sites in the south, is unthinkable. "Yet at Thornborough, it is OK to seriously consider the total loss of a prehistoric landscape, arguably as important, for simple economic gain.''
North Yorkshire County Council permitted Tarmac to quarry in the area in 1994 with "only a very limited archaeological survey'', Dr Horton said. Nosterfield Quarry in Thornborough is one of the county's most important quarries, producing more than 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year, but supplies from the existing reserves are expected to run out within three years.
Race to save ancient fort site hit by massive fire
AN emergency meeting has been called to save an Iron Age fort in East Lothian threatened by a massive blaze which has burned for a fortnight.
Council bosses and environment watchdogs are drawing up an action plan to salvage the fort and hidden archaeological treasures on Traprain Law which may have been destroyed by the huge grass fire.
Firefighters have been battling every day for two weeks to control the fire, thought to have been sparked by a discarded cigarette, which is continuing to burn underground. The hill has been closed until fire chiefs and council bosses are sure the blaze is completely out.
East Lothian Council officials and Scottish Natural Heritage are drawing up an action plan to determine the extent of the damage to archaeological treasures and botanical life. Due to the intense heat, archaeologists from East Lothian Council and Historic Scotland have been unable to get close enough to accurately gauge the damage.
Heritage officer Biddy Simpson said she was hoping to get a team together to carry out a survey as soon as the site is safe.
She is concerned that the site has been badly damaged and the fire could have exposed new archaeological finds to the elements.
"It is really difficult to say how much damage will have been caused, but the fire will almost certainly have exposed new finds which will start to deteriorate rapidly if the ash covering them is blown away."
Patches of fire continue to flare up and it is thought only heavy rainfall will extinguish the fire completely.
Five fire crews and 28 firefighters from Haddington and East Linton stations were called out to Traprain Law when the fire broke out two weeks ago.
From Edinburgh Evening News
Visitors have a peep at Avebury's prehistoric past
ARCHAEOLOGISTS exploring Avebury's prehistoric past showed off their findings during an open day yesterday.
The experts, who are halfway through the month-long Negotiating Avebury Project, thrilled crowds with a guided tour.
One of the key tasks of the team is to learn more about Beckhampton Avenue a form of prehistoric hallway which leads to the world-famous stone circle.
Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger, Avebury World Heritage site officer, is delighted with the progress so far.
"This project is about transforming our understanding of the prehistoric landscape relating to Avebury," she said.
"It is the final part of a five-year archeological research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board."
The team have unearthed several pieces of Neolithic and Roman pottery as well as mysterious large stones.
Secrets of the Ancients Revealed
Secrets of the ancients revealed Aug 20 2003
By Mike Hornby, Daily Post
AN independent archaeological dig on the Welsh border has
emerged as one of Britain's most important excavations.
Experts working on farmland alongside the Duke of Westminster's
Eaton estate, have discovered evidence of human activity dating
back 9,000 years.
They have unearthed five Bronze Age burial mounds, two Roman
buildings and a medieval chapel and cemetery, unique in the UK.
The series of remarkable discoveries was made during excavations to
find the lost Abbey of Poulton which once stood on the site near Pulford.
For the past eight years archaeologist Mike Emery and his team
of volunteers have unearthed the evidence.
Full story here
The threat of eviction continues to hang over the Stanton quarry Eco-warriors after planners called for a further report on the legality of the protest camp.
A Peak District National Park (PDNP) planning committee examined the Stanton Moor site on Friday morning at the request of the Stanton Action Group (SAG) and the parish council.
A decision on whether to take enforcement action against the Eco-warriors could be taken by PDNP members in July after the full report is published.
The protesters have been campaigning for three years against proposals to reopen the quarry.
John Bull, chairman of the PDNP planning committee, said: "The real issue on Stanton Moor is whether these quarries should be reopened.
"However, we need to consider all aspects relating to this proposal and that is why we have asked for a further report."
But the protesters, who have erected at least 47 structures on the site, say Friday´s decision has only increased the anxiety over possible eviction.
Campaigner Ben Hartley said: "Indecision on the part of PDNP has left us to worry for even longer. But at least the report will give more people an informed view."
With the site occupation approaching four years, planners had feared the protesters could exploit a planning loophole which gives protection to permanent buildings after that time.
Archaeologists unearth Britain's first cave pictures
Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday June 15, 2003
Archaeologists have discovered 12,000-year-old engravings carved by ancient Britons in a cave in Creswell Crags, Derbyshire. The depiction of the animals - which include a pair of birds - is the first example of prehistoric cave art in Britain.
The discovery - by Paul Bahn and Paul Pettitt, with Spanish colleague Sergio Ripoll - is set to trigger considerable scientific excitement, for it fills a major gap in the country's archeological record.
'If this is verified, it represents a wonderful discovery,' said Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, London. 'There are fine examples of cave art in Spain and France but none has been found here - until now.'
Full story at:
Nine Ladies Protest Camp
Action Stalled Against Stanton Moor Protestors
The Peak District National Park Authority today agreed not to take legal action that could have led to the eviction of protestors campaigning against the proposed re-opening of two quarries on Stanton Moor in the Peak District.
The Authority's Planning Committee had been concerned that the protestors, who are occupying Lees Cross and Endcliffe Quarries, could break planning regulations, but it decided it would be inappropriate to take action at this time.
Tony Hams, Chair of the Authority, said, "The real issue at these quarries is whether they should be re-opened. Stancliffe Stone Ltd, the quarry company, want to restart work on the sites. They submitted proposals to us in 1999, under the requirements of the Environment Act (1995). We are still awaiting information from the company before we can consider their application."
More at: http://www.nineladies.uklinux.net/upd0203.htm
AN ANCIENT monument is set to have a big say in the future of the University of Bath in Swindon.
The university is hoping to build a new 8,000-student campus next to a stone circle dating back 4,500 years on the edge of the Commonhead site next to the Great Western Hospital.
The circle of five stones poking through the ground form part of an ancient tribal gathering point of similar significance to the 5,000-year-old Avebury stones, and are visible from Day House Lane off Marlborough Road.
Dolphin trainer for the MoD.