Festival of British Archaeology 'Meet the Experts' - Avebury,17th July
As part of the Festival of British Archaeology (thanks to Blossom for flagging it on TMA forum).
Meet the Experts
Sun 17 July 13.00–14.30 & 15.00–16.30
Join Museum Curator Dr Ros Cleal for a tour of the henge and stone circles followed by handling real finds from the Museum collections. Free (donations welcome).
Location: Meet outside the Barn Gallery, Old Farmyard, High Street, Avebury SN8 1RF.
Org: National Trust
Tel: 01672 539250
Plans for homes at Coate rejected (again)
Also the Swindon Advertiser reports that last night the council threw out plans for the controversial Coate housing development - much to the surprise and jubilation of the 100 or so audience in the chamber at the Civic Offices. The fact that the site is an area of outstanding natural beauty and that it is a historic area were two of the five reasons cited for refusal.
The developers plan to appeal so there is always a danger that once again the majority wishes of the people from Swindon could be over-ridden. Meanwhile, here's to people power and especially Jean Saunders from the long and tiring 'Save Coate Campaign'. Three cheers for you, Jean and everyone else involved in the campaign.
Sunday bus service to Avebury cut
I've just been notified that the 49 bus has been included in funding cuts made by Swindon Borough Council to Sunday services.
It will no longer be possible for anyone to travel to Avebury WHS by public transport on Sundays as from June 5th 2011.
Statement made on service web-site:
"We regret that as a result of the total withdrawal of Swindon Borough Council funding for evening and Sunday bus services in Swindon that further changes will have to be introduced from Sunday 5 June 2011". (http://www.stagecoachbus.com/extuploads/leaflet_lowres.pdf)
Wiltshire Henge Hopper
David Dawson, the Director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum has obtained funding to run a 'henge hopper' initally for a three month period this summer.
Today a trial run took place - the first part of the tour was to Stonehenge via Marden Henge, the River Avon, Durrington Walls/Woodhenge, Amesbury and Stonehenge. After a break break at Stonehenge the bus took off towards Avebury via the Alton Barnes White Horse, Adam's Grave, Knap Hill, the Lockeridge Sarsen Drift, Overton Round Barrows, the Sanctuary, WKLB, Silbury and of course finishing at Avebury. Then back to Devizes as the ticket cost includes admission to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. The itinerary will allow for people to leave the bus at various points and be collected later - it is also hoped that two buses will run on the same day to facilitate flexibility.
All in all the tour takes approximately three and half hours not including travelling time to Devizes.
A great initiative for the Wiltshire Heritage Museum.
Talk by Jim Leary - Swindon Literature Festival
Another chance to hear Jim Leary talk about the Silbury book ...
JIM LEARY – on The Story of Silbury Hill
Central Library, Regent Circus, Swindon
Tel 01793 463238
7.30pm • 6 May • £5 (£4)
"What do you know about the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe? What do you know about the construction of Neolithic monuments? What do you know about the significance of Silbury Hill to communities that have lived around it and others who come to visit?
Jim Leary, prehistory archaeologist with English Heritage and co-author with David Field of The Story of Silbury Hill, with an introduction by David Attenborough, answers these and many other questions, with some fascinating twenty-first century insights into the significance of this mysterious local mound."
Consultation re facilities at Barbury
Planning Solutions Consulting Ltd has been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study for the Barbury Castle Country Park project which includes a cafe and education facility. During the summer of 2010, Swindon Borough Council received planning approval for facilities that include:
* Indoor and outdoor cafe facilities
* A flexible meeting space that can be used both for educational purposes and also as somewhere for clubs and societies to meet
* Bike racks and bike wash facilities
* Horse tethering pens
* Improved toilet and shower facilities
* A viewing platform for all to enjoy the views across Swindon, the Marlborough downs and the wider North Wessex Downs AONB
Note: As an 'interested local' I have contacted the company undertaking the consultation to ask that information boards be included detailing the site's prehistoric status as an Iron Age hillfort; also, because it is now a designated nature reserve, wildlife (butterflies) and flora.
The Cygnus Mystery - talk at Avebury by Andrew Collins
Andrew Collins will be attending the monthly Pagan Moot at 4.00pm in the Red Lion, Avebury on Sunday 6th February. He will be talking about his fascinating book The Cygnus Mystery.
I am currently reading this book and, as it says on the cover, it is "an intellectual adventure". Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend but on the basis of reading the book am happy to recommend it.
(Thanks again to Faerygirl for mentioning book on the forum).
Wiltshire Heritage Museum - Lecture by Jim Leary on Marden Henge
LECTURE: The Marvellous Marden Henge: Recent Work
2:30 pm, Saturday, 05 February, 2011
LECTURE: The Marvellous Marden Henge: Recent Work
A lecture by Jim Leary about the excavations at Marden in 2010 and the discovery there of an extraordinarily well-preserved Neolithic building.
The summer of 2010 saw excavations at one of the largest Neolithic henge monuments in Britain: Marden. Located in the heart of the Vale of Pewsey between Stonehenge and Avebury it does not have any surviving stone settings, but its sheer size is astounding.
The excavation was the culmination of a two-year multi-disciplinary project and provided evidence for a now demolished mound – said to be the second largest in Wiltshire after Silbury Hill. More remarkable, however, was the discovery of an extraordinarily well-preserved Neolithic building – undoubtedly one of the best preserved in Britain outside Orkney.
This lecture will discuss the findings from the project, and explore some reasons of why it was constructed and what it could have been used for.
Jim Leary, FSA, an English Heritage archaeologist, was much involved with the excavations at Marden Henge and also those at Silbury Hill. He is co-author of a new book 'The Story of Silbury Hill'.
Pictures (c) Jim Leary, English Heritage.
Saturday afternoon lectures start at 2.30pm and last approx. one hour.
This lecture is now taking place at Devizes Town Hall, just a short walk from the Museum.
Contact the Bookings Secretary:
* Tel: 01380 727369 (10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday)
Cost: £3.00 members, £5.00 non-members
Coate Development - 'The battle is on again...'
Was out walking locally today down Dayhouse Lane which runs alongside Coate Country Park; also the site of what remains of the Coate stone circle. Dayhouse Lane is a little bit of rural history as, apart from the stone circle, it is also often mentioned by writer Richard Jefferies.
Redrow and Persimmon Homes originally wanted to build 1,800 homes in the area but plans were refused at a planning appeal in 2009.
In May, developers submitted another application for up to 960 homes, a business park, local centre, school and extension to Great Western Hospital. Objections were received from residents and expert bodies, including the Environment Agency, Natural England and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. A revised application has now been submitted with a 21 day consultation on the revised plans to start on Tuesday. The (Conservative) council will a decision in February or March.
William Cunnington - Commemorating 200 years of one of Britain's first archaeologists
I posted something about William Cunnington, 200 year anniversary of death, at the beginning of December (now removed to avoid duplication). Am glad to see the Wiltshire Heritage Museum are marking the occasion. A 'must visit' to the museum some time very soon.
(From their website)
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum will be commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of one of Britain's first archaeologists, William Cunnington, by displaying two fragile manuscripts not normally seen by the general public – the original account of the discovery of Bronze Age gold objects from a woman's grave at Upton Lovell, near Warminster, and beautiful watercolour drawings of the objects, painted by surveyor and artist Philip Crocker. Cunnington, who died on 31 December 1810 and is buried at Heytesbury Church, excavated hundreds of Bronze Age barrows in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, and discovered the most outstanding group of early Bronze Age finds in Britain, most of which are on permanent display in the Museum.
A wool merchant and linen draper from Heytesbury, William Cunnington became an archaeologist after being told by his doctor to 'ride out or die'. He was fascinated by the prehistoric remains he saw all around him, and in 1803 he began to excavate for Sir Richard Colt Hoare, the owner of the Stourhead Estate and a member of a wealthy banking family. Colt Hoare, who was by his own admission 'barrow mad', provided the finance for the excavations and later published the results in the pioneering History of Ancient Wiltshire - the first account of the archaeology of the County.
Cunnington was a pioneer of excavation and the first scientific archaeologist. He was thorough, paid careful attention to detail when excavating and had a painstaking regard for the facts. He wrote many comprehensive reports and the Museum holds thirteen manuscript books, bound into three volumes, containing the records of his excavations. The objects he excavated were acquired by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1818 and in 1883 they were acquired for the Museum where they are still on display and remain vitally important for archaeological research.
Lisa Webb, Curator says, "the Stourhead Collection contains many unique and rare artefacts including fine examples of prehistoric pottery, weapons and jewellery, which form the core of the permanent displays at the Museum. I am delighted that we are able to put on display some of the unique and beautiful drawings made by Philip Crocker which we rarely show visitors because of their fragile nature."
The items will be on display until late January. Usual Museum admission charges apply.
Slane By-pass shelved.
It's painful to watch Ireland's troubles; their future looked so bright when they joined the EU; now the N2 Slane By-pass has been shelved as part of the 4-year cost cutting plan.
As reported in the Irish Independent:
" ... there will be no major schemes starting in 2012 or 2013. This means the N5 Ballaghadreen bypass, N4 Downes upgrade, N2 Slane Bypass, N22 Macroom to Ballyvourney, N8/N25 Dunkettle Roundabout and Enniscorthy/New Ross bypass are shelved."
However, the report continues:
...."high priority schemes will proceed as funding becomes available and planning permission is granted".
5,000 yr old burial site to give up its secrets
Archaeologists are to dig out a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.
The collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera has produced a rare opportunity to discover what lies beneath — and exactly how old it is.
Normally portal tombs, which are among the oldest built structures still standing in Northern Ireland, are off limits to excavators and must be preserved.
But after the massive capstone of this portal tomb fell to the ground earlier this year, archaeologists will be able to uncover the secrets it has held for millennia before repairs are carried out.
Tirnony Dolmen is between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, according to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIIEA) archaeologist Paul Logue.
"After standing in Northern Ireland weather for over 5,000 years some of the tomb's structural stones have begun to crack, causing the capstone to slip," he said.
"Before we start to repair the tomb we will excavate it to ensure that the archaeological material associated with it is recorded ahead of restoration work.
"When the tomb was first built it would have been used for interring the bones of selected members of the local stone age community. This could have included men and women, young and old. Finds from inside similar tombs include pottery and flint tools, possibly left as grave goods for use by the dead in the afterlife.
"We hope to find out more about how this tomb was built, when it was built and how it was used."
Members of the public are invited to come along on Friday afternoons to find out for themselves what has been unearthed. The excavation will also be charted in a blog revealing the latest finds.
Mr Logue said the tomb was originally built by digging out a trench where the upright stones were embedded, packing round these with smaller stones before installing the massive capstone on top of them.
In recent years, the capstone, which weighs between two and a half and three tonnes, had begun to rock, putting pressure on the supporting stones beneath. These then moved, causing the capstone to slide further.
(Acknowledgements to WRAO and Digital Digging for this information)
Forthcoming NT events at Avebury
1) "Discover Stone Tools Workshop" with Avebury archaeologist Dr Nick Stanshall
The day includes a chance to handle real stone tools from the Alexander Keiller Museum.
Sunday 24th October 10am - 4.00pm, Cost £30
2) Guided Walks through the Avebury Landscape.
Last Sunday of the month starting 31st October,
10.30am - 1.30pm Tickets: £5.00 in advance or pay on the day. Meet at Silbury Hill car park.
3) Wyrd Avebury Ghost Walks
Selected evenings in October, cost £4.75 includes a glass of mulled wine
Call 01672 539250 for details or visit
'Britain from the air' - street exhibition in Bath
For anyone who lives within travelling distance of Bath, this street exhibition is well worth catching - in the square by Bath Abbey:
Sponsored by Ordinance Survey and wecommunic8.com
Wonderful arial poster-photos in wooden stands with thought provoking commentary under each display.
Uffington White Horse caught my eye (as I sat down in the sunshine to listen to a classical guitarist). There was also Abor Low; Dartmoor and Tors; Maiden Castle; the South Downs; St Kilda; the Brecon Beacons; and much, much more.
Nature; stone circles and all ancient sites that involve walking through unspoilt countryside/being near the sea; islands around the the British Isles, especially those with ancient monuments.