Friday, 17 October 2014

Stonehenge Magic Lantern Slides

A fine collection of Stonehenge Magic Lantern slides is (at the time of writing this) on sale on eBay:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Stonehenge-photo-magic-lantern-slides-7723-/131321941718





Click to embiggen - there are more in the collection as well.

The top photo is intriguing as there is a line of chalk mounds outside stones 10 and 11, and they don't seem to match the track repairs that are recorded by Sharpe in hies aerial photos - http://www.sarsen.org/2013/07/first-balloon-aerial-photo-of.html - which would be of a similar date.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Winter Solstice 2014 - Stonehenge Managed Open Access



Managed Open Access

The celebration of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge will take place at sunrise
on Monday 22nd December 2014 (approximately 08:09 hrs).

English Heritage is pleased to be offering ‘Managed Open Access’ for those
who wish to celebrate the Winter Solstice peacefully

Visitors will be allowed into the Monument when it is considered sufficiently
light to ensure safe access. Entry will be available from approximately 07:30
hrs until 09:00 hrs when visitors will be asked to vacate the site. All vehicles
must vacate the area by 09.30.

Access might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is felt
that access might result ¡n severe damage to the Monument.

More details on Parking and toilets etc to come


Connected:

New theory of a Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment - Stonehenge and the Winter Solstice leaflet (ISBN 9780957093010)
(Background on the Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment theory is here)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Stonehenge - the simplest and most enduring features - Thoreau


(click to enlarge)

''Ossian reminds us of the most refined and rudest eras, of Homer, Pindar, Isaiah, and the American Indian. In his poetry, as in Homer's, only the simplest and most enduring features of humanity are seen, such essential parts of a man as Stonehenge exhibits of a temple; we see the circles of stone, and the upright shaft alone. The phenomena of life acquire almost an unreal and gigantic size seen through his mists. Like all older and grander poetry, it is distinguished by the few elements in the lives of its heroes. They stand on the heath, between the stars and the earth, shrunk to the bones and sinews. The earth is a boundless plain for their deeds. They lead such a simple, dry, and everlasting life, as hardly needs depart with the flesh, but is transmitted entire from age to age. There are but few objects to distract their sight, and their life is as unencumbered as the course of the stars they gaze at.''

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 367, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

Sunday, 12 October 2014

President Obama Stonehenge Quotes - Transcript of Video


These are some special stones.

I love the moss.

There's something here, it's wonderful, it's very cool. 

There's just something elemental about it.

There's something that where you got to feel like it should always be there.

But it comes out of something basic.

Spectacular.

Yeah, I could come here every day, you know I would come here and just kind of sit, if it wasn't like a monument, I'd sit on one of these rocks and I'd just watch the sun rise. It would really cleanse your mind.

 

Ensure you use the CC option on Youtube on the official White House video to get the transcipt - auto transcript on other versions gives some strange results...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The New Visitor Centre, a hole in the ground and a £14million win.

The old  map resource at http://maps.nls.uk/os/6inch-england-and-wales/ is a fantastic way to waste hours.

The ability to overlay old maps with modern aerial views is great.

As an example here is a shot of the area to the east of the New Visitor Centre at Stonehenge.

Click to enlarge.

Apart from hoping they properly capped the well that was under the well house and is now underneath the gift shop I was intrigued by the mysterious "post" near Fargo Plantation.

Many hours of thought and it struck me that as the field is known as "The Gallops" it is probably just a finishing post or turn marker for training race horses. The field is owned by the Druids Lodge estate.

Druid's Lodge was famous for training racehorses and infamous for the Druid's Lodge Confederacy and the betting coup at the 1913 Derby.

Their secretly trained horse Aboyeur won, after a Stewards Inquiry, at 100-1, and they had been backing it all over the country in small amounts for months so as not to frightened the odds makers.

£14 million at todays money is rumoured to be their winnings.

More at http://www.lady.co.uk/people/features/2317-scandal-su-ffragettes-the-biggest-ever-betting-coup

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Some thoughts on the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape based BBC programme

These are some notes that Tim Robey posted on Facebook which I thought well worth posting here:


Some thoughts on news-feeds and the two BBC programmes:

The “Pink” stones from the Mesolithic:

You may have heard that at the “nearby” Mesolithic site excavations have revealed a source of flint which is dyed by the bog water there to a bright pink. This colour would have been very unusual at the time(Still is, on a rock) and may well have been given some magical or supernatural significance by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Fascinating though these are, I really feel that the link to Stonehenge is too tenuous to take seriously. If there had been a direct link, the Henge would have been built next to the source of the stone, not on a hill 3knm away. There are no pieces of pink flint found at the henge, nor even in any of the Mesolithic post-holes found underneath the old car park.

There is also the question of time -  all the Mesolithic activity pre-dates the construction of Stonehenge by 4 – 5 000 years,with not a sign of any activity in the intervening millennia.

No, nice idea but I’m not buying!
  
The Cursus as a Barrier, a Gateway, and a Solstice  Indicator:

The news is suggesting three different ideas here. The first, put forward as a current popular theory, is that the Cursus was a barrier. I doubt the popularity of the theory for a start, and I find myself asking “A barrier between what and what?” There have to be two entities or spaces that require separating for a barrier to be useful: what are they in this case? It can’t be Stonehenge – the Cursus was built 500 years before even the first phase cemetery on the site; and it can’t be that there was already an existing “zone of the dead” to be cordoned off – if that were so the barrier is completely inadequate, and anyway, the contemporary burial mounds (the Long Barrows) are all located on the edge of or outside the “zone” – indeed the cursus ends at one of them, so can hardly be separating it from anything else.Scratch that idea, too.

The new survey has shown gaps in the side ditches of the Cursus – hence it must have served as a Gateway! This again presupposes two separated areas and simply adds detail to the barrier theory rather than (as suggested on TV) debunking it.

The cursus may be long and narrow, but it is still essentially an enclosure. The space being cordoned off is inside the banks, and the entrances are just that. This was a sacred space in the same way as later henges and probably the earlier causewayed and palisaded enclosures – it was just a different shape for a different purpose, the most likely one being some form of processional rite linked to the Long Barrow at the end of the enclosure.

Then there are the two recently discovered pits, apparently forming site lines to the positions on the horizon of the summer solstice sunrise and sunset. Curiously, the site lines converge on the Heel Stone, not on the Stone Circle itself. They are clearly later than the Cursus, but without excavation it’s anybody’s guess to which phase of Stonehenge they belong. They are too wide for stone-holes but we have no idea how deep they are: are they fairly shallow fire-pits as someone has suggested, or are they shafts like the Wilsford shaft a couple of miles to the South?

Whatever their purpose it is likely (my theory, which is mine!) that they were dug within the Cursus enclosure so that it would provide a clear link between them – curiously there do not appear to be any direct  links between them and Stonehenge itself.Another time, perhaps, when we know more about them.

New Henges in the landscape:

Okay, well, it’s good to have something I can comment positively upon. I’m really pleased that they have found several new henges in the area: I wish I could say I’d been suggesting they must be there for years*,but sadly, I  hadn’t really given it a thought. Still, there they are, evidence that the whole area was used for rituals during the henge building era (+ 2800 – 2100 BC). What we need now are some dates: Do they co-exist with the Stone Circle, or are they earlier and thus superseded by the big temple?

There is also the possibility that these are just a new variant of burial mounds, perhaps with a ring of wooden posts around them &with complex sequences of events – rather like mini versions of the chambered tombs found in Ireland and Scotland.Although the finders are ebullient about them, Mike Pitts is more reserved:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10726307

(* Of course, they HAVE been there for years – but that wasn’t what I meant …)

Durrington Walls with stone settings:

Again, I’m very positive about this. For one thing, it finally shuts the coffin lid on Mike P P’s “wood for the living, stone for the dead” theory. Clearly life (and death) required more complex symbolism than that. It was always a dodgy analogy: coming as it did from practices and beliefs in modern Madagascar,and thus separated by 5000 years and even more miles from its application to Neolithic Wiltshire. Still, it’s done a brilliant job of making us all think alot more carefully about the symbolism of the stones. Well done for that, Mike.

And of course it opens up the whole discussion on what exactly WAS going on at Durrington Walls. I think MPP is right in that there has to be a connection between Durrrington and Stonehenge,and that the ceremonies at each were in some way complimentary. He could even still be right about the idea that the dead were given “farewell to life”feasts in their honour at the Walls, before a selected few were processed to be interred at Stonehenge (though I’m not convinced this is the main story, if it’s true at all). But the theory was mostly hung on the stone/timber opposition analogy ad if we lose that, the floor’s clear for anyone again …

The mysterious Welsh skeletons and the Bluestones:

I still need to do some research on this one from 2nd part of the TV documentary: Jackie McKinley mentioned this “family” of stiffs found “near” Stonehenge, dating to the time when the bluestones first arrived,and hailing from the West of England, perhaps from Wales. It would have been useful if we’d been told just WHERE they were excavated (though I expect to find that out fairly soon) but what puzzles me is this sudden knowledge of the date when the bluestones were brought from Wales(I note that, like the location of the burials, the actual date was not specified in the programme).

English Heritage has just produced a very expensive and informative exhibition and a new guidebook neither of which specifies the date– because we don’t know it! They could have arrived when the first bank and ditch were dug – c2950 BC (my money’s on this date) – or they could have been brought in at anytime up until a few months before the Sarsens went up in around 2550BC (we assume they were there by then because we are fairly sure they were put into the Q & R holes, a setting which just pre-dates the erection of the trilithons). It will be very interesting to find out the date of the burials – if indeed they are Welsh – they could well be linked to the elusive bluestone phase.

Comments and arguments welcome …