Sunday, 11 August 2019

Stonehenge for the Ancestors Book Prelaunch Offer.

Stonehenge for the Ancestors: Part 1

Landscape and Monuments

Mike Parker Pearson, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas, Chris Tilley &; Kate Welham 

ISBN: 9789088907029

Imprint: Sidestone Press | Format: 210x280mm | ca. 520 pp. | The Stonehenge Riverside Project Volume 1 | Language: English | 202 illus. (bw) | 190 illus. (fc) | Keywords: Stonehenge, archaeology, prehistory, Neolithic, Britain, Megaliths, Stone circles, Standing Stones, Bluestone, Sarsen, Avenue, Landscape, excavation | download cover

Publication date: 20-12-2019 (according to the publisher) 20 Sept 2019 according to Amazon.

€64,95 on the publishers website for the prelaunch paperback or £90 on Amazon (but that might change on launch)

For many centuries, scholars and enthusiasts have been fascinated by Stonehenge, the world’s most famous stone circle. In 2003 a team of archaeologists commenced a long-term fieldwork project for the first time in decades. The Stonehenge Riverside Project (2003-2009) aimed to investigate the purpose of this unique prehistoric monument by considering it within its wider archaeological context.

This is the first of four volumes which present the results of that campaign. It includes investigations of the monuments and landscape that pre-dated Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain as well as of excavation at Stonehenge itself. The main discovery at Stonehenge was of cremated human remains from many individuals, allowing their demography, health and dating to be established. With a revised radiocarbon-dated chronology for Stonehenge’s five stages of construction, these burials can now be considered within the context of the monument’s development. The different types of stone from which Stonehenge is formed – bluestones from Wales and sarsen silcretes from more local sources – are investigated both at Stonehenge and in its surroundings. These surrounding monuments include single standing stones, the Cuckoo Stone and the Tor Stone, as well as the newly discovered circle of Bluestonehenge at West Amesbury beside the River Avon. The ceremonial Stonehenge Avenue, linking Stonehenge to Bluestonehenge, is also included, based on a series of excavations along its length.

The working hypothesis behind the Stonehenge Riverside Project links Stonehenge with a complex of timber monuments upstream at the great henge of Durrington Walls and neighbouring Woodhenge. Whilst these other sites are covered in a later volume (Volume 3), this volume explores the role of the River Avon and its topographic and environmental evidence.

With contributions by:
Umberto Albarella, Michael Allen, Olaf Bayer, Wayne Bennett, Richard Bevins, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Chris Casswell, Andrew Chamberlain, Benjamin Chan, Rosamund Cleal, Gordon Cook, Glyn Davies, David Field, Charles French, Robert Ixer, Neil Linford, Peter Marshall, Louise Martin, Claudia Minniti, Doug Mitcham, Bob Nunn, Andy Payne, Mike Pitts, Rebecca Pullen, Julian Richards, David Robinson, Clive Ruggles, Jim Rylatt, Rob Scaife, Ellen Simmons, Charlene Steele, James Sugrue, Anne Teather, Sarah Viner, Tony Waldron, Katy Whitaker and Christie Willis

See the other volumes in the Stonehenge Riverside Project Series



1. Introduction
The Stonehenge Riverside Project
Background to the project
Implications of the hypothesis
Research aims
M. Parker Pearson, J. Pollard, C. Richards, J. Thomas C. Tilley, K. Welham and P. Marshall

2. Fourth millennium BC beginnings: monuments in the landscape
The landscape of the fourth millennium BC – (C. Tilley, W. Bennett and D. Field)
Geophysical surveys of the Greater Cursus and Amesbury 42 long barrow – (K. Welham, C. Steele, L. Martin and A. Payne)

3. Fourth millennium BC beginnings: excavations of the Greater Cursus, Amesbury 42 long barrow and a tree-throw pit at Woodhenge
The Greater Stonehenge Cursus – (J. Thomas)
Amesbury 42 long barrow – (J. Thomas)
Investigations of the buried soil beneath the mound of Amesbury 42 – (M.J. Allen)
Stonehenge Lesser Cursus, Stonehenge Greater Cursus and the Amesbury 42 long barrow: radiocarbon dating – (P. D. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey and G. Cook)
Antler artefact from the Greater Cursus and Amesbury 42 long barrow – (G. Davies)
Pottery from the Greater Cursus and Amesbury 42 long barrow – (R. Cleal)
Chalk artefact from the Greater Cursus – (A. Teather)
Lithics from stratified contexts of the Greater Cursus – (B. Chan)
Lithics from the ploughsoil of the Greater Cursus – (D. Mitcham)
Lithics from stratified contexts of Amesbury 42 long barrow – (B. Chan)
Human remains from Amesbury 42 long barrow and the Greater Cursus – (A. Chamberlain and C. Willis)
Charred plant remains and wood charcoal from the Greater Cursus and Amesbury 42 long barrow – (E. Simmons)
Woodhenge tree-throw pit – (J. Pollard)
Pottery from the Woodhenge tree-throw pit – (Rosamund M.J. Cleal)
Lithics from Woodhenge – (B. Chan)
Faunal remains from Woodhenge – (C. Minniti, U. Albarella and S. Viner)
Charred plant remains and wood charcoal from Woodhenge – (E. Simmons)

4. The Stonehenge bluestones: excavations at Stonehenge and environs
The bluestones at Stonehenge – a reappraisal – (M. Parker Pearson and C. Richards)
Aubrey Hole 7 at Stonehenge: Trench 39 – (M. Parker Pearson, B. Chan, C. Casswell, M. Pitts and J. Richards with R. Ixer)
Fargo bluestone scatter – (C. Richards, J. Pollard, D. Robinson and M. Parker Pearson)
Airman’s Corner pit circle – (M. Parker Pearson)

5. Bluestonehenge at West Amesbury: where the Stonehenge Avenue meets the River Avon
Research background and pre-excavation investigations – (M. Parker Pearson, K. Welham, C. Steele, A. Payne, L. Martin, D. Mitcham and C. French)
Archaeological excavations of Bluestonehenge within West Amesbury henge – (M. Parker Pearson, R. Nunn and J. Rylatt)
Radiocarbon dating of Bluestonehenge and West Amesbury henge – (P. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey and G. Cook)
Neolithic and Beaker pottery – (R. Cleal)
Lithics from stratified contexts – (B. Chan and J. Rylatt with P. Pettitt)
Other artefacts of stone, antler and bone – (M. Parker Pearson with G. Davies and R. Ixer)
Faunal remains – (C. Minniti, U. Albarella and S. Viner)
Charred plant remains and wood charcoal – (E. Simmons)

6. Sarsens at Stonehenge
Stonehenge reworked – sarsen construction – (C. Richards and M. Parker Pearson)
The sarsen-dressing area (Trench 44) – (B. Chan and C. Richards)
The flint assemblage from the sarsen-dressing area – (B. Chan)
Sarsen stone from Trenches 44 and 45 – (B. Chan)
Sarsen-working at Stonehenge – (K. Whitaker)

7. Sarsens in the Stonehenge landscape
Sarsen origins within the landscape – (C. Richards, K. Whittaker, M. Parker Pearson, C. Tilley and W. Bennett)
The Cuckoo Stone – (C. Richards)
Geophysical surveys of the Cuckoo Stone – (K. Welham and C. Steele)
Lithics from the ploughsoil – (D. Mitcham)
Excavation – (C. Richards)
Cuckoo Stone radiocarbon-dating – (P. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey and G. Cook)
Lithics from stratified contexts – (B. Chan)
Antler artefacts from the Cuckoo Stone – (G. Davies)
Faunal remains from the Cuckoo Stone – (C. Minniti, U. Albarella and S. Viner)
Charred plant remains from the Cuckoo Stone – (E. Simmons)
Wood charcoal from the Cuckoo Stone – (E. Simmons)
The Tor Stone, Bulford – (C. Richards)
Geophysical survey of the Tor Stone at Bulford – (K. Welham and C. Steele)
Extraction and erection of the Tor Stone – (C. Richards)
Charred plant remains and wood charcoal from the Tor Stone, Bulford – (E. Simmons)

8. The Stonehenge Avenue
Geophysical surveys – (K. Welham, C. Steele, N. Linford and A. Payne)
The Stonehenge Avenue at Stonehenge (Trench 45) – (M. Parker Pearson and R. Pullen)
Geology, geomorphology and buried soils – (M. Allen and C. French)
The Stonehenge Avenue Bend ((Trenches 46, 47, 48, 57, 58 and 59) – (D. Robinson and O. Bayer)
The Stonehenge Avenue’s ‘northern branch’ (Trench 56) – (M. Parker Pearson and A. Teather)
Radiocarbon dating of the Stonehenge Avenue – (P. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey and G. Cook)
Lithics from the Avenue in front of Stonehenge (Trench 45) – (B. Chan)
Lithics from the Avenue bend and the Avenue’s ‘northern branch’ – (B. Chan)
Lithics from the ploughsoil of the ‘northern extension’ – (D. Mitcham)
Chalk artefact – (A. Teather)
Charred plant remains and wood charcoal from the Stonehenge Avenue – (E. Simmons)
The orientation of the Stonehenge Avenue and its implications – (C. Ruggles)
The Avenue’s construction and purpose – (M. Parker Pearson)

9. Stonehenge and the River Avon
Along the River Avon – (C. Tilley and W. Bennett)
The Avon palaeo-channel – (C. French and M.J. Allen)
Palynology – (R. Scaife)

10. The people of Stonehenge
Human osteology – (C. Willis)
Radiocarbon dating of human remains from Stonehenge – (P. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey and G. Cook)

11. Radiocarbon dating: the Stonehenge modelling and results
P. Marshall, C. Bronk Ramsey, G. Cook and M. Parker Pearson

Monday, 5 August 2019

Gunsite Road Archaeology

The iconic farmhouse scene from Saving Private Ryan was filmed on Gunsite Road, West Kennett. With Wiltshire standing in for Iowa. The farmhouse and barn were temporary props.

On a walk over to the West Kennet Palisade excavation I took a moment to pinpoint the location - marked with a star.

Archaeology from 1998 was complemented by an older find at the spot of a pure black flint hammer stone of a far earlier date.

My short walk from All Cannings had already passed an Iron Age midden, Hill Fort, Causewayed Enclosure, Bronze Age Dykes, an ancient Sheep Fair ground and mediaeval sheep walk features and a 1950's Firing range to say nothing of the views of barrows, mounds and stone circles. It is quite an area for exploring.

Gunsite Road - also known as Gunsight Road or Lane - the Ordnance Survey call it Gunsite which as it was a site for guns when there was a firing range there is logical and in line with the common usage at the time. The National Trust and Historical Monuments Record use Gunsight which until a few minutes ago I also preferred as a commoner word, but I have changed my mind and now vote for Gunsite, and Road rather than Lane.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Golfhenge - the planning statement extracts.

Statement – Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Land north of The Packway and east of Larkhill Former Stonehenge Golf Centre Phase 4 Date: December 2017

Air photos were obtained from the Historic England Archive in Swindon. The earliest photo (1924) showed the landscape prior to the construction of the sports pitches and with small arms ranges terraced into the hillside on the west side of the site. One small area of possible military trenching was also shown. No evidence of archaeological remains was identified on or around the site. An undated photo taken a short time after the construction of the sports pitches, demonstrated by the lack of trees around the boundary, shows a series of features consistent with probable Prehistoric ring ditches and in-filled linear earthworks immediately to the east of the site. By 1943, a USAF air photo shows a well-established sports pitch that is clearly terraced into the hill on its southern side and built up with fill materials to the north. By 1954, a photo shows that the trees around the site are maturing along their present lines. The historic maps consulted show open downland on the 1887 Ordnance Survey 6” First Edition, which is how it remains until the 1923 revision (published 1941) which shows the “Recreation Ground”. Neither maps shows any record of antiquities on the site.

 Archaeological works undertaken in support of the Phase 3 development have identified limited archaeological remains; however, a hengiform that included a ring ditch with a ring of large postholes encircling it was identified immediately north of the north-east corner of the Golf Centre.

An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology during geotechnical investigations (Wessex Archaeology report 11598.1.01). This demonstrated that the whole hilltop had not been truncated during construction works and that a cut and fill method had been employed to level the playing fields, prior to their conversion into the Golf Centre. However, no archaeological features or deposits were identified during the watching brief.

While it was anticipated that the terracing of the sports pitches into the hill top may have truncated part of the site, the use of fill materials to level the pitches was anticipated to have potentially protected archaeological remains in other parts of the site. In addition, the nearby remains indicated high potential for archaeology to be present on the site. As a result, an archaeological evaluation was requested by the Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service, to better inform the planning application. The evaluation was to include trial trenching, equal to a 5% sample of the site area.

The archaeological evaluation of the proposed Phase 4 site was undertaken in December 2017. While no evidence for archaeological finds, deposits or features was identified across the greater part of the site, one trench, in the north-east corner of the site, revealed a large posthole and section of curved ditch. The trench was extended and revealed remains indicative of a hengiform similar to that seen in Phase 3, and this was confirmed by a further trench that showed more of the arrangement of ditch and attendant postholes very similar to that recorded in Phase 3.

Discussions with the Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service have indicated that either full excavation or preservation by design would be acceptable but that the latter option would entail more evaluation to better characterise the monument prior to its reburial. Full excavation has potential to provide extra information relating to the Phase 3 hengiform, which was lacking in any dateable material, and to the relationship between these two, similar monument. Discussions with Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service indicate that there will be no objection to the planning application but that an archaeological condition will the recommended, so that appropriate levels of mitigation, including the treatment of the hengiform, will be undertaken. A Written Scheme of Investigation for the excavation is currently in preparation by Wessex Archaeology for Lovell.

UPDATE - Wessex Archaeology kindly supplied this description: Hi Tim, one of two hengeforms fully excavated and recorded during the Army Basing Programme. They occupy a ridge of high ground and may be integral components (possibly earlier) of a linear (probable Bronze Age) barrow cemetery visible via Google Earth immediately to the east.

Golfhenge Stone Holes and Alignment Speculation

More on the hengiform that seems to have been uncovered on the site of the Larkhill Golf Range in 2018  and is now built over. See for more. The ditch with eight pits around is in the excavated square within the tree girt area, the small hengiform at the top right was previously known about.
Click to embiggen

I haven't found  any official reports of it and so this is just based on public aerial photos.

The Bing aerial photo from 2018 isn't as clear as the Google one but shows the ditch is about 14m across and the eight holes are about 1m in diameter. More like stoneheles than post holes? Or just pits?

The pits to the north east are wider apart than the other three pairs but there is no noticeable entrance. But if that is the entrance then it is close to the summer solstice sunrise direction which is handily marked on the planning documents constraints plan in yellow.

What a shame it is now under a housing estate, I await the reports on it  with interest.
Comparisons with Bluestonehenge and other circles in the area are obvious, if a little premature at this stage. See the excellent for more on those.

The planning statement

Sunday, 7 July 2019


Stephen Cogbill noticed this intriguing excavation on Google Earth.

It is within what was the Larkhill Golf Driving Range at Larkhill which is now being built over.

Details of the planning permission is at 

As to what what the hengiform is, we will have to wait for the reports.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Durrington Walls Sarsen Burials

Higham, R., & Carey, C. The Durrington Walls Sarsen Burial relocated and reconsidered. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Magazine, 112, 74-84. (2MB PDF) discusses the curious case of two sarsens with burials at Durrington Walls that have disappeared and whether they are actually just one stone that moved.

In Colt Hoare's Ancient Wiltshire Vol. 1 page 172

In the rudest times other modes of burial, besides the barrow, were adopted. We have an interesting proof in an interment which was lately discovered above Durrington Walls, by a shepherd, who in pitching the fold, found his iron bar impeded in the ground : curiosity led him to explore the cause, which proved to be a large sarsen stone, covering the interment of a skeleton, with whose remains the articles engraved in TUMULI Plate XIX, were deposited, viz. a spear head chipped from a flint, a small hone or whetstone, a cone and ring of jet like a pully, and two little buttons of marl or chalk, all bespeaking an interment of the earliest date.

For more information see Simon Banton's  (search for Durrington Flat Grave.)

A stone then appears on maps on the high ground to the west of Durrington Walls but then disappears early in the twentieth century. It doesn't appear on earlier maps or on the map in Colt Hoare's book.

OS Surveyed 1877-78 (maps from )

However the 1923 revision no longer marks it.

However a Stone appears just off The Packway to the top left of the the 1920's map 

This appears to be the Stone described in: 

Durrington Walls, or Long Walls : By P. Farrer
Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine  v. 40 (1917-1919)  

I may say that there is a great deal of Romano- British pottery visible about 100 yards south-west of the Walls, with many pits and trenches. This was evidently the  site of a considerable settlement and the pottery extends for some  distance southwards, to a point at least 150 yards from the S.W. corner of the work.
I also found four fragments of ware of the same period close to,  and apparently dug by a rabbit from underneath the sarsen that  lies about 350 yards from the earthwork. Presumably this is the stone mentioned by Colt Hoare in Ancient. Wilts, Vol. I., p. 172, but he uses the vague phrase "above Durrington Walls," From the pottery and from the pale and chalky nature of the soil thrown up I should judge that here was the site of an interment. Rabbits must have a reasonable depth of soft stuff for their workings, and it is very rare in this locality to find undisturbed chalk sufficiently friable to permit of rabbits burrowing therein, while still more rarely does enough soil overlie the chalk for rabbit buries. It has been suggested that this was a stone intended for Stonehenge, but dropped on the way, a ridiculous idea, for who would bring a stone about 6 feet x 5 feet X 3 feet 6 inches, weighing at least 5 tons, to within two miles of their destination and then leave it ?

So is this second stone with its Roman-British pottery the same stone as the Shepherd's stone with a neolithic burial under it? Farrer suggests that the stone has not moved from above its interment. 

Higham and Carey propose that Farrer's stone is the Shepherd's stone that had been moved to the edge of the field to ease cultivation.

I wonder if the effort of moving a five ton stone uphill across the field would have been considered worthwhile at such time, others such as the Cuckoo Stone were just left. The ditch of Durrington Walls a little way downhill from the Shepherd's stone was used as a dump and being a lazy farmer I would have just pushed it to that edge if I were have to moved it. The ditch there is full of later military camp detritus which would cover any stone dumped earlier.    Farrer's stone also sounds a lot larger than a buried burial covering slab, especially one that a Shepherd was able to dig under. My thought is that maybe the stone was left exposed and then was covered in and reburied, either naturally or for farming purposes, which would explain its appearance and disappearance from the maps. Higham and Carey suggest it may have been moved as part of the development of the camp.

But is is a fact that Farrer's substantial stone (about 2m x 1.5m by 1m in modern money) wasn't marked on maps until the Shepherd's stone disappeared. It is also remarkable that it has disappeared again, unless it is hiding in the brambles. Where has it gone?

A fascinating mystery that Higham and Carey have produced a excellent paper on and one that suggests further research would be worthwhile.