Thursday, 23 June 2016

Media Response to Summer Sunset Theory

A new theory that the tallest stone at Stonehenge points towards the midsummer sunset has been observed to be correct, it has been claimed.
Earlier this year Tim Daw, a steward at the site, said he had discovered the previously unknown alignment, involving a line of stones at 80 degrees to the axis of the monument.
The theory was tested when the solstice sun set at 21:26 BST on Saturday.
Mr Daw said he was "really thrilled" at the finding.
"It wasn't the best evening for a sunset picture as a bank of cloud came in at the wrong moment but it was close enough to prove the point," he added.
"I put forward this theory. I said 'this stone, the sun will set along its back' [on] Midsummer. Yes it did.
"[There was] a wonderful sunset last night. We could see the sun going down directly in line with... the back of this stone. It was fantastic."

Monday 22 June 2015 by Gary Stanton

New theory claims Stonehenge was ancient meeting point for bellends

Stonehenge knobheads
A stunning new theory proposes that Stonehenge was little more than a great place for annoying tossers to congregate.
Neolithic expert, Professor Simon Williams, bases his theory on repeated observations of ‘a vast assortment of dicks with nothing better to do turning up around this time of year, every year’.
Williams’ staggering new proposal demolishes previous theories that the sacred ring is some sort of freaky Stone Age calendar.
Armed with fancy measuring gear, Williams’ team could find no alignment whatsoever with celestial bodies, noting that the largest stone points towards the overpriced gift shop.
Williams said, “There’s a lot of shite talked about how the tallest stone is aligned with the midsummer sunset, but the only way you could think that is if you’re on drugs.”
“If it’s a calendar, then they forgot the fucking leap year,” he insisted.
The theory was tested when the solstice sun set at 21:26 BST on Saturday, when just as Williams predicted, an array of tedious dreadlocked hippies appeared and claimed the site for themselves.
Williams said he was “really thrilled” at the finding.
“Sure enough, as the sun began to set a troupe of arseholes came marching over the downs banging a fucking drum of some description,” he added.
“I’m afraid to say that ancient man had much in common with these New Age twats, even down to the frankly appalling personal hygiene.”
“There was a nice sunset, sure, but it was ruined by these legal-high snorting knobheads.”

Monday, 20 June 2016

Long Barrow Summer Solstice Alignment

You may be aware that I built a Long Barrow at All Cannings a couple of years ago. It is aligned to the midwinter Solstice Sunrise, so that the sun shines down the passageway then. This means that at midsummer the solstice sunset is aligned along the Barrow the other way.

Tonight there is a full moon on Solstice evening, the first time since 1967 I believe, so the rising of the full moon should be aligned to the Long Barrow. I will attempt to witness this.

Nearby Adam's Grave neolithic Long Barrow is on the same alignment and the view from it across the Pewsey Vale is spectacular. Might well be worth a visit.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Stonehenge Protests 2016 Photo Archive

As part of the history of Stonehenge I thought it might be interesting to start archiving some of the photos of this summer's protests.

The background to the protests is English Heritage imposing new conditions for the Summer Solstice celebrations (paying to park and an alcohol ban) and then cancelling the Round Table meetings which have been the forum for all the "stakeholders" in the celebrations to work out their differences. English Heritage felt the planned meeting would be threatening to their staff, whether the meetings will resume is unclear. Arthur Pendragon is the leader of the protests and other "Free Stonehenge" groups have allied themselves to his cause. The protests have been using the A344 to prevent EH coaches from carrying visitors to and from the stones, making the visitors walk (exceptions have been made for the old and infirm).

Photos and comments welcomed.

O=={{::::Summer 2016::::::::>
Know this,
It is ‘our’ intention to attend the Managed Open Access at Stonehenge in order to celebrate the Summer Solstice as is our right under article 9 of The Human Rights act.
Whilst it is our intention to agree and adhere to The terms and conditions of previous years;
We have absolutely NO intention whatsoever of adhering to EH’s new ‘Pay to Pray’ policy.
Nor will we be told how we may or may not celebrate.
© King Arthur Pendragon /|\

Here is the Text of the notice Arthur Pendragon was handing out.
Well done to the Warband and to the Free Stonehengers who assisted.
I managed to 'Block' off one lane for a couple of hours but unfortunately they had four more.
We will be 'STEPPING UP' the protest as I was illegally refused entry and was thereby unable to manifest my religious beliefs on the occasion of the Summer Solstice at my place of worship.
I will NOT 'Pay to Pray' not this year NOT any year.....
Blessings from a place of Exile /|\
To be served on EH, Agents/and/or, Subcontractors, upon receipt of;
I/WE The Bearer of this notice do hereby state that;
(1) I/We accept all terms and condition issued by EH save for the Introduction of car-parking charges and the Prohibition of alcohol in the Monument/ Temple field, which we believe to be illegal, under both European and domestic law, and to be disproportionate in its implementation to the Pagan Community.
(2) I/We have been forced to enter EH’s temporary carpark facility because;
(A) English Heritage has ensured that they have the Monopoly on parking in and around the environs of Stonehenge by applying for and the granting of Traffic Restriction Orders on all The Adjacent By-ways Open to All Traffic.
(B) I/We were directed here by the Highways Agency signage,
(C) Wiltshire Police were and are, not re-directing those of us who refuse to pay against the flow of traffic and in doing so have effectively instructed EH not to restrict our progress into the temporary car-park for safety reasons, and in the interests of Traffic management.
(3) Therefore;
Any (Clamping) or tampering with this vehicle or any goods or chattels therein is illegal and we will prosecute English Heritage and/or their agents or subcontractors for any such tampering or removal of said vehicle without our express consent.
I/We shall rely on the following basis in law;
THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION and The Human Rights Act; Article 9;
(1) It is claimed both alone and in the community with others, both public and private, for Worship, Teaching, Practice and Observance, apply in this instance.
(2) None of the reasons listed in The Caveat or Codicil apply in this instance.
A rule of conduct, obligatory on those within its scope, established by long usage. A valid custom must be of immemorial antiquity, certain and reasonable, obligatory, not repugnant to statute law though it may derogate from common law.
Time Immemorial, Term used to denote a time before legal memory. The statute of Westminster 1275 fixed it at 1189
© King Arthur Pendragon /|\

Friday, 17 June 2016

This little piggy went to the winter solstice

Age and season of pig slaughter at Late Neolithic Durrington Walls (Wiltshire, UK) as detected through a new system for recording tooth wear

Elizabeth Wright, Sarah Viner-Daniels, Mike Parker Pearson, Umberto Albarellaa


Available on

"In sum, pigs were brought to Durrington Walls to be slaughtered at a young age (short of a year) to provide meat for predominately winter-based feasting events. In addition, older pigs(mainly in their second year) were eaten and deposited in pits associated with the ritual closure of houses as they became abandoned. These older pigs may have been slaughtered throughout the year, though still preferentially in winter, suggesting that such closing rituals at the household level were not necessarily linked to the calendrical festivities of the wider community"

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Prehistoric Calendar Revealed at Stonehenge - Press Release

LONDONJune 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
Summer solstice is fast approaching, and on the 20th June over 20,000 people are expected to gather at the world-famous Stonehenge to celebrate and watch the sun rise above the Heel Stone and shine on the central altar. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, this is a time when the sun's path stops moving northward in the sky, the days stop growing longer and will soon begin to shorten again.
Over 5000 years old, Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C. Its full purpose remains unknown yet the mystery that surrounds Stonehenge is so enduring and popular that last year over 1.3 million visitors flocked to this ancient monument. There are even several man-made copies of the world-famous heritage site have been built around the world, including an impressive full-scale replica at the Maryhill Museum in Washington, USA.
Stonehenge famously aligns to the solstices, but for the rest of the year it seems strange that these ancient builders would not be aware of the current day, or for that matter how many days remained to the next solstice event. However, a new theory has been presented that suggests Stonehenge was used for more than just marking the winter and summer solstices, or as a sacred burial site.
Recently, Lloyd Matthews (scale modelling expert based in the UK) and Joan Rankin (a retired historian living in Canada), have made an ambitious attempt to rethink the purpose of Stonehenge. Their conclusion, after three years of extensive and laborious research, is that the entire structure was, in fact, a complex and significant prehistoric calendar that could actually count the individual days in a year. Not only did Stonehenge act as a solar calendar, similar to the western calendar used today, but it also acted as a lunar calendar and was important for a developing agricultural society to successfully plan for the seasons.
Lloyd Matthews spent 6 years meticulously researching and constructing two scale models of Stonehenge for display at The Maryhill Museum of Art. The models show Stonehenge as it stands today and as it would have originally looked when built.
During its construction, Mr Matthews identified three distinct carvings on three of the large stones known as Trilithons. Curiosity piqued, Mr Matthews approached several experts at the time who were unable to provide an explanation as to what these symbols meant. Dissatisfied with the responses, Mr Matthews decided to continue his research into this ancient puzzle with the help of Joan Rankin, an authority in prehistory.
Together, they may have not only successfully cracked the mystery of these three symbols but also discovered the original purpose of 56 unusual holes that were dug around Stonehenge during the very first phase of its construction, famously known as the Aubrey Holes. It appears that these holes could likely have been used as a calendar counting system used to keep track of each passing day, with six and a half revolutions around Stonehenge marking a full year, and using the rising of the Summer Solstice sun as a way of astronomically marking the starting point of each new year.
As for the mysterious shapes carved into the Trilithons, they have shown how these symbols may have been deliberately positioned to allow the ancient astronomers at Stonehenge keep track of other significant astronomical cycles, including its use not only as a solar calendar but also as a lunar calendar.
Dr Derek Cunningham, an established archaeological expert has even embraced this new theory himself, saying that "the idea is based on some solid observations. Not only can Lloyd now explain his three shapes, Joan's ideas help explain the layout and also the number of Aubrey Holes seen at the site. Neither had been satisfactorily explained before."
Dr Cunningham goes on to say, "Further work is expected, but it now appears that Stonehenge may finally be giving up some of its secrets."

SOURCE The Office of Lloyd Matthews
(Note - I haven't read or studied all the source material or claims and to their credit they supply a lot of material but some of the conclusions from details such as the "carvings on the stones" seem far fetched to me.) 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Stonehenge TRO question - When did the notices go up?

Wiltshire Council is applying Temporary Traffic Restriction orders around Stonehenge as usual this solstice.

Some notices have now gone up of the TROs. This photo of one was taken 15 June 2016 by Austin Kinsley - thanks Austin.

The rules for applying for a TRO are quite clear:

The procedure for making temporary orders is set out in the Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Procedure Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/1215), as amended.
The procedure is as follows:
Not less than seven days before making an order the authority must publish a notice of their intention to make an order in a local newspaper and in the vicinity of the affected area and inform the police...
The notice is dated 9th June 2016 and the order starts 00:01 on Friday 17th June 2016 so for the TRO to be legal the notices had to be put up on the 9th.

I have asked Wiltshire Council, and am awaiting a reply, the question I am asking you.

When did the notices go up? I didn't spot them on Monday but I may have missed them.

UPDATE = Wiltshire Council say the notices were put up on Mon 14th June and the notice was in the Salisbury Journal on 2nd June (The notice is dated 9th June on the website).The online searchable Public Notices of the Salisbury Journal doesn't have it so it must have been in the print edition only. They also say they no longer have to put notices up on site and they put them up on their website. 

If you spotted them or saw them being put up please tell us.

And can anyone tell me which local newspaper the notices were published in - searching the Gazette and Herald, Swindon Advertiser,, Salisbury Journal, the national data base (the Western Daily Press is covered by this) and the London Gazette fails to find it.

UPDATE: Austin has sent me a picture of the post which the TRO is pictured on above taken on Sat 11th June 2016 showing this notice wasn't posted then.

Click to enlarge pictures. The notice is now on the right hand side of the post in the foreground, the remains of a previous stapled notice can be seen in both pictures. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Stonehenge Silo

North of the New Visitor Centre near Stonehenge and very visible as one waits for a bus on the platform there is a grey concrete tower on the near horizon. It stands alone within a group of barrows and the nearest farm buildings are a couple of hundred yards away.

Many wonder as to its purpose. It is now abandoned but it used to be a silo for the conservation of grass for cattle and sheep feeding in the winter.

There are very few such silos remaining, they became outdated technology and as they tended to be in the farmyard the space they stood on was valuable.

Historic England describes them:

Airtight containers for the storage of freshly cut grass and
its conversion into silage were first developed in the 1880s,
after its initial use elsewhere in Europe. Silage afforded the
opportunity to cut and store grass for bulk fodder without
the risk of poor weather or storage conditions spoiling the
hay or root crop.
Typical features
• Silage clamp – An airtight container for the storage of
freshly cut grass and its conversion into silage. Silage
clamps were brick or concrete walled structures, in which
the silage would be placed and then covered over.
• Silage tower – A tower for the airtight storage of freshly
cut grass and its conversion into silage. A silage tower
is recognisable as a tall structure. Tower silos were
introduced from the United States in 1901, but were not
in general use until after the Second World War.
• There is at least one example of a silage clamp in mass
concrete of the 1880s, otherwise they are modest
• Intact examples of silage towers of 1940 or earlier,
using concrete or displaying a degree of architectural
elaboration, are rare.

(There is a silage clamp at the nearby buildings constructed of reused concrete railway sleepers which is the replacement for the silo.)

The grass was loaded in to the top of the silo by either an elevator as this colour wartime photo shows  or chopped and blown up a tube. It was consolidated to make it anaerobic, usually by being trampled down as the level rose. Molasses or acid was added to create the right conditions for butyric fermentation to pickle the grass.

One side of the silo had small doors all the way down, the frames can still just be seen at the Stonehenge silo. Whilst some silos had mechanical unloaders most relied on a farmworker cutting it out and pitching it down through the door at the level of the silage.

Click photos to embiggen

The Stonehenge silo looks to be 1940s or even earlier and is a rare example and worthy of interest and preservation