Friday, 29 April 2016

The Stonehenge Landscape 1600BC by Peter Dunn

With huge thanks to Peter - click to enlarge.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sherrington Round Mound

Dr Jim Leary has a great project going at the University of Reading looking at Round Mounds: which "seeks to uncover prehistoric mounds that were adapted for medieval defence or have been misidentified as later mottes – a previously unrecognized phenomenon that could re-write our understanding of both the Neolithic and Norman periods."

Such mounds as Silbury, Marlborough and Hatfield: "all three of these great Wiltshire mounds date to the second half of the third millennium cal BC, and all three mounds could be contemporary. They are also all located next to a river...Springs appear to be incorporated within and around the enclosure and even today the enclosure ditch holds water for part of the year. Clearly the low-lying nature of the topography and the brooks, streams and springs are key to understanding it."

I visited the mound at Sherrington, near Warminster in southern Wiltshire today and was struck how it looks like a small Silbury hill, an augmented end of a spur which has then been cut off with a moat.
At Sherrington the moat is filled with the clearest spring water and the mound is overgrown with trees.

It in private hands so there is no access to it, so photographs are hard to take even from the churchyard which overlooks it.

Click to enlarge

There are two very good sources to learn about Sherrington from- The Gatehouse Gazette, which has lots of links and Paul Martin Remfry (report by Sally Thomson 2013)

Sherrington Motte is seen as the Norman castle of the Giffords, but has no visible remains of masonry.   "The motte is 48m across and rises 5.5m above a 3.5m deep ditch, which widens in the east to form a water-filled moat. Vestiges of a perimeter bank on the top of the motte remain, but there is no trace of any structure. There is no evidence of an associated bailey." (Field Investigators Comments F1 MHB 17-FEB-75)

But " A ditch 110m NW of the motte was sectioned in 1972 and found to be 25 feet wide. It probably represents a bailey ditch. The enclosure map of Sherrington shows the road pattern to the south of the motte forms a D-shape enclosing the parish church, probably indicating a second bailey." The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine93, 2000 Page(s)114-5

So not the best evidenced Castle Motte, but even if it was ancient mounds can be reused, and it would be strange if they weren't. Historical documentation seems to be sparse as well.

There is not a shred of evidence that it is an ancient mound but I have a feeling it might be. I will be putting forward to Dr Jim even though it fails one of his criteria, it is only 5.5m high not 6m.

Stonehenge Plain Barrow Map

Amazing work by Simon Banton:

A map of the barrow data contained in Richard Colt Hoare's 'Tumuli Wiltunenses - a Guide to the Barrows on the Plains of Stonehenge', cross-referenced to Goddard/Grinsell barrow numbers.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Stonehenge Measurements

Richard Bartosz writes:

There is no definitive data set for Stonehenge measurements. There can never be because the various dimensions quoted come from surveyors who undertook their respective surveys in different epochs and the state of Stonehenge's construction varied greatly. Comparing, just as illustration, Petrie would have undertaken his at a time when the stones were in disarray - the lintels over uprights 29,30, 1 and 2 would have been leaning heavily outward - and current plans, however apparently accurate such as Anthony Johnson's (AJ) were prepared considerably later after a great deal of restoration.

So we can rely on AJ's plans as being perhaps the most precise available (at least publicly) in terms of post-restoration, and the high resolution offers opportunity for creating a benchmark. But, in turn, these rely on the restoration having been accurately undertaken, which however painstakingly expedited, is open to question. Equally Petrie's measurements, often used as "definitive" in many instances, actually can't be confidently accepted due to the condition of the layout at his time of survey, and he will have no doubt made assumptions and educated guesses.

As a result the door has been left open for various researchers to "adjust" dimensions to fit their own particular ideas and hypotheses. Unfortunately there is no way that any one researcher can actually be proven wrong, and the veracity of any hypothesis linked to "definitive" measurements, i.e. claimed to be the ones that were actually designed into the monument will depend on the quality of argument, supported by scientifically accepted evidence. Most hypotheses, both from academia and independent researchers fall far short of scientific rigour.

In this brief context, I have prepared a set of preliminary dimensions as in the images below. The purpose is to present dimensions, in one location, which have been scrutinised by both academia (hopefully) and independent researchers, from which existing theories can be rigorously reviewed or new hypotheses more confidently presented, whenever dimensions are involved. I've used various sources and put them together to produce a couple of high resolution plans - within practical means - from which the dimensions were determined.

At this stage I am just presenting the first set of dimensions to start the ball rolling, together with a diagram which is more or less self explanatory. I am preparing an accompanying set of notes detailing the methodology and explaining which can be taken with a finer tolerance as opposed to others which have to be treated with greater caution, or simply can't be trusted at all.

However, I will be looking initially to first reactions and comments as to which other dimensions should/might be included, to see if the plans I have will cover them, or how they might be best measured before adding to the list. It will be a work in progress over the coming months, with a view to creating that one stop answer to much of the confusion that appears to exist.


Please note that all measurements are in Imperial Feet. People will have to convert, to whichever hypothesis they are pursuing, themselves. It is not the purpose of this data set to support any particular theory - not even my own! All dimensions are rounded to four decimal places maximum.

Click to enlarge

Thanks to Richard for sharing this ongoing work with us

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Wiltshire's next Police & Crime Commissioner - Statements on Solstice Policing

The election of Wiltshire's next Police & Crime Commissioner is a contest that hasn't generated much interest yet.

The election is on 5th May and details can be found on

In an attempt to learn a bit more about the candidates and see how they responded to a specific question I thought I would ask about Solstice Policing. In reaction to some social media comments from people objecting to English Heritage's introduction of car parking charges I included a mention of this. I sent all four candidates the following email:

Sent: 17 April 2016 14:04 
Subject: Statement on Stonehenge Solstice Policing costs 
If you are elected to the position of PCC of Wiltshire what will you guidance be on the costs of policing the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge? If you could provide me a statement for publication as to the justification of the force’s expenditure and estimated size of it, it would be much appreciated. You will be aware that this year the organisers English Heritage are starting to charge for parking at the event and are now an independent charity. 
Many thanks 
Tim Daw

As of 20 April (22:00) I had only had two answers:

The first arrived very quickly from Dr Brian Mathew (Lib Dem):

Hi Tim, 
You pose an interesting question. One that I had not until now considered. I have been more concerned with the appalling burglary detection rate of Wiltshire Police, the worst in England and Wales according to Churchill insurance.
Rather than guestimate figures, which I have no real access to as a candidate, why don’t you give me your perspective, as this is clearly something you have looked into. 
I once attended a Stonehenge free festival, in I think 1984. I was appalled by the events at the 1995 ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ when festival goers were set upon by police recently militarised by the Coal strikes. It happened after I had left the UK to work on my first professional Aid project in Western Province Zambia as a water engineer assisting refugee Angolans who were fleeing the fighting in neighbouring Angola. 
In principal the idea of a festival for the solstice is for me an appealing one. If English Heritage and the National Trust could get their heads together then a properly organised festival could make money for these two excellent organisations as well as pay for the policing, and many people could have a good time. 
Best wishes
And from the next day one came from Kevin Small (Lab)

Hi Tim 
I was a County Councillor when the policing of the summer solstice was a major issue for Wiltshire police and remember a Joint Leader being advised each year of the orders that had been imposed to close certain roads to help prevent access to the stones. 
Thankfully the Stonehenge Summer Solstice is less of an issue as each year passes and there is now a far more open approach to allowing people near the stones during the summer equinox, whilst a policing presence is needed like for any large crowd event, I do not think policing levels need to be of a high nature unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise. 
On your final point about car parking charges, I take it that you are referring to who should pay for the policing of this occasion? If we were in a situation of what was witness in the 1980/90's then I do think it would totally acceptable for Wiltshire Council tax Payers to foot most if not all the bill. In these more calmer times then the recharging of policing activity is one that should be considered, and maybe the football ground model maybe one that should be adopted. 
Best wishes
Kevin Small

No reply from the Conservative or UKIP candidates.

Make of that what you will..

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2016 - Times, Dates and Prices

Access to monument field - 7pm
Sunset - 9:26pm

Sunrise - 4:52am
Monument field closes - 8am

The Solstice Car Park opens at 7pm on 20th June with last admissions at 6am (or when full, if earlier) on 21st June. The car park will close at 12 noon on 21st June.

Alcohol is not permitted in the monument field during Summer Solstice.

Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge, however please note that parking fees in the official car park apply - cars: £15, commercial coaches and minibuses: £50,
motorcycles: £5.

Conditions of Entry
 Amplified music is not permitted in or around the monument field.
 No alcohol is allowed within the monument or the monument field. Alcohol will be
confiscated or individuals in possession of alcohol will be asked to leave.
 Drunken, disorderly and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and anybody
considered to be behaving in this way will be asked to leave by security staff and/or
the police and will not be allowed back in.
 Illegal drugs are illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else. The police will be
on site and will take action against anyone breaking the law.
 Please don’t bring any glass in to the monument field. Many people walk barefoot
and livestock and wildlife also graze in the area. Any glass items will be confiscated.
 Please do not climb or stand on any of the stones – this includes the stones that
have fallen. This is for your own safety and also to protect this special site and
respect those around you.
 Please be aware that in order to keep everybody safe, random searching may be
undertaken. Any items found that might be used in an illegal or offensive manner will
be confiscated.
 Camping equipment, fires, Chinese lanterns, fireworks, candles, tea-lights or BBQs
are not permitted at Stonehenge, in the Solstice Car Park, or anywhere in the
surrounding National Trust land.
 In the interests of safety, sleeping bags or duvets are not allowed on site. Sleeping
on the ground creates a trip hazard and can interfere with the work of emergency
services and hinder their ability to help people. Small ground sheets and blankets are
permitted for people to sit on but please do not bring chairs etc (unless used as a
recognised disability aid). Shooting-sticks are not permitted.
 To help us reduce the amount of litter on site, leafleting or flyering is not allowed.
 Drones or any type of remote-controlled flying devices are not permitted at
Stonehenge or in any of the Solstice Car Parks.

Admission to Stonehenge

• Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.
• There is a charge for parking – cars: £15, commercial coaches and minibuses: £50,
motorcycles: £5.
• Public transport is available from Salisbury.
• Access to the car park will start at 7pm
• Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Please remember that you will not be allowed access to the Monument with the following
- Alcohol
- Drugs
- Large bags or rucksacks (or similar items)
- Sleeping bags or duvets
- Flaming torches, Chinese lanterns, fireworks or candles etc.
- Dogs (with the exception of registered assistance dogs), pets or other creatures
- Camping equipment, including foldaway chairs, garden furniture, shooting-sticks
- BBQs or gas cylinders
- Glass bottles or other glass objects
- Trolleys, wheel barrows or any other form of porterage
- Pushchairs or buggies that are not exclusively used for a child
- Large “golf-style” umbrellas, gazebos
- Drones or any kind of remote control aircraft

From :

Monday, 18 April 2016

Long Barrows on Cannings Down

Searching Pastscape I have produced an aerial composite of all the Long Barrows listed with their numbers or name on the Downs above All and Bishops Cannings. Now to get the boots on.

Click to enlarge.

WKLB = West Kennet Long Barrow