Wednesday 28 August 2013

Archaeology Under The Road At Stonehenge

As others (Mike Pitts and Aerial Cam) have published some thoughts on what was under the A344 I thought it might be interesting to put up some of my snaps, click any to embiggen.

And a fantastic shot from Aerial Cam:

Monday 26 August 2013

Autumn Equinox at Stonehenge 2013 - Full Information and Details


  • Date: Mon 23 Sep 2013
  • Property: 
  • Time: 6.15am-8am
  • Suitable for: Everyone
The Autumn Equinox occurs at 8.44pm on Sunday 22 September 2013.
Celebration of the Autumn Equinox will take place at Stonehenge at sunrise on Monday 23 September 2013.
Visitors wishing to celebrate the Autumn Equinox at Stonehenge will be given access into the monument when it is considered sufficiently light and therefore safe to do so. This is likely to be from approximately 6.15am. Sunrise that morning will be at approximately 6.56am. Visitors will be asked to vacate the site by 8am.
Please note that access to Stonehenge might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is considered that access might result in severe damage to the monument.

Limited facilities are available at Stonehenge for the duration of the access although these facilities will not be open prior to the access commencing.
If you require disabled parking, please email Sally Gardner at


English Heritage MembersFree
Child, 5-15 yearsFree

Price Notes

No car parking is provided by English Heritage (except disabled parking, by prior agreement only).

Click to enlarge

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Planning Application for the Creation of a Functional Long Barrow at All Cannings Cross

Planning application 13/02869/FUL

Creation of Long Barrow for storage of cremated remains

  • Application registered: Tuesday 20 August, 2013 
  • Comments invited until: Thursday 19 September, 2013

Surveying the site at Winter Solstice 2012 - The Long Barrow will be aligned to the Winter Solstice Sunrise.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Charlton Barrow Cemetery Report Now Available

Charlton Barrow Cemetery and Roman Villa, Wiltshire: Report on Geophysical Survey, July 2012


A caesium magnetometer survey was conducted as part of the Marden Environs NMP enhancement project (RASMIS 6302) over an area of approximately 11ha, encompassing the Bronze Age barrow cemetery and Roman villa complex at Charlton St Peter, Wiltshire, previously identified through aerial photography and limited geophysical coverage. It was hoped that more extensive magnetic survey might enhance the archaeological record of the site and determine the survival of the monuments that fall largely within an arable field reverted to pasture through a countryside stewardship scheme. A vehicle-towed, caesium magnetometer array was used to cover the accessible areas of the site and the results confirm the majority of the barrows to the north of the site survive as very weak anomalies, although levels of magnetisation in the vicinity of the Roman settlement are more enhanced.

Authors Linford , P K , Payne , A W , Linford , N T

Wilsford Henge and Marden Barrow Report Now Available

Well worth a  read :

 Neil Linford, Paul Linford and Andrew Payne 

A geophysical survey was conducted as part of the Marden Environs NMP enhancement project (RASMIS 6302) over an area of approximately 20ha, encompassing a barrow cemetery and henge, both known from previous aerial photography, found on the parish boundary between the villages of Marden and Wilsford, Wiltshire. It was hoped that geophysical survey might enhance the archaeological record of the site and, in particular, examine any relationship between these monuments and Marden henge immediately to the north. The results of the vehicle-towed, caesium magnetometer survey identified all of the known monuments within the Marden barrow cemetery and provided some additional detail within the rectilinear enclosures to the north of the site. An interior circuit of pit or post-holes was also found within the Wilsford henge together with evidence for an adjacent, previously unrecognised Roman settlement, which appears to pass beneath the raised causeway running through the centre of the site.


The geophysical survey has successfully located anomalies consistent with all of the known prehistoric monuments at the site, previously identified through aerial photography, and confirmed their survival under the current agricultural regime. In addition, the survey supports and enhances evidence for the two enclosures to the N of the barrow cemetery which have only appeared as cropmarks once, and also indicated an internal arc of postpit type anomalies within the Wilsford henge. Whilst there are distinct similarities between the form of the Wilsford henge and Woodhenge, situated 15km to the S, there is no evidence for concentric post-rings such as those found through magnetic survey at Stanton Drew. However, perhaps the most surprising revelation has been the discovery of previously unrecognised Roman activity at the site, interpreted as a small farmstead settlement. Although no negative magnetic anomalies were evident, potentially indicative of masonry buildings, additional earth resistance or ground penetrating radar survey would be recommended to confirm this more fully. This demonstrates the value geophysical survey can offer to augment the aerial photographic record, particularly where site conditions limit the visibility of archaeological activity as regularly appearing cropmarks.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Stonehenge by Thom - Article on Line

I found this 1974 article online,and very interesting.

Thom, AlexanderStevenson Thom, ArchibaldStrang Thom, Alexander
Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol. 5, p.71
Publication Date:

This link gives me the whole article as a pdf

It includes several plans including this one of the Z and Y holes based on Atkinson's information, the distances are Thom's and to do with his Megalithic Yard theory.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Did the Ministry of Works own a compass?

Three Stonehenge postcards on eBay today - the only ones from the Ministry of Works I can see. All of them have the wrong direction as description....

(click to enlarge)

Monday 12 August 2013

Digging into David Field's Central Mound Theory - Updated

I reported - - that David Field had floated the idea that there was a central mound in Stonehenge just to the south of Stones 53 and 54 that might have predated the stone circle. It lines up with the North and South Barrows, in the post I used this diagram - Stonehenge contours at 0.075m intervals - © A. Johnson 2008 - and circled the three "mounds". David thought that they may have originally held three stones.

 I reported that there was no records of any excavations in the central mound area to take this theory further but rereading Gowland's report on his excavations in 1901 I noticed he had dug a hole, marked F on the plan on the edge of the area. The hole was dug to take a supporting strut for Stone 56 as he straightened it.

The details of his excavation there are not in the online version of his report - - because they are in the appendix. But in the Archaeologia printed report they are, and it reads:

Excavation F. 5 feet long, 2 feet 10 inches wide, and 3 feet 3 inches deep.
This excavation was made at the side of the south-west pier, No. 54, of the south trilithon. .
The chalk rock was reached at the south-west side of the hole, about 3 feet from the surface.
About 1 foot below the turf, and to a distance of about two feet from the monolith, the entire space was closely packed with chippings of all the stones, together with two or three large lumps of sarsen, one of which measured 1 foot 6 inches by 1 foot 2 inches by 1 foot.
All these were more or less firmly cemented together with a calcareous concretion.
Splinters and pieces of sarsen hammerstones preponderated over those of ordinary sarsen, and the latter was found in much less quantity than the “bluestones;” but besides the clippings, however, several large irregular lumps of sarsen were also dug up, as stated above. As regards the “bluestones,” there was much more porphyrite than diabase, and least “fissile rock” and argillaceous sandstone.
Seven small fragments of ancient pottery were found about 1 foot 6 inches below the surface, and a few pieces of micaceous sandstone.

David Field suggests that this hole F was into the stonehole for stone 54 rather than into the mound which seems to be correct. Cleal's plan is slightly out which is misleading.but Gowland's original plan shows the excavation was tight up to 54.

The two plans compared (not exactly to the same scale)

And from the NMR we have this photo

UPDATE - I have found a postcard which shows Gowland's excavation F as a parchmark:

Click any picture to embiggen

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Seeing Stonehenge

This is a fuller copy of the letter I sent British Archaeology which was published in Issue 132  in an edited, and more readable, form. It was written before I noticed the parch marks so it was very prescient.

For they look, but they don't really see – Matthew 13:13

Frank Stevens’ guidebook to Stonehenge was first published in 1916 and continued in print until 1938. It is still admired especially for the woodcut illustrations by Heywood Sumner. The first one is this.

But there is a problem with this illustration which Stonehenge geeks may notice immediately but seems not to have been noticed when the book was in print.

There is a second mistake which is with the caption, the view is towards the north east, not the south east; a mistake I have only just noticed despite studying this picture many times over the last year.

 As a clue here is a contemporary postcard from Frith’s showing the same scene, which also has a similar captioning mistake saying it is “from the N.W” when it is from the South West:

Here is an earlier version of the picture:

The problem, if you didn’t notice it is that the tall stone, stone 56, was straightened on the 19th September 1901.

It seems that the postcard printers altered the picture rather than have a new photo taken.

Which was a shame as on the evening of the 31st December 1900, the trilithon on the left, Stones 21,22 and 122, was blown down in the course of a severe storm. So you can have stone 56 upright with 22 fallen or 56 leaning with 22 standing or for eighteen months 56 leaning and 22 fallen, but at no time in the early twentieth century were 56 and 22 both upright.

So the illustration in the official guidebook was taken from a faked photograph and not from reality.

The history of Stonehenge is full of examples of people looking at it but not really seeing it.

From the public path looking across the width of the monument the dagger carvings on Stone 53 can be seen clearly on any sunny afternoon. But it seems no one noticed them until Richard Atkinson did in July 1953. They show up in early photographs; they are in view but not seen. Once they were seen many other were spotted. When we know what to look for we can easily see it, it is much harder to see something we don’t expect to see.

In the 1960s C A “Peter” Newham and Gerald Hawkins, and others, looked for astronomical alignments at Stonehenge.  This illustration is from Hawkins’ book.

Peter Newham produced a similar one, below, which concentrates on the Station Stones and the indeterminate F, G and H holes (some authorities think they may be natural rather than man made features).

Peter hypothesised a hole G2 to make an alignment to Station Stone 92 to match the alignment from Station Stone 94 to Hole G which is to the Winter Solstice Sunrise and Summer Solstice Sunset. Gerald Hawkins thought this line was between Station Stone 93 and Hole H.

Whilst they were busy looking at the small Station Stones and on plans where missing stones and holes were they failed to see a much larger object already on this alignment towering over them.

As to whether the alignment is a real artefact or not is another argument, what is indisputable is that many people were looking for it.

The Great Trilithon at the centre of the inner sarsen horseshoe consisted of Stones 55, 56 and the lintel 156. 156 lies on the ground beside the broken 55 but Stone 56, as mentioned above, stands upright. It has, as did 55, highly worked flat sides. But these sides are not symmetrical to the horseshoe or the acknowledged Summer Solstice Sunrise – Winter Solstice Sunset alignment through the monument.  The stone is skewed about 10 degrees from this line, which puts it on the alignment that Hawkins, Newham and other were looking for. 

It might be argued that Gowland, who straightened the stone did not get it back into its original position but close examination of his records and acknowledgement of his skill and experience makes this unlikely. He stated that the original position of Stone 55 and thus the whole trilithon was in line with 56.

I believe that the skewing is significant, others may not,  but either way  millions of people have looked at it and investigators have studied it but they all failed to see it and what it might mean.

There is still a lot to be properly seen at Stonehenge.   

British Archaeology Article on the Parch Marks

British Archaeology - September/October 2013 - is out - here is the top of Page 6 - with Simon Banton. I also have a letter in the edition on page 10....
Mike Pitts writes at length about the parch marks for 17, 18, 19 and 20 I spotted and the implications for the non-completion theory of Stonehenge. (The letter is about the importance of actually looking at Stonehenge.)

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Stonehenge Aerial Photo from the South West

Another one from my collection - it looks as though the A344 is being metalled, note the heap of stone behind the Heel Stone. Lots of interesting marks to be seen as well.

Friday 2 August 2013

The Underhill Archive

HMJ Underhill Archive: Introduction The archive consists of a collection of hand-painted glass (lantern) slides that depicted the "Megalithic Monuments of Great Britain," dating to 1897-1905 and attributed to H.M.J. Underhill. The slides showed the stone circles at Stonehenge, Avebury, Stanton Drew and the Rollright Stones. Miscellaneous slides depicted other prehistoric monuments: Menhir at Dartmoor and the Sarsen Stones and Wayland's Smithy on the Oxfordshire Ridgeway.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Brodgar Lozenge

Exciting news of a neolithic engraved stone discovered at the Ness of Brodgar.
"Decoration on stones from Orkney from the Neolithic period is almost entirely angular and shares a commonality with the decoration found on Grooved Ware ceramics."

Reminds me of something else as well....
The Bush Barrow Lozenge