Thursday 22 December 2016

English Heritage's Legal Covenant for the A344 Permissive Path

I have a copy of the 106 and Highways Agreement between Wiltshire Council and HBMCE (English Heritage) and others for the planning permission for the New Visitor Centre near Stonehenge.

I reproduce Paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 of Part 2 as it relates to the ongoing failure by English Heritage to provide a permissive path on the route of the old A344

Dated 23 JUNE 2010


Agreement under Section 106 Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980

relating to-



Other Obligations

9 The National Trust and the Secretary of State as owners of the land
fronting that part of the A344 between its junction with Byway 12 and
the A303 to be stopped up and English Heritage covenant that as
from the date of such stopping up that part of the A344 may be used
at all times by cyclists and pedestrians until such time as an
alternative cycle route is available and has been provided in
accordance with a scheme which shall first have been approved by
the local planning authority in consultation with the local highway
authority and the Highways Agency

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Stonehenge: Winter Solstice Alignments Explained by Tim Daw Video

From Hugh Newman and MegalithomaniaUK comes this video

link -

Published on Dec 21, 2016
Subscribe at:
In this new video researcher Tim Daw gets interviewed by the BBC and talks to Hugh Newman at Stonehenge about the Winter Solstice Sunrise and Sunset alignments, that are often overlooked due to the popularity of the Summer Solstice. He explains the significance and archaeological evidence for these astronomical achievements and how the ancients encoded it in to the monument, as well as giving an insight as to the use of the Bush Barrow Lozenge discovered nearby. Tim's websites: and

Join Hugh, with researcher Simon Banton on a private tour to Stonehenge on May 19th 2017. Details here:

Filmed, Produced, and Directed by Hugh Newman. Copyright Hugh Newman/Megalithomania 2016. All Rights Reserved.

See more Megalithomania videos at:

More info:

State of the A344 Path Winter Solstice 2016

"I visited site on Tuesday 1st November and had a look at the closed section of the former A344 to see how the reseeded grass areas were establishing.

While they are coming along well and thickening up, I would be very reluctant to allow pedestrian traffic onto them yet which would soon create bare worn tracks through the thin growth and almost certainly develop muddy patches as we come into Winter.

The former roadway was seeded with a natural chalk wildflower seed mix to allow it to blend into the wider landscape. Unfortunately, this takes a longer time to establish than a general lawn grass seed and is less wear tolerant since it contains a lower proportion of grass and a high proportion of the slower and weaker growing wildflower seed. This needs extra time to
develop stronger root systems and grow into larger, sustainable plants.

I would recommend that the road has another season’s growth without any pedestrian traffic to allow the wildflowers to establish further and to enable the grass to spread into and fill up the bare patches that are still present.

Once the permissive path is opened up, I am concerned about the amount of wear that the wildflower grass areas will be able to take if there is heavy use especially from bicycles which can cause compaction very quickly, particularly in wet conditions. There is a risk that the successful return of the road to grass will then wear away to become a clear worn track if use is heavy"

Report by English Heritage to Wiltshire Council

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Usability of the A344 Permissive Path Cover-up

Wiltshire Council are not pursuing English Heritage for failing to deliver a useable path on the route of the A344 by the summer of 2016 as the planning permission for the New Visitor Centre requires because the Council have been informed by English Heritage that the grass is still not fit for purpose.

I have been digging into this with some FOI requests and other sources of information because as a farmer and agronomist who has restored and created chalk downland, not least on my Long Barrow, I understand the problems and find it incredible that with the resources of English Heritage they have failed to do so, especially when a cursory inspection suggests the surface is fit for use and any problems could be dealt with fencing around any muddy patches that appear.

My FOI request is online -

Wiltshire Council claim that "EH have had an independent ecologist/botanist inspect the site and his opinion is that it would benefit from a further growing season to establish a better root system, to make it more resilient to trampling" - Full document -

The independent ecologist/botanist report is also online - -

It is noticeable that it is not signed, there is no indication as to who wrote it or what their qualifications are, or how independent they are. I have never seen an expert's report before that has no indication of who the expert is or their qualifications.

The Freedom of Information request doesn't tell you but I happen to know it was written by Chris Bally in an email to Kate Davies (English Heritage's Stonehenge Manager) on the 4th November 2016

Chris is the loveliest bloke alive and knows his stuff but he is the Landscape Manager for the Conservation Maintenance Team of English Heritage. He works full time for English Heritage. I doubt he would describe himself as an independent ecologist/botanist.

For Wiltshire Council to portray his report as being from an "independent ecologist/botanist" and hide the author's credentials as they use it to justify their inaction looks like a cover-up to me.

If a householder failed to deliver on a planning condition and then got his mum to write a note saying he's a good boy really and he will sort it out next year would Wiltshire Planners accept that as an excuse?

Saturday 17 December 2016

Laying out the 56 Aubrey Holes

Anthony Johnson has kindly made his and Alberto Pimpinelli's paper on laying out a 56 sided polygon using just pegs and ropes available on Of course this isa proposed solution to the the laying out of the Aubrey Holes.

"A recent computer-aided-design investigation of the Neolithic 56 Aubrey Hole circuit at Stonehenge has led to the discovery of an astonishingly simple geometrical construction for drawing an approximately regular 56-sided polygon, feasible with a compass and straightedge. In the present work, we prove analytically that the aforementioned construction yields as a byproduct, an extremely accurate method for approximating a regular heptagon, and we quantify the accuracy that prehistoric surveyors may have ideally attained using simple pegs and ropes. We compare this method with previous approximations, and argue that it is likely to be at the same time the simplest and most accurate. Implications of our findings are discussed."

They even bring in Plutarch's Moralia. Isis and Osiris "It is plain that the adherents of Pythagoras hold Typhon to be a daemonic power; for they say that he was born in an even factor of fifty-six; and the dominion of the triangle belongs to Hades, Dionysus, and Ares, that of the quadrilateral to Rhea, AphroditĂȘ, Demeter, Hestia, and Hera, that of the dodecagon to Zeus,c and that of a polygon of fifty-six sides to Typhon, as Eudoxus has recorded."

Friday 9 December 2016

Stonehenge - What does "Henge" mean, why is it a "Henge"?

Looking across from Stonehenge towards Luxenborough plantation, the block of trees on the right, I was reminded that on the Downs of southern England, and maybe elsewhere, such blocks of woodland on the edges and slopes are known as "Hangers" or "Hangings" from the Anglo-Saxon "Hangra": A wood on a hill-side.

In my opinion Stonehenge gets its name from being a Stone "Hanger" as it sits on the edge of a slope, It is as simple as that. And from "Hanger" we get "Henge" and a whole pottage of word derivations.

From the Google Street view car one can rotate the camera and see the similarity in outline between the wood and stone "Hangers".

View Larger Map

Examples of other local Hanger Woods:

The Archaeology of the Stonehenge Festivals

British Archaeology Magazine (Jan-Feb 2017) contains an impassioned plea to remember the Stonehenge Free Festivals and concludes: "The festival is now fading history, with the very road and car park that made it possible removed.... We are in danger of forgetting. Perhaps there should be an inquiry. As useful, and much cheaper, would be a full archaeological research programme, on the ground, in the archives, and most importantly through talking to people who were there, from every part of the rich and confusing mix. Freedoms, rights and open reporting were compromised at Stonehenge in the 1980s. We need to know what really happened: to hold authority to account and to honour the place."

Click to embiggen

The genteel walkers across the National Trust fields seem to follow the Hippy trails of the festivals. (Though some of them may well be the same people.)

I have a copy of Alternative England and Wales from 1975 ( for a guided tour of its contents) and Stonehenge isn't mentioned, and the guidebooks all are of Avebury and Stonehenge.

Much of the present iconic status of the monument can be traced back to the Festivals and not only should there be a proper research project into them but they would also make a fantastic exhibition subject.

Mike Pitts has written about the festivals here -

Thursday 1 December 2016

Ronald Hutton's Prize Winning Contribution to the New Visitor Centre near Stonehenge

Ronald Hutton - Stonehenge from Yoho Media on Vimeo.

1 December 2016

The winners of this year’s Bristol University Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Awards, which showcase the diverse and important contributions that Bristol research makes to society, were announced at the Strategy Launch on 29 November.

The Society and Culture category award was presented to Professor Ronald Hutton for his project ‘The Stonehenge Visitor Centre’. Professor Hutton was appointed Academic Adviser for the construction of the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, a brand-new building intended to promote visitor understanding of, and satisfaction in, the monument. As a result of his research and his role at the Centre, English Heritage installed a permanent display gallery there.

The 2016 overall winner was Professor Ronald Hutton for his contribution to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Professor Hutton received the trophy and a cheque for £1,500.

Stonehenge Avenue Ruts

Mike Pitts raise some of the questions about the lines we can see on the ground, under it by excavation and through remote sensing within the Avenue at Stonehenge:

"....The Stonehenge Riverside project excavated grooves that run.. in the soil, and interpreted them as natural periglacial structures left over from the ice age, that – because they are aligned on the solstice axis – were partly responsible for where Stonehenge is: neolithic people saw the grooves pointing at the rising midsummer sun and thought, this is where we want to build Stonehenge!
Meanwhile, Tim Darvill and colleagues think the grooves are relatively modern wheel ruts. Their respective evidence is summarised in this diagram. Area 8 (enlarged at left) is a geophysics plot showing lines within the Avenue but not quite parallel to the ditches; these, say Darvill et al, are wheel ruts...."

I'm with Mike - I don't think there is a complete and clear picture of what the features are and how they relate. Yes there are periglacial stripes and the banks are probably enhanced natural banks and there are other ruts within the structure, what age are they? Are they simple farm cart ruts or evidence of processions or even stone movement? What is the history of the Palisade line that runs close by?

In support of the cart rut idea is the evidence of them continuing in a straightish line beyond where the Avenue bends as can be seen in the Magnetometer data (2010–11): white = −2nT, black = +3nT. (Aerial photograph: DigitalGlobe.) from The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project