Wednesday 19 July 2017

World Archaeoastronomy Heritage Sites Report Released

Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention: Thematic Study no. 2

Principal authors: Clive Ruggles and Michel Cotte

This is the second Thematic Study in a joint venture between ICOMOS, the advisory body to UNESCO on cultural sites, and the International Astronomical Union to present an overall vision on astronomical heritage, to explore what might constitute “outstanding universal significance to humankind” in relation to astronomy, and to highlight broad issues that could arise in the assessment of cultural properties relating to astronomy. In this volume there is particular emphasis on the recognition and preservation of the value of dark skies at both cultural and natural sites and landscapes, and the book includes a thematic essay by Michel Cotte exploring ways in which dark sky values might be recognised in a World Heritage context.

The subject matter ranges from prehistoric sites related to astronomy, such as seven-stone antas (prehistoric dolmens) in Portugal and Spain and the thirteen towers of Chankillo in Peru, to modern observatory sites such as AURA in Chile and Mauna Kea in Hawaii. It also covers cultural practices dependent upon dark skies (including a case study on the astronomical timing of irrigation in Oman), the heritage of science and technology related to space exploration (with a case study on Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan), and natural dark-sky places such as Aoraki–Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand. Virtually all of the case studies are structured in the form of segments of draft dossiers.

This Thematic Study is a joint publication by Ocarina Books and ICOMOS. This e-book version has been published in June 2017 in time to be available at the 2017 meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. It can be downloaded, free of charge, from this site as well as from ICOMOS and the UNESCO Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy.

From this page you will receive the standard version (about 19 Mb). A high-resolution version (about 214 Mb) is also available.

The study, of course, includes a lengthy and authoritative section on Stonehenge.

Friday 14 July 2017

Find Stonehenge Historic England Research Reports Using A Map

Download all 20 reports from HE recent research using a new interactive map of the Stonehenge landscape, these reports represent an up-to-date synthesis of this iconic monument and surrounding area; the results of several years' fieldwork and research.
The reports provide accurate, detailed information on the location, surviving shape and size of the monuments in the World Heritage Site; from the prehistoric barrows to the more recent monuments, such as the early 20th-century Air Ministry markers.

The Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape

1Airman's Corner
3Airman's Corner
4Monument field and barrows
5Restoring' Stonehenge
6Stonehenge Aerodrome
7Cursus Barrows
8Fargo south
10Winterbourne Stoke Down
11Fargo north
12Amesbury Down plantation
13Luxenborough plantation
14King Barrow Ridge
15Stonehenge Cursus
16Stonehenge Down and the Triangle
17The Avenue and Stonehenge Bottom
18A344 corridor
19Durrington Firs
20Normanton Down
21Lake Down
22Winterbourne Stoke Crossroads
23Wilsford Down
24Countess Farm
25Druid's Lodge
29West Amesbury
30Amesbury Abbey
31West Amesbury
33Larkhill Barrows
34Lake Barrows
35The Diamond
36Normanton Gorse
37Durrington Walls
37Cuckoo Stone
40Diamonds Field: Boreland Farm
41Diamonds Field: Druid's Lodge
42Normanton Down
43West Amesbury Farm
44Stonehenge Greater Cursus
45Assessment of human remains
46Vespasian's Camp

New Stonehenge Research from Historic England

Historic England Research Issue 6 PDF

or individual articles as webpages:


New Investigations in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site

(Click to enlarge - The 2016 update of the mapping of the World Heritage Site, highlighting the density of archaeological features identified both from thousands of aerial images dating back as far as 1906, and recent lidar imagery. The yellow line marks the current WHS boundary. © Historic England)

The full image is available at:

Aerial Investigation and Mapping

Pigs Curlews and Trains Geophysical Survey

Neolithic Pits Near Stonehenge

Middle Neolithic Farming and Food in the Stonehenge Landscape

Bronze Age Boundaries in the Stonehenge Landscape

Vespasians Camp

Visualising our Research

The Army Basing Programme New Discoveries at Larkhill and Bulford

Stonehenge Publications

Friday 7 July 2017

UNESCO Adopts Stonehenge Tunnel Resolution

41st World Heritage Committee 6 July 2017 AM adopts Resolution 41 COM 7B.56

The World Heritage Committee,

Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,

Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.116, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

Takes note with satisfaction of the management achievements, and progress with implementation of previous Committee Decisions, to address protection and management issues identified in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property;

Commends the State Party for having invited two Advisory missions to advise on the process for determining and evaluating options for the proposed upgrading of the main A303 road across the property, as part of a wide major infrastructure project;

Expresses concern that the 2.9km Stonehenge tunnel options and their associated 2.2km of dual carriageway approach roads within the property that are under consideration, would impact adversely the OUV of the property;
Urges the State Party to explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV of the property, including:

The F10 non-tunnel by-pass option to the south of the property,
Longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property and further detailed investigations regarding tunnel alignment and both east and west portal locations;

Encourages the State Party to address the findings and implement the recommendations of both Advisory missions and to invite further World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory missions to the property, to be financed by the State Party, in order to continue to facilitate progress towards an optimal solution for the widening of the A303 to ensure no adverse impact on the OUV of the property;

Requests the State Party to manage the timing of the consent and other statutory processes for the A303 trunk road project to ensure that the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee can continue to contribute to the evaluation and decision-making processes at appropriate stages;

Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Cat's Brain Long Barrow Equinoctial Alignment

Cat's Brain Long Barrow is a possible Neolithic long barrow that can be seen on aerial photographs in a field called Cats Brain south-east of Hilcott, along with the cropmarks of three probable Bronze Age ring ditches arranged along a line heading south-east. The cropmark is a U-shaped ditch defining an area approximately 26m by 20m. It is aligned east-west with the open end facing east. The U-shaped ditch is similar to the ditch of a long barrow on Thickthorn Down, Dorset (Gussage St Michael II). The Thickthorn Down barrow is one of a number on Cranborne Chase where the ditches have been carried around one or both ends and, it was argued, belong to a distinctive Cranborne Chase type.

The barrow appears to align to the equinox sunrise (though I doubt that any barrows were so aligned, I think it is just an east facing entrance, but I may be wrong).,-1.8315,19/2017.09.21/22:14

As does West Kennet Long Barrow,-1.8505,18/2017.09.21/22:14

Monday 3 July 2017

Excavations on Stonehenge Down

For the last week the Universities of Birmingham and Ghent have been working hard in the Stonehenge Landscape, carrying out excavations with an interesting twist.

For several years now, Dr. Philippe De Smedt of the University of Ghent has been conducting electromagnetic induction surveys* (EMI) over vast areas of the Stonehenge Landscape. He, Dr. Paul Garwood and Dr. Henry Chapman (both of the University of Birmingham) now want to be able to understand the survey data more clearly by substantiating it through excavation and coring.

 The team will be continuing their excavations this week (from Tuesday 4th until Sunday 9th) so if you are paying the Stonehenge World Heritage Site a visit, have a wander into the Landscape and see for yourself. On many of the days you will be able to chat to one or two National Trust volunteers who will explain what the team is up to.