Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:48 pm Post subject: Stonehenge
Archaeology has always been something I've been into since as a kid in the school playground we were able to dig up small pieces of crockery etc that had been caused by bombing in WWII, so to see this is great. Maybe it's something I'll get back into as I get older...
In the old hamlet I used to live in as a kid, we had dug up quite a few Indian arrowheads and old stones they used to mix paint in. I'm looking forwarding to hearing more about Stonehenge in the future.
Derbyshire: Arbor Low is situated amid rolling farmlands and is not among the largest of British henges. But its smaller size somehow makes its form easier to appreciate
Cumbria: Castlerigg is one of the oldest of our stone circles, built over 5,000 years ago. It is spectacularly placed. Surrounded by mountains, the feeling is that the entire landscape is part of the site. like a huge natural cathedral. It is likely that this was once a centre for axe-trading, a sort of prehistoric market place
Gwynedd, North Wales: High on a hill near Llandrillo, the cairn-circle of Moel ty Uchaf is the perfect place to relax and watch the sun set behind the distant hills
Co Meath, Ireland: The remarkable group of mounds and passage tombs at Knowth in Boyne Valley are home to over a quarter of all the rock art in Europe. From simple spirals to carvings which look like diagrams
Devon: Hidden in the southern part of the plantation forest which skirts Fernworthy Reservoir on Dartmoor, the stone row at Assycombe has an almost 'Lord of the Rings' feel to it
Anglesey, Wales: The enchanting and mysterious site of Barclodiad y Gawres overlooking Caenarfon Bay looks like a World War II bunker from the outside, but this makes it all the more surprising to find what lies beneath. Bold, abstract carvings adorn the imposing stone which stands like a guardian inside the entrance to the burial chamber
The Hebrides, Scotland: Callanish is testament to our ancestors' vast knowledge of astronomy. Standing on the Hebridean Isle of Lewis overlooking the chill waters of Loch Roag, the cruciform arrangement of megaliths has a stone circle at its axis, all aligned to view the heavens
Cornwall: The huge dolmen of Trethevy Quoit stands by the road close to modern houses and shows an aspect of prehistory that is often overlooked: we still live in the settlements chosen by our ancestors
Were artefacts at ancient chief's burial site Britain's first Crown Jewels? Paul Harris
12th May 2009
He was a giant of a man, a chieftain who ruled with a royal sceptre and a warrior's axe. When they laid him to rest they dressed him in his finest regalia and placed his weapons at his side. Then they turned his face towards the setting sun and sealed him in a burial mound that would keep him safe for the next 4,000 years.
In his grave were some of the most exquisitely fashioned artefacts of the Bronze Age, intricately crafted to honour the status of a figure who bore them in life in death. For this may have been the last resting place of the King of Stonehenge - and the treasures that are effectively Britain's first Crown Jewels. Now the entire hoard, recovered from the richest and most important Bronze Age grave on Salisbury Plain, is set to go on permanent display.
But 21st-century Britain has thrown up a problem that never troubled ancient man. The artefacts are so rare that they have been kept in a bank vault for the past three decades because they are too precious to put on show without extensive security. So today the Wiltshire Heritage Museum at Devizes is announcing a £500,000 appeal to fund a secure gallery. It will allow the treasures to be displayed alongside some of the many other wonders of Stonehenge, giving a fascinating glimpse of what life was like some 1,800 years BC.
The remains of 'Tall Stout Man' were uncovered two centuries ago by archaeologists trying to unravel the ancient stone circle's enduring secrets. In 1808 their attention turned to Bush Barrow, a huge burial mound that boasts the most commanding view of Stonehenge from nearby Normanton Down.
Clearly whoever lay here was important. Only when the chamber was excavated, however, did it become apparent just how important. Measurements taken from the skeleton showed that the man would have towered above contemporaries at over 6ft tall. Most of the articles buried with him in the 130ft-diameter, 10ft-high barrow were so fabulously rare that only someone of royal, military or religious power might possess them. Some believe Tall Stout Man was all three - a monarch, a general and a spiritual leader.
The highlight of the collection is a bronze dagger that had been 'richly and most singularly ornamented' with more than 140,000 minute gold rivets, arranged to form a zig-zag pattern in the hilt. Each rivet - as fine as a human hair and no more than a millimetre long - had been meticulously placed in tiny, individually drilled holes, then glued into place to form a brilliant lustre. Bronze daggers were very rare in those days, with probably only 50 in the country. This one was unique - and certainly fit for a king.
Other treasures include what appears to be a sceptre of office, sleeved with jagged-toothed, interlocking bone rings; an oval mace head, laboriously shaped, drilled and polished from a fossil sponge; two more bronze daggers and an axe head; a gold belt buckle; a lozenge- shaped insignia or piece of gold jewellery; and a gold breast-plate, enhanced by symmetrically carved patterns.
Archaeologists have long believed these to have been among the most valuable possessions of the age, taking teams of craftsmen and women up to five years to make. They used materials sourced from all over the country, possibly from Europe as well. But it is recent research that underlines the status of Tall Stout Man, whose remains still lie sealed inside Bush Barrow.
It is one of the most prominent burial mounds around Stonehenge and is thought to have been directly linked with the stone circle by a processional walkway lined with stone pillars, the so-called heel stone. Museum director David Dawson said: 'It's a leap of faith, but it's not impossible that Bush Barrow was the burial place of the person who had Stonehenge built. It appears to be a family vault, in which Tall Stout Man was placed about 400 years later. It is therefore almost certain he was part of that elite dynasty. There is no doubt he was an important figure. He clearly had the power to command the considerable collaboration it would take to fashion the kind of treasures which, in a culture which knew no diamonds or precious stones, were essentially Britain's first Crown Jewels.
'Four thousand years later, we want to allow the public to see them as part of the experience of visiting Stonehenge and discovering Britain's past.'
Interesting doc but to be honest nobody knows why they were built and why. At the moment all archeologists can do is speculate and come up with random theories. Nobody knows for sure and that what makes the subject so interesting..
Heres a few pics from Anglesey last year. Its a great place to spend a weekend hunting down megalithic stuff
Stone Age carving may be ancient sex toy It's not the first time that such a phallic object has been found from the ancient world
by Clara Moskowitz
Sex toys have come a long way since the Stone Age — but then again, perhaps not as much as we might think. Last week, an excavation in Sweden turned up an object that bears the unmistakable look of a penis carved out of antler bone. Though scientists can't be sure exactly what this tool was used for, it's hard not to leap to conclusions. [See " Sex Myths and Taboos"]
"Your mind and my mind wanders away to make this interpretation about what it looks like — for you and me, it signals this erected-penis-like shape," said archaeologist Gšran Gruber of the National Heritage Board in Sweden, who worked on the excavation. "But if that's the way the Stone Age people thought about it, I can't say. Without doubt anyone alive at the time of its making would have seen the penile similarities just as easily as we do today," wrote Swedish archaeologist Martin Rundkvist on his blog, Aardvarchaeology.
The discovery is so recent, Gruber said, there hasn't been enough time to submit the finding for publication in a scientific journal, though the researchers plan to. The carved bone was unearthed at a Mesolithic site in Motala, Sweden, that is rich with ancient artifacts from between 4,000 to 6,000 B.C. The area's unique features may have allowed bone artifacts, which usually get destroyed over the millennia, to survive.
Stonehenge builders 'used ball bearings to move giant slabs of stone into position'
18th November 2010
Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it was claimed today. The same technique that allows vehicles and machinery to run smoothly today could have been used to transport the monument's massive standing stones more than 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory. Scientists showed how balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have allowed the easy movement of stones weighing many tons.
No-one has yet successfully explained how the heavy slabs used to build Stonehenge were shifted from their quarries to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. Some, the 'bluestones', weighed four tons each and were brought a distance of 150 miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Attempts to re-enact transporting the blocks on wooden rollers or floating them on the sea have not proved convincing. The hard surfaces and trenches needed when using rollers would also have left their mark on the landscape, but are missing.
Experts hit on the new idea after examining mysterious stone balls found near Stonehenge-like monuments in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. About the size of a cricket ball, they are precisely fashioned to be within a millimetre of the same size. This suggests they were meant to be used together in some way rather than individually. The Scottish stone circles are similar in form to Stonehenge, but contain some much larger stones.
To test the theory, researchers from the University of Exeter constructed a model in which wooden balls were inserted into grooves dug out of timber planks. When heavy concrete slabs were placed on a platform above the balls, held in position by more grooved tracks, they could be moved with ease.
Archaeologist Andrew Young described the experiment in which he sat on top of the slabs to provide extra weight. 'The true test was when a colleague used his index finger to move me forward - a mere push and the slabs and I shot forward. This proved the balls could move large heavy objects and could be a viable explanation of how giant stones were moved.'
The team went on to carry out a life-size test funded by an American TV documentary maker. To reduce costs, the scientists used relatively soft green wood rather than the hard oak that would have been plentiful in Neolithic times, when Britain was covered in forest. This time, the researchers used hand-shaped granite spheres as well as wooden balls. The results proved the technique would have made it possible to move very heavy weights long distances.
Professor Bruce Bradley, director of experimental archaeology at the University of Exeter, said: 'The demonstration indicated that big stones could have been moved using this ball bearing system with roughly 10 oxen and may have been able to transport stones up to 10 miles per day. This method also has no lasting impact on the landscape, as the tracks with the ball bearings are moved along leap-frogging each other as the tracks get moved up the line.'
Although the tests do not prove for certain that the ball bearing method was used, they show 'the concept works', he said. He added: 'This is a radical new departure, because previous ideas were not particularly effective in transporting large stones and left unanswered questions about the archaeological record they would have left behind.'
The next stage in the project is to provide mathematical evidence of how much force would be needed to keep a stone moving. Ultimately, the scientists hope to conduct a full-scale experiment in Aberdeenshire using more authentic materials, stone balls and a team of oxen.
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