Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Has the Stonehenge mystery been solved? New theory emerges for Britain's most famous prehistoric site

The World Heritage site could be "an ancient Mecca on stilts" according to Julian Spalding, an art critic and ex-director of some of the UK's top museums

It's been the subject of speculation for hundreds of years with theories ranging from stones flown from Ireland by Merlin to the work of the Devil.
Others claim Stonehenge is an astronomical calendar or a Druid temple.
But now a new theory has emerged that claims the prehistoric monument - one of Britain's most treasured sites and a World Heritage site - was “an ancient Mecca on stilts”.
The idea is that the mega stone structure, built between 3000 and 2000BC, would not have been used for religious ceremonies at ground level but instead propped up a huge circular platform.
Julian Spalding, an art critic and ex-director of some of the UK's top museums, argues for the existence of “a great altar” able to support hundreds of worshippers.
Aerial view of megalithic monument of Stonehenge
Treasured: Stonehenge is on the World Heritage List - Getty

He told The Guardian: "It's a totally different theory which has never been put forward before.
"All the interpretations to date could be mistaken. We've been looking at Stonehenge the wrong way: from the earth, which is very much a 20th-century viewpoint.
"We haven't been thinking about what they were thinking about."
Among the myriad of theories around the makings of Stonehenge is one that the Wiltshire stone circle is "a unique, possibly failed experiment".
Professor Ronald Hutton an expert on Paganism from Bristol University said one of the giant sandstone slabs had broken in two during construction, but that rather than throwing it away and crafting a new one, the builders simply "put one broken bit on top of the other broken bit, jammed a lintel on top and hoped they'd stay together.

Last September a hidden complex of monuments was found around Stonehenge using hi-tech methods of scanning below the Earth's surface.
The find, from a four-year study using subterranean scans, includes evidence of 17 wooden or stone structures and dozens of burial mounds, 6,000 years old.
Most of the monuments are merged into the landscape and invisible to the naked eye.
The four-year study, the largest geophysical survey ever undertaken, covered an area of 12 square kilometres and penetrated to a depth of three metres.
Last summer an outline of missing stones revealed by a drought showed that the monument was not left unfinished as some had believed, but was once a perfect circle.
Spalding, whose theory is detailed in a book released this week called Realisation: From Seeing to Understanding - The Origins of Art, has pointed to monuments constructed by ancient civilisations in China, Peru and Turkey where sacred circular monuments were built high up.

Original source and full article in the Mirror News paper:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A great week for stargazing

In the 1960s, archeologist Jacquette Hawkes famously said, “Every generation gets the Stonehenge it deserves — and desires.” It’s an appropriate statement even now, 50 years later, and given that vernal equinox occurs at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 20th, just a few hours after a total solar eclipse over the North Atlantic, it's timely to consider it again.
It's said that Stonehenge was built in order to observe and predict the various celestial phenomena that occur rhythmically throughout the year. Such phenomena guided centuries of human striving, and in ancient times, the knowledge of their occurrence was prerequisite to participating in the celebration of life’s most sacred mysteries. Archaeological findings confirm that this was true at Stonehenge, Chizen Itza, the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Greek Temple to Artemis, in the region of the megaliths of the Great Plains. Observance of the celestial phenomena from these sites was the right of the initiated, who then used these celestial moments for the practical purposes of establishing religious ceremony, civic organization, agricultural practice, funerary rites, even architectural form — all facets of human experience designed in accord with the harmony of the cosmos

Now, let's fast forward to the 21st century. How are the celestial phenomena observed and celebrated now? Taking equinox as an example, we find that the time and date of such a phenomenon is no longer determined by human beings observing the celestial environment from specific geographic locations on the Earth. Rather, astronomers use what is called an “International Celestial Reference Frame,” 200 extra-galactic points that are measured in order to determine the Earth-Sun positions relative to one another. These positions are calculated from points beyond or outside that relationship. Does this matter? In many ways it reflects our thinking about ourselves in our celestial system, as though because we no longer consider ourselves physically at the center, we are somehow outside of the system, looking at it without actively participating in it; somehow we are subject to its randomness, but are not held responsible for what we ourselves might be contributing to its ongoing nature.

The ancients believed that they must participate in the observable rhythms of a living universe, that they must find their way to the sacred places of the Earth and set aside time to honor its gifts and make a contribution in return. And while some of the methods through which these rites were performed are abhorrent to contemporary humanity, we might do well to consider the principle behind them. The ancients believed that each human being comes from a star. Astrophysicists today will say we are made of the exploded remnants of dead stars. These are totally different pictures, demonstrating the unique nature of the world chaos that humanity is confronted with from one age to the next, and as Hawkes stated, it reveals to us that we each get the Stonehenge we deserve.
Because the moon will be at new phase on equinox, this is a great week for stargazing. The barest crescent of the moon may be visible near the now-setting red planet Mars in the west one hour after sunset on Saturday, March 21. Just above them, and throughout the season, Venus blazes as our brilliant evening star, having recently appeared as close to Mars as possible — a scene that won't repeat again until late 2017. Venus is now making ready for an early summer encounter with Jupiter, and we can watch them from now until then, as they draw closer and closer together. This week, Jupiter can be seen nearing the heart star Regulus, in the constellation Leo, arcing from the east high up in the south these nights, while Saturn is visible in the morning sky, in the region of the Scorpion, where we find the red supergiant star Antares, which name means "rival of Mars." Antares is a brilliant star to the naked eye, as well as through binoculars or telescopes, flickering and flaring above the horizon, making it easy to understand cultural associations of this star with passion and intensity. As a supergiant, Antares is 10,000 times brighter than our sun.

After equinox, it appears as though the sun is moving in the northern celestial hemisphere, which means that the next full moon, April 4, which phase occurs when the moon arrives on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, will occur in the southern celestial hemisphere. This trading of places between sun and moon in the celestial horizon signaled to most northern hemisphere cultures that now the festivals of renewal could take place, be it the festival of the renewal of fire in the Asian tradition, the observance of the Passover in the Jewish tradition, or the festival of Easter in the Christian tradition. And this year, the vernal full moon as it is also known, will itself be totally eclipsed, just as the sun will be at vernal equinox. The lunar eclipse will be visible from Norther Michigan, starting in the 6 a.m. hour, and achieving totality at almost 8 a.m., half an hour after it has set for us.

Mary Stewart Adams is the program director (and resident stargazer) at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City. She is filling in for columnist Bryan Shumaker. Contact Adams
Mary Stewart Adams is the program director for Emmet County's International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, and can be heard each week on Interlochen Public Radio with her "Storyteller's Guide to the Night Sky," at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

Full article (source):

Click here2015 Stonehenge Spring Equinox Details

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Stonehenge Spring Equinox Access will be on Saturday 21st March 2015

English Heritage will welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Spring Equinox on Saturday 21st March.

The Spring Equinox at Stonehenge, England, United Kingdom is on Friday, 20th March 2015 @ 22:45 GMT, however as the astronomical timing is closer to midnight, managed open access will be on the next day (Saturday 21st March).  This will be from first light (approximately 05:45am) until 08:30am.

What are Equinoxes?As the Earth travels around the Sun in its orbit, the north to south position of the Sun changes over the course of the year due to the changing orientation of the Earth's tilted rotation axes. The dates of zero tilt of the Earth's equator correspond to the Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox.
Equinoxes occur when the axis of rotation of the earth (i.e. the line form the N to S poles) is exactly parallel to the direction of motion of the earth around the sun. This happens on just two days of the year, the spring and autumn equinoxes. This means that day length is exactly the same (12 hours) at all points on the earth's surface on these days (except right at each pole, where it will be about to change from permanent light to dark, or vice versa).
Where does the name Equinox come from?
The name is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because at the equinox the night and day are nearly equally long.
The Spring Equinox
The Spring Equinox is the first day of spring season and occurs when the sun passes the equator moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere. The North Pole begins to lean toward the sun again.
Day and night have approximately the same length.
Spring Equinox is near 20th March.

Equinoxes do not always occur on the same day each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years.
Why do the equinoxes not always occur on the same day each year?
The reason is due to the time the Earth takes to go around the Sun and our calendar.
The Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun, yet our year is 365 days. Every 4 years, we have a leap year where another day is added to our calendar to make up for the 4 missing quarters. It is important to do this so that there is not a gradual drift of date through the seasons.
For the same reason the precise time of the equinoxes are not the same each year.

Stonehenge Tour Guide