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Wildlife


Weasil in England






Worcestershire


Worcestershire


Lake District


Lake District






Cornwall


Bodmin Moor Cornwall

Photos of Plymouth, UK


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Butter Cups, Cornwall


Virginia Creeper, Cornwall


Old Oaks, Cornwall


Restormal Castle, Cornwall

Stonehenge


Lower Slaughter, Gloucesteshire


Blue bells, Devon


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Respryn Bridge, Medieval


Broom and clapper bridge, Dartmoor


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English Landscape

English Landscape

Barn found at 'lost' medieval manor in Croxton Kerrial, Leicestershire

1933 video of Carnival parade in England

Encyclopedia 123 Encyclopedia 123 is made up of information from the late 1800s. when the British Empire was at its height, before airplane travel, before automobiles were common and before the western world had been battered by two world wars.






Stonehenge

People buried at Stonehenge 5,000 years ago came from far away, study finds WP 8/2/18 By Ben Guarino

Excavation of a pit at Stonehenge where human remains were buried. (Adam Stanford/Aerial-Cam)

The mysterious assemblage of 25-ton rocks at Stonehenge usually steals the show. But the ground beneath the stones holds secrets, too — 5,000 years ago, this patch of land in Wiltshire, in southern England, was a burial place. And some of the ancient human remains found at Stonehenge have unusually distant origins, according to a new archaeological study of cremated bones published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

The remains offer another line of evidence connecting Stonehenge to Wales, 140 miles away. A quarry in Wales is probably the source of Stonehenge's bluestones, so called because of their blue hue revealed when they are damp or broken. It is possible, the authors of the new study say, that people buried at the henge came from the same Welsh region.

Christophe Snoeck, a researcher at Vrije University in Belgium who specializes in archaeology and chemistry, helped lead the study of 25 people buried at Stonehenge and found that they were from distant lands. “Forty percent of the people who we analyzed could not have lived in Stonehenge for the last decade or so of their life,” Snoeck said.

A chemical analysis of their bones indicates that 10 of the 25 people were not locals. This was at a time when, before the invention of the wheeled transport, most people stayed within a few kilometers of their settlements, Snoeck said. “I know today everyone moves around, but we're talking 5,000 years ago,” he said.

The beginnings of this study can be traced to the 1920s, when archaeologists first excavated pits at Stonehenge called Aubrey holes, named after 17th-century natural philosopher John Aubrey. The archaeologists identified 58 Neolithic individuals in 56 Aubrey holes. But those archaeologists reburied bone fragments in a single hole, creating a jumble that Snoeck likened to a mess of ribs charred together in a post-barbecue fire.

After a team re-excavated the remains in 2008, Snoeck's co-author Christie Willis, at the University College London's Institute of Archaeology, began identifying individuals from the jumble. She was successful in 25 cases.

Snoeck, meanwhile, was developing a technique to identify the element strontium, a metal deposited in bedrock, within cremated remains. Plants absorb strontium from the soil. It accumulates in bones when people eat plants.

Archaeologists can detect different versions of strontium, called isotopes, preserved in tooth enamel. This gives researchers a sense of where deceased people lived. "The strontium is usually related to the underlying geology, and this gives us geographic information," said Jane A. Evans, an archaeologist at the British Geological Survey who was not involved with this research. Evans had previously mapped different strontium isotopes across Britain for this purpose.

But cremated remains were generally considered an archaeological dead end, too damaged to yield information. Teeth have a bad habit of exploding when bodies are burned, Snoeck said.

Yet he refused to accept that cremated remains were totally inscrutable. "Not being able to extract information from them was leaving too many blank pages in our history, in our past," Snoeck said.

For his PhD research, he developed a way to identify strontium in cremated bones from Northern Ireland. “Lots of people were telling me it's never going to work,” he said. But burned bones, as it turns out, crystallize and become compact like teeth. And, like teeth, Snoeck discovered, they also trap strontium.

Working on cremated bone "opens up a whole new area of study in adult migration that was not previously possible," Evans said. Strontium collects in tooth enamel formed in childhood; strontium in bones should give a snapshot of the last 10 to 15 years of a person's life.

When archaeologists sent Stonehenge remains to Snoeck's lab for another project, he jumped at the chance to apply his technique to them. The Wessex chalk beneath Stonehenge, which stretches for at least nine miles in every direction, has a very specific strontium profile. Ten of the people did not match that type.

Those Neolithic bones did, however, match the strontium isotopes found in Wales. The analysis cannot prove that Welsh people built the monument. But the archaeological dates of the remains are close to the period of early Stonehenge construction.

“This suggests it was not just the stones that were brought to Wiltshire," Evans said, "but there could have been a continuing link between the two areas."

Snoeck said he doubts that the people were cremated near Wiltshire. The archaeologists who first excavated the Aubrey holes identified impressions of organic containers — leather bags, probably — in the soil. It's more likely that travelers carried their deceased to this place, placing them to rest miles from home.

The archaeologist plans to study cremated remains in other countries. “They've been kind of forgotten and put aside. And I thought that was quite sad, because huge parts of the world” — especially in prehistoric Europe, but not just there — "people were cremated,” he said.

His next project, called CRUMBEL, will trace cremation throughout history in Belgium, from ancient practices to its abandonment under the influence of the Catholic Church, which relaxed its rules against cremation in 1963.

Move over, Stonehenge: Scientists just found a ‘superhenge’ next door WP By Rachel Feltman September 8, 2015


We've all heard of Stonehenge, even if most of us aren't quite sure what a henge is. But it turns out that the mysterious ancient monument may have been dwarfed by a nearby contemporary. Scientists working with the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project have discovered evidence of a massive henge just two miles away. Here's a visual reconstruction for scale:

“We don’t think there’s anything quite like this anywhere else in the world,” Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford, one of the project's lead researchers, said at the British Science Festival on Monday. “This is completely new and the scale is extraordinary.”

Superhenge video

The 100-odd stones, which were discovered using ground-penetrating radar technology, sit beneath three feet of earth and are thought to be 4,500 years old -- roughly the same age as the more famous henge down the road. The new find sits beneath a henge known as Durrington Walls, a previously discovered, younger "superhenge" thought to once be one of the largest settlements in Europe, spanning a space five times larger than Stonehenge.


While some of the stones are only known by the depressions they left behind, others are still buried. The researchers believe the stones may have been deliberately toppled over at the time that Durrington Walls was constructed. Some of the stones are as tall as 15 feet.

Scientists still aren't exactly sure what purpose Stonehenge served. Was it a sacred space, for rituals and religious celebrations? Was it some kind of astronomical calendar? An elite burial ground? As the structures grow more and more common, our theories may have to change.

An illustration shows Durrington Walls, the location of the superhenge, at the upper right and Stonehenge near the center. Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project/LBI ArchPro)

"Everything written previously about the Stonehenge landscape and the ancient monuments within it will need to be rewritten," Paul Garwood, an archaeologist and lead historian on the project at the University of Birmingham, told CNN.

Envisioning an even bigger Stonehenge: New maps reveal 17 previously unknown structures at the site of the British monument WP By Sarah Kaplan September 12, 2014

Stonehenge video in article

Today, the word “Stonehenge” evokes an image of an eerie stone circle standing alone on a windswept plane.

But new digital maps show the prehistoric monument didn’t always look that way. Those 24-foot-tall, 90,000-pound blocks we still find so impressive were actually part of a much larger complex of shrines — including an even-larger “super henge” nearly half a kilometer in diameter.

Using magnetometer readings, ground-penetrating radar surveys and 3D lasar scans, researchers were able to map 17 previously unknown structures that were once neighbors to Stonehenge. (Courtesy of Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archeological Prospection and Virtual Archeology)

The maps, which were published Wednesday, were composed using magnetometer measurements, ground-penetrating radar surveys and 3D laser scans by researchers at the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project.

“It was like a large archaeological, geophysical circus come to town,” says project co-leader Vincent Gaffney, an archaeology professor at the University of Birmingham. “We had tractors pulling magnetometers, bikes, everything.”

Driving this machinery across the field surrounding Stonehenge, archaeologists were able to “see through” the ground to detect traces of what once had been. Those traces appear as smudges on the landscape, looking more like microscope images of amoebas than the remains of a giant stone shrine.

Magnetometers like the one being driven here by a member of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project team are used to “see through” the ground to detect traces of ancient structures that once stood there. – of Geert Verhoeven/LBI for Archaeological Prospection & Virtual Archaeology)

But Gaffney says that the use of multiple technologies let his team “squeeze the majority of information that is available” out of the landscape. And from a series of grainy images, archaeologists were able to reconstruct 17 distinct structures spanning an area the size of 1,250 soccer fields.

Among the new finds are prehistoric pits that form “astronomical alignments,” a timber structure predating Stonehenge in which bodies of the dead were ritually “defleshed” (creepily, the term means exactly what you think it does) and of course, the “super henge” at nearby Durrington Walls, believed to be the largest stone circle in the world.

The discoveries should change the way we think about the area around Stonehenge, Gaffney says. Far from an isolated monument amid a desolate landscape, the maps paint a picture of a bustling complex, complete with ponds, boundary ditches, and smaller sub-chapels clustered around the main stone circle. He envisions the area as part of an ancient procession route — one to which England’s prehistoric residents might have flocked 4,000 years ago.

But largest gathering for which the magnetometers found archaeological evidence is a bit more recent.

“During the free festivals of the 1980s, people dropped bottle caps everywhere,” Gaffney says, laughing. “It’s just a mass of little metal specks with the magnetometers.”

“But how do you see crowds like that in a period when people didn’t drop metal like that? The place could have been heaving and you’d never know,” he added.


Send comments to co@dadbyrn.com, Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus