Stonehenge: images of straightening, re-erection, excavation and renovation

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire that is estimated to be over 5,000 years old.

What visitors see today is the product of archaelogical work to stabilise and re-erect the stones in the early part of the 20th Century, where for example in 1901 one of the sarsen stones and its lintel had fallen down, leading to the straightening of a large leaning trilithon.

Between 1919 and 1926 the south-eastern half of the monument was excavated and further work carried out to re-erect some of the stones, In the 1950’s further extensive excavation and renovation was carried out.

Thought you might like to see some images of these works. See these English Heritage document for more information on: the World War I Aerodrome, and Historic England reports, including one on Restoring Stonehenge.

Don’t miss visting the Royal Logistic Corps Museum before it closes on October 31st 2019

For 25 years the Royal Logistic Corps Museum has had its home in Deepcut. Along with the closure of Princess Royal Barracks, the museum is heading for a new home at Worthy Down Barracks near Winchester.

The Museum will close to the public on October 31st 2019, after which its contents will be progressively transferred to its new home, which is expected to open in spring of 2021.

If you haven’t previously visited the museum in Deepcut now is a good time to go. Here are a few photos I took of the museum last week.

British inventiveness: the invention of the pencil and steel pen nib

While idly scrolling through a Twitter feed I came upon this from Jill Rutter, Director of Strategy and Relationships @BritishFuture.

One of the likes on Jill’s tweet is mine. Meanwhile, I looked up both facts, and was mildly surprised that the modern pencil was invented in the UK. There’s a Pencil Museum in Keswick in the Lake District. This is taken from Quora,

Now about the steel pen nib, another piece of British inventiveness, about which I did know. There are numerous sources on the invention of the steel pen nib. I’ve chosen this one from The Journal Shop,

There’s museum for pen nibs. It’s the Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. I’ve not been to either museum, something I think I should correct.

September events: Start planning for your Heritage Open Days visits

It’s not too early to begin your planning for visits to places in the national Heritage Open Days. There are plenty of places to visit. We’ve enjoyed many of them, even events further afield, as sadly, the map only shows a couple of events in Surrey Heath. Click on map to visit the website.

Seeing what’s been hidden for over 40 years

At the beginning of July I wrote about our taking a mini-adventure to the Isle of Thanet and hopefully to see some sound mirrors up close.

How lucky we were, the weather was fine, and we saw much that was new to us. We based ourselves in Ramsgate, which has a busy little harbour, plenty of eateries, and has attractive regency and Victorian buildings that have so often been demollished elsewhere in the country.

One of the main items on our agenda was to visit the recently uncovered first World War sound mirrors on the White Cliffs near Dover.

Built as aircraft and airship early warning devices for coastal towns between 1915 and 1930, parabolic sound mirrors concentrate sound waves enabling detection of incoming enemy aircraft. They were developed from sound ranging experiments during WW1 to fix the postion of enemy gun batteries by plotting the sound of gunfire.  Many of the 20 or so sound mirrors survive being located in quiet and out-of-the-way places. They became redundant as the speed of aircraft increased such that the amount of early warning time became so small as to be of little benefit, and the arrival of the more efficient radar.

Two sound mirrors at Fan Bay near Dover were covered up by Kent County Council in 1970’s along with all evidence of adjacent three coastal gun batteries to rid the coast of unsightly redundant wartime buildings and tunnels. In 2012 the National Trust acquired a stretch of the White Cliffs coast and knowing that gun emplacement, searchights and tunnels existed at Fan Bay decided to open them as a tourist attraction. These are the photos of our visit to the Fan Bay Deep Shelter and Sound Mirrors. [More info about sound mirrors can be found HERE, and HERE and HERE].


Continuing my perambulations and thoughts on bowl barrows in Brentmoor Heath

On Thursday, a lovely dry day this week, I looked for the bowl barrow near the houses at New England, which the estimable Speedicus pointed to the Historic England record, in my article HERE].

In preparation for my investigation I printed the pages about the bowl barrow scheduled monument from the Historic England record. I also looked again at the 1930’s photo of the four bowl barrows, which I claim shows a fifth bowl barrow – see my article HERE. On reflection, I wondered why the archaeologist Leslie Grinsell hadn’t thought there were five bowl barrows when he studied the photo. My conclusion is that his interpretation is more likely to be correct than mine. More research needed by me.

Anyway, back to the bowl barrow at New England [see Historic England record HERE]. Here’s part of that record,

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods.

Although it has suffered from some subsequent disturbance, the bowl barrow at New England survives well and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction and original use.

The barrow has a roughly circular mound 16m in diameter and up to 1m high, partly disturbed by long term use of an east-west aligned public bridleway which crosses the monument. Surrounding the mound is a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was excavated. This has become infilled over the years but survives as a buried feature up to 2m wide. The northern side of the ditch has been partly disturbed by a deep depression, part of a modern sports cycling route.

Here are my photos of what I found. Must say that the bowl barrow is hardly recognisable as such. As a scheduled ancient monument it isn’t identified in the same way as the four bowl barrows.

Tower Bridge celebrates its 125th anniversary

On 30 June 1894 Tower Bridge was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales, making this year its 125th anniversary.

The City of London Corporation oversee the management of the bridge by Bridge House Estates. Events to celebrate the 125th anniversary can be viewed at

Discussions about the need to find a solution to the river crossing problem at the Pool of London began with the Special Bridge or Subway Committee in 1877.

Over 50 designs were submitted. It was not till 1884 that a design was approved. The proposed design by Sir John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones wsa for a [from Wikipedia] “bascule bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge’s upper walkways.”

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1885 authorising the bridge’s construction, specifying an opening span of 200 feet (61 m) and a headroom of 135 feet (41 m). Construction began in 1886 and took eight years to complete. The Portland stone and Cornish granite cladding were to protect the steel framework, and to give a pleasing and harmonious association to the adjacent Tower of London.

Looking at the bridge today it’s difficult to imagine how it was constructed. Photos taken during the construction shown how it was done. [Photos courtesy of Huffington Post, Wikipedia and Londonist].