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.

Did you know about the Ramsgate Tunnels?

You didn’t. That doesn’t surprise me, as I didn’t either.

On our recent sojourn to the Isle of Thanet, basing ourseleves in Ramsgate, we took in many of the local tourist sites. One being a visit to the Ramsgate Tunnels, which were only a short walk from our hotel. What did surprise us was that the main entrance was almost on the beach.

Here’s a description of the history of the tunnels,

As the second World War approached, Ramsgate Borough Council embarked upon an ambitious, but controversial, plans to create a network of deep shelter tunnles linking to the former mail line railway tunnel which would provide shelter for 60,000 people. Despite initial resistance from government the paln was finally given the go-ahead and the network was foramlly opened by HRH The Duke of Kent on 1st June 1939. In the dark days of war part of the system evolved into an underground city with over 1,000 permanent residents.

The story of the wartime tunnels is told in splendid and fascinating detail by the guides in a tour of the tunnels. They served their purpose in saving lives, when on 24th August 1940 Ramsgate received more than 500 bombs dropped by Nazi aircraft in an air raid on Manston airfield. The tunnels have only been opened as a tourist attraction in recent years.

Here are photos of our visit.

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.

The Arts Society Camberely’s next lecture

The Arts Society Camberley has well-regarded and professional lectureeers to deliver talks in their lecture series. If you’re keen to listen to them, for visitors it’s just £10 per lecture [details below].

Their upcoming talk by Adam Busiakiewicz on Wednesday 22 May 2019 is entitled Robert Dudley: The Patronage and Collection of Elizabeth I’s Favourite.

Great places to visit: Brooklands Museum

On the lovely warm and sunny Easter Sunday we visited Brooklands Museum in Weybridge. Our verdict, lots of fun seeing the historic motor vehicles, aircraft, and London buses. We’ve been before, although we’ve not previously spent as much time with the aircraft exhibits, which are well presented, some in the new flight shed. Nor have we previously spent time in the London Bus Museum, equally as good as the other parts of Brooklands Museum.

There is always a variety of cars to see in the member’s enclosure. To drool over, for petrol heads like me, there were a couple of well presented old Bentley’s, and a Chevrolet Corvette in tip-top condition.

On our next visit, whenever that will be, we’ll take the Concorde Experience tour, and ride on a Routemaster London Bus. Here are a few photos of our visit.