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Neolithic homes open at Stonehenge

A new housing estate opened today - but it's different - very different to normal. The homes were built using neolithic methods.

They've been put up outside the new Stonehenge visitor centre to give tourists an idea what life was like four thousand years ago. And the homes were built by a team of volunteers, as our Wiltshire correspondent Robert Murphy reports.

Neolithic houses open at Stonehenge today

The houses at Stonehenge Credit: ITV News West Country

Visitors to Stonehenge will be able to see what life was like for Neolithic people as five recreated houses open today.

The homes are based on buildings excavated nearby in 2006. They date back to the same time the stones were put up - around 2500 BC. English Heritage began building the replicas in February.

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Amesbury finds a new place in history

Last October's dig near Stonehenge uncovered a large haul Credit: Andy Rhind-Tutt

New research has confirmed that Amesbury in Wiltshire, has been continually occupied for every millennia since 8820BC making it the longest continuous settlement in the United Kingdom and this has been confirmed today by the Guinness book of Records.

The parish of Amesbury includes Stonehenge and the latest findings come after a dig last October funded by the University of Buckingham. It unearthed the largest haul of worked flints across the Mesolithic period ever found.

In just 40 days a 31,000 were uncovered in a 16 metre square area and more than 2,000 were found in one square metre – the largest concentration of such finds in Europe. Previously the largest number found in one location around Stonehenge was just 50.

Some of the flints discovered near Stonehenge last October Credit: Andy Rhind-Tutt
A sharpened flint and two Saxon coins found near Stonehenge Credit: Andy Rhind-Tutt

The archeologists working on the dig have concluded that this shows British settlers were behind the building of Stonehenge and not people from Europe as has been often suggested.

Stonehenge sees visitor numbers soar

Stonehenge is the most popular destination in the South West Credit: ITV News West Country

Visitor numbers to Stonehenge went up by almost 19% in the past year. More than 1.2 million people visited the site, which is the most popular destination in the South West. A new visitor centre was opened in December which aims to attract even more people this year.

Call for tunnel at Stonehenge to protect heritage status

There's been a fresh call for a tunnel on the A303 in Wiltshire to avoid traffic driving past Stonehenge.

MPs were told today that the landmark is in danger of being put on UNESCO's "at risk" register because it is so close to a busy trunk road.

Today the area's MP, John Glen, used a Parliamentary debate to call for a deep tunnel, similar to one scrapped in 2005, as a permanent solution to the problem.

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Stonehenge: "majority of feedback positive"

Managers at Stonehenge's new visitor centre say feedback has been "overwhelmingly positive", though they admit there have been "some issues."

The statement comes after the centre received a number of complaints about overcrowding and delays in the transport to the stones.

There has been huge interest in Stonehenge since the new visitor centre opened towards the end of December. On one day alone we welcomed 5000 visitors which is along the same levels as during our peak summer season.

This is a brand new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre, and naturally during these early days, there have been some issues. But we are solving them, we have increased our shuttle service taking people to the stones and from 1 February, our timed ticketing system will swing into place.

The majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, visitors have been fascinated by our new exhibition and love the sense that the stones are now reconnected with the wider landscape. We appreciate all the feedback we've received and we would ask people to be patient while we iron out the few remaining issues.

– Kate Davies, Stonehenge's General Manager

Stonehenge Visitor Centre criticised

Stonehenge's new visitor centre has teething problems Credit: ITV News West Country

Stonehenge's new visitor centre, which opened last month, has had a few teething problems. People have complained about overcrowding and delays for the transport to the stones.

Staff agree there have been problems but the shuttle service has been increased and a timed ticket system will be introduced next month.

More pictures from this morning's Winter Solstice

Ian Temple, Arch Druid of the Dorset Grove, dressed as the green man. Credit: Neil Munns/PA Wire
Chief Druid Arthur Pendragon leads the Winter Solstice service. Credit: Neil Munns/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Chief Druid Arthur Pendragon blesses four month old baby Jim held by father Dan. Credit: Neil Munns/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Chief Druid Arthur Pendragon leads the Winter Solstice service at Stonehenge. Credit: Neil Munns/PA Wire/Press Association Images
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