Stonehenge theory called into question


New research has revealed that the stones used to build Stonehenge “definitely” came from Wales, after new findings categorically linked some of the monument’s stones – rhyolites – to Pont Saeson in Pembrokeshire. However, the discovery now calls into question the established theory that Stone Age man transported the giant slabs via raft up the Bristol Channel and River Avon, since Pont Saeson lies north of the Preseli Mountains – experts believe it is unlikely that the massive slabs of rock could have been transported across the difficult terrain.


Writers’ London graveyard granted listed status

Bunhill Fields cemetery in central London, the final resting place for some of England’s greatest writers, has been granted Grade I protected status by English Heritage. Among those buried there are Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, John Bunyan, who wrote the famous Pilgrim’s Progress, and poet William Blake, who penned the words to the much-loved hymn Jerusalem.

Scott’s marine samples offer climate clues

Samples of marine creature Cellarinella nutti, a tiny animal resembling a branching twig, collected during Captain Scott’s trips to the Antarctic between 1901–1904 could be valuable in predicting changes in climate, according to scientists studying the creature. Comparing the growth of the animal in the early 1900s with modern samples, scientists have shown that its growth has increased in recent years, indicating that more carbon dioxide is being locked away on the ocean bed.

Campaign underway to save London workhouse

Campaigners fighting to save the 18th-century Strand Union workhouse in Fitzrovia, London, are celebrating what they believe to be a “major milestone” after claiming an English Heritage report acknowledges the building’s “historical and architectural” contribution to the city. Campaigners are fighting to save the building, which some believe was the inspiration for Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and have called to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to list the building and prevent it from being demolished.
You can read more about the history of the workhouse system, and the Strand Union workhouse, in our Where History Happened feature.

Egyptian museums reopen to visitors

Many museums and historical sites in Egypt have reopened to visitors following their closure during the recent civil uprising in the country. Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, which houses Tutankhamun’s golden death mask and stands on Tahrir Square, the focus of the unrest, had some of its precious artefacts damaged or stolen, but has opened its doors to tourists once more.


Tapestry saved from hungry moths

An 18th-century tapestry at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire has been saved from hungry moths by being subjected to temperatures of -30ºC for several months. Larvae were spotted on the embroidery while it was being cleaned, but the French tapestry, which depicts a stately home, gardens, birds and flowers, is now back in place ready for the house’s opening on 2 March.


Unpublished novel discovered amongst Blyton manuscripts

An unpublished and unknown novel written by late children’s author Enid Blyton has been discovered in a collection of manuscripts. The novel follows the adventures of Mr Tumpy and a caravan with feet and a mind of its own, and was initially thought to have been compiled using comic strips published in the London Evening Standard in the 1940s, but Blyton’s youngest daughter, Imogen Smallwood, claims the story is very different.

Highland painting could fetch £70,000

A painting by Oxford-born artist Winifred Nicholson, created at the former home of Ring of Bright Water author and naturalist Gavin Maxwell could fetch as much as £70,000 at auction in March. Nicholson, who died in 1981, painted Sea Treasures using the view from a window of Maxwell’s property in Sandaig in the Highlands.


Campaign to rename 10 Downing Street

A campaign is currently underway to rename 10 Downing Street after 17th-century Buckinghamshire parliamentarian John Hampden who, among other things, was imprisoned in 1627 for refusing to pay a forced loan demanded by King Charles I. The John Hampden Society wants to rename the prime minister’s abode Hampden House, after Hampden who, for many, was seen as a defender of liberty during the English Civil Wars. Ten years ago the society’s request to rename the entire road Hampden Street was declined.
You can read more about the English Civil Wars and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the March issue of BBC History Magazine – on sale from 1 March.