Weekend of celebration marks 100 years of Stonehenge belonging to the nation

A day of specially commissioned art and events will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Stonehenge being donated to the nation. 

English Heritage and the artist Jeremy Deller will mark 100 years since Stonehenge was donated to the nation with a day of celebrations at the ancient stones. Curated by Deller, Friday 26 October will be full of music and art, an inflatable Stonehenge, an anniversary tea party, as well as a few surprises. 

A hundred years ago, on 26 October 1918, local couple Cecil and Mary Chubb gifted Stonehenge to the nation. Thanks to their generosity, Stonehenge was saved, as prior to 1918 the monument was propped up with wooden poles and some of the stones were in danger of collapse. English Heritage’s predecessors, The Office of Works, restored many of the fallen stones and undertook a major programme of care and conservation which continues today under English Heritage. 

Weekend of celebration 

As part of the centenary celebrations, Friday 26 October 2018 will see the premiere of a new piece of music performed within the stone circle. Commissioned by English Heritage, the piece is a collaboration between Jeremy Deller, composer Matt Rogers, and the contemporary music ensemble, the London Sinfonietta. The piece for brass and percussion will be performed at intervals throughout the day.  

Another highlight will be the debut at Stonehenge of Sacrilege, Deller’s inflatable replica of Stonehenge. The artist describes Sacrilege as a light-hearted and playful way of visitors to “get reacquainted with ancient Britain with your shoes off”. Sacrilege has been loaned to English Heritage by The Store X Vinyl Factory, and will be outside the Stonehenge visitor centre from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 October.

The celebrations on Friday 26 October will also include an afternoon tea party at Stonehenge while every visitor that day will receive a special ticket designed by Deller. On the Friday evening, Deller will give a talk on art, archaeology and the ancient world at the Stonehenge visitor centre. 

A place of mystery and identity

To help support the conservation of Stonehenge and the other 400 plus historic sites in the care of the charity English Heritage (the majority of which are free to visit), Deller has produced a limited edition series of 100 Stonehenge-inspired prints. These signed and numbered prints will be available to buy at Stonehenge. 

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said:

“Stonehenge may be 4,500 years old but all this month and all this year, we’re celebrating the monument’s last 100 years. Cecil and Mary Chubb’s generosity saved Stonehenge and transformed it from a neglected ruin to a national treasure. Their gift started a programme of care and conservation for the ancient stones and the surrounding landscape, one that continues today.”

Jeremy Deller said:

“I'm happy to be helping English Heritage out on this celebration. I feel we are instinctively drawn to Stonehenge and similar places,  which  are such important but also mysterious constituents of our identity, to celebrate this gift to the nation is to celebrate the place itself.” 

As part of English Heritage’s year long programme marking the centenary, a new exhibition will open at the Stonehenge visitor centre on 12 October.

In partnership with the British Museum, Making Connections: Stonehenge in its Prehistoric World will feature stunning precious artefacts made between 4000BC and 800BC, from a jade axe to an elaborate gold neckpiece.

Visitors can explore the changing relationships between the British Isles and Europe over the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. 

Making Connections: Stonehenge in its Prehistoric World opens to the public on 12 October 2018 and will run until 21 April 2019. 

For further information, visit our Stonehenge 100 webpage. 

The Stonehenge centenary celebrations are sponsored by travel partner, South Western Railways. Book in advance for up to 50% off.

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