The Stonehenge Landscape

8 09 2011

Stonehenge is the best known of all the prehistoric monuments in the British Isles and probably also in Europe. Along with the Neolithic monuments around Avebury situated 28km to the north, it forms a UNESCO recognised World Heritage Site (WHS), the parts of which are separated by the southern edge of the Marlborough Downs, Pewsey Vale and the Salisbury Plain military training area.

Much of the Avebury portion of the WHS, along with the military ranges, has been investigated from an archaeological landscape perspective during recent decades, as has the area to the south and west of the WHS, but ironically the Stonehenge area has not been treated in this way and it lacks the solid base of landscape surveys on which to build interpretations and understanding. The fresh Government-led imperative to ensure that new visitor facilities are in place by 2012 demands the provision of modern archaeological site plans, interpretations and other data which can feed into educational and presentational programmes as well as serving academic, management and conservation needs. 
Stonehenge Landscape

English Heritage are therefore undertaking an analytical landscape investigation of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. This draws upon the considerable existing work provided by excavation, aerial, metric and geophysical survey but it fills a gap in this suite because there has been no modern detailed survey of the earthworks and other upstanding historicphysical remains within the Site – the barrow cemeteries, field systems and linear ditches, but also the tracks, ponds and military remains of more recent date.

Consequently there are no adequate plans of most of the upstanding archaeological remains within the WHS and no synthesis of the landscape history, especially in regard to its medieval and post-medieval phases. Analytical earthwork survey and analysis,supported by aerial survey and lidar data, is the key to understanding landscape change and will provide the framework in which individual small-scale site specific interventions can rest. Recommendations for other work, eg geophysical survey or coring to explore the extent of buried land surfaces, may arise from this.

The knowledge gained from this project is needed to inform displays in the new Visitor Centre, but also to inform various ongoing management issues, such as visitor pressure, and animal burrowing. The requirements of the new Visitor Centre include the best possible visualisation of the stones and their environs; digital terrain modelling of the surrounding land surface will provide the latter while it is hoped that laser scanning of the former will complete the package
For further detaisl visit:

Sponsored by the Stonehenge Tour

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Website




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