What are the issues surrounding the proposed Stonehenge Tunnel?

28 01 2020

The Stonehenge tunnel is a proposed tunnel or sunken dual carriageway drawn up by Highways England to upgrade the A303 road, which currently passes within 165 meters of Stonehenge. Beginning with the closure of the A344 road, the Stonehenge tunnel would complete the removal of traffic from around the site by redirecting the A303 under Stonehenge. The project aims on one hand to improve the landscape around the monument, freeing tourists from traffic that detracts from the ancient wonder of the site and on the other improving the safety on the A303, resulting in smoother travel for anyone travelling to and from the south-west of England.

Stonehenge Tunnel

When it comes to the initiation and completion of this project there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel.

The proposed tunnel already has a long history of both bureaucratic and archaeological issues. Way back in 1995 was the first time it was proposed to build a tunnel for the A303 underneath the World Heritage Site. However, it did not take long for plans to be criticised for seemingly disregarding the archaeological significance of the Wessex landscape. It was suggested that the tunnel approach would cut in to a prehistoric track way between Stonehenge and a nearby river, resulting in the loss of archaeological remains which would harmfully affect the authenticity of the site and more than cancel out the benefits of the proposed tunnel. After years of bureaucratic wrangling the proposal was finally accepted by the Government on 12 January 2017. Today, the tunnel remains mired in controversy and the arguments against it haven’t changed much since the idea’s inception in 1995. The main issues with the proposal seem to be its staunch opposition from several parties, the complexity of the job and its price.

Opposition

The staunchest opposition to the tunnel is represented by the Stonehenge Alliance campaign group ‘a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site’. This group includes environmentalists, archaeologists, residents and have recently repeated their belief that the proposed tunnel “would cause irreparable damage to the landscape”. They believe that the world heritage site of Stonehenge should be considered far wider than the barrow on which the stones stand:

The whole site, extending to beyond the horizons around the famous stones themselves, is c. 5.4 km across. All of it makes up a “huge ancient complex” that holds many secrets yet to be discovered. Yet the proposal is for a 2.9km (1.8 mile) tunnel… would result in at least 1.6 km of above-ground 21st-century road engineering…

All archaeology in the construction zones would be destroyed and the A303 would become the largest ever human intervention in an area fashioned and revered by over a hundred generations of our ancestors.

Cost

In 2018 Highways England proposed a cost of £1.6 billion and a planned start date in 2021 was indicated with the tunnel’s planned opening being in 2026. Unsurprisingly, this cost has created yet more opposition in both the commons and amongst the general public especially since the project was due to be privately funded, but now will be funded publicly since the government dismissed a ‘PFI financing model’ in the 2018 Budget.

Complexity

To protect the landscape, the plans are ambitiously complex. Not only is the job of sinking a dual carriageway a complex starting point but the project also proposes:

  • Four “green bridges” for wildlife to cross the dual carriageway.
  • Restoring areas of chalk grassland at Yarnbury Castle on Berwick Down through to the south of Parsonage Down national nature reserve.
  • 100ha of new chalk grassland to promote biodiversity in the area.
  • A viaduct at the River Till
  • Moving the junction between the A303 and A360 600m west

Adding a bureaucratic layer to the complexity is the fact that  all UK tier 1 contractors have refused to bid the job believing the current approach to be too complex with its shallow tunnel, complex geology, rabid opposition,  and huge public scrutiny because of both the cost and the environmental concerns.

Of course, all these issues are interlinked. The complexity of the job is a demanded by the opposition to protect the natural beauty of the area, but the complexity pushes up the price and then the price creates yet more opposition. It seems to be a vicious cycle. When it comes to the initiation and completion of this project there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel.

Stonehenge Tunnel Relevant Links:

The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge. Stonehenge News Blog

Stonehenge Alliance calls for A303 tunnel to be scrapped in open letter to government. Salisbury Journal

Ministers do battle over £2billion Stonehenge tunnel. Daily Mail

Treasury pushes for £2bn Stonehenge tunnel to be axed. Financial Times

Reuniting the Stonehenge landscape and improving your journey. English Highways

Stonehenge and the A303 Joint Response. English Heritage

Stonehenge A303 Road Improvement Scheme. Historic England

A group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The Stonehenge Alliance

Stonehenge tunnel ‘at risk’ due to funding uncertainty. Construction News

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2020 Stonehenge Full Moon Dates

9 01 2020

Was it a Neolithic calendar? A solar temple? A lunar observatory? A calculating device for predicting eclipses?
Or perhaps a combination of more than one of these? In recent years Stonehenge has become the very icon of ancient astronomy, featuring in nearly every discussion on the subject. And yet there are those who persist in believing that it actually had little or no connection with astronomy at all.

Stonehenge is situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the Landscape occupies a large, sparsely populated area ideal for stargazing.   These dark skies provide the perfect environment to see the stars in all their detail, so why not organise a night-time trip to see what you can discover?

Stonehenge Full Moon

Full Moon setting over Stonehenge. Photo credit to Stonehenge Dronescapes

FULL MOON 2020
January 10th  2020:  Full Wolf Moon
February 9th 2020: Full Snow Moon
March 9th 2020: Full Worm Moon
April 8th 2020: Full Pink Moon
May 7th 2020: Full Flower Moon
June 5th 2020: Full Strawberry Moon
July 5th 2020: Full Black Moon
August 3rd 2020: Full Sturgeon Moon
September 2nd 2020: Full Corn Moon
October 1st 2020: Full Hunters Moon
31st October 2020: Full Blue Moon
November 30th 2020: Full Beaver Moon
December 30th 2020: Full Cold Moon

Stonehenge is one of the most impressive and best known prehistoric stone monuments
in the world. Ever since antiquarians’ accounts began to bring the site to wider attention
in the 17th century, there has been endless speculation about its likely purpose and meaning, and a recurring theme has been its possible connections with astronomy and the skies.

Stonehenge sky visible around the world.
Enjoy a personal Stonehenge sky all year round, thanks to a new live feed of the sky above the ancient monument.
The live feed gives us a chance to see the sky above Stonehenge from within the monument, whenever you like. On the website, we can gaze at the sky above the stone circle and track the path of other planets in our solar system.
You can visit the website at any time of the day or night to see what it’s like inside the stone circle, with 360 degree views.
Experience it for yourself at www.stonehengeskyscape.co.uk

Related links:
2020- Lunar Phases
2020 Astro Moon Calendar shows phases of the Moon each day, astronomical events and astrological forecast for the year.
Stonehenge and other stone monuments were probably used for special moonlit ceremonies.
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.
Stonehenge Dronescapes. Amazing photos of Stonehenge. Visit the Facebookpage
Stonehenge Dronescapes YouTube channel

The Stonehenge News Blog
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http://www.Stonehenge.News





2020 Stonehenge Opening Hours, Entry Prices and Tickets.

4 01 2020

Stonehenge Opening Times and Entrance Prices.
English Heritage advise to expect a visit to last around two hours. Please see the table below for opening times for 2020, with some seasonal variability, and entrance prices for adults, children, families, seniors and groups.

The Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The English Heritage Visitor Centre at Stonehenge is located 2 kilometers from the monument. This is your entry point to Stonehenge and the place where you pick up your tickets, souvenir guides and optional audio guides. The new Visitor Centre also offers a modern exhibition with prehistoric objects on display, and a spacious café and gift shop. A Stonehenge shuttle transports you between the Visitor Centre and Stonehenge (included in your ticket price).

If you come by car you will park in the car park outside the visitor centre. It is free for people purchasing tickets to enter Stonehenge, there is a charge if you are not. Tour buses have their own separate coach park.

All Members of English Heritage or National Trust must show a valid membership card on arrival to be granted free parking and site access.

To enter the Stonehenge Exhibition at the Visitor Centre you need a full ticket to Stonehenge, anyone can access the café, gift shop and toilets though, for free.

Very Important!  Book Your Stonehenge Tickets in Advance 
To be assured of entering Stonehenge the best way is to reserve timed tickets in advance on the English Heritage web site or if you need more flexibility and without the time constraint you can purchase discount advance Stonehenge tickets here

Tickets to Stonehenge are booked by half hour time slot, the website showing you how many tickets are still available for your chosen date and time.

Note: you cannot reserve tickets on-line on the day of your visit, you must reserve before midnight latest on the day before. Only a very small number of tickets are held back each day for walk-up visitors.

Note: the last admission time is two hours before closing time of Stonehenge. Closing times are variable according to month of the year (see below)

Stonehenge Admission & Opening From 1st January 2020 – October 2020

1st JANUARY 2020 – 31st MARCH 2020

Monday 9:30 – 17:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 17:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 17:00
Thursday 9:30 – 17:00
Friday 9:30 – 17:00
Saturday 9:30 – 17:00
Sunday 9:30 – 17:00

1st APRIL 2020 – 31st MAY 2020

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

1st JUNE 2020 – 31st AUGUST 2020

Monday 9:00 – 20:00
Tuesday 9:00 – 20:00
Wednesday 9:00 – 20:00
Thursday 9:00 – 20:00
Friday 9:00 – 20:00
Saturday 9:00 – 20:00
Sunday 9:00 – 20:00

1st SEPTEMBER 2020 – 15th OCTOBER 2020

Monday 9:30 – 19:00
Tuesday 9:30 – 19:00
Wednesday 9:30 – 19:00
Thursday 9:30 – 19:00
Friday 9:30 – 19:00
Saturday 9:30 – 19:00
Sunday 9:30 – 19:00

16th OCTOBER 2020 ONWARDS
Opening times will be available nearer the time

Stonehenge Admission & Opening From 1st January 2020 – October 2020

Admission

Opening Times

Adult

£20.90

16 Mar – 31 May

09.30 – 19:00

Child (5-15)

£12.60

1 Jun – 31 Aug

09.00 – 20:00

Students/Seniors *

£18.90

1 Sep – 15 Oct

09.30 – 19:00

Family Ticket †

£54.40

16 Oct – 15 Mar

09.30 – 17:00

For more information please visit the official English Heritage website.  If you are looking to book a tour of Stonehenge, we recommend using Stonehenge Guided Tours

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