Audit Office says Stonehenge tunnel benefits ‘uncertain’

20 05 2019

There are “risks and uncertainty” over a road tunnel near Stonehenge and its benefits are “inherently uncertain”, a scrutiny body said. (BBC NEWS)

a303

The government wants to build a tunnel past the monument as part of a £1.6bn plan to upgrade the A303.

However, the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the likely cost as £1.9bn, and says it “must deliver value for taxpayers”.

Highways England says the route will cut congestion and boost the economy

Work is due to begin in 2021 with an expected opening date of 2026.

The NAO estimates the project will only deliver £1.15 in benefits for every £1 spent.

Auditor General Amyas Morse said: “The tunnel at Stonehenge is currently only just value for money by the department’s own business case.

“Based on experience, project costs tend to grow rather than fall, at least in the early years.

“It will take a very special effort by the department to protect public value up to completion.”

The NAO also warned the project poses “geological and archaeological risks”, and said Highways England must ensure it can “support the project throughout its life”.

The government wants to build the tunnel to hide the busy A303, but opponents claim it could destroy archaeological treasures and scar the landscape.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) described the plans as “severely flawed” while The Stonehenge Alliance – a campaign group which includes archaeologists and environmental campaigners – said the work threatened the area’s “fragile archaeology”.

Highways England said the “vital route” would cut congestion and boost the economy, and would “restore the tranquil environment and setting of the monument”.

The Department for Transport said the road upgrade would “improve connections” with the rest of the country.

“Stonehenge is a site of significant historical value – we have worked closely with heritage groups, including English Heritage and Historic England, to ensure it is protected both during the upgrade of the A303 and in the long-term.

“Across the South West, we are investing £2 billion to improve roads, on top of £133 million for Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucester to introduce the MetroBus rapid public transport.”

A public consultation into the scheme ended in April 2018.

Highways England submitted a development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate in November.

The agency has set a six-month timetable in order to examine the proposals.

RELEVANT LINKS:
Stonehenge tunnel benefits ‘uncertain’ says Audit Office BBC NEWS
National Audit Office questions value of Stonehenge tunnel  THE GUARDIAN
Benefits of Stonehenge road tunnel scheme `uncertain´DAILY MAIL
DfT’s cost benefit methodology puts Stonehenge tunnel at risk SCIENCE TELLS
National Audit Office reports on the A303 and Stonehenge Tunnel HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

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Street Pastor Summer Solstice at Stonehenge Volunteer Call

2 05 2019

Street Pastor volunteers are once again being asked to patrol the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
This will be the 4th year in a row that Street pastors have cared, listened and helped at the event. The event will be taking place from Thursday the 20th of June until Friday the 21st of June. 

Stonehenge Solstice

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Sunrise Celebrations


The event will be split into two shifts, with the 1st shift from 5pm until approx 2am (with a mandatory onsite briefing at 5:15pm) and the 2nd shift from 12am until approx 9am (with a mandatory onsite briefing at 12:15am), although please note these timings are approx and may change slightly.

Working in partnership with English Heritage they will provide parking onsite and a hot meal for all volunteers.
English Heritage appreciate what Street Pastors bring to the event, especially our calm and reassuring presence. We are currently limited to having 20 volunteers per shift so it is important that if you wish to reserve your place on the team or if you have queries you need to Contact the event coordinator, Michael Weeks at chippenham@streetpastors.org.uk for an application form.

Deadline for applications is Friday the 17th of May

Visit the Ascension Trust Facebook Page for more details

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Get hands on with history at Stonehenge and help to move a 4-ton stone, similar to those used to build the stone circle. 12th – 16th April 2019

9 04 2019

MOVING AND RAISING A STONE: Friday 12th April – Tuesday 16th April 2019

Get hands on with history at Stonehenge and help to move a 4-ton stone, similar to those used to build the stone circle.  Using a hand-built sledge, and under expert supervision, visitors can experience for themselves just what it might have felt like to be involved in building Stonehenge.

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Using a hand-built sledge, and under expert supervision, visitors can experience for themselves just what it might have felt like to be involved in building Stonehenge

The experiment will run twice a day and lasts for approximately 45 minutes. It involves pulling the 4-ton stone on a hand-built sledge across a range of surfaces and around some obstacles to understand whether rollers, halved timbers or grass provides the most efficient surface and whether a sledge allows greater control of the stone.

On the final day of the experiment, Tuesday 16th April, English Heritage will attempt to move and then raise the stone into an upright position using an a-frame (and a lot of muscle power)!

All visitors are welcome to join in however, it is not recommended for people with back, arm, shoulder or knee injuries or pregnant women. Children must be supervised at all times by an adult.

English Heritage is hosting a full programme of events over the Easter holidays, giving visitors the opportunity to explore an element of prehistory that most interests them. The events are designed for all ages and reveal that our prehistoric ancestors were organised and skilled craftsman, using sophisticated techniques to craft natural materials and fibres into tools and essential everyday items, as well as luxury objects such as jewellery and grave goods.

Visit the English Heritage website for details on this and other events happening over the Easter holidays

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Hundreds of pagans and druids descend on Stonehenge to celebrate the 2019 Spring (Vernal) Equinox.

21 03 2019

Visitors headed to the famous 5,000-year-old stone circle in Wiltshire in the dark to ensure they got to see the sun rise. And they made the most of one of only four public annual events that allows people to get so close to the stones.


Big event: The equinox happens twice a year around March 20th and September 22nd, between the summer and winter solstices. On the equinox, day and night are nearly equal because the sun appears to rise before its centre is at the horizon

WHY CAN PAGANS AND DRUIDS GET SO CLOSE TO THE STONES FOR THE EQUINOX?

The famous Stonehenge circle is normally roped off to the public, but special access is granted four times a year.

This is only on the mornings of the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox.

English Heritage has ‘managed open access’, meaning the public can stand among the stones on these days.

Anyone can turn up on the day to get close to the stones, but people are asked not to touch or climb on them.

Organisers also have a ban on bringing glass bottles or pets onto the site and on playing amplified music.

Today Stonehenge was opened at 5.45am when it was deemed light enough to safely allow people into the field.

Visitors began to leave at 8.30am and then the area was opened to the paying public as normal at 9.30am

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Stonehenge feasters came from far and wide. New study unearths clues to Neolithic celebrations

15 03 2019

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain – with people and animals travelling hundreds of miles for prehistoric feasting rituals.

20170923_065342

Autumn Equinox Celebrations

Four sites close to Stonehenge and Avebury, including Durrington Walls, Marden, Mount Pleasant and West Kennet Palisade Enclosures hosted feasts which drew people and animals from all over the country.

A study examining the bones of 131 pigs from four Late Neolithic complexes show that the animals came from as far away as Scotland, the North East of England and West Wales, as well as other sites in Britain.

Archaeologists have found people travelled from Scotland, Wales and North England to take part in feasts at Stonehenge.

Researchers believe that those attending the feasts may have wanted to contribute animals raised locally at their homes.

Before this study, the origins of the people who took part in the rituals and the extent of the journeys people would take, have been a mystery.

Stonehenge was ‘hub for Britain’s earliest mass parties’

Study lead Dr Richard Madgwick from the University of Cardiff said: “These gatherings could be seen as the first united cultural events of our island, with people from all corners of Britain descending on the areas around Stonehenge to feast on food that had been specially reared and transported from their homes.”

Dr Madgwick said finding pigs in the vicinity of the feasting sites would have been “relatively easy” making the fact they brought the animals long distances “arguably the most startling finding” as this would have required “a monumental effort”.

“This suggests that prescribed contributions were required and that rules dictated that offered pigs must be raised by the feasting participants, accompanying them on their journey, rather than being acquired locally,” he said.

Related Stonehenge Links:

Study of pig bones shows Stonehenge feasters came from far and wide – SKY NEWS
Stonehenge was ‘hub for Britain’s earliest mass parties’- BBC NEWS
Prehistoric feasts at Stonehenge drew people from across Britain to gather – SALISBURY JOURNAL
Stonehenge mystery UNRAVELLED: DAILY EXPRESS
Neolithic Britons travelled across country for regular mass national feasts 4,500 years ago, new research claims – THE INDEPENDENT
Stonehenge-era pig roasts united ancient Britain, scientists say – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Ancient Brits ‘travelled to Stonehenge for raves’ – THE EVENING STANDARD

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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements 2018

1 12 2018

English Heritage will once again welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Sunrise is just after 8am on Friday 22nd December and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely. Please read the information below before planning your visit and visit the English Heritage website.  There will be a rare Full Moon on the Winter Solstice this year, the next occurrence will be in 2094

pendragon

Senior druid King Arthur Pendragon at Stonehenge. The winter solstice is considered more important than its summer counterpart as it marks the ‘re-birth’ of the sun

Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice is free and is subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please read these before deciding whether to attend.  Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet.  Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew and there may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential. Please note, parking charges apply.

DATE AND TIMES

Saturday 22nd December 2018

6am: Limited car parking opens

7.45am (approximately depending on light levels): Monument field opens

8.09am: Sunrise

10am: Monument field closes

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Winter Solstice for thousands of years and is seen by many as a sacred site.

English Heritage is pleased to provide free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice and ask that if you are planning to join us for this peaceful and special occasion that you read these Conditions of Entry and the information provided on the following pages before deciding whether to come.

Admission to the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.

Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines.  We have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for the protection of Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments.  If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.

These Conditions of Entry are written to ensure enjoyment and public safety for everyone.  Contravention of any of these conditions may result in entry being refused or your removal from Stonehenge.  English Heritage reserves the right to refuse entry.

  • Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and part of a World Heritage Site. It is seen by many who attend as a sacred place.  Please respect it and please respect each other.
  • Amplified Music is inappropriate and will not be permitted.
  • Drunken, disorderly, and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; ejection, by security staff and/or Police, without return, will be the outcome.
  • Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Illegal drugs are still illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else.  The police will be on site during the access period and will take immediate action against anyone breaking the law.
  • Glass is not allowed at the Monument as many people walk barefoot and, in addition, livestock and wildlife also graze in the area.  If you bring any glass items with you, they will be confiscated.
  • Do not climb or stand on any of the stones – this includes the stones that have fallen.  This is in the interest of personal safety, the protection of this special site and respect for those attending.  As well as putting the stones themselves at risk, climbing on them can damage the delicate lichens.
  • To help us reduce the amount of litter on site, leafleting or flyering is not allowed.
  • Camping, fires, Chinese lanterns, Fireworks, Candles, Tea-Lights or BBQs are NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the parking areas, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land.
  • Do not bring drones or any type of remote-controlled aircraft to Stonehenge.  There is a No Fly Zone in place over Stonehenge during Winter Solstice which makes it a criminal offense to attempt to fly anything over the stones below a certain height. The No Fly Zone includes drones. If you attempt to fly a drone from anywhere on site, including the Solstice Car Park, you will be stopped and asked to leave.

For further information about Managed Open Access for Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, please call English Heritage Customer Services Solstice Hotline on 0370 333 1181.

PLANNING YOUR JOURNEY

Parking for Winter Solstice is very limited and we cannot guarantee that there will be space in the two Winter Solstice car parks. We strongly recommend car sharing or using public transport.

  • Travel by Bus – Salisbury Reds buses will be running from 6am from Salisbury via Amesbury.

    Organised Tours – If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice celebrations you can join an organised tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company and offer guided tours and transport from London. Solstice Events offer small group Winter  Solstice Tours from Bath using local expert guides.

PARKING AND PARKING CHARGES

Limited parking is available in the Winter Solstice car parks, which will open at 6am on the 22 December.

Signs will direct you to the Solstice car parks – please ensure that you follow these.  If directed to parking away from the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, motorists will have access to Park & Ride transport to the Visitor Centre included in their parking charge.

We cannot guarantee entry to the car parks and recommend car sharing or coming by public transport as cars will be turned away when the car parks are full. Last year this happened at around 7am.  Please do not arrive early as there is no waiting on the roads in the area and you will be moved on.

  • £5 – General parking for cars, vans and live in vehicles
  • £2 – Motorbikes
  • £50 – Commercial minibuses (up to and including 16 seats)
  • £250 – Commercial coaches (17 seats and over). Commercial vehicles must pre-book via BookStonehenge@english-heritage.org.uk and terms and conditions apply.

Please note, car parking charges apply to all users of the Winter Solstice car parks, including Blue Badge holders, and members of English Heritage and National Trust.

The parking charge helps the charity cover the costs of providing additional staffing and lighting in the car parks and is designed to encourage people to car share or travel by bus.

Blue Badge parking

Parking for Blue Badge holders is available at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre Car Park. No pre-booking is required.  Visitors are asked to highlight their Blue Badge to stewards on arrival so that they can be directed to an appropriate parking space.

A shuttle will run from the Visitor Centre to the Monument and visitors with accessibility requirements will have priority.

COME PREPARED

  • Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet. Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew. There may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential.
  • There is at least a 30 minute walk in low light or darkness, from the Visitor Centre to Stonehenge itself.  You are strongly advised to wear strong, waterproof footwear, and to bring a torch with you.  A shuttle will run from the Visitor Centre to the Monument and visitors with accessibility requirements will hve priority.  All other visitors should be prepared to walk.
  • There are no catering facilities in the monument field; however the café at the visitor centre will be open for hot drinks and breakfast rolls from 6am.

Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details.

Relevant links:

Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access

Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present.

English Heritage Conditions of Entry

The Salisbury Reds special solstice shuttle service

For traffic, weather and other updates on the morning of the winter solstice, Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland @VisitWiltshire @DruidKingArthur @Wiltshirepolice for #WinterSolstice2018

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice you can watch our LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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Stonehenge Centenary Celebrations: 26th October 2018

23 10 2018

WEEKEND OF CELEBRATION MARKS 100 YEARS OF STONEHENGE BELONGING TO THE NATION

It’s been 100 years since Cecil and Mary Chubb gifted Stonehenge to the nation, allowing funding and care projects to begin to conserve the stones. Come and celebrate!

chubb-Stonehenge

For further information, visit the English Heritage Stonehenge 100 webpage.

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