Did you know April 18th is World Heritage Day?

18 04 2018

World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.  Stonehenge and Avebury was inscribed onto the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1986, along with 6 other sites in the UK. 

Stonehege World Heritage Site

Over the past 3 decades there have been a number of achievements by the many partners who share in the protection and enhancement of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

These include:

  • Around 750 ha of agricultural land in WHS have been reverted to pasture with a great deal of support from Defra/Natural England. Not only does this help to protect fragile archaeological remains but has also had the benefit of enhancing biodiversity.
  • A huge amount of archaeological research has revealed more about the landscapes of the WHS and expanded our knowledge and understanding of the Site
  • Silbury Hill was stabilised and conserved in 2007, making good the work undertaken by antiquarians of the 18th and 19th centuries and archaeologists of the mid 20th century alike.
  • In 2012 the Site was able to fulfil the UK Government’s commitment made at the time of inscription to close the A344 right next to the Stones at Stonehenge
  • A new award winning Visitor Centre opened at Stonehenge in 2013 and now receives over 1.3million visitors per year.Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO
  • The governance of the WHS was strengthened with the creation of a Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Coordination Unit in March 2014 and the creation of a WHS Partnership Panel to oversee the work of the two parts of the WHS in February 2014.
  • In May 2015, Stonehenge and Avebury WHS produced their first joint Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Management Plan

More information can be found about the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site on the website www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org/

What are World Heritage Sites?

World Heritage Sites are cultural and natural sites of international importance described by UNESCO as being of Outstanding Universal Value. They represent the common heritage of the international community. On signing the World Heritage Convention, governments pledge to protect and present their Sites for this and future generations.

UNESCO grants the prestigious World Heritage Site status to sites that meet its strict international criteria. Today there are over 1,000 World Heritage Sites including the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Amazon River Basin.

The UNESCO website provides more information on World Heritage Sites across the globe. You can find out more about Britain’s World Heritage Sites on the UNESCO  website.

Some historians and campaign groups are warning Stonehenge could have its famous World Heritage status taken away if the Government builds a tunnel underneath it – click here

Visit the English heritage website to find out more and book tickets. The best way to experience Stonehenge, understand its construction and hear about all the theories is to have a Tourist Guide explain it all on a Stonehenge Guided Tour

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A tunnel past Stonehenge will be dug largely along the route of the existing A303, the government has announced.

12 09 2017

Stonehenge tunnel route altered to protect winter solstice view

Previously it was planned to go south of the stones but there were concerns this would intrude on the view of the setting sun at the winter solstice.

How Stonehenge could be viewed if the tunnel is built

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage said “if designed with care”, this would “restore peace and tranquillity” to the landscape.

But campaign groups have called for a “complete rethink” to the plan.

They fear the work will mean the area will lose World Heritage Status after Unesco, the organisation that decides on such sites, said the tunnel should be “reconsidered”.

Unesco has previously backed the option for a bypass to be built.

What is new in this plan?

  • A tunnel that is “at least” 1.8m (2.9km) long beneath the World Heritage site
  • The western tunnel entrance will move 50 metres further away from the stones
  • A new bypass to the north of Winterbourne Stoke
  • A new flyover at the Countess Roundabout – on the eastern side of the tunnel
  • Junctions to the A345 and A360 at either end of the tunnel

Read the full story in on the BBC NEWS website

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The Knotty Problem of the A303 and Stonehenge.

16 03 2017

For over 30 years people have been trying to come up with a solution to the problem of the A303 road that runs past Stonehenge. It’s a stretch of single carriageway road with a dual carriageway at either end. As a result it’s a traffic bottleneck, especially during holiday season, and people slow down to take a picture of Stonehenge as they drive by.

A number of options have been proposed – from upgrading the single carriageway road into a dual carriageway on the existing route, to a tunnel to hide an upgraded road from view. Tunnels have been suggested that range in length from 2km to 4.5km constructed either as “cut and cover” or “bored”.

Over 50 alternate routes – some that take the road entirely out of the World Heritage Site – have been put forward, so many that the map showing them all is called the Spaghetti Diagram.

A303routes
Most recently, a 2.9km long bored tunnel has been proposed which would run about 200m south of the existing A303. The tunnel would be below the archaeological layer, well away from Stonehenge itself and remove the view, noise and fumes of traffic from the immediate vicinity of the monument.

You’d think everyone would be delighted. They’re not.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) runs from the A345 road in the east to the A360 road in the west, a distance of 5.4km. A tunnel of 2.9km clearly isn’t long enough to span its entire width, and this means that the tunnel portals must be dug into the ground within the WHS itself.

On top of that, new lengths of road and new junctions must also be built within the WHS – at the western and eastern end of the tunnel – to link up with the existing roads.

When the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS was inscribed in 1986 they were recognised as Cultural Sites. At the time, there was no designation of “Cultural Landscape” but the inscription said:

Criterion (iii): The complexes of monuments at Stonehenge and Avebury provide an exceptional insight into the funerary and ceremonial practices in Britain in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Together with their settings and associated sites, they form landscapes without parallel.

The proposal to destroy large areas of the Stonehenge landscape with new roads and tunnel portals is what has upset a lot of people.

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group that represents the views of a number of organisations, their view is that the tunnel is too short and would cause “irreparable damage to the WHS”.

SA Leaflet

ICOMOS is an important heritage advisory group to UNESCO and it firmly objects to the current option for a 2.9km tunnel for the substantial negative and irreversible impact it would have on the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the World Heritage site (WHS) of Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated sites.”

A group of 21 leading archaeologists who have worked in the Stonehenge landscape over decades says that the proposal has dreadful consequences for the world’s most famous archaeological site and its landscape setting.

The list of objecting organisations goes on and on – the Council for British Archaeology, the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, the Prehistoric Society, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Society of Antiquaries, the International Astronomical Union Commission on Heritage and Astronomy….

The National Trust, English Heritage and Historic England have also expressed very strong concerns over the positioning of the western portal and its approach road.

Historic England said The current location is very close to the Normanton Down barrow cemetery, one of the best preserved and most significant Neolithic and Bronze Age cemeteries in the UK. The portal would certainly have a significant adverse impact upon the setting of this barrow group and upon the OUV of the WHS.

The National Trust’s chief archaeologist for the WHS says, in an appendix to the Historic England report, The western portal is very close to the Normanton Down Barrow Group while both surface routes have adverse visual and aural impacts on the surrounding Winterbourne Stoke, Normanton Down, Lake and Diamond Groups (nearly a quarter of the identified key attribute groups).

The proposal actually places the western tunnel portal directly on the Winter Solstice Sunset line as seen from Stonehenge, and the new road leading away from it runs along this alignment.

Western Portal Trenching SMR Montage

Astronomers have viewed this idea as absolutely crazy.

Prof. Clive Ruggles, a leading archaeoastronomer and key figure in the interpretation of astronomical sightlines of ancient monuments across the world says there are serious concerns that the integrity of the SW sightline from Stonehenge could be permanently destroyed, eliminating forever the possibility of visitors to Stonehenge once again seeing the winter solstice sun setting behind the distant natural horizon along the axis of the monument.

The public consultation for the initial route proposals finished on the 5th March 2017. Highways England now have several months of work ahead of them to refine their proposal to take into account the more than 7,000 submissions they’ve received so far.

Local residents, holidaymakers and hauliers have suffered traffic problems along the A303 for over 30 years, so a solution that speeds up traffic is desperately sought by Government.

What’s crucial to bear in mind is that whatever solution is implemented, unless a route entirely outside the WHS is found, it will have a permanent impact on the setting of one of the most important landscapes in the world, and that we all have a responsibility to the future not to make a terrible mistake.

Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

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Stonehenge celebrates 30 years of ‘World Heritage’

19 11 2016

English Heritage is celebrating 30 years of World Heritage Site status for Stonehenge this weekend.

To launch the 30th Anniversary celebrations, students from local Stonehenge School and Avon Valley College are today unveiling a special plaque highlighting the World Heritage Site status of the iconic Wiltshire monument.

whsstream

Thousands flock to the site for summer solstice every year. Photo: ITV West Country

n 1986 Stonehenge and Avebury were among the first seven sites in the UK to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

World Heritage Site status gives Stonehenge and Avebury international recognition alongside sites such the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Galapagos Islands as a place of exceptional importance to all humanity.

I am really pleased to be asked to help unveil the plaque at Stonehenge. World Heritage status is important because it means that a place is valuable to everyone, from all over the world and we must all look after it well so that everyone in the future can enjoy and understand it too.

– ERIN GALLAGHER,YEAR 9 STUDENT FROM AVON VALLEY COLLEGE

On 19th and 20th November, 30 Goody Bags will be given out at random; 30 Golden Tickets will be hidden around the site and every visitor will receive a special souvenir postcard.

Kate Davies, English Heritage General Manager of Stonehenge, said:

“This year we are celebrating thirty years of World Heritage status and we are excited to be joined by local schools as part of the Kids Takeover day, as we unveil a World Heritage Site plaque and launch our special 30th Anniversary weekend.

” Young people are the future guardians of our heritage, and it is fantastic to see that our local young community are so interested in learning about Stonehenge and what it means to have a World Heritage Site, one of 30 in the UK, on their doorstep.”

Visit the English Heritage Website for more information

Article source (ITV NEWS)

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UNESCO report backs Stonehenge tunnel plans

5 05 2016

Plans to build a tunnel under Stonehenge have been welcomed in an influential report.

303-road

The A303 past Stonehenge is a highly congested route

The report by UNESCO and the International Council on Monuments and Sites recognised the benefits the 1.8m (2.9km) project.

In 2014 the government announced it would commit to building a tunnel, removing the A303 from the landscape.

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage also support the plans.

The report highlighted the scheme’s potential to become a “best practice case” for a World Heritage Site.

It said the scheme must “both protect the outstanding universal value” of the site and also “benefit road users”.

303congestion

At the moment the congested A303 cuts through the middle of the area.

Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust, said the report “recognises the unmissable opportunity” the government’s road improvement scheme offers to address “the blight of the existing A303”.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, welcomed the report but said “sensitive design” would be needed.

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, added: “Provided that it is designed and built in the right way, a tunnel would reunite the wider landscape around the ancient stones, helping people to better understand and enjoy them.”

FULL STORY: UNESCO report backs Stonehenge tunnel plans – BBC News

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Experience Sunrise at Stonehenge 2nd March. #Periscope Drone Live Stream

28 02 2016

LIVE! Catch the sunrise at Stonehenge. With Dan Snow #Dronehenge #Periscope.

Stonehenge is a magical place to be, steeped in mystery and History. We’re delighted that English Heritage have given us special access to film from this ancient stone circle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Live on March 2nd from 6 am. The sunrise is at 6:50 am GMT.

dronehenge

How do we let people, a lot of people, know about a very special live event that is only happening online without a massive marketing budget? How can live streaming compete with the mass of distractions out there? There’s no TV schedule. No billboards. No iPlayer for this sort of thing.
Live streaming is special; Periscope is special because the audience is there with you. People ask Dan Snow, “Why do you Periscope? The audience isn’t massive…it doesn’t pay anything. What’s the point?”
If you haven’t watched one of Dan’s ‘scopes’ you haven’t experienced the tangible excitement ‘live’ brings to the show. It’s more than a show. From under the bow of the Mary Rose – where they installed wifi especially, to the extraordinary views at Gallipoli, scrambling through the underbrush in Harfleur in the search of Henry V’s battlements, to the cacophony on an airborne Lancaster bomber -one use in infamous Dam Buster raid.Dan Snow takes you to places other broadcasts cannot reach. 
Armed with just his iPhone and a respectable 4G signal, Dan is liberated from the traditional film crew and all that goes with that. Periscope is the app that’s made this possible – in just under a year Dan Snow has filmed almost 100 ‘scopes’ from all over the world, to a global audience.
Dan Snow is the resident ‘history guy’ for the BBC’s ‘The One Show’.
When we heard Periscope had teamed up with action camera company:GoPro we got excited. We could now ‘hand-off’ to an external camera wirelessly – our synapses began to fire.
What could Dan do with an external camera that would enhance the form? We’d seen GoPros – these matchbox-sized cameras with a high fidelity camera – strapped to skiers helmets, screwed to BMX bikes, and stuck on surfboards. What could Dan do to create stunning visuals, to enhance the story, and where should he take it?
“It’s got to be a drone, and it’s got to be Stonehenge,” said Dan, without missing a beat.
After a month of phone calls, planning, testing, tinfoil, and tech-wizardry, we’re ready. And with help from Periscope – we’re delighted that Dan will be able to do something during the live stream that would have been impossible to do otherwise! You’ll have to wait and see!
Tinfoil? Yep! The limitations of wifi range between the iPhone and the GoPro, signal frequencies of the drone (don’t cross the streams!), we’ve learned some expensive lessons. Falling down 7 times and getting up 8. After all the planning and testing we’re ready.
Stonehenge is a magical place to be, steeped in mystery and History. We’re delighted that English Heritage have given us special access to film from this ancient stone circle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Live on March 2nd from 6 am. The sunrise is at 6:50 am GMT.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
We hope you will join us on the ‘scope’. We would love it if you’d help us spread the word by joining this Thunderclap! Thank you!
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Heritage experts visit Stonehenge to scrutinise tunnel plans

29 10 2015

PLANS for a 2.9km tunnel under the Stonehenge world heritage site will scrutinised by experts today when they visit the monument.

Heritage experts visit Stonehenge to scrutinise tunnel plans

Heritage experts visit Stonehenge to scrutinise tunnel plans

The government unveiled the proposal last year as part of a £2billion project to dual the A303 from Amesbury to Honiton, Devon.

Heritage officials from Unesco and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) were invited to visit the site by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They will meet with stakeholders including English Heritage and Wiltshire Council.

Ian Wilson from the National Trust said: “They will be spending several days here getting to know the landscape and the outline proposals.

“At the top of our list is agreeing how we can best work together to ensure that any scheme to tackle the blight of the road that dominates the Stonehenge Landscape is located in the right place and designed and built to the specification befitting a world heritage site.”

It is expected further trips will be made to Stonehenge as the plans become finalised.

Kate Davies, general manager of Stonehenge, said: “We’re looking forward to showing the advisors the recent improvements to Stonehenge, especially the removal of the old visitor centre and the grassing over of the A344, and highlighting how removing the A303 from the landscape would improve people’s understanding and enjoyment of the ancient stones and their setting.”

Full Article in the Salisbury Journal
Alex Rennie, Reporter /

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