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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NEW INFORMATION LEAFLET ON THE STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY WHS

19 02 2016

A new information leaflet has been produced by the World Heritage Site Coordination Unit to help to explain what a World Heritage Site is, why Stonehenge and Avebury is designated as a World Heritage Site and how it is managed. The leaflet also outlines the priorities of the World Heritage Site Management Plan.

Many people know about the important role that English Heritage Trust at Stonehenge and Front-cover-pic-154x300the National Trust at Avebury and in the Stonehenge Landscape play in managing the key monuments within the WHS but how the UK Government carries out the obligations of the World Heritage Convention 1972 are less well known.  This leaflet is a brief explanation of how the two landscapes of the WHS are managed.

The leaflet will be distributed at key community sites and available when the Coordination Unit attends meetings and events.

If you require copies of the leaflet please contact the World Heritage Site Coordination Unit.  A web version of the leaflet can be found here.  Stonehenge & Avebury WHS web version

The leaflet has been produce with support from Historic England.

More information on the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS website.

excerpt-of-leaflet-300x262

Extract from the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
WHS Management Plan 2015

The Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site is
universally important for its unique and dense concentration of
outstanding prehistoric monuments and sites which together
form a landscape without parallel. We will work together to
care for and safeguard this special area and its archaeology and
will provide a more tranquil, rural and ecologically diverse
setting for it and its archaeology. This will allow present and
future generations to explore and enjoy the monuments and
their landscape setting more fully. We will also ensure that the
special qualities of the World Heritage Site are presented,
interpreted and enhanced where appropriate, so that visitors,
the local community and the whole world can better
understand and value the extraordinary achievements of the
prehistoric people who left us this rich legacy. We will realise
the cultural, scientific and educational potential of the World
Heritage Site as well as its social and economic benefits for
the community.

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Chairman needed for Stonehenge panel

6 10 2013

A NEW partnership panel set up to coordinate cooperation between the Stonehenge and Avebury is looking for a chairman.

Following a recent review it is hoped managers of the two parts of the World Heritage Site (WHS) will be working more closely together and it has been decided there will be a partnership panel led by an independent chairman.

This panel will also act as a representative for the whole WHS. It will be made up of the three key partners – English Heritage the National Trust and Wiltshire Council – together with the chairmen of the local Stonehenge and Avebury steering committees and a representative from the research community

“The new panel and chair will play a key role in ensuring this continues and that new opportunities to protect and present the World Heritage Site are identified.”

For more information go to jobs.wiltshire.gov.uk.

By Morwenna Blake: Salisbury Journal
http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/10720098.Chairman_needed_for_Stonehenge_panel/

 

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Telling the story of prehistoric Wiltshire.

18 08 2013

The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes is opening new prehistory galleries in the autumn.

The centrepiece of the stunning new displays are the objects buried with the Bush Barrow Chieftain almost 4,000 years ago. He was buried close to Stonehenge with the objects that showed his power and authority– a gold lozenge, a ceremonial mace and a gold-decorated dagger.These are just some of the rich Bronze Age objects that are on display for the first time in new high security showcases. Gold ornaments, amber necklaces, ritual costume, polished stone axes and bronze daggers tell the story of the people who lived at the time when Stonehenge, Avebury and Marden henges were great ceremonial centres.

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum

Bronze Age artefacts on show at the Wiltshire Museum

 

The displays feature models and full-size reconstructions that bring archaeology to life. There is lots for children to do, with trails and quizzes, a chance to build Stonehenge and Bronze Age clothes to try on.

Some of the important Bronze Age gold finds from the museum will be on loan for display at the new Stonehenge visitor centre. This is part of an integrated strategy to encourage visitors to Stonehenge to explore Wiltshire and to visit the museums in Devizes and Salisbury. These new displays have been developed with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the North Wessex Downs AONB

More details here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/imported-docs/k-o/megalith-jul2013.pdf

Museum link: http://www.wiltshireheritage.org.uk/

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 








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