Monumental Lockdown: A period of Rejuvenation for Stonehenge

13 04 2020

On the 23rd of March, Boris Johnson announced strict ‘lockdown’ measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. This followed similar measures put in place worldwide. Subsequently, people have been restricted to their homes, allowed out only for essential work and shopping. Global tourism has been placed in indefinite suspension.

Stonehenge wildlife

One of Britain’s rarest – and strangest – birds is back at Stonehenge. The Great Bustard was affectionately christened by Stonehenge staff as “Gertrude”

Although a grave shame, the restrictions are essential for the fight against the terrible Coronavirus, and there are even environmental positives to the lockdown. The break in tourism has given the worlds cities and monuments a well needed break, a chance to rejuvenate. A silver lining in the crisis, appears to be a global drop in air pollution – Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, told the Guardian: ‘this fact ‘this might give us some hope from something terrible’.  The positives of this rejuvenation are becoming visible. In Venice have cleared and wildlife has returned in droves: “It is calm like a pond… We Venetians have the feeling that nature has returned and is taking back possession of the city,”

This period of rest for the worlds monuments and natural resurgence is set to benefit the world and will improve the tourists experience when they return. Nature needs time to breathe, so it could be that the way tourism is viewed may alter to allow nature further breathing space.

This period of rest is also set to benefit the ancient monoliths of Stonehenge, which remains unvisited for weeks, in a number of ways. Firstly, just like in Venice, the latent wildlife surrounding Stonehenge will have reclaimed full rights to the area – not only the grasses and plants that make up the verdant surroundings of the stones, but also birds and insects that call the planes of Wessex home. The resurgence of the nature in the surrounding area will surely make the site all the more pleasant when it reopens.

The drop-in air pollution and return of wildlife signal a return to environmental conditions closer to that of the stone’s erection, thousands of years ago. It is believed that this is crucial for the rejuvenation of the site’s primordial energies. For thousands of years, the site would have only seen large gatherings of people once or twice a year. Today, the rate of foot fall has increased exponentially. Experts in earth energies believe a short period of rest for the stones is sure to revitalise the wealth of energy that flows beneath the stones, and indeed all the lay lines which run through Wessex and the country as a whole.

All these factors combine to create a healthy environment for all monuments across the world, cleaner air, healthier wildlife and rest is sure not only to improve the aesthetics of our country, but also the deeper health of the monuments and even our own health when experiencing them. Across the land, nature is reclaiming land, allowing us to reconnect with nature and recreating a healthier environment for us to return to when normal life resumes.

Coronavirus: Is wildlife the big beneficiary of the COVID-19 lockdown? – EURONEWS
Venice canals clear up due to Covid-19 lockdown – BUSINESS TRAVELLER
Wild animals wander through deserted cities under Covid-19 lockdown –RFI
People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in ‘decades,’ as the lockdown eases air pollution – CNN
UNESCO supports culture and heritage during COVID-19’s shutdown – UNESCO
UK road travel falls to 1955 levels as Covid-19 lockdown takes hold – THE GUARDIAN

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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

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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Peek behind the scenes of Stonehenge’s new visitors centre

17 08 2013

RESIDENTS of Wiltshire can peek behind the scenes of Stonehenge’s new visitors centre next month.The main contractor for the development, VINCI Construction UK, will host an Open Doors Weekend on September 27 and 28, for people to learn about the project.


The centre is a £27million project led by English Heritage, which aims to achieve the vision set out in the Stonehenge World Heritage Management Plan to restore the dignity of Stonehenge.

The new building is at Airman’s Corner, 11/2 miles from the stone circle, and will include exhibition, education and cafe space.

Low-impact vehicles, carrying up to 900 visitors an hour, will operate a 10-minute shuttle service from the visitor building to the stones.

The centre is due to open in late 2013, when the current facilities will be dismantled and the landscape around the stone circle restored.

The Open Weekend is a nationwide initiative, which invites members of the public to go around a construction site in their area.

It aims to demonstrate the range of career opportunities construction has to offer and the wide variety of skills that come together to make buildings and infrastructure.

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UK Construction Group, one of the partners in the Open Doors project, said: “It is a unique opportunity for the industry to display the complexity, excitement and scope of modern construction projects.”

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Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

A visit to Stonehenge is bound to make you ask: who built it?

16 05 2013

Who built Stonehenge?
A visit to Stonehenge is bound to make you ask: who built it?  It is a question nearly as old as the stones themselves.  And what do we know about the people who achieved this prehistoric marvel? Words Susan Greaney

Wizard Ideas 

In the early medieval period, writers thought they knew who had built Stonehenge—Merlin. But by the early 17th century, scholars were looking for a more plausible answer. In 1620, architect Inigo Jones thought it was based on classical geometry and constructed by the Romans. Antiquary John Aubrey thought that the native Britons, in particular the Druids, were the builders of Stonehenge. Antiquary William Stukeley’s 1740 book firmly established the idea that it was a Druid temple.

Towards the end of the 19th century, archaeologists began to realise that Stonehenge could be much older, linking finds to the Bronze Age. William Gowland’s excavations in 1901 showed that Stonehenge was built in Neolithic or early Bronze Age. Today, we think the stones were raised about 2,500 BC by the native inhabitants of late Neolithic Britain.

The Early Theories…


stonehenge-port-JOHN_AUBREYJohn Aubrey Proposed that Stonehenge was a temple built by the Druids, the priests of the pagan Celts, who came to England in the centuries immediately prior to the Christian era.



stonehenge-port-WILLIAM_STUKELEYWilliam Stukeley The first person to recognise the alignment of Stonehenge on the solstices. Like John Aubrey, however, he mistakenly attributed their construction to the Druids.



stonehenge-port-INIGO_JONESInigo Jones Believed the stones were a Roman temple of the Tuscan order built to the sky god Coelus. Later disproved by evidence establishing the period in which the stones were first laid.

Past Lives

Stonehenge was built before metal began to be used in Britain. The most common finds from this period are flint tools required for everyday activities such as hunting, making leather and preparing food. We know from animal bones that the people who constructed Stonehenge had livestock and probably also grew small quantities of crops, but still gathered wild plants and hunted wild animals.


Whether visiting in 1958 or today, children have always been fascinated by Stonehenge.
At the time that Stonehenge was built, people across Britain were using a type of flat-based decorated pottery called Grooved Ware, often found at late Neolithic monuments across Britain. Many of these prehistoric finds can be seen at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes, at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and at the new Stonehenge visitor centre later this year.

Neolithic Puzzles

Until a few years ago, experts thought late Neolithic people were largely mobile, moving between seasonal temporary camps. But in 2006, a team led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, discovered several small buildings at Durrington, just over two miles north-east of Stonehenge. These houses appear to have been inhabited on a temporary, seasonal basis about 2,500 BC, the time that Stonehenge was built. Was this where its builders lived?

Among the excavated houses were mounds of rubbish, including cow and pig bones and broken Grooved Ware pottery, showing that large midwinter feasts were held here. Nearby were complex timber monuments, buildings set within special enclosures and other strange wooden structures. This was a place of ritual, probably connected to the ceremonies at Stonehenge.


Stone arrowheads and grooved pottery have helped our understanding of the Neolithic period
After the settlement was abandoned, an enormous henge called Durrington Walls was built, which is still visible today. Part of Durrington Walls and nearby Woodhenge are English Heritage properties you can explore. You can walk from Stonehenge across the fields to Durrington Walls, perhaps the route that its builders took. You’ll see other fragments from the past—the enormous Cursus monument, which pre-dates Stonehenge, and many of the early Bronze Age round barrows that scatter this area.

People Power

There are further clues in the monument itself. Transporting the stones, shaping them and fitting them together took great organisation and hundreds of people in what was a sophisticated and organised society. You can find out more at Stonehenge’s new visitor centre later this year.

Neolithic Life: Round the Houses

stonehenge_2Outside the new Stonehenge visitor centre will be an external gallery, where we’ll be recreating three of the late Neolithic houses excavated at Durrington Walls. Here you’ll be able to see what life was like at the time Stonehenge was built. And at Old Sarum, Wiltshire, volunteers are building some prototype houses to test different ideas about the methods and materials used.

You can follow the progress of our project on our blog at and our Twitter account @NeolithicHouses. If you’d like to get involved with building the houses at the visitor centre next year, or working in the external gallery, keep an eye on our website for volunteering opportunities.

We’ll be holding tours and open days at the Old Sarum houses so you can come and learn more about prehistoric life and experimental archaeology:

All details and booking information can be found on our What’s On page

English Heritage website:

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

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