Stonehenge: Permanent damage scheduled
With recent tragic loss of life and property I considered whether this was the right time to speak about Stonehenge and its plight. Look at what just happened in the Caribbean and Florida! And Houston, Texas! People are homeless and without power. The damage is unimaginable.
Unavoidable tragedy. If we could avoid such tragedy, wouldn't we try? This blog is not intended to open the Pandora’s Box of climate change and whether it’s real or not. These were horrible, unavoidable losses, but what if someone purposely and willfully damaged a significant region? That’s an avoidable loss but no less horrible. On a much smaller scale, that’s what could happen to Stonehenge.
Along with many people, I received an email today from Derek Parody, Project Director of the A303 Stonehenge project, part of Highways England. In part that email states: The consultation responses, along with further studies and assessments, have influenced the route announced today. The route includes a twin-bored tunnel at least 1.8 miles long through the World Heritage Site and improved junctions with the A360 and the A345. It also includes a northern route for the long-awaited Winterbourne Stoke bypass.
Throughout the summer I’ve presented an argument for why this scheme is damaging to the Stonehenge landscape. This is not my argument. I’ve been in contact with groups like the Stonehenge Alliance. Leading archaeologists and other concerned groups have spoken against a roadway that would cut through the landscape.
Highways England agreed to alter the roadway a short distance to protect the winter solstice view.
I read comments people made regarding this decision. One person, who is certainly not alone in his question, asked how a road would hurt Stonehenge. The simple answer is: Stonehenge is not simply the iconic stones. Stonehenge includes a landscape that spans several miles and includes other sites that are equally important.
Today, despite the damage to Florida, Disney reopened in Orlando. The newspapers rejoiced. Stonehenge is not a destination spot like Disney. Why are we not more alarmed by the intentional destruction of a site like Stonehenge? A road may be needed to alleviate heavy traffic, but other routes have been proposed. These routes will cost more because they would bypass around the Stonehenge landscape. Highways England appears to want to take the cheaper way out. Historians and campaign groups warn that Stonehenge could have its famous World Heritage status taken away if the Government builds a tunnel underneath it.
Time Team presenter and actor Tony Robinson who is among other things an actor and a political activist stated this project is “the most brutal intrusion into the Stone Age landscape ever” and accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of paying “no attention at all” to the importance of the Wiltshire monument.
My email from Derek Parody concluded with: We will now continue to develop the scheme in more detail and there will be a further public consultation early next year before the more detailed plans are submitted for development consent.
You can read much more information on our website www.highways.gov.uk/a303stonehengepra where you will find our Moving forward: the preferred route booklet, the full Report on Public Consultation and the Scheme Assessment Report.
If you are interested in the concerns archaeologists have against this scheme, please see: http://stonehengealliance.org.uk/gallery/campaign-videos/
In a time where we scrutinize flags and statues and wonder how the future will regard us as a result, should we not also consider preserving a site that can further reveal who we are as people? I encourage you to have a look at these sites.