Friday, 27 May 2016

Climate Change Threatens Stonehenge - claim

Climate change to threaten Stonehenge? Daily Mail warns of moles undermining the stones? As an English Heritage report says: "Interestingly, the changes predicted for the 4000-4500BP period by the Bridge CGM are actually quite similar to the predictions of future climate change in the UK (Wilby et al 2006), which implies that we are moving back to a 4000-4500BP climate in the UK." Source -

So Stonehenge has seen it and survived it all before, if the predicted climate change ever arrives. - The Daily Mail story?

Monday, 23 May 2016

UCL Test Pulling a Stone

The building of Stonehenge has been a topic of discussion for centuries but today all our questions may be answered.

A group of volunteers in London is conducting a mass experiment to find out how the ancient monument came to be.

At noon today, 23 May, the team will attempt to drag a one tonne concrete block using a replica of a neolithic wooden sledge. Each of the famous bluestones at the site in Wiltshire weighs at least double that but it will help researchers understand the origins of the World Heritage Site......

Just how did prehistoric Britons manage to transport the huge bluestones of Stonehenge some 140 miles from the Presili Mountains in Wales to their final home on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

The answer is surprisingly simple. The feat really isn’t as hard as everyone imagined

In fact the one tonne stone whizzed along the make-shift silver birch track when pulled by just 10 people, moving at around 10 feet every five seconds – which works out faster than one mile per hour if pulled continually, rather than in the short bursts of the experiment........

From the Daily Mail -

...But the project was a far scaled down version of the real thing, with the hefty slab weighing just half as much as the lightest blue stone used in the construction of Stonehenge.

With ropes laced through holes in the concrete coffin-shaped slab, a video shows approximately 20 volunteers heaving at a call.

Their manual efforts pay off as the slab rolls across the logs, demonstrating how the Neolithic construction force behind the real monument would have shifted the stones thousands of years ago.

However, while the UCL group successfully demonstrated how the concrete slab could be moved a few metres, the efforts are truly dwarfed by the scales involved in building Stonehenge....

And a video from the BBC -

All very interesting especially as I have a full size, full weight (40 tonne per upright) trilithon replica just waiting for some one to attempt to move it and put it up by hand...

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Healing Stonehenge

Tim Darvill has a new paper out...

Houses of the Holy: Architecture and Meaning in the Structure of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK

Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture

Volume 9, Issue 2, 2016

Stonehenge in central southern England is internationally known. Recent re-evaluations of its date and construction sequence provides an opportunity to review the meaning and purpose of key structural components. Here it is argued that the central stone structures did not have a single purpose but rather embody a series of symbolic representations. During the early third millennium this included a square-in-circle motif representing a sacred house or ‘big house’ edged by the five Sarsen Trilithons. During the late third millennium BC, as house styles changed, some of the stones were re-arranged to form a central oval setting that perpetuated the idea of a sacred dwelling. The Sarsen Circle may have embodied a time-reckoning system based on the lunar month. From about 2500 BC, more than 80 bluestones were brought to the site from sources in the Preseli Hills of west Wales about 220km distant. Initially arranged as a Double Circle they were variously rearranged at least four times over the following centuries. The diverse lithology of the bluestones reflects the landscape from which the stones derived so that the monument embodied a microcosm of the distant land. Associations with water and healing suggest one reason why Stonehenge became such a powerful place in prehistoric times.

Article is available for £28 or through the usual academic channels.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The view from the western end of the Cursus

Very kindly Austin Kinsley has sent me one of Pete Glastonbury's wonderful Stonehenge shots which shows the New Visitor Centre and Coach park from the western end of the Cursus; the proposed new Coach Station building is near the two white coaches that show up in the middle of the picture.

Click to enlarge, (c) Pete Glastonbury

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Objections to the Proposed Stonehenge Coach Station

I have been carefully looking through various planning documents about the New Visitor Centre near Stonehenge and the hub at Stonehenge, this is in response to English Heritage applying to alter the coach and visitor transit facilities which badly need improving. I look forward to the day when a safe and efficient system is put in place and I would not wish to impede this, but at the same time this is an incredibly valuable and important landscape and to accept the second best for short term expediency shames us all.

It is with regret, but a sense of having to do the right thing, that I have lodged two objections to the new planning application 16/03988/FUL for these changes which include the building of a new coach station in the present temporary coach park.

The objections are:

Objection 1

In the previous application S/2009/1527 ,  which this application is attempting to rectify some of the inadequacies of, the Environmental Statement 11110202R_ESVol 3_App 6.1_MH_24-09-09 notes that the Coach Park, and to a lesser extent the New Visitor Centre, will have a substantial/adverse impact on the view from VP09 the western end of the Cursus (the impact was predicted to decrease over fifteen years as landscaping shielded it). From the Lesser Cursus VP10 it would also have a similar effect. It is worth noting that the planted landscaping was removed when the temporary  coach park was installed and so the decrease in impact has yet to start.

The new building in the Coach Park will be very prominent from these two viewpoints and yet the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, 11110205_Photosheets_08-04-16.indd, makes no mention of these views from these very important monuments within the World Heritage Site and the substantial adverse effect it will have.

This omission is so egregious that the application presents a false impression of the Landscape and Visual Impact and should be thus rejected until such time as a proper and thorough Landscape and Visual Impact survey is conducted taking into account the already established key views.

Objection 2

In the previous application S/2009/1527 ,  which this application is attempting to rectify some of the inadequacies of, the encouragement of non-vehicular access to the facilities was rightly a major factor. A key component was the encouragement of walkers and cyclists from Amesbury, and its links to national public transport.

The Phasing of the Works document  for the previous application S/2009/1527 , makes clear that in the summer of 2016  that the permissive path for walkers and cyclists will be made available on the route of the old A344 from Stonehenge Bottom to its junction with Byway 12

This new application shows the blocking up of the gate and path at the western end of this route and no mention of how the promised permissive path will be implemented. As well as encouraging more sustainable travel to the centre it is important for experiencing the holistic history of the site that this path follows the ancient road.

This omission is so serious the application should be rejected until such time as plans to show this permissive path following the route of the old A344 are included and how its users are to be allowed passage.

I hope these objections encourage English Heritage to look again at their plans and produce something better.

If you wish to comment to the council you have until Thursday 2nd June via the online comment system  

Trying to produce a focused and specific objection I concentrated on the lack of a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment of the building. There are two Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment survey documents produced, neither of them as far as I can see discuss the impact of this new building after it has been built. does discuss the impact of the revised coach park from the Cursuses and concludes it will be mildly beneficial.

This is because the new coach park will have landscaped screening planted. The irony is that the original coach park had such planting, which was then ripped out for the temporary facilities introduced last year. So the improvement is merely returning to what should be there...


Very kindly Austin Kinsley has sent me one of Pete Glastonbury's wonderful Stonehenge shots which shows the New Visitor Centre and Coach Park from the western end of the Cursus; the proposed new Coach Station building is this side of the two white coaches that show up in the middle of the picture.

Click to enlarge, (c) Pete Glastonbury

Monday, 16 May 2016

Summer 2016 Planned Improvement to Stonehenge - The removal of the fences!

It is interesting to see the schedule of improvements that English Heritage included as part of the planning permission for the New Visitor Centre.

This summer should see the removal of all the stock fences along the route of the old A344 and the establishment of a permissive path for pedestrians and cyclists along the route of the old A344 (The northern half of this roadway has reverted to National Trust ownership and the permissive path is intended to be on this half of the unfenced road with the paying visitors walking on the southern English Heritage side)

Full details are in the Wiltshire Council planning application S/2009/1527

The Phasing of Works Document 
( has these details:


This phase involves the release of the re-vegetated A344 area. Please refer to Figure 7 for details.

The existing/temporary stock fence and gates to the north of the original A344 are to be removed and turf used to patch any resulting disturbances in the grass surface. The areas of the permissible route that are formed using the ground reinforcement system are to be removed and patched using turf grown off site.

The permissible route is now along the northern edge of the re-vegetated A344.


This phase involves the release of the re-vegetated A344 area. Please refer to Figure 8 for

Click plans to enlarge.

The existing bridge over The Avenue and areas of reinforced grass to the west and east of the bridge are to be removed and patched using species rich chalk grass turf grown off site.
The temporary barriers/fence, such as rope barriers, to the grassed A344 is removed.

The existing stock fence to the north of the A344 and around the former car park and hub facilities is removed and grass is patched with turf as needed to make the grass surface good.

The final configuration of the temporary barrier/fence, such as rope barrier, for visitor circulation is formed into its final functioning arrangement.

I suppose we will have to wait and see if the fences at Stonehenge are removed this summer, the practical difficulties it would cause the staff leads me to doubt it will ever happen, whatever the planning permission says.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

EH Planning Application

There is a planning application from English Heritage to build a new Coach Park building and change the layout of the visitor terminals:


Stonehenge Visitors Centre Airmans Corner SP4 7DE

Permanent use of temporary coach park and modification of existing coach park to create 53 coach spaces and 26 motorhome spaces; construction of ancillary building for new coach visitor facilities; change of use from agricultural land and creation of new visitor transit system turnaround area for shuttle bus use; creation of extended visitor transit system turnaround area for shuttle bus use; decommissioning of existing visitor transit system turnaround area; all with associated ancillary and landscaping works.

Consultation expiry Thursday 2 June, 2016
Target date for decision Friday 22 July, 2016

Suggested changes of particular relevance to tour operators and GTOs include the creation of a newly-designed coach park with a more streamlined layout and permanent spaces for up to 53 60-seater coaches; the introduction of a new Group Reception Building in a more convenient location, with exclusive WC facilities just for group visitors; and a new Visitor Transit Shuttle pick-up-point exclusively for groups to be located next to the Group Reception Building so groups can go directly from their coach to the Stone Circle at peak times.

 Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager says: “The temporary expanded coach park which has provided extra parking for more than 20 coaches over the past year has made a substantial difference to the efficiency of our operation at Stonehenge, and brought benefits to all our visitors. It has also been welcomed by our travel and tourism colleagues bringing their tour groups to us. But permission for this temporary parking expires in 2017. So we are now seeking to introduce a sustainable longer term and permanent solution, which also addresses other pressure points on site that have impacted negatively on our ability to fully offer world class facilities at this leading UK attraction."