Friday, 12 May 2017

Stonehenge History of Ownership

The estate of Amesbury, including the land on which Stonehenge stood, and
roughly equating to the modern day parish of Amesbury, was a royal estate
from the early medieval period (since the time of King Alfred (d.899)). It
stayed with the Crown until the 1140s, after which it was then granted to
various royal followers, including the Earls of Salisbury and later the
Earls of Warwick. At the time of the dissolution (between 1536 and 1541),
the 200,000 acre estate, including the nunnery of Amesbury Abbey, was
gifted by Henry VIII to the Duke of Somerset, Sir Edward Seymour.

The Amesbury estate was owned by several generations of the Seymour
family, until 1676 when it was passed by marriage to Thomas Bruce, Earl of
Ailesbury. His son Charles Bruce sold it in 1720 to his cousin Henry
Boyle, Lord Carleton (d.1725) who gave it to his nephew Charles Douglas,
Duke of Queensbury (d.1778). The manor passed in 1778 with the dukedom to
his kinsman Archibald Douglas, Lord Douglas, and in 1825 he sold it to Sir
Edmund Atrobus (d.1826). It descended with the baronetcy to Sir Edmund’s
nephew Sir Edmund Antrobus (d.1870), to his son Sir Edmund (d.1899) and in
turn to his son Sir Edmund (d.1915).

In 1901 the last of these, Sir Edmund Antrobus, 3rd Baronet, enclosed
approximately 20 acres around Stonehenge and began to charge for
admission: his right to do this was confirmed by the High Court in 1905.

In the opening months of World War I, Edmund was killed serving in the
Grenadier Guards and his uncle, Sir Cosmo, decided to sell the estate. The
sale was put into the hands of Messers Knight, Frank and Rutley and lot 15
was ‘Stonehenge with about 30 acres, 2 rods, 37 perches of adjoining
downland’. Cecil Chubb's interest in the local area led to him attending
the sale, which took place at the Palace Theatre, Salisbury on the 21st
September 1915. Apparently he went with instructions from his wife to
purchase some chairs. He had no intention of bidding, but in his own
words: "while I was in the room I thought a Salisbury man ought to buy it
and that is how it was done". Stonehenge cost him £6,600 (about £392,000
today). After the bidding Cecil admitted that he put his hand up on

Cecil Chubb remained its owner for three years and then, on the 26th
October 1918, he formally handed it over to Sir Alfred Mond, the First
Commissioner of Works, who received it as a gift on behalf of the nation.
The deed of gift included several conditions or covenants:
1. First that the public shall have free access to the premises hereby conveyed and Every part thereof on the payment of such reasonable sum per head not exceeding one shilling for each visit and subject to such conditions as the Commissioners of Works in the exercise and execution of their statutory powers and duties may from time to time impose.

2. Secondly that the premises shall so far as possible maintained in their present condition.

3. Thirdly that no building or erection other than a pay box similar to the Pay Box now standing on the premises shall be erected on any part of the premises within four hundred yards of The Milestone marked “Amesbury 2” on the northern frontage of the premises and Fourthly that the Commissioners of Works will at all times save harmless and keep indemnified the Donors and each of them their and each of their estates an effects from and against all proceedings costs claims and expenses on account of any breach or non observance of the covenants by the Donors to the like or similar effect contained in the Conveyance of the premises to the Donors Dated the thirty first day of December One thousand nine hundred and fifteen In witness whereof the Donors have hereunto set their hands and seals and the Commissioners of Works have caused their Common Seal to be affixed the day and year first above written.

The 1918 Deed of Gift did not specify free access for local residents, but
at that time public rights of way passed very close to the Stones. These
proved inconvenient to the management of the site, and in 1921 the
Commissioners of Works sought to address this. An agreement was reached
that the rights of way would be diverted further from the stone circle,
outside of the fenced area, on the basis that residents of the then
Amesbury Rural District and Parish of Netheravon would be granted the
right of free access to the monument.

A resolution was passed by Amesbury Parish Council on the 12th April 1921
stating that:

“… the Council relinquishes all claims on the right of way now enclosed,
on condition that all householders and their families, (or all
inhabitants) of the parishes, comprising the Rural District of Amesbury,
and the householders and their families (or inhabitants) of the Parish of
Netheravon, be granted free admission to Stonehenge at all times. Subject
to the usual rules and regulations made by the Board for the proper
management of Stonehenge as an Ancient Monument.”

The agreement for free local access has continued to the present day. The
Parish of Netheravon still exists, but Amesbury Rural District disappeared
in the 1974 local government reorganisation. The agreement is accordingly
taken to apply to all inhabitants of those parishes which were within the
former rural district council area.

These areas (which currently account for just over 30,000 residents) are
as follows:

• The Town Council of Amesbury;

• The Parish Councils of Bulford, Figheldean, Durrington, Durnford,
Woodford, Winterbourne Stoke, Shrewton, Orcheston, Tilshead, Winterbourne,
Idmiston, Allington, Newton Toney, Netheravon;

• The Parish Meetings of Milston, Wilsford-cum-Lake, and Cholderton.

Local resident’s passes can be picked up at Durrington Town Hall and
Amesbury Library, on production of two forms of ID.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Wiltshire Council Advice to English Heritage About the A344

The traffic regulation order made in relation to the A344 does not place any restriction on the movement of pedestrians, cyclists or equestrians.

The gating arrangements were installed at either end of the A344 with the specific purpose of restricting access to motorised vehicles, whilst allowing passage by horses and horse drawn vehicles.

English Heritage have no authority to stop any person from using the A344; they act as agents for the Council in relation to the issuing of permits for those vehicles exempted by the order. Any unlawful use of the road by e.g. motorised vehicles, is a matter for the police to enforce, not English Heritage.

Whilst English Heritage acts as agents for the highway authority in issuing permits for vehicular users of that part of the A344 subject to the TRO, that is the extent of any authority they have in relation to the A344.

The only permitted obstruction to passage along the road are the formally permitted gates, which legal users must be allowed to open.

The placing of cones, barriers and other obstructions in the highway is a legal offence, as provided for in Part IX (Lawful and Unlawful Interference With Highways and Streets) of the Highways Act 1980. The Council, as local highway authority, has a duty under s130 to protect public rights on the highway.

Wiltshire Council understands that English Heritage might find the placing of signs, cones etc in the carriageway as being helpful to their visitors; however, the road is an asset for enjoyment by the wider public, and their lawful rights must be respected by English Heritage, regardless of the impact on and implications for English Heritage’s interests in the area.

Wiltshire Council seeks confirmation from English Heritage that they understand the extent of their powers in relation to the A344, and not to place further such obstructions, nor to seek to intimidate in any way any users of the highway exercising their lawful rights.

Table of Stonehenge Bluestone Provenances - Updated April 2017

UPDATED with information from Rob Ixer  April 2017

Rock types
Stonehenge stone
Spotted dolerite Group 1
Carn Goedog
Stones 33, 37, 49, 65, 67
Unspotted dolerite Group 2
Cerrigmarchogion or Craig Talfynydd
Stones 45, 62
Spotted dolerite Group 3
Carn Breseb, Carn Gwfry, outcrop near Carn Alw or outcrop w of Carn Ddafad-las
Stones 34, 42, 43, 61
Spotted dolerite ungrouped
Most likely Mynydd Preseli
Stones 31, 32, 35a, 35b, 36, 39, 41, 44, 47, 61a, 63, 64, 66, 68, 69, 70, 70a, 70b, 71, 72, 150
Rhyolite Groups A-C
Craig Rhosyfelin
Stones 32d & 32e
Rhyolite Group D
?Fishguard Volcanic Group
No stone identified; from debris only
Rhyolite Group E
?Fishguard Volcanic Group
Stone 48
Rhyolite Group F
?Fishguard Volcanic Group
Stone 46
Rhyolite Group G
?Fishguard Volcanic Group
Stone 40
Volcanics Group A
?North Pembrokeshire
Stones 32c, 33e, 33f, 40c, 41d
Volcanics Group B
?Fishguard Volcanic Group
Stone 38
Sandstone (Devonian)
Senni Beds, South Wales
Stone 80 (Altar Stone)
Lower Palaeozoic Sandstone

Stone 40g, 42c

Information from Simon Banton's Stones of Stonehenge site and  Rob Ixer's uploaded papers on
Mike Parker Pearson, Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Kate Welham, Ben Chan, Kevan Edinborough, Derek Hamilton, Richard Macphail, Duncan Schlee, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Ellen Simmons and Martin Smith (2015). Craig Rhos-y-felin: a Welsh bluestone megalith quarry for Stonehenge. Antiquity, 89, pp 1331-1352 doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.177

"Carn Menyn (or Carn Meini), was once suggested as the source of the Stonehenge bluestones (Thomas 1923), although the sample set currently available provides no geological evidence for this!"

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Heritage Value of the Stonehenge Tunnel

An FOI request provides the Heritage valuation of the proposed Stonehenge tunnel - in otherwords an estimate of how much richer the country will be if the A303 is removed from the surface near Stonehenge.

The full documents are available to download from 

Brief quotes are:

 "Other impacts (such as economic and environmental) are considered in the overall business case and use the methods described in the Department for Transport’s transport appraisal guidance (WebTAG). This study is carefully designed to exclude those other impacts to avoid double counting. This study focuses exclusively on the cultural heritage impacts of removing the A303 from its current location within the WHS in terms of noise reduction, increased tranquillity, visual amenity and reduced landscape severance."

We provide summary results of the contingent valuation of the hypothetical reduction in noise, increased tranquillity, increased visual amenity and reduced landscape severance associated with the removal of the A303 from part of the Stonehenge WHS. The main result is a total net benefit of £1.3bn resulting from the road scheme. The total net benefit aggregates those willing to pay for the road scheme, net of those requiring compensation for it. The aggregated net benefit sits within a 95% confidence interval of £1.1bn and £1.4bn. The values elicited comprise two drivers of welfare; (i) the use value derived from changes to the heritage experience; and (ii) the non-use value which people place on the existence of the altered WHS including bequest value to future generations. It is not possible to separate these values into use and non-use values."

The Virtual Sounds of Stonehenge

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield conducted mathematical acoustic analysis of Stonehenge's archaeological plan. When digitally reconstructed, the stones' original placing revealed surprisingly sonorous properties.

"If you build something that is circular, it has circular acoustics. So the acoustic and the sound of the space comes from the shape of its design. So when it was designed in the particular shape it has, in particular the circles, it created visual effects. But it also created acoustic effects," lead researcher Dr Rupert Till told Reuters.

Till composed an interactive soundscape for the model, with the sound of birds and the wind moving through the stones, as well as a soundtrack of Neolithic 'music'. He added that the stones had acoustic features as good as some concert halls, and are particularly suited to loud rhythmic music.

A 'virtual tour' of Stonehenge called the Soundgate (for Apple) or here for Android, is being released as an app that transports people back to various eras in Stonehenge's history, including when the standing stones were at their zenith, and long before the traffic noise from the nearby A303 road.

Using a smartphone or tablet, and with a pair of headphones, users can move around the digitally reconstructed stone circle while listening to the changing acoustics.

"Over time the monument has developed, and our app shows different phases of that development so you can see what it looked like 5,000 or 4,000 years ago, through a thousand years of development," added Till.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Questions about Planning Application 17/00280/VAR

What date was it registered? I think it wasn't on the Wiltshire Website until the last week of March 2017 but the document claims to have been Registered on 23rd January 2017

And it appears on the Weekly List for 23rd January

But the search function on the Wiltshire website says it was registered on 23rd March

And the Document properties also show 23rd March

And the MOD were sent the documents on the 23rd of March as well

Which ties in better with the consultation period.

But English Heritage are asking for a year's grace prior to opening the path by the 1st October 2017 - so why the delay in asking for permission?

Monday, 27 March 2017

A344 Permissive Path Planning Application

Variation of Condition Application

The application seeks approval to vary condition 27 of planning permission S/2009/1527/FULL (dated 23/06/10) for the decommissioning of existing visitor facilities and a section of the A344; the erection of a new visitor centre, car park, coach park and ancillary services building and related highways and landscaping works.

The variation of condition 27 is to allow to allow a further year for the proposed permissive path to establish itself on the grassed over section of the former A344 near Stonehenge prior to it being open to the public as a pedestrian and cycle route by 1" October 2017.

See for more details on this path.