Thursday, 22 June 2017

A C Smith on the Marlborough Mound


Engraving of Marlborough Mound from 'The Ancient History of Wiltshire', 1812-1821



I cannot take leave of the barrows without pausing for a moment to mention Silbury, the "miniature mountain," as Canon Greenwell dubs it ; and undoubtedly the largest artificial tumulus in England, and even in Europe, if we except one or two in the extreme east of European Russia, which are reported by some - though I know not whether on sufficient data - to exceed it in bulk. What was its origin, what its purpose, what its connection with Abury we cannot say, and can but idly speculate: for I have always maintained that the examinations into its centre hitherto made by a shaft and by tunnelling afford no conclusive evidence that it is not sepulchral and I am glad to find that Canon Greenwell is of the same opinion.  Nor is Silbury the only colossal barrow in our district, for second only to it, but over-topping all others in England, is the great mound of Marlborough, though it has been so mutilated, so pared and pruned, and cut about and planted that its original proportions are scarcely discoverable : it is, however, unquestionably a gigantic tumulus, and it is not impossible that it may perchance, have had sum connection with Abury and Silbury.



And as we know Jim Leary cored the mound and found evidence it as the good Rev suspected.



Sunday, 18 June 2017

Flinders Petrie on the Second Heel Stone (Stone 97)

Long before Mike Pitts discovered the stonehole alongside the Heelstone Flinders Petrie wondered if it existed.

July, 1924. MAN.
Stonehenge-The Heel Stone.
By Sir Flinders Petrie, F.R.S.

If the first appearance of the sun is in the axis of Stonehenge, its complete appearance must be east of that. I had long ago thought that the Heel stone marked the complete view of the disc, and on rough calculation it seems that the complete sunrise is 49' east of the first glance. The Heel stone viewed from the trilithon is stated to be 72' east. But the view might be taken from further back along the axis. Though the original width of the trilithon gap is uncertain, yet the entrance gives a limit, and the line most parallel to the axis from entrance to the peak of the Heel is about 60' from axis. Thus it might be possible for the axis to be at the first gleam, and the Heel at the full disc, with a discrepancy of 12'. This brings it within the small amounts that need to be verified by observation on the spot. Was the peak or the centre of the Heel stone intended as a mark?

 Yet, after all, has anyone verified that there was not a fellow to the Heel-stone, making a pair symmetric to the axis?

FLINDERS PETRIE.

 Man Vol. 24 (Jul., 1924), p. 107 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland DOI: 10.2307/2788777 Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2788777

Moving Stonehenge? Bring it on, I've got the full size replicas that need moving.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/figure/10.1080/14655187.2016.1261250

Moving Stonehenge 

BARNEY HARRIS University College London,

Over the course of the twentieth century a numberof experimental studies have investigated the construction of megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge (Atkinson, 1956; Osenton, 2001; Parry, 2000; Pavel, 1992; Ravilious, 2010; Richards & Whitby, 1997).

These studies have typically highlighted the challenges posed — or benefits offered — by one method of manipulating a heavy load in relation to another. In certain cases (e.g. Atkinson, 1956), archaeologists have used data from such experiments to estimate the probable length of time that the construction of Stonehenge, or similar monuments, would have taken. These experiments have occasionally generated significant interest from national and inter- national media outlets, a fact that illustrates their potential to act as powerful devices for academic outreach and/or public archaeology initiatives today.

The experiment discussed below, 'Moving Stonehenge', was conducted on 23 May 2016 as part of UCL's Festival of Culture, and succeeded in capturing the public's imagination. It was reported extensively by the UK national press (BBC, 2016; Beal & O'Hare, 2016; Knapton, 2016), the international Associated Press, and a number of popular science and technology websites (Condliffe, 2016; Metcalfe, 2016). In addition to documenting the planning and execution of the experiment, this report also explores aspects of its public engagement.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/figure/10.1080/14655187.2016.1261250


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Historic England A303 Stonehenge - Amesbury to Berwick Down, response to first phase of public consultation on route options

A303 Stonehenge - Amesbury to Berwick Down, response to first phase of public consultation on route options

Role of Historic England

We are the government's expert advisor on England’s heritage and we have a statutory role in the planning system. Central to our role is the advice we give to local planning authorities, government departments, developers and owners on development proposals affecting the historic environment. ‘Constructive Conservation’ expresses the role we play in promoting a positive and collaborative approach to conservation that focuses on actively managing change.
The aim is to accommodate the changes necessary to ensure the continued use and enjoyment of heritage assets while recognising and reinforcing their historic significance. Our advice seeks to minimise the loss of significance to these assets. We also look for opportunities to enhance the historic environment.

Prior Engagement

Historic England has been engaged with the current proposals to consider the improvement of the A303 through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) since the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a feasibility study to look at potential solutions in early 2014. Prior to April 2015 our engagement took place as part of English Heritage.
Our engagement with the feasibility study primarily took place through a DfT Technical Working Group, together with heritage partners the National Trust, English Heritage and Wiltshire Council.
Our constructive engagement in this process was instrumental in the securing the Government’s December 2014 announcement that it would invest in a bored tunnel of “at least” 2.9km to improve the A303 through the WHS.  Over the past two years we have continued to provide advice and guidance to the project as it has gone through the process of scoping, sifting and initial assessment of route options. A key aspect of this engagement was our recommendation that the advice of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) and their heritage advisors ICOMOS be sought at the earliest opportunity, so that the project had the benefit of their ongoing advice throughout the development of the scheme and identification of routes. As a result of this an initial Advisory Mission was made at the invitation of UK Government in October 2015. The helpful and constructive mission technical report was received in April 2016, and we acknowledge the positive efforts made by Highways England to absorb the WHC and ICOMOS’s recommendations in the drawing up of the current route option proposals. We also recognise that this present phase of non-statutory public consultation represents Highways England’s commitment to demonstrating best practice throughout the life of the scheme’s evolution and design, beyond that required by the Development Consent Order statutory process, and that this early stage in identifying route options provides the flexibility necessary to achieve the best possible scheme. We understand that another stage of public consultation on amended /revised proposals will take place later in 2017. An early achievement in drawing up the parameters of the project was the inclusion within Highways England’s over-arching Client Scheme Requirements of commitments “To contribute to the conservation and enhancement of the WHS by improving access both within and to the site” and “To contribute to the enhancement of the historic landscape within the WHS…”1 The following advice is mindful both of these welcome commitments and of the preliminary nature of these proposals.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STONEHENGE WORLD HERITAGE SITE (WHS)

 The Stonehenge WHS forms one half of a larger world heritage property together with Avebury, and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986 as the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites WHS. The international significance of Stonehenge and its WHS landscape cannot be overemphasised. As a globally famous and iconic monument and enduring symbol of man’s prehistoric past, it is an internationally recognised symbol of Britain. It is difficult to overstate its importance as one of the best-known and best-loved monuments in the world. The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is globally important not just for Stonehenge, but for its  unique and dense concentration of outstanding prehistoric monuments and sites, which together form a landscape without parallel. The significance of the WHS is well summarised in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV) adopted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June 2013. The full SOUV can be found here: http://www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org/assets/Stonehenge-andAvebury-WHS-SOUV.pdfbut the key attributes of that significance are worth reiterating:

The Attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site 
1. Stonehenge itself as a globally famous and iconic monument.
2. The physical remains of the Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial monuments and associated sites.
3. The siting of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to the landscape.
4. The design of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to the skies and astronomy.
5. The siting of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to each other.
6. The disposition, physical remains and settings of the key Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary, ceremonial and other monuments and sites of the period, which together form a landscape without parallel.
7. The influence of the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial monuments and their landscape settings on architects, artists, historians, archaeologists and others.

The protection of OUV as expressed through these Attributes, together with the Authenticity and Integrity of the WHS are therefore key considerations in assessing proposals within the site or its setting.

POTENTIAL IMPACT OF ROUTE OPTIONS D061 and D062

 Aspects common to both route options (from east to west) Countess Roundabout/junction – the proposals to improve Countess by means of a flyover for the A303 and grade-separated junction would not appear, from the information available in the consultation documents, to have any significant impact upon the OUV of the WHS, given the baseline condition of this part of the site. However, the infrastructure associated with the junction improvements, including signage, lighting, fencing, cameras etc will require sensitive consideration. Although it appears that all the proposed works will take place within the existing highway land-take, we note the potential for indirect (setting and visual) impacts upon the following designated heritage assets, which will require careful assessment: • Amesbury Abbey – Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II Listed Buildings, Grade II* Registered Park & Garden • Amesbury Conservation Area – we note that the northern edge of the conservation area abuts the highway land-take at Countess • Countess Farm – group of Grade II Listed Buildings on north-west edge of the junction. From Countess to proposed Eastern Portal – the consultation documents suggest that this section remains entirely within the existing highway land-take up to the point where the road would divert to the north to enter the eastern portal approach. It does not appear that this section will impact upon the OUV of the WHS, however any new signage etc will require very careful consideration. • Blick Mead – whilst of an earlier period than that for which the WHS is designated, this fairly recently discovered Mesolithic site is likely to be of national importance. It lies immediately south of the existing highway land-take along this section of the route. We are aware of concerns regarding the potential impact of changes in the water table as a result of the scheme’s development, and the detrimental effect this could have upon the preservation of the site. We understand that the site excavations are due to be published in 2017 and should enable its significance to be properly characterised. In terms of the proposed road improvement, its impact on groundwater levels and hydrogeology must be thoroughly assessed to demonstrate its sustainability and whether there would be any material effect upon the archaeology at Blick Mead. 

Eastern tunnel portal – the proposed location of the eastern portal follows one of the key recommendations of the 2016 WHC & ICOMOS report in placing the portal to the east of the Stonehenge Avenue. The Avenue in this location is known to survive as buried archaeological remains and runs nearly perpendicular to the existing A303 dual carriageway, by which it is bisected. By placing the portal to the east of the Avenue and removing the existing A303 from the eastern portal westwards to Longbarrow junction, it brings forward the eventual prospect of making much of its course through the landscape legible or even accessible to future generations. This would be a significant achievement for the conservation and enhancement of the WHS and a major improvement on the present surface road. The proposed portal location is also favourable in terms of its archaeological impact. Historic England, as part of the Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Group (HMAG – also set up in response to a recommendation of the 2016 WHC and ICOMOS report) was involved in the design and monitoring of the archaeological assessment and evaluation of the portal site. This work was undertaken to a very high standard and sampled a high percentage of the portal site and approach. Surprisingly, the results demonstrated a very low archaeological presence at this location within the WHS. We understand that Highways England will be making the results of this archaeological work publicly available as soon as it is ready to issue. The combination of negligible archaeological impact, preservation of the Avenue and the relatively low intervisibility between the portal site and OUV-relevant sites & monuments leads us to the view that the eastern portal proposals are acceptable in-principle and should preserve OUV. However, it is critical that the infrastructure is designed and located sensitively if this improvement is to be properly realised. The bored tunnel – the twin, fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km would deliver huge benefits for the WHS by facilitating the removal of the damaging and intrusive surface road that presently severs the Stonehenge WHS in two. It would entail the removal of the surface dual and single carriageway road from the eastern portal location on the east side of King Barrow Ridge across to Longbarrow junction on the west side of the WHS. This would enable the reunification of the WHS north and south of the current road. At present, around two thirds of the WHS lie to the south of the A303, effectively isolated from the northern part which contains Stonehenge and the other major ceremonial monuments. The land to the south of the current A303 contains some of the most spectacular groups of funerary monuments and a more diverse landscape than that which visitors are familiar with to the north of the road. At present none of this heritage is promoted for visitors because of the dangers inherent in crossing a busy trunk road.

The bored tunnel presents an opportunity to hugely improve the visitor experience to the whole WHS landscape, opening up new views and new approaches to Stonehenge along public rights of way, in addition to the rich heritage of the southern part of the Stonehenge landscape. Removal of the surface road via the bored tunnel will significantly enhance the OUV of this part of the WHS, improve the setting of some of the country’s most important and bestpreserved prehistoric monuments including Stonehenge itself, and restore tranquillity to this ancient landscape.

Western Portal – the western portal position as shown in the consultation documents requires significant improvement. 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. In addition, the harmful OUV impact is compounded by the portal location requiring a deep cut into the shoulder of Normanton Down, which will also have a significant adverse impact upon the interrelationship between the Normanton Down, Lake and Winterbourne Stoke barrow groups – three of the key monument groups that carry OUV. To ensure that the scheme is fit for this world-class landscape it is essential that the location at which traffic emerges into the landscape is one that can demonstrate it protects the OUV. As part of Historic England and National Trust’s consideration of the proposals, we have undertaken an outline assessment of potential OUV impacts, to help inform our position on the two route options presently in consultation. A copy of this technical report2 is included as an appendix to this response. We recommend that the report is carefully considered by Highways England, with particular reference to the conclusions on potential solutions for the western portal. Highways England will also need to consider the forthcoming report of the second Advisory Mission that took place at the beginning of February this year to consider the current proposals. The WHC and ICOMOS report should be given due regard in addition to our advice.

West of the Western Portal – here the two options D061 and D062 diverge and follow different routes to the western WHS boundary. The following comments are route option specific, followed by issues applicable to both options in this section of the scheme:  – the more northerly of the two options, the proposed route would bisect the Diamond Wood heading due west and leave the WHS approximately 600m south of Longbarrow junction. Archaeological assessment and evaluation was undertaken by Highways England in Autumn 2016 on land to the west of Diamond Wood, in consideration of a previous route iteration. This work confirmed the presence of a suspected long barrow, and identified a further, previously unknown long barrow and a hengiform monument. These newly identified monuments are of direct relevance to the OUV of the WHS and in our outline OUV assessment (see above) have been associated with other Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments to form the Diamond Group Whilst D061 has been designed to avoid direct impacts upon this archaeology, it would nonetheless run between the members of the Diamond Group of monuments, severing the most southerly of the long barrows from its neighbours. The severance and negative setting impact of the road cut through such a tightly knit group of monuments directly relevant to the inscription of the WHS would undoubtedly have a significant adverse effect on OUV. • D062 – This route option runs through the southern part of Diamond Wood before following a relatively low-lying contour to exit the WHS at a low point approximately 1.3km south of Longbarrow roundabout, passing across the A360 road into the woodland-enclosed field known as The Park. This route option seeks to utilise the topography of the WHS to advantage in providing a relatively unobtrusive path through the landscape. However, the consultation materials suggest a working assumption that much of the route would be ‘at grade’ or even on embankment. Our joint outline OUV assessment with National Trust suggests that a route option such as D062 (or any future variant) must be largely in cutting if it is to mitigate effectively a significant impact of any new road – the sight of heavy goods vehicles moving through the WHS landscape. We refer you to the report and its recommendations in terms of cuttings for the surface road alignment.

 An additional advantage of D062 is that the exit point from the WHS coincides with a small dry valley opposite The Park. Any junction necessary for the A303/A360 interchange would be located within The Park. The design assumption that neither the junction nor the new surface road would be lit is certainly to be welcomed, however it is potentially of concern that the new junction within The Park, and much of the new surface road, will lie on the midwinter solstice sunset alignment as viewed from Stonehenge. Attribute 4 of the SOUV reminds us that “The design of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to the skies and astronomy” is an important component of the OUV of the WHS. The scheme will therefore need to demonstrate that the infrastructure can be delivered without harming this attribute of OUV. The midwinter solstice sunset issue is primarily about the potential intrusion caused by approaching headlights, while there is a wider WHS landscape issue to consider around developing infrastructure upon one of the key alignments through the site. Identifying whether there are likely to be any impacts arising from these parts of the route option – and avoiding them - should be an important aspect of the future evolution of the scheme. •

Archaeological assessment and evaluation – the Diamond Group of OUV-relevant monuments referred to above was identified through early archaeological assessment and evaluation undertaken to inform a previous route iteration. Historic England was involved in both the design and monitoring of this archaeological work, which was carried out to a very high standard and intensively inspected. The results of that work allowed us a relatively high degree of confidence in the archaeological potential of the areas it covered. Both D061 and D062 were designed to avoid archaeology found in previous investigations, however the new alignments they take through the WHS will themselves require archaeological assessment and evaluation in that same way. It is strongly recommended that this work takes place in consultation with HMAG as soon as possible. Until the archaeological character of these routes is understood there remains the risk of significant finds being made along their alignments. Dependent upon the significance of that archaeology (if present) it could prove a substantive constraint to  that particular route, therefore an early understanding of archaeological potential is essential. • Scheduled linear earthwork along west side of Diamond Wood – both route options would bisect Scheduled Monument No. 1010837 Linear boundary from south east of Winterbourne Stoke crossroads to south west of The Diamond on Wilsford Down. This monument is part a middle Bronze Age land boundary which runs for several kilometres along a general north-west/south-east alignment. A circa 1.2km length of the boundary is scheduled from southwest of Longbarrow junction to south of the Diamond Wood where it survives as an extant earthwork, albeit variably preserved within arable land. As it is later than the Neolithic/Early Bronze Age period for which the WHS is inscribed this monument does not carry OUV, but is nonetheless a nationally-important, protected site. Ordinarily Scheduled Monument Consent would be required for the loss of part of this monument, but under the Planning Act 2008 that consent is subsumed within the Development Consent Order process. Regardless of how consent is determined, NPPF identifies Scheduled Monuments as one of the most important types of designated heritage asset, and provides plain guidance on the wholly exceptional circumstances in which harm to or loss of part of such an asset might be contemplated. This includes a requirement to set out a clear and convincing justification of the significant public benefits that would be secured in order to offset that harm. We would expect Highways England to set out a strong justification for the loss of part of this linear monument if either of these route options are progressed to a DCO application. Winterbourne Stoke Bypass – At the time of writing neither bypass option has been subjected to archaeological assessment and evaluation as part of the current scheme. We recommend that this is progressed as soon as possible to inform considerations over the best route around Winterbourne Stoke. Our concerns with regard to the WHS will be in terms of avoiding harmful impacts upon its setting caused by the route outside its boundary, however we are aware that there is a very rich archaeological potential for archaeology of all periods (not just OUV-relevant) within this landscape and the advice of Wiltshire Council’s Archaeology service should be sought to assist in this.

RELEVANT POLICY FRAMEWORK

International - In 1984 the UK ratified the World Heritage Convention 1972, article 4 of which requires State Parties to do “all they can, to the utmost of their abilities” to protect and transmit the OUV of their WHSs. Details on the scope and nature of relevant protection efforts are set out in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (World Heritage Committee 2005). In addition, ICOMOS International, heritage advisers to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, has produced supplementary guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) for development within WHSs (ICOMOS 2011), to gauge the effect of proposals on OUV. It recommends an iterative series of HIAs, undertaken as a project moves from initial scoping through design and application. We are aware that Highways England has commissioned HIA iterations for the early stages of the scheme, but note that a full and thorough Heritage Impact Assessment in line with the ICOMOS 2011 guidance will be required to accompany any scheme going forward. As noted above, the special qualities of the WHS were formally set out in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV) adopted by the WH Committee in June 2013. The SOUV describes the Attributes of OUV that are central to the significance of the WHS. Importantly, these not only refer to Stonehenge and its relationship to the other major monuments, but also to the relationship between individual groups of monuments themselves and the value of night skies & relevant astronomical alignments. The value of the whole WHS as a “landscape without parallel” is also recognised as an Attribute. National - As a nationally-significant infrastructure project (NSIP) the A303 Stonehenge Improvement will seek consent via the Development Consent Order (DCO) process under the Planning Act 2008. Schemes seeking DCO must demonstrate that they comply with relevant international treaties to which the UK is a signatory. The 1972 World Heritage Convention is one such treaty. The DCO process follows the policy and guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (DCLG2012), supplemented by the online Planning Practice Guidance (Gov.uk website). Both sources contain clear guidance on how to approach historic environment issues within the context of development. NPPF identifies World Heritage Sites as one of the most important forms of designated heritage asset, whilst the supplementary PPG contains further guidance on how to treat WHSs, including a link to the ICOMOS 2011 HIA guidance. Local - the scheme should comply with the 2015 Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Management Plan, which contains a series of policies agreed by all WHS partners (including Highways England) for the protection & enhancement of the WHS. The Plan includes policies on the  impact of roads and transport and broadly states that solutions to intrusive traffic issues, including the A303, should protect the OUV of the WHS. The Plan carries weight in the local planning process and although the current Plan has not been formally adopted as SPD it can be expected to be a document of interest in consideration of the DCO. From our prior engagement in the scheme we are aware that Highways England and their consultants are working to all of the policy requirements set out here, in order to develop a scheme fit for the WHS – we encourage them to continue work closely with us and other heritage partners to ensure the emerging scheme accords with this strong raft of policy protection.

HISTORIC ENGLAND POSITION 

 Both options D061 and D062 include a tunnel of at least 2.9km within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. This would remove the majority of the existing damaging A303 road and its traffic from the WHS, finally reuniting the north and south sides of this extraordinary ancient landscape and allowing people to enjoy and understand it better. It would also allow for the reinstatement of the line of the Stonehenge Avenue, the ancient processional route to the stones. This is the first time that a scheme to improve the A303 within the Stonehenge landscape has recognised and respected the importance of the Avenue. However the current proposals for the tunnel’s western portal are a cause for significant concern. This is due to the portal’s current proximity to the Normanton Down barrow group and the wider adverse impacts on OUV presented by its position. We hope that these concerns can be resolved with careful and sensitive revision to the positioning and design of the western portal. This is a key issue to resolve for the development of a successful scheme that we would be able to support through the DCO process. We are committed to working with Highways England to find an alignment and design for the western portal and new western surface road that is appropriate for this internationally important place and protects its Outstanding Universal Value. We believe that this scheme presents the best chance in a generation to resolve the long running traffic problems that blight the WHS, and that the current proposals contain many positive aspects which deserve recognition. They represent a huge opportunity to develop a road improvement within the WHS, but the scheme must improve its western elements for this to be the exemplary scheme that the Stonehenge WHS so deserves.

Yours sincerely,

PHIL MCMAHON Inspector of Ancient Monuments Appendix 1, Historic England and National Trust, Stonehenge A303 improvement: outline assessment of the impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property of potential route options presented by Highways England for January 2017, 2017 .

UNESCO Report on the Stonehenge Tunnel Proposal

The World Heritage Committee;

Expresses concern that the 2.9km Stonehenge tunnel options and their associated 2.2km of dual carriageway approach roads within the property that are under consideration, would impact adversely the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the property;

Urges the State Party to explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV of the property, including:

  • The F10 non-tunnel by-pass option to the south of the property,
  • Longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property and further detailed investigations regarding tunnel alignment and both east and west portal locations;


(Draft Decision 41 COM 7B.56)

Full text:

Road and traffic affect the integrity, condition and setting of the property and the experience of visitors and local people. The main A303 road runs for 5.5km across the centre of the property and was noted as an issue at the time of inscription. The State Party is now committed to addressing its impact as part of a major infrastructure project to upgrade a road route between London and the West of England. A feasibility study for this overall A303/A358/A30 route corridor was prepared in 2014.
The State Party position is that a road improvement scheme for the Stonehenge section that includes a twin-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km, with dual carriageway approach roads on either side, has the potential to deliver benefits by removing the surface road from the central parts of the property.
For the Stonehenge part of the project, a technical advisory working group, was convened including English Heritage (now Historic England), the National Trust and Wiltshire Council, and the local planning authority.
The State Party invited an initial UNESCO/ICOMOS Advisory mission in October 2015, to advise on the overall processes. The mission report is available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list373/documents and informed Highways England’s development of possible route options. Public Consultation on two preferred route options involving a 2.9km tunnel occurred during January and February 2017.
A second Advisory mission to consider the emerging proposals occurred in February 2017. The mission report acknowledges the responses to the first advisory mission recommendations, particularly on processes, archaeological investigations and assessments, but notes that some matters are yet to be implemented. This second mission recommends that a non-tunnel by-pass to the south of the property be re-considered and that further work should also occur on longer tunnel options, particularly in relation to portal location and potential impact on the overall Stonehenge cultural landscape and the setting of the property.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

Considering the iconic status of the property, the State Party and its agencies should continue to proceed thoroughly and cautiously, to ensure that the optimal solution is identified and implemented for the widening of the A303. The governance and decision making processes for the project is sophisticated, but has not afforded sufficient priority to the OUV of the property. While a range of issues and factors must be balanced, the appropriate approach is to avoid adverse impacts on the OUV of the property. It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset significant damage from lengths of four lane approach roads in cuttings elsewhere in the property.
The State Party and its relevant agencies have responded to the recommendations of the first mission, but some matters, such as establishing a ‘scientific committee’ are yet to be implemented.
Following the first mission a broad range of options remained under consideration, although media attention has focused on a tunnel proposal of at least 2.9km. Additional research, archaeological investigations and iterations of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) have identified that an alternative bypass route (the F10) would have no impact on OUV and could bring significant benefits to the property and the wider Stonehenge landscape, and therefore warrants further consideration, even though it was ruled out prior to the public consultation in early 2017.
The 2.9km tunnel options presented in the public consultation would cause adverse impact on the OUV of the property from their approach roads and associated portals. Both portals would have visual impact, but the extent of new roads beyond, within the property, is of greater concern. The potential impact of some 2.2km of four lane approach roads in cuttings on the Stonehenge landscape could fundamentally compromise the OUV of the property.
If the western portal were to be moved to or outside the property boundary, the approach roads (and their impacts) would shift outside the property, where dual carriageways are already planned. Determination of the precise location would require further investigations as well as consideration of the best alignment for a longer tunnel.
The current positioning of the eastern tunnel portal to the east of the 'Avenue', on-line on the current path of the A303 road, but still within the property, mitigates its impact, but further adjustment of the location for this portal, closer to Countess Roundabout, should be considered, noting that other issues, including potential impacts on Blick Mead and Vespasian’s Camp archaeological sites, where recent investigations have uncovered new significant archaeological finds, must also be addressed.
The project is a government project, and it is therefore within the power of the State Party and its agencies to decide when to lodge applications or take other actions which trigger commencement of statutory timelines. Therefore, it should be possible to align the project process with the timeframe of the Committee statutory meetings. Achieving an optimal outcome requires a continuing, thorough, reflective, process. Provision should be made to ensure that the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the Committee can continue to contribute to the evaluation and decision making processes at appropriate stages.

Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.56

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.116, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
  3. Takes note with satisfaction of the management achievements, and progress with implementation of previous Committee Decisions, to address protection and management issues identified in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property;
  4. Commends the State Party for having invited two Advisory missions to advise on the process for determining and evaluating options for the proposed upgrading of the main A303 road across the property, as part of a wide major infrastructure project;
  5. Expresses concern that the 2.9km Stonehenge tunnel options and their associated 2.2km of dual carriageway approach roads within the property that are under consideration, would impact adversely the OUV of the property;
  6. Urges the State Party to explore further options with a view to avoiding impacts on the OUV of the property, including: 
    1. The F10 non-tunnel by-pass option to the south of the property,
    2. Longer tunnel options to remove dual carriageway cuttings from the property and further detailed investigations regarding tunnel alignment and both east and west portal locations;
  7. Encourages the State Party to address the findings and implement the recommendations of both Advisory missions and to invite further World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory missions to the property, to be financed by the State Party, in order to continue to facilitate progress towards an optimal solution for the widening of the A303 to ensure no adverse impact on the OUV of the property;
  8. Requests the State Party to manage the timing of the consent and other statutory processes for the A303 trunk road project to ensure that the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee can continue to contribute to the evaluation and decision-making processes at appropriate stages;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

EH - The Stonehenge Landscape, look at it from behind our fence.

The Highways A303 consultation document:

"Better access: the A303 is a difficult road to cross on foot. Surveys show that many visitors do not venture into the southern half of the WHS at the moment. Removing the road would make it much easier for people to explore more of the WHS and discover other important monuments by being able to roam freely and safely between different parts of this unique landscape."

Heather Sebire, Senior Property Curator for English Heritage in Antiquity Journal

"To the south of the monument, the proposed A303 road scheme has the potential to transform the World Heritage Site landscape further. The long-term vision for this remarkable and unique ancient site is the removal of the busy current surface road, as it will allow Stonehenge to be experienced without the intrusive drone of traffic and glare of headlights.
Visitors will be able to look out to the many burial mounds associated with Stonehenge from the monument, without the constant blur of cars and lorries obscuring the view. If the proposed tunnel scheme, and associated infrastructure, is designed well and located sensitively, the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site and its assets could be greatly enhanced whilst simultaneously improving the setting of Stonehenge itself and people’s experience of it".


Note the difference between encouraging people to explore the landscape and the English Heritage's "Visitors will be able to look out..improving the setting of Stonehenge itself and people’s experience of it".

Guess they don't want people to leave their pay to enter area.