In many ways, I don’t want to get started on Stonehenge. It’s been a long, hard struggle for the many organisations involved, but after nearly twenty years of wrangling and non-decision making it looks like English Heritage and their partner organisations (such as the National Trust) are ready to move forward with Stonehenge.
Years ago, it was agreed by the many stakeholders that the A344 road should not pass so closely to the stones for reasons of conservation. It’s been a long time in the planning, but everyone has now agreed that the road will be moved and how visitors will interact with the stones there. Plans submitted to Wiltshire Council now indicate a bespoke visitor centre, set into the hillside, 1.5 miles from the stone circle. There visitors will be able to learn about the historic landscape in which Stonehenge sits – it’s huge and stretches for miles – and then get into road trains which take them up to the stones.
The reason it’s taken so long os that there have been so many people involved in the decision-making process. Plus, with changing governments who see it as more or less of a priority than their predecessors, it’s been difficult to get any real leadership.
Everyone is now hoping that the plans are passed by Wiltshire Council. They will, of course, be undertaking their own consultation on the plans. But if they get the go-ahead, the visitor centre could be open in time for the Olympics.
There’s a piece analysing the plans and giving more context to the Stonehenge debacle on Museum [Insider].