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by Heritage Action’s Goffik

So – where are we? Are we now allowed to go climbing up Silbury and clamber all over Stonehenge? Excellent! Now I can sate my desire to sit and/or stand on things!

Not really. I don’t understand the mentality of the desire to climb things. Is it because you’re not supposed to? Is it like sticking 2 fingers up at the guardians of the site that request that you don’t do it? A sort of “Hey, man – these things belong to *all* of us, therefore I’m going to help myself!”?

"Hey, the stones are everyone's maaan so I'm entitled!"

If it *were* only one person doing it, once, then the damage would probably be non-existent. But if you multiply that by the amount of visitors to these places each year, then of course “wear and tear” will occur! I use that phrase lightly, but if you look at the visitor numbers for Stonehenge and Silbury, and imagine every single one of those people wanting to climb, I don’t think you need to be *that* clever to work out that it’ll cause damage!

St Catherine’s Hill, in Winchester – a gorgeous hillfort with a mizmaze at the top (and, sadly, the M3 motorway gouged through the adjoining hill, but that’s another thread, I guess!) – has so many visitors that, after decades/centuries, a path was formed by god knows how many people using the same route. The corrosion became so bad that a wooden stairway was constructed up the side! It has the benefit of conserving the rest of the hill, but it’s not really that attractive.

Silbury, with a million (is that a fair estimate? Totally plucked from nowhere so may be well off!) visitors a year, would soon become criss-crossed with paths and worn areas if everyone decided they wanted to climb up! And Stonehenge – although the stones are, as is the nature of stone, quite hard, surely you’ve seen the effect of decades/centuries of wear and tear on stone? Go visit a castle or summat and have a look at any original stairway or other much-used surface area.

So *well done* and a pat on the head to those that *have* climbed the hill/stones. Have a biscuit.


July 2010

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