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We have reached the moment of decision for Stonehenge” announced Baroness Birk, parliamentary under secretary of state, “Either we protect it or we continue to allow people to trample over the site and allow posterity to look after itself. I am not prepared to consider the latter alternative”. Accordingly, visitors are to be kept behind a picket and rope fence 100 feet from the centre of the circle. The restriction is necessary, according to conservation officials, because of the enormous numbers of people that visit who have been wearing and chipping away at the stones, have obliterated the grit and gravel suface and trampled the site to mud. The bluestones are soft and showing signs of wear and some of the incised carvings have been rubbed away by careless feet and curious fingers.


Actually, we have to confess this story is thirty five years old. It’s about what the Government announced as their new “hands off” policy in 1976 … enge&hl=en  and which they have imposed very strictly ever since (except on one night every year at Summer solstice when they completely ignore it). We thought we’d bring it up again, at the risk of being accused of nagging, because there has been no answer to our recent enquiry … he-stones/ about whether the talk of restoring the monument to splendid isolation meant all the fences are to be removed and people are therefore going to be given free access to the stones once again. Are they? Is the policy maintained since 1976 going to be reversed or not? Have the reasons given  to Parliament back then turned out to have been mistaken?


September 2011

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