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The critics are unanimous: the British Museum’s new exhibition, The World of Stonehenge, is a triumph.

And so says the Guardian, who have given a glowing 5-star review to the latest extravaganza display of our Neolithic past within the museum’s hallowed halls.

Yet all is not necessarily well at the BM. Yet again, the sponsorship of the museum by petrochemical giants BP has been called into question.

And we would also question the use of the Stonehenge name in the exhibition. Individual exhibits range from across Europe and the UK – as shown by the use of the Nebra Sky Disk (made with Cornish Gold) on the cover of the accompanying catalogue (£35!) Is the Stonehenge name being used because of the money it can draw in? We all know that Stonehenge is a cash cow for English Heritage, Heritage England and the National Trust.

And finally, at the weekend our friends at the Stonehenge Alliance staged a small roadside protest outside the museum, to warn visitors that the Stonehenge World Heritage Site near Salisbury is still ‘under threat’ from a £1.7 billion major road scheme.

As regular readers will be aware, the plans to upgrade the A303 past the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge stone circle will cause “significant” harm to the World Heritage Site.

John Adams, chairman of the Stonehenge Alliance, said:

Stonehenge is one of the most impressive megalithic structures in the world and the World Heritage Site has the densest concentration of burial mounds anywhere in Britain.

The road scheme would require massive civil engineering works within the World Heritage Site, with huge damage to this unique landscape. Even the Transport Secretary accepted the road would cause significant harm.

The scheme was firmly rejected by five senior Planning Inspectors and by UNESCO and in 2021 the High Court quashed the development consent for the scheme. The Stonehenge Alliance is asking the Government to think again.

We need a new approach that improves people’s access to the South West without damaging the World Heritage Site or increasing carbon emissions. There are better schemes the government could spend £2bn on.”


February 2022

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