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With the UK set to leave the European Union on the 31st October there was some doubt over organisations from abroad being able to do the work.

But after a visit to Salisbury Plain yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister had a message for the locals: it wouldn’t make a difference to the companies interested, worldwide. After Brexit, when we’re “free of cumberson procurement processes”, the Stonehenge tunnel may well prove to be cheaper to build!

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Some of the inhabitants of the nearby villages, plagued by rat running, are clearly Highways England’s favourite people. Sir Humphrey can paint the short tunnel not as unjustified heritage vandalism but as a kindness to them.

To be fair, many locals see that. They understand that the rational thing to be lobbying for is a solution that helps them but DOESN’T cause massive damage to the World Heritage Site. But unfortunately the loudest local voices are not from them but from STAG, the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group, which is perfectly willing either to countenance the heritage damage or to say, Drake-like, “I see no damage!”. Their latest pronouncement says it all:

Of course! …. nothing needs to be done about the A303 past Stonehenge. At least that’s what Stonehenge Alliance and their associated groups, sycophants, and whom so ever would have us believe, in the same way that Hitler; by repeating the same lie ad infanitum, believed that people would inevitably accept it as truth.  And by the way…..the majority of their followers don’t live where we live.

To claim opponents of the short tunnel say nothing needs to be done is clearly ridiculous. But one thing they do have right is the fact that most critics of the scheme don’t live near Stonehenge. The clue’s in the name: it’s not “The Wiltshire Heritage Site” it’s “The World Heritage Site”! People everywhere have the right to call for the British Government to spend more money in order to provide a solution that doesn’t damage the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage landscape. Implying they don’t, and that it’s a matter for locals, merely aids those who would deliver unforgivable damage.

A foolish stance!

Having been approached by local veterans Robert Hardie and Ian Lawes that had formed a band, ‘Duck n Cuvver’, one might think English Heritage would have a sympathetic ear to a request to shoot a music video within the stone circle at Stonehenge.

Having performed at the National Armed Forces Day the band released the track ‘Henge of Stone’ and hoped to complete a video within the monument. The request has been approved, but only if the band cough up £4,500!

We understand you can’t let anyone and everyone have Stonehenge to play with English Heritage, but this is a huge sum for these guys to find. Let them film English Heritage – and don’t be so mean to veterans.

https://www.facebook.com/duckncuvver/

The likes of English Heritage and Historic England are very much into their heritage heroes and none more so than Sir John Lubbock, our greatest prehistorian, who introduced the Ancient Monuments Act which set up a system of scheduling and state guardianship which has prevailed to the present day and has been replicated worldwide.

But our present-day “heritage champions” only revere him when convenient. When the road lobby comes calling they disregard him entirely and massive new damage is repackaged as “worthwhile improvement”. Yet who can deny that Sir John would be appalled at the “worthwhile improvement” English Heritage and Historic England are promoting at Stonehenge at the behest of the Government and in defiance of UNESCO?

If you’re in doubt, consider whether he would ever deny – or they would ever acknowledge – the immutable truth of his words to the Anthropological Institute on 15th of January 1872:

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“The continued destruction of prehistoric monuments is a fact which I am sure we all deeply regret, and which reflects little credit on us as a nation.”


 

Remember this which we reported exactly 10 years ago in August 2009?

A local mayor in Alabama reckoned destroying this 1,500-year-old Native American ceremonial mound and using the dirt as fill for a new Walmart retail warehouse store called Sam’s Club would be fine, and memorably announced: “What it’s going to be is more prettier than it is today”

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Of course, Historic England, English Heritage and The National Trust aren’t rednecks. But if you strip away their high falutin’ talk, that’s exactly what they’re saying about the Stonehenge short tunnel project! So pure redneckery on both sides of the pond!

They’ve just said we’re “completely out of touch” and not “looking at the wider picture” for opposing the short tunnel scheme and that most others are wrong too: “The majority of people against doing something about the A303 past Stonehenge, do NOT live where we live!” We’re grateful, as they’ve given us the opportunity to explain some fundamental realities to them:

1. It’s true, most people who object to the scheme do NOT live in the local villages. They live in 195 countries world wide and while none of them wishes for the local villages to be blighted by rat running, all of them think the Stonehenge landscape shouldn’t suffer as a solution to that.

2. They have the sense to know a longer tunnel would prevent both the rat running and the new landscape damage and that the cost of that is tiny relative to BREXIT and HS2.

3. They also know that if this was a bland agricultural area, a few square miles with little character, there’d be no problem. But it isn’t. It’s a World Heritage Landscape, Europe’s greatest prehistoric area.

4. Hence, if STAG is supporting a short tunnel as a solution to traffic in the villages it is they not we or the people of 195 countries who are “out of touch with the real world, focusing on one thing without looking at the wider picture”. If they were campaigning for a longer tunnel which caused no damage to the World Heritage Landscape they wouldn’t be out of touch, they’d be rational and well-informed. But they’re not doing so. Blaggarding the many thousands who are doesn’t make STAG rational or well informed. Quite the reverse. It should change. It could tip the balance.

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Their latest latest is bizarre: “We’ve already conducted surveys over the past couple of years which has helped us draw up the preliminary design of the scheme. Really? But surely if you’d truly attempted to minimise damage helped by the surveys the new roads would either have been planned to follow the existing one or to bend this way and that. How could it be otherwise?

Eh?

Yet the new roads are NOT on the line of the old road at all, and as for bending this way and that to avoid damage, here’s their own image of what they plan:

Isn’t that simply the shortest (and cheapest) route between two points? Yet again Highways England’s PR department seems to have caught itself out. It’s almost as if their boss was Chris Grayling.

Oh.

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A yowling moggy is the sound of the truth being tortured. Surely no country would serve up 36 yowling moggies at a place like Stonehenge? Well, here they are. You decide.


This event saw around 200 local people gather to mark the midwinter Solstice on December 21. Having settled into a tradition over the last seven years, the occasion was launched with an ornate lantern transported to Stonehenge to be lit at sunset in an act representing the capturing of the dying rays of the old year.

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Commissioned by the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust in 2011 and created by Andy Rawlings and Michelle Topps, the lantern is an astonishing work of art with stained glass leadwork representing the World Heritage Site landscape. The transportation of the lantern to the globally famous stones is undertaken by a local woman chosen annually as the Solstice Fairy.

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The lighting of the lantern is undertaken whilst a guardian ritual is enacted by an overseeing Druid.

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Having been lit the lantern is transported to Blick Mead, where it is placed adjacent to the spring to await the lantern procession that has been gathering meanwhile in Amesbury.

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The Solstice Fairy then leads the gathering of adults and children, each carrying their own lanterns, in procession to Amesbury Abbey.

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Here the participants are greeted with mulled wine and mince pies, thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the Cornelius-Reid family and the Amesbury Abbey Nursing Home.

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On departing the Abbey refreshed and proceeding to Blick Mead, the procession forms a circle around the lantern to take part in an enjoyable and thoughtful ceremony reflecting on the year that has passed and the year to come.

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When the circle breaks the participants return home, meanwhile the lantern is safeguarded overnight then transported back to Stonehenge to be extinguished on the midwinter Solstice line as the sun rises the following day.

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Participation in the lantern procession is free and the tradition has been embraced by local people in an act reconnecting them with Stonehenge and the Mesolithic community that inhabited Blick Mead. Many thanks to Jeff Welch for sharing his wonderful photographs of the event this year. Please note that Blick Mead is on private land, access is not possible throughout the remainder of the year.

 

 

 

 

Last week, Highways England’s contractors drilled two boreholes directly into the most sensitive area of Blick Mead. These boreholes, installed for measuring water levels in relation to the A303 tunnel scheme, were excavated without anyone present from the Blick Mead team that over many years has painstakingly researched 100% of every bucket of material recovered from the site.

Not for the first time we are obliged to question the lack of awareness and sensitivity in the approach Highways England have adopted in their surveys on behalf of the A303 tunnel project. Does anyone honestly still believe Highways England’s claim this Stonehenge tunnel scheme is a “heritage project”? Come off it Highways England! Come off it Historic England! Come off it National Trust! Come off it English Heritage Trust! This is self-serving vandalism!

Pictured Andy Rhind-Tutt discovers the Highways England borehole that has been sunk in the path of the auroch hoof prints the Blick Mead project revealed in 2017.

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