LXXX miles from London
Did you know there’s an old milestone at Stonehenge? It was once on the other side of the road from where it now stands, close to the Heelstone (above). Before that it had been sited a quarter of a mile away, but at some time between 1810 and 1877 it was moved to Stonehenge – as all the milestones on that bit of road were nudged westwards the same way.
This is the sort of Stonehenge trivia I enjoy. It doesn’t help us know anything about why Stonehenge is there or the people who built it, or solve any of life’s great problems. But like a little detail of family or local history that can be so important to some, and mean almost nothing to most, for me it helps colour the bigger picture that is Stonehenge down the centuries, whose entirety has been with me on and off for so long (like, to take a few random musical examples, the Beatles, Bach and Kurt Weill). And I know there are a few out there who share that sort of fascination with Stonehenge.
Enough rambling. Where this comes from is that at the Stonehenge panel meeting I mentioned in my last post, there was a reference to a milestone at Airman’s Corner that will have to be moved if the proposals go ahead. It’s a metal one, so not part of the Heelstone set, but it reminded me of that, and when I mentioned it I discovered noone there knew the story of the Stonehenge milestone. So here it is (or part of it). I might occasionally continue to add Stonehenge trivia in this way: when you spend as much time as I and a few colleagues do around Stonehenge, you pick up a lot of little tidbits that others might like to learn about and that might be worth recording.
So what happened, is that in 1983, when I was curator at the Alexander Keiller museum in Avebury, I was asked to watch the milestone being moved from beside the Heelstone across to the other side of the road (people were using it to help them climb over the wire fence into the stones – this was two years before the infamous Battle of the Beanfield). Here are copies of the memo to me making that request, and my one page typed report on what I found out. My original report will be in English Heritage files somewhere, but this is the first time it’s been published!
Stonehenge is not just a ring of megaliths, it’s a universe of stories.