A potent moment for Stonehenge

And it has nothing at all to do with Druids. In the recent history of Stonehenge, a document published yesterday has to be one of the most dramatic. It is a contract notice for English Heritage’s “Stonehenge environmental improvement project”: in other words, the chance for businesses to bid for the job of building a new visitor centre. To find a comparable event that will affect how we experience Stonehenge, we have to go back to the day when the stones went up for auction in 1915 (hence my choice of illustrations). It was bought then by another private party, but the vendor soon gave it to the nation, initiating the management history that has led to where we are now. And as we all know, where we are is a mess. So this is an exciting time, the symbolic start of an entirely new era for the site.

The document gives all sorts of details to set the imagination going (another version here). Here are a few.

Main site: Airman’s Corner, Wiltshire, UK.

Work includes:

A new roundabout and associated carriageways at Airman’s Corner

New coach park with 30 bays

New car parking with 360 permanent spaces and 140 overflow spaces

New visitor centre of two pods, one glazed, one timber-clad and partially glazed, both covered with an architectural steel canopy, designed by Denton Corker Marshall (who deserve this moment, having persevered through so much over the years), including 100sqm education area, 500sqm interpretation area (aka museum) and 270sqm for catering

Decommissioning a section of the A344 and reinstating as chalk grassland

Start May 2012, visitor centre opens October 2013, works complete April 2014. Fee £12–15m. Contact Alastair Jewell at Gardiner & Theobald (tel 0117 901 6400) or email stonehenge@gardiner.com

And may the best people win!

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