A guide to siting new roads around Stonehenge


Historic England has published a new edition of its online research magazine. It‘s devoted to new research around Stonehenge. You can read it here – excavations (covered in news reports in British Archaeology), surveys, artwork and finds. I’m just going to pick up on one thing…

Martyn Barber and Fiona Small write about mapping the world heritage site from aerial photos and lidar. The article handily reproduces a map updated to 2016.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the road tunnel options, with an alternative route favoured by some archaeologists that would put the A303 just south of the world heritage site boundary. I showed a map. The map below shows part of the area, with ancient earthworks in red:


WHS south 1.jpg

The second map shows the same area, with Barber and Small’s map added. The thin red and green lines present different types of evidence for largely ephemeral ancient earthworks, most of them almost certainly prehistoric, often field ditches which reach back into the bronze age. We know from recent geophysics surveys around Stonehenge that there is more there underground than this shows, but one thing is pretty clear. If we are to argue where to put a big new road purely on the grounds of known evidence for ancient activity, the first place we would choose is not parallel to the world heritage site boundary just to its south. Or to put it another way, the pink surface route favoured by some archaeologists as an alternative to a tunnel goes through an awful lot of antiquity.


WHS south 2.jpg

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