The saga of Stonehenge continues, with the various learned bodies vying with each other to see who can produce the most extravagant and expensive plan for Stonehenge.
I am bored by the whole affair, but there is one suggestion that I rather like. This comes from a rather mysterious body which calls itself Heritage Action.
Their proposal is for what they call an ‘Achievable Stonehenge’. This consists very simply of closing and grassing over the A344 road – which is the road that runs off from the main A303 trunk road and goes right past Stonehenge. Access to Stonehenge would then mean going past Stonehenge on the A303 and turning right and right again and cutting back to the present car park. English Heritage has done its best over the years to uglify the car park so that they can call it a ‘National Disgrace,’ but it really was rather a clever wheeze for its time, since the cars are placed in a natural hollow where they can be scarcely seen from Stonehenge itself. Any half decent architect could spruce this up no end, but this would mean that English Heritage would not get what it really wants, which is an elaborate and expensive visitor centre.
I am afraid that with Stonehenge I have always been in the minority, in that I believe that the view of Stonehenge as one comes over the Amesbury ridge is one of the most splendid views in the world and should be kept. If the whole of the A303 is put into a tunnel, this view will be lost which means that 99% of the people who see Stonehenge now will not see Stonehenge in the future. You will only be able to see the monument if you make a day of it and have a long walk – it will become a once in a life time’s experience.
The world these days is divided between the anti-car and the pro-car factions and at Stonehenge the anti-car faction is winning: they want to make sure that no car is visible from Stonehenge. However, cars contain people, and this means that Stonehenge will no longer be visible from the tens of thousands of cars that pass by every day – and I think this is a pity.
I suspect that I am not alone in this belief – indeed, from my casual observations I suspect we are only outnumbered by 2:1. This proposal for an achievable Stonehenge seems to me to be a proposal that will solve most of the immediate problems – cheaply. The trouble is English Heritage will not get its lavish Visitor Centre, and they will not like that at all.
This opinion comes from CA issue 204