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Stonehenge on 'most threatened' world wonders list


The traffic-choked roads still roaring past Stonehenge in Wiltshire have earned the world's most famous prehistoric monument a place on a list of the world's most threatened sites.

The government's decision to abandon, on cost grounds, a plan to bury roads around Stonehenge in a tunnel underground and the consequent collapse of the plans for a new visitor centre, have put the site on the Threatened Wonders list of Wanderlust magazine, along with the 4x4-scarred Wadi Rum in Jordan, and the tourist-eroded paths and steps of the great Inca site at Machu Picchu in Peru.

Lyn Hughes, editor in chief of Wanderlust, said the A303 and A344 junctions near Stonehenge meant the site was "brutally divorced from its context". She said: "Seeing it without its surrounding landscape is to experience only a fraction of this historical wonder. The fact that the government and various planning bodies cannot agree on implementing a radical solution to this problem is a national disgrace."

The first great earth banks and ditches of the monument date back 5,000 years, and it was then repeatedly remodelled, with the addition of the circle of sarsen stones the size of doubledecker buses, and smaller bluestones brought from west Wales, and said to have healing powers.

Hughes was echoing the words 21 years ago of the parliamentary public accounts committee, which in 1989 damned the presentation of the site and the facilities for tourists as "a national disgrace".

Since then millions have been spent on alternative road plans and architectural designs for the visitor centre, on exhibitions, consultations and public inquiries, without a sod of earth being turned.

Argument about how to care for the site raged throughout the 20th century: the circle itself is in the guardianship of English Heritage, while the National Trust owns thousands of acres of surrounding countryside, studded with hundreds more henges, barrows and other prehistoric monuments.

At the moment the best hope is that a much simpler and cheaper visitor centre can still be created, two kilometres from the site, in time for London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

Wanderlust has also named three places that need more visitors and their spending power: Zimbabwe, north-east Thailand and Madagascar.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/12/stonehenge-threatened-wonder-of-world
Posted by Mustard
12th January 2010ce

Comments (9)

With respect and not wishing to cause any offence, there are some double standards going on here. The editor in chief of Wanderlust telling us what anyone who has visited Stonehenge already knows then her publication going on to say ...

"Wanderlust has also named three places that need more visitors and their spending power: Zimbabwe, north-east Thailand and Madagascar."

Perhaps it would make more sense to say stay at home in your own country and use your spending power to preserve its heritage - without spoiling anymore of the world with pollution etc. Not sure why anyone would want to go to Zimbabwe as a tourist just at the moment unless things have radically changed while I was looking the other way.
tjj Posted by tjj
12th January 2010ce
Excellent news feature Mr M - thanks!

Lyn Hughes certainly sums it up when she says, "...the A303 and A344 junctions near Stonehenge meant the site was "brutally divorced from its context... Seeing it without its surrounding landscape is to experience only a fraction of this historical wonder. The fact that the government and various planning bodies cannot agree on implementing a radical solution to this problem is a national disgrace."

"The fact that the government and various planning bodies cannot agree on implementing a radical solution to this problem is a national disgrace" Absolutely! The crux of the matter, and something many of us have been saying for years while those with little or no knowledge of the issue come and go and spend vast amounts of our money in the process.
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
12th January 2010ce
Hardly news though is it.. more like an advert for Wunderlust magazine if you ask me. Most of the news on the internet is like that?? Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th January 2010ce
Anything that keeps the sorry state of Stonehenge and its environs in the public eye is a good thing though, surely? Posted by Mustard
13th January 2010ce
I, personally, couldn't agree more.

Any positive publicity - or information regarding those at risk - for any of our ancient sites is a good thing, in my opinion. The more people are interested, the more care they'll receive. :)

Theoretically, anyway. ;)

G x
goffik Posted by goffik
13th January 2010ce
alright then I'm an incurable cynic.

'Flat Earth News' suggests journalism isn't what it used to be. I know it's in the Guardian but it still sounds like an advert.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th January 2010ce
A good dose of healthy cynicism is often needed to balance things out a bit... :)

And you're most likely not wrong, anyway! It's just nice to see these things brought to the public eye, no matter how it's done. :)

G x
goffik Posted by goffik
13th January 2010ce
"Anything that keeps the sorry state of Stonehenge and its environs in the public eye is a good thing though, surely?"

I'm inclined to agree with you Mr M. So too does Maev Kennedy, writing in the Guardian yesterday. I'm not sure if she knows something we don't, however, or she just needs to catch up a bit -

"The government's decision to abandon, on cost grounds, a plan to bury roads around Stonehenge in a tunnel underground and the consequent collapse of the plans for a new visitor centre...

"At the moment the best hope is that a much simpler and cheaper visitor centre can still be created, two kilometres from the site, in time for London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics."*

Was under the impression that 'a much simpler and cheaper visitor centre' had already been agreed on...

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/12/stonehenge-threatened-wonder-of-world
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
13th January 2010ce
Mustard it wasn't the report on Stonehenge, albeit not quite current, that irritated but the bit about taking your spending power to three deprived areas of the world - one of which we know is suffering from horrendous poverty due to its political regime. It seemed to me to be aimed at the affluent in society (not me for sure) and everyone knows that tourism is very much a double edged sword.
http://i296.photobucket.com/albums/mm200/TJJackson66/005-8.jpg Banksy on tourism

bw
tjj
tjj Posted by tjj
13th January 2010ce
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