Stonehenge Tunnel Wins Instant Welcome From Archaeologists
Proposals to divert through a tunnel the busy road currently running alongside Stonehenge were today welcomed by archaeologists.
Archaeologist and broadcaster Julian Richards, who was at the World Heritage Site this afternoon to hear more about the plans, said today's announcement was extremely welcome news.
"This is a great step forward. We can put Stonehenge back into a more natural setting so people can appreciate what a wonderful site it is.
"You can stand here today and hear the traffic all around you – hopefully that will all change."
Chris Jones, leading the project for the Highways Agency, said it was a "historic day for the stones".
Environmental issues were a primary concern when considering the options and a bored tunnel would help to make sure the archaeology was undisturbed, he said.
"It is restoring the landscape to its particular historic context," he added.
Professor John Barrett, head of the department of archaeology and prehistory at Sheffield University, said the option chosen was better than alternatives of a tunnel cut from above or a highly expensive, longer bored tunnel.
"Stonehenge and its landscape allow us to encounter something of the mystery and power of the prehistoric world. This proposal opens the way for a far greater appreciation of that world," he added.
Arts minister Tessa Blackstone welcomed today's announcement, saying: "It will ensure Stonehenge is reunited with its surrounding monuments in their natural downland landscape setting, protect the site from heavy traffic and make possible the construction of a world class visitor centre."
Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage which runs the site, said: "Today's news is a monumental moment in Stonehenge's 5,000 year history.
"It means that Stonehenge gets the dignified setting it so justly deserves, the roads are made safer and the core area of the World Heritage Site landscape is reunited."
English Heritage, the National Trust, the Highways Agency and local authorities are now expected to work on the tunnel's detailed design before publication of Draft Orders in the Spring
Posted by phil
15th December 2002ce
Edited 10th February 2006ce