In this series of blog posts Ellie Dewdney will be keeping you up to date with current issues that could affect Britain’s most special places and what the National Trust are doing to preserve these national treasures.
It will come as no surprise that here at the National Trust we are great fans of Stonehenge; not only does the landscape hold huge archaeological significance but it’s one of Britain’s most admired and iconic places.
So naturally the Government’s next Autumn Statement, which may contain an announcement about improving Britain’s road network – including a strategy for the A303 road running alongside the Stonehenge monument – will be of much interest to the Trust.
This area has already been the source of considerable debate over the years. Just last June, by closing and grassing over almost a kilometre section of the A344, which ran within touching distance of Stonehenge, English Heritage and ourselves were finally able to put into action plans that were suggested as early as 1927.
Although there remain some local road issues to resolve, this change has been widely welcomed, as it has significantly improved the visitors’ experience and the authenticity of the site. The road closure has helped restore much tranquillity to the Stonehenge monument and has also had a positive archaeological impact; Stonehenge and its processional avenue have finally been reunited.
As Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage said
“when all the works are complete, people will be able to experience this complex and extraordinary monument in a more tranquil, natural setting.”
However, the A303 is still a real blot on the Stonehenge landscape, as well as being a traffic black spot for those heading to the South West.
Like many we recognise there are real problems at Stonehenge and we have for many years supported the principle of improving the road network in order to improve the road and the quality of the environment across the Stonehenge Landscape. Some people are insisting change is needed to ease congestion levels no matter what the impact on the landscape. At the Trust we believe that the current round of road improvements might provide an opportunity to finally give Stonehenge the scheme it deserves and that means a world class solution for a world class place. We will be engaging very closely with the Government and our key partners over the next year to ensure we help to protect this very special place.
Ellie is the current Land and Landscape Intern at the National Trust. She read Classical Archaeology and
Ancient History at Oriel College, Oxford and graduated last summer. She’s loves writing and is enthusiastic
about making sure people are up to date on issues affecting some of Britain’s most loved places.