Ancient Monument Stonehenge Given “Threatened” Status due to Road Traffic

One of the world’s most famous monuments, Stonehenge in Wiltshire (England), has been listed by a travel magazine in their annual survey detailing important human monuments and attractions that are under threat.

Wanderlust magazine, the UK based travel publication has cited Stonehenge as one of the most threatened visitor attractions, in their second annual survey.

The site of Stonehenge is in an area of southern England which has many henges, burial mounds and other ancient monuments.  This location was first built on approximately 5,000 years ago, a time in human history (Neolithic) when people were adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, moving away from the hunter/gatherer way of life.  Powerful tribe leaders and influential people developed the site making it a focal point for Neolithic culture, the actual purpose of the site remains unclear.

Commenting on the inclusion of Stonehenge in the magazine’s most threatened list, editor in chief; Lyn Hughes stated that Stonehenge was: “brutally divorced from its context.”

This ancient monument is located at the junction of two major roads, the A303 and the A344, the site is badly affected by road traffic and road traffic noise.  Plans to build tunnels to direct traffic underground and to establish a new visitor centre have been abandoned due to the high costs involved.  The A303 is particularly busy.  It is the main trunk road linking Devon and Cornwall and during the Summer months it is an exceptionally busy tourist route.

Lyn Hughes went on to add:

“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.”

Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage, with much of the land surrounding the site owned by the National Trust.  The poor traffic management and lack of tourist facilities has been commented upon before, in 1989 a Parliamentary public accounts committee heavily criticised the poor tourist infrastructure, labelling Stonehenge “a national disgrace.”

It is hoped that a new, (although slightly smaller than originally planned), tourist centre located just over one mile away from the stones will be opened in time for Summer 2012.  Hopefully this new visitor centre will be ready in time to welcome the influx of tourists expected for the London Olympic games.

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