11.07.2012 / Heritage / 0 Comments
English Heritage begins £27m transformation
Work began today to transform the facilities at England’s leading heritage site, Stonehenge, from what English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley had been “a national embarrassment and disgrace”.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, commercial income and philanthropic donations, the £27m programme.
A section of the A344 which currently runs past the monument – almost touching the Heel Stone - will be closed and grassed over, reuniting the stone circle with its ancient processional way and the surrounding landscape. The remaining part of the A344 will be closed to public vehicles, and will become the route of a new visitor shuttle service to the stones.The existing car park, fences and clutter near the monument will be removed and instead of arriving from the east on a busy road visitors will approach the stone circle over chalk downland from the west, either via a 10-min journey on the visitor shuttle or on foot.
For the first time a large exhibition will tell the story of the complex site and its relationship with the wider landscape. It will feature important objects excavated near Stonehenge on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. “Though the stones themselves have never failed to awe visitors their setting has been a national embarrassment and disgrace” Thuley said today.
“After nearly 30 years English Heritage finally has a scheme that will transform the setting of the stones and our visitor's experience of them. The restoration of the landscape together with a major new exhibition on site will finally give our greatest and most famous monument the treatment it deserves.
“Stonehenge is a national icon and this project will finally make it worthy of that status.”
The new visitors centre will open in 2013, and work should be completed a year later.
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