24 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

The Stonehenge road tunnel is illegal, according to the High Court

The transport secretary’s decision to allow a road tunnel to be built near Stonehenge was unlawful, according to the high court, because it did not properly consider the damage that would be done to a string of prehistoric sites and thousands of ancient artifacts.

Campaigners including archaeologists, environmental groups, and the druids have launched a judicial review calling for the decision by Grant Shapps to allow the £1.7bn road scheme, including the two-mile tunnel, to be quashed.

Despite the recommendation of a team of planning inspectors, Shapps approved the proposal, despite the fact that it would inflict “permanent, irrevocable harm” to Stonehenge.

A group called Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site (SSWHS) brought the judicial review, which is due to last three days.

One of its claims is that Shapps’ decision was illegal because he reportedly did not consider the scheme’s impact on each “heritage item,” such as barrows and the ruins of ancient enclosures.

Instead of adopting an individual approach, SSWHS claims that Shapps considered the influence of the road project on the site as a whole, and determined that the tunnel, which would keep the sights and noises of traffic away from the stone circle, was worth pursuing.

Some environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the plan due to its potential impact on the area
Some environmentalists and archaeologists have voiced their opposition to the plan due to its potential impact on the area. Photo: Getty İmage

One of the world’s foremost Stonehenge specialists, Mike Parker Pearson, a professor of British later prehistory, stated before Wednesday’s hearing that more than 10 hectares of the world heritage monument will be “totally obliterated.”

He said at the western end of the tunnel the road would cut through a “dense scatter” of prehistoric artifacts and buried features likely to be the remains of a copper age to early bronze age settlement (c 2,450-1,800BC) – potentially a campsite for the builders of Stonehenge.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Parker Pearson suggested that the remnants of a pre-Stonehenge village may be lost. He also claimed that changes in the water table may have an impact on the Mesolithic site of Blick Mead, perhaps eliminating organic material in soggy layers.

Blick Mead experts have discovered artifacts that assist to explain the tale of how ancient inhabitants lived at Stonehenge since the ice age. Among the discoveries have been perfectly preserved hoofprints of aurochs, or wild cattle.

In his skeleton argument, David Wolfe QC for SSWHS said: “The only heritage asset which the secretary of state actually addressed was the WHS [world heritage site] overall … he simply failed to identify and assess the heritage significance of each asset.”

The skeleton also flags up a claim from a consortium of archeologists claiming that Highways England “dramatically underestimated” the harm that would be caused and that about half a million artifacts would be lost by the proposal.

Arthur Pendragon, a druid who claims to be the once and future king, was among those who traveled to London from Wiltshire for the hearing. He has vowed to lie in front of the bulldozers in order to put an end to the scheme.

Source: The Guardian

Cover Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Related Articles

Newly discovered inscribed brick may reveal Elamite water supply system in Western Iran

15 January 2024

15 January 2024

Archaeologists discovered a brick inscribed with Akkadian script, marking the Elamite water supply system, alongside some intricately patterned bricks in...

A 3800-year-old cylinder seal was discovered at Turkey’s Tepebag Mound excavations

8 July 2022

8 July 2022

In the 2022 excavations of Tepebag Mound, located around Taşköprü, the center of Adana province in Turkey’s Mediterranean Region, a...

Archaeologists discovered a Thracian tomb from the time of the Odrysian kingdom in southern Bulgaria

13 September 2023

13 September 2023

Archaeologists from the Haskovo Regional Museum of History discovered a third Thracian tomb with murals the likes of those in...

Portugal’s Enigmatic Roman Building “Tower of Centum Cellas”

4 February 2024

4 February 2024

The Tower of Centum Cellas (also known as the “Tower of St. Cornelius”), located in the Mount of Santo Antão...

A Rare Ancient Saber Discovered in Kyrgyzstan

5 August 2023

5 August 2023

An ancient saber (heavy military sword with a long cutting edge and, often, a curved blade) was found by three...

In the Mediterranean Oldest Hand-Sewn Boat is Preparing for its Next Journey

25 January 2024

25 January 2024

The oldest hand-sewn boat in the Mediterranean was discovered in the Bay of Zambratija near Umag on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula....

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered in Stuttgart

23 April 2024

23 April 2024

A sculpture of a snake-bodied Roman-German deity was discovered at the Roman fort in Stuttgart, Germany. Since the beginning of...

The statue head of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health, found stuck between two rocks in Laodikeia

21 May 2024

21 May 2024

A 2100-year-old statue head of the Hygieia (Health) Goddess was found during the excavations in the ancient city of Laodikeia...

According to new research, medieval warhorses were shockingly diminutive in height

12 January 2022

12 January 2022

Medieval warhorses are often depicted as massive and powerful beasts, but in reality, many were no more than pony-sized by...

Royal Shipwreck From 17th century Is discovered Off the Coast of England

11 June 2022

11 June 2022

Off the coast of England, a royal shipwreck has been unearthed. The Gloucester, one of the most renowned ships of...

Mysterious Rods Found in 5,500-year-old Tomb identified to Be Earliest Drinking Straws

19 January 2022

19 January 2022

Russian archaeologists argue that the rods unearthed in an early bronze age tomb in the Caucasus are the oldest known...

Ancient rubbish dump under Hatshepsut temple reveals hundreds of artifacts

24 November 2021

24 November 2021

Polish archaeologists uncovered a 3,500-year-old dump while working on the reconstruction of the Hathor Goddess Chapel, which is part of...

Papal bull discovered in a former cemetery dated to the 14th century

10 May 2023

10 May 2023

A medieval bull found in 2021 in Budzistów village (Kołobrzeg district), Poland has been restored and placed on display in...

New discoveries in Göbeklitepe and Karahantepe: A Human statue with a realistic facial expression found in Karahantepe

30 September 2023

30 September 2023

New finds were discovered in Göbeklitepe and Karahantepe. At around 12,000 years old, Göbekli Tepe is the world’s oldest megalithic...

Ancient winery site uncovered in China’s Hebei

5 January 2022

5 January 2022

In northern China’s Hebei region, an ancient winery going back 400 years to the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties...