Stonehenge Today

 

Stonehenge Today

 

Stonehenge is now 3000 years old, and is still one of the world's most impressive reminders of a bygone age. Unfortunately, as the aerial view shows, a good number of the major stones have now fallen over or are missing from the site.

 

Missing Stones

 

Of the original 40 uprights, only 25 remain standing, 9 have fallen (or been pushed) over, and 6 are completely missing.

 

Wear and Tear

 

Of the original 40 uprights, only 25 remain standing, 9 have fallen (or been pushed) over, and 6 are completely missing.

 

Druids 1905

 

By 1900 visitors were causing damage to the monument (two stones fell that year) so its owner, Sir Edward Antrobus fenced in the site and began charging an entry fee. This greatly annoyed the Ancient Order of Druids (founded in 1781 by Henry Hurle) who refused to pay and were forcibly ejected by the police. Nevertheless, the ceremonies went ahead that year and were well attended.

 

The 1966 Celebrations

 

A photograph from 1966 shows that the Druidic ceremonies were attracting huge crowds, whose treatment of the stones and removal of parts for keepsakes was causing concern in historical and environmental circles.

 

Restricted Access

 

By 1977 visitor numbers had reached 800,000 a year.

In 1978 the Department of the Environment decided to restrict public access by erecting a fence around the site and a rope cordon around Stonehenge itself.

 

Solstice 1982

 

1982 was the last year that the general public were allowed within the stones.| |Even so, the police were on hand in case of trouble, but the only atmosphere was of festival and celebration.

 

English Heritage

 

In 1984 Stonehenge was placed under the control of English Heritage, an independent agency established by Parliament with responsibility for looking after ancient sites in England.

In 1986 Stonehenge was designated a World Heritage Site.

 

Ongoing Plans and Negotiations

 

From 1984 to 2002 English Heritage have been arguing with the British Government and the Highways Agency for a complete redevelopment of the site, in order to relocate roads whose traffic vibrations may be damaging the stones. They also wish to provide the millions of visitors with a new Visitors Centre and more appropriately landscaped surroundings for the famous site.

 

New Dating Methods

 

From 1993 to 1994 English Heritage funded a major archaeological project to reassess and update the results of all previous excavations at Stonehenge. The teams included Wessex Archaeology, Queen's University of Belfast, the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, the University of Southampton, South Wiltshire Museum, and the Central Archaeology Service of English Heritage. The latest and most advanced scientific dating methods were used.

 

Summer Solstice 2000

 

In June 2000 the general public (and the Druids) were finally allowed back amongst the stones for midsummer's day celebrations, for the first time since 1982.|There was a police presence but no trouble, and a great time was had by all, even though the sun was not visible at sunrise due to the thick cloud.

 

Stonehenge

 

Stonehenge remains a majestic and awe inspiring tribute to the original builders and their visionary attempts to unravel the mysteries of the Universe.