Stonehenge

Some time ago I was asked over the breakfast table if I’d like to visit Stonehenge at dawn.   Of course, I accepted.   So it was that I found myself drinking claret in the Holiday Inn in Solstice Park, part of the horrible detritus which has accumulated beside the A30 on the other side of the roundabout from Stonehenge.   In the morning, we were driven to the new visitor centre designed by Australian architects, Denton Corker and Marshall, a clever piece of unobtrusive design more than a mile away from Stonehenge itself:

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We were then taken to admire the full landscape with its barrows and the so-called cursus, no doubt invisible in the photograph:

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Then up the old Devizes road, recently closed to traffic, to the monument itself, austere and stately in the early morning sun:

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I haven’t been since I was a teenager, when I chiefly remember the horrible 1960s visitor centre and tunnel under the road, now being swept away.   Simon Thurley reminded me of the recent history of the site:  that it was nearly demolished during the war as an impediment to the local aerodrome;  announced as English Heritage’s most important site by Lord Montagu in 1984;  the long years of planning;  £10 million promised by Gordon Brown and cancelled after the last election;  and the A303 still rumbling past, destroying the tranquillity of one of Europe’s greatest archaeological sites:

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