As part of English Heritage’s project to transform the setting and visitor experience of Stonehenge, a section of the A344 road running right past the monument, almost touching the Heel Stone, will be permanently closed from today (Monday 24 June). The section of the A344 to be closed is between Stonehenge Bottom (junction of A344 and A303) and Byway 12, which is closest to the monument and severs it from the Avenue, its ancient processional approach. The closure will fulfil the commitment given by the UK Government to UNESCO in 1986 to remove the A344 where it crosses the Avenue and will facilitate greater access to the World Heritage Site.
Once the landscaping works are complete in June 2014 visitors will be able to approach and view the monument from the Avenue. A detailed laser analysis of the Stones' surface by English Heritage has further confirmed that this approach from the north-east was intended byStonehenge’s prehistoric builders. Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Director, English Heritage, said: “The Stones have never failed to impress visitors, but for too long their setting has marred people’s appreciation and enjoyment of this special place. At last, this is going to change. For the first time in centuries, when all the works are complete, people will be able to experience this complex and extraordinary monument in a more tranquil, natural setting.”
Jan Tomlin, the National Trust General Manager for Wiltshire Landscape, said: “We welcome the closure of the A344 past Stonehenge – it is an important step towards the vision for the future of the monument. We have worked over the past decade to restore much of the land we own around Stonehenge to grassland and this is an important step in linking Stonehenge to the ancient landscape.”
|Future - Stonehenge returned to a more tranquil grass setting with the existing facilties moved out of sight and the A344 closed and grassed over. The monument will also be reunited with the Avenue, its ancient procession|
(c) English Heritage
Material and images supplied by English Heritage