Construction of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre has begun
Having recently joined the Wiltshire Archaeology Service in September, I am endeavouring to get up to speed on Wiltshire’s heritage. One site, however, that I am familiar with is Stonehenge, having previously worked at English Heritage providing archaeological advice on the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. For those of you driving along the A344 on the western edge of the World Heritage Site, you will see a hive of activity where the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre is being built at Airman’s Corner.
Construction of the new visitor centre at Airman’s Corner is now underway
The plans include:-
• a new environmentally sensitive visitor centre 1.5miles away at Airman’s Corner with high quality exhibition and education facilities;
• a low-key visitor transit system that will transport visitors from the visitor centre to a drop-off point close to the Stones;
• removal of the current car park and facilities at the Stones. The area will be returned to grass, leaving only a minimal operations/security base and emergency toilets;
• closure of the A344. Motorised vehicles will be restricted on the A344 from Byway 12 to Airman’s Corner (with exemptions). The section from Stonehenge Bottom to Byway 12 will be stopped up and reverted to grass;
• an upgrade of the Airman’s Corner road junction to a roundabout. The Highways Agency are also making improvements at Longbarrow Crossroads to mitigate the effects of the A344 closure.
Computer generated images of the new Stonehenge visitor centre, due to open in autumn 2013.
I’m therefore looking for any excuse to drive past the A344 to observe the progress. This is an exciting time for Stonehenge, to see the fulfilment of a long-awaited aspiration to improve the setting of our iconic monument. Jacquetta Hawkes made the famous quote in 1967 that “every age gets the Stonehenge it deserves – and desires” and so perhaps this is our judgement; hopefully one you agree is well earned.
Assistant County Archaeologist