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Centenary of the gift of Stonehenge to the nation sees growth in opposition to A303 tunnel

A post-WWI aerial photo of Stonehenge. After the Chubbs' donation, the government funded restoration projects to improve the monument (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)A post-WWI aerial photo of Stonehenge. After the Chubbs' donation, the government funded restoration projects to improve the monument (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)Today (October 26) is the centenary of the gift of Stonehenge to the nation by Sir Cecil and Lady Chubb, an occasion marked this weekend by English Heritage with several events including a  specially commissioned tea party designed by Turner prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller. 

Deller’s installation chosen for this occasion, is an almost life-size inflatable Stonehenge, it is named: 'Sacrilege!'

There is a story - possibly tongue in cheek - that barrister Cecil Chubb had been sent to the Salisbury auction by his wife to buy some curtains.  He came back with a £6,600 bargain - the 6,400 acres that included Stonehenge: "But while I was in the room, I thought a Salisbury man ought to buy it, and that is how it was done."

Later the couple gave the monument to the nation - and it is now looked after for the nation by English Heritage. 

It is a gift that will be widely celebrated.  But for many the celebrations will be marred by the progress of plans to put a large road tunnel through an important part of the archaeologically rich World Heritage Site that surrounds Stonehenge. 

Highways England has applied (October 19) to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order to build the A303 tunnel and expressway.    All pleas, the Stonehenge Alliance says, to afford the World Heritage Site the respect it deserves have been disregarded.  They would certainly call the road scheme 'Sacrilege'.

Among those who have condemned the scheme is distinguished archaeologist, Professor Mike Parker Pearson - a leading authority on the British Neolithic Age, who has undertaken a great deal of archaeological research in the area. 

He explains in a video produced for the Stonehenge Alliance, why he opposes the A303 tunnel scheme and the legacy it would leave future generations. It can be viewed here - and there is a longer version here.

Professor Parker Pearson says: “[The Stonehenge World Heritage Site] is one of the few places, not just in Britain, but in the World, where you can see a special, sacred landscape developed over thousands of years. A landscape that is unique in World terms, and really should be protected in perpetuity.”

The Stonehenge Alliance, with other organisations, specialists and thousands of individuals from around the world, are challenging the government to withdraw the scheme and find a solution to the A303 that would protect the WHS surroundings of Stonehenge and properly respect the gift of the Stones to the nation. 

They say: "To tunnel beneath part of the WHS and gouge huge cuttings through archaeologically sensitive ground for a 4-lane Expressway is a disastrous decision by government." 

There is a petition about the existing plans here 







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