Not Everyone Pleased With Stonehenge Tunnel Route

Even though authorities shifted it 150 feet so as not to muck with the solstice
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2017 6:04 PM CDT
In this Sunday, June 21, 2015 file photo, the sun rises as thousands of revelers gather at the ancient stone circle Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice.   (Tim Ireland)

(Newser) – British authorities on Tuesday approved plans for a contentious and long-delayed road tunnel under the site of Stonehenge—but altered its route so it won't impede views of the sun during the winter solstice. The government said the 1.8-mile tunnel will bury a frequently gridlocked road, the A303, that now runs past the prehistoric monument in southwest England. The Department for Transport said the tunnel will "reconnect the two halves of the 6,500 acre World Heritage site which is currently split by the road, and remove the sight and sound of traffic from the Stonehenge landscape." It said the revised route will be 150 feet further from the giant stone circle than previously proposed "to avoid conflicting with the solstice alignment," reports the AP.

But critics say the tunnel—first proposed nearly 30 years ago—will disturb a rich archaeological site. University of Buckingham archaeologist David Jacques says "the Stonehenge landscape is unutterably precious and you tamper with it at your peril." Stonehenge, built between 3000 BC and 1600 BC for reasons that remain mysterious, is one of Britain's most popular tourist attractions, receiving more than 1 million visitors annually. It's also a spiritual home for thousands of druids and mystics who visit at the summer and winter solstices. The Guardian reports the project has ballooned to an estimated $2.12 billion; construction would stretch over five years and could possibly begin in 2021. (Here's one way Stonehenge could have been constructed.)

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