Digging could ‘destroy’secrets of Stonehenge
AN expert archaeologist fears irreparable damage has been done to a prehistoric site near Stonehenge by road workers making preparations for a proposed £1.6 billion tunnel.
The Blick Mead site lies about 1.5 miles from Stonehenge, and a series of archaeological digs over the past decade have revealed some remarkable finds.
But Professor David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, fears digging by Highways England to monitor water levels may have damaged the site.
The academic has been working there for more than a decade and has learned a huge amount about what he describes as a “key site for where Britain began”.
He has previously found preserved hoof prints of aurochs – huge creatures larger than bulls – at Blick Mead, as well as other important details of how early man lived.
The agency denies its work to dig a 3.5-metre borehole has caused damage and says it has liaised with archaeologists over the work at the Wiltshire site.
Prof Jacques told the BBC: “This is a travesty. We took great care to excavate this platform and the aurochs’ hoofprints.
“It the tunnel goes ahead the water table will drop and all the organic remains will be destroyed. If the remains aren’t preserved we may never be able to understand why Stonehenge was built.”
Highways England has been carrying out extensive consultations on its controversial plans for the proposed tunnel, which is designed to reduce congestion on the A303.
The scheme has yet to receive planning permission and the Government will not confirm funding until it has done so. A Highways England spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We are not aware of any damage being caused to archaeological layers.
“We notified Professor David Jacques of the locations of our water table monitoring, we have adhered to guidelines in carrying out the work, we have kept Prof Jacques informed and we will be meeting him on site tomorrow.
“Our assessments so far indicate that construction of the scheme will have no significant effects on the Blick Mead area, and we are under- taking this further hydrogeological investigation at Prof Jacques’ request.
“The works have been undertaken in a highly professional manner, with an archaeologist on site and with due care being exercised at all times.”
Highways England has dug a borehole aspart of a scheme that could see a road tunnel built to reduce traffic on the A303