Dig­ging could ‘de­stroy’se­crets of Stone­henge

Western Daily Press - - News - RICHARD BACHE [email protected]­plc.com

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.