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Stonehenge Threatened by Proposed Tunnel Construction – Surrounding Sites at Risk Too

The A303 road that passes next to Stonehenge which is to be converted into a divided highway with a tunnel. Photo by Pam Brophy [ CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Stonehenge, England — One of the world’s most iconic sacred sites that aligns to the sun1 is threatened by plans to build a 1.8 mile road tunnel through the surrounding landscape.

The Government proposes expanding the existing A303 road that runs next to the site into a divided highway which will include an 1.8 mile long tunnel.

The Government’s aim is to alleviate traffic from the consistently clogged A303 and restore some of the natural setting by removing the sight and sounds of vehicles. This change would also serve to restore the Stonehenge Avenue, an ancient avenue which runs from Stonehenge to the nearby River Avon and is aligned to the summer solstice.2

Despite these positive benefits, archeologists, historians and conservationists are concerned that the extensive road construction could potentially bring irreparable damage to Stonehenge and other significant areas within the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and impact future archaeological discoveries and studies.

The proposed tunnel construction next to Stonehenge has been an ongoing controversy for almost 30 years, and it was announced this year3 that it would go ahead despite protests from prominent archaeologists, historians4 and supportive organizations like The Stonehenge Alliance and even UNESCO itself.5

The Stonehenge Alliance (a network of archaeologists and conservation groups) says it “would cause severe and permanent damage to the archaeological landscape of the World Heritage Site (WHS) in direct conflict with international advice to the UK Government earlier this year.”6

Due to public outcry, efforts by Highways England have been made to protect the site and its alignments with a recent amendment to the plan to move the tunnel 50 meters further away so it would not obstruct the view of the sun on the winter solstice.7

Sunrise on the summer solstice at Stonehenge. Photo by Andrew Dunn (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Those in opposition to the tunnel still believe the danger to the entire landscape is not worth the risk, not only for Stonehenge itself but also for the surrounding sites, many of which have yet to be excavated.

Dan Snow, historian and president of the Council for British Archaeology expressed his concern:

We have recently started to realise that the standing stones are just a beginning, they sit at the heart of the world’s most significant and best preserved stone age landscape. The government’s plans endanger this unique site.8

More and more discoveries are being made at Stonehenge all the time9 which in and of itself points to the importance of protecting ancient sites.

More recently, what’s thought to have been a prehistoric temporary dwelling was discovered nearby, giving us more clues about those who visited Stonehenge thousands of years ago. David Jacques, the archaeologist who discovered the site (known as Blick Mead) is concerned the tunnel proposal will cause irreparable damage. He says:

British pre-history may have to be rewritten. This is the latest-dated Mesolithic encampment ever found in the UK. Blick Mead could explain what archaeologists have been searching for for centuries – an answer to the story of Stonehenge’s past. But our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain’s history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead.10

If the construction of this tunnel causes archaeological finds to be damaged or destroyed, a part of humanity’s history that may have otherwise been known and studied will be lost forever.

The Stonehenge Alliance has set up a petition to help protect Stonehenge and the surrounding sites from further damage by road construction which can be found here.


  1. Stonehenge has multiple alignments to the summer solstice. Belsebuub and Lara Atwood, The Path of the Spiritual Sun, Chapter 11, p.333-335  

  2. Ibid.  

  3.  Topham, Gwyn, and Kevin Rawlinson. “Chris Grayling gives go-ahead to road tunnel under Stonehenge.” The Guardian. January 11, 2017. Accessed October 11, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/12/stonehenge-a303-tunnel-chris-grayling-world-heritage-site.  

  4.  Morris, Steven. “Dan Snow attacks Stonehenge road and tunnel plans.” The Guardian. March 17, 2015. Accessed October 11, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/17/dan-snow-attacks-stonehenge-road-and-tunnel-plans.  

  5.  “UNESCO calls for rethink to A303 Stonehenge tunnel plans.” Chard & Ilminster News. Accessed October 13, 2017. http://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/news/15395510.UNESCO_calls_for_rethink_to_A303_Stonehenge_tunnel_plans/.  

  6. “Alliance shocked by Highways England’s indifference to UNESCO’s advice.” Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Accessed October 13, 2017. http://stonehengealliance.org.uk/alliance-shocked-by-highways-englands-indifference-to-unescos-advice/.  

  7.  Morris, Steven. “Stonehenge tunnel route moved by 50 metres after protests.” The Guardian. September 11, 2017. Accessed October 13, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/11/stonehenge-tunnel-route-moved-by-50-metres-after-protests.  

  8.  Morris, Steven. “Dan Snow attacks Stonehenge road and tunnel plans.” The Guardian. March 17, 2015. Accessed October 11, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/17/dan-snow-attacks-stonehenge-road-and-tunnel-plans.  

  9. Examples of new discoveries at Stonehenge can be found here. 

  10. “6,000-year-old Stonehenge encampment find sparks tunnel row.” News. December 19, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2017. http://www.buckinghamtoday.co.uk/news/6-000-year-old-stonehenge-encampment-find-sparks-tunnel-row-1-6483063.  

About the author

Vida Narovski

Vida Narovski a writer and researcher for SpiritualSun.com and is a practitioner of the Religion of the Sun. Vida is of Baltic descent, and she is fascinated by the remnants of the Religion of the Sun that are found in her Lithuanian roots, many of which are still prevalent in Lithuanian culture today. She explores ancient sacred sites and pores over ancient texts, with the hope of bringing back the relevance of the Religion of the Sun to those interested in spirituality today.

23 Comments

  • It boggles the mind how decisions in ‘the best interest’ for the site appear to be utterly disastrous! Let’s hope some clear thinking minds prevail on this decision and let this spectacularly unique monument exist for future generations, as intended.

  • I really hope that the government listens to all the expert archaeologists, historians, conservationists, and everyone who is speaking up from the public and saying that the proposed tunnel is a bad idea, and that the landscape and whatever treasures are still buried are protected!

  • Even to remotely consider endangering an ancient site that carries so much spiritual significance is, in my opinion, a shameful lack of appreciation for the heritage that ancient people left to us. This arrogance, short-sightedness and greed is what has already destroyed so many sacred sites and endangers others.

    I had read that there were suggestions to take down even the pyramids of Giza and some other sites in South America have already being partially destroyed for trivial reasons such as getting building materials.

    It’s not even just Stonehenge that is endangered. Who knows what will happen to all the artifacts, sites and other proof of ancient civilizations that will be found in the vicinity? That area carries so much significance that it is almost guaranteed that excavations for a tunnel will be interrupted by some other important discovery. Will that stand in the way of people having already invested so much money for a tunnel? Will they just put everything back and go dig somewhere else or would they plough through anything they find? Who knows, the risk is there.

    Even if seen financially, for touristic purposes, the economy will be more boosted by people coming to see more ancient discoveries rather that for the smooth transportation.

    • Yeah that’s right Christos. They’ve actually got teams of archaeologists surveying the site of the proposed tunnel and they have discovered many new things already!

      The tunnel construction is supposed to start in 2020/2021 roughly, which means that there isn’t a whole lot of time in my opinion to study anything that is found at length and its relation within the whole site. It’s really disheartening at what could be lost.

  • I had heard about this but hadn’t seen that there was a petition to sign. Thanks for pointing it out.

    It really seems crazy that they are considering tearing up the landscape which contains so many different archeological features in the general vicinity of Stonehenge, especially since these features are known to be present but haven’t been able to be fully studied yet.

    For example, here are some images of the known prehistoric ritual monuments buried in the landscape directly around Stonehenge (some clearly shaped like solar symbols): http://lbi-archpro.org/cs/stonehenge/results.html#image-6

    What a shame if these other ancient sites were disturbed or irreversibly damaged by this proposal. It would be loss for all of humanity.

  • Would this tunnel make the nearby road that is already there now obsolete? One thing that’s good to know, or what I noticed when I visited there (which you don’t see on photos often), is that there is already a road very nearby! which is very unpleasant, practically going through the site. I couldn’t believe it when I first visited and it detracts from the site very greatly.

    If this/these roads are removed that would be very good in my opinion. And hopefully something can be worked out which least disturbs the whole sacred landscape any further. For example to build a tunnel well away from it all which I think is very reasonable. There’s no reason to have roads so close when there’s such a prominent site there.

    I was shocked to hear as someone told me a few days ago that farmers used to dynamite stone circles, 🙁 !!! so painful to hear that, in order to make their lands more easily workable.

    So I think it’s great there are people looking after and standing up for sacred sites like this.

    • As I understand it, this redevelopment will expand the nearby road, turning it into a dual highway with 1.8 miles of it an underground tunnel.

      The surrounding area (not just Stonehenge itself) is a sacred landscape with archeological sites yet to be excavated, which is a very delicate process, so quarrying and constructing an extensive 1.8km tunnel through it with heavy machinery could cause a lot more damage than a few sticks of dynamite ever could, which is why people are so concerned.

      If there were a way to divert the highway and tunnel around the area with enough distance to be safe, it seems that would be best. That might achieve the aim of removing the unsightliness and noise of the current road, without destroying the sacred landscape and any archeological sites.

      I’m not sure why that is not being considered. Perhaps there is limited public land on which to build the new highway, and diverting it a safe distance from the site would require buying back surrounding private land at market value which would drive the costs up. So maybe this is just a short-sighted cost-cutting measure, with long term destructive consequences.

      I agree that it would be ideal if they could remove that road without any damaging effects, but I wouldn’t want that at the cost of destroying what makes that area special. The idea of moving the road out of sight has merit, but it’s how it is being pursued (dredging a channel of destruction through the sacred landscape) that’s the problem.

      • Mathew, your question of there being enough ‘public land’ to divert the road reminds me of one of the bizarre things about the Salisbury Plain around Stonehenge – it’s used for military training. It’s owned by the Ministry of Defense and is the largest army training ground in the UK. Last year I was cycling to the site from a nearby village and went through a huge army base, a surreal town inhabited by soldiers and their families, which has a particular heavy energy. I just looked up this land ownership and it’s been used for army training since 1898!

        Maybe this is one of the reasons why there isn’t a more logical solution? Or maybe there is something more sinister at play, something which has also put one of the most sacred regions in Britain basically under military control and surveillance.

        • That’s unbelievable. I guess I was giving the government the benefit of the doubt — thinking they were just being cheap and shortsighted rather than downright sinister. But when you consider they own plenty of land around the site, and therefore could divert the tunnel if they wanted, but want to push it through the sacred landscape itself, then it makes you wonder.

          It’s hard to believe anyone could be so pathologically insensitive that they would put greater value on not disrupting a military training site (which is just a blink in human history) than preserving an ancient sacred site that’s been there for thousands of years. Either that or maybe there is some deliberate sinister purpose to all this.

          • ‘Pathologically insensitive’ is a great way to describe the behaviour of governments world-wide, but in this case, it’s just too much of a coincidence that this special area in Wiltshire is also home to the largest army base in the country. It’s well known as one of the regions with the highest incidences of crop circles in the world, and it’s been well documented by Steven Greer in his Disclosure project that governments withhold masses of information about the reality of ET contact with our people.

            I think it’s a calculated positioning to monitor a district that has a high amount of activity that could disrupt a narrative that is specifically anti-spiritual. It’s hard to imagine on an energetic level what the impact is of having such violent activity going on right next to Britain’s primary solar temple. Perhaps this whole debacle is just about a road, but perhaps it’s about ruining the sacred area even further.

      • Hi Matthew,

        “If there were a way to divert the highway and tunnel around the area with enough distance to be safe, it seems that would be best.”

        I agree. And to me it seems quite illogical, with this being the most well known sacred site in Britain, for any government work to be considered which is at the expense of this landscape. Especially when considering the backlash this would cause, and even from a tourist revenue point of view. But then again maybe the department and people who manage the financial side of the country’s infrastructure have their own interests and views in mind as well.

        Maybe I was a bit unclear with the reference of what I heard a few days ago (which I just sort of added to my comment) and its relation to this particular story. I realise that making a multi kilometer tunnel would involve a huge imprint on the landscape, you’re right. However in my opinion there’s nothing “a few sticks of dynamite” about blowing up the very stones that make up ancient stone circles.

        • I actually agree with you regarding how terrible it is to use dynamite on stone circles Karim. A few sticks of dynamite can do a lot of major damage; I realise dynamite has a lot of explosive power, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise or make light of that destruction when I used those words. Doing that to ancient stone sites is terrible. What I meant is that the scale of destruction a farmer can do with dynamite, which is very destructive, is comparably on a smaller scale next to what a government can do when it uses its considerably larger resources to plow a 1.8 mile tunnel through a sacred landscape, irrespective of how apparently well intentioned the stated reasons may be. If there was no chance of anything being damaged in the path of the tunnel it might be different, but it just seems inconceivable to me that they could go through with it when they know there’s a likelihood of there being other sacred sites yet to be unearthed and excavated in the area that could be utterly destroyed.

          • I’m not surprised a modern government isn’t showing much care about this. But I assume the site of Stonehenge is monetized in many ways (like entrance fees, etc.). I can’t imagine that they would want to risk damaging a cash cow like that. Unless the new road will be a toll road that will be built using tax dollars by a multinational corporation who will then charge the citizens tolls on the road until the end of time (on a road the tax payer paid to build). Then I could certainly understand it.

          • Perhaps they looking at it in a very narrow way: the government evidently has enough sense to avoid damaging the actual stone circle directly (people value that at least and it’s a tourist attraction after all, and tourists bring money) but they seem to disregard the significance of the surrounding landscape and archeological sites. In many ways the whole project seems to be aimed at making visiting Stonehenge a more pleasant and amenable experience for tourists, so there would be a monetary benefit and motive I’m sure. Maybe because there is less public awareness about the significance of the surrounding landscape amongst locals and tourists alike, they are hoping most people won’t care about the damage a tunnel causes if it makes it easier and more pleasant to visit Stonehenge.

            I can only hope they find a way to achieve both aims: improve access to and the experience of visiting Stonehenge by removing the road, without damaging lesser known sites in the surrounds, which are part of the greater sacred landscape Stonehenge is part of.

  • That is very unfortunate news.

    I can understand the need to alleviate the traffic (and in some ways it is positive that they are considering options to mitigate the impact on the landscape) but the potential danger to any undiscovered sites in the area is very concerning.

    The whole area is a sacred landscape and as I understand it there are numerous sites discovered and no doubt many more undiscovered in the vicinity. Who knows what irreplaceable artifacts, remains, structures, and knowledge of the past could be tunnelled through, destroyed, or hastily excavated without proper care and diligence? It seems to me the risks are just too high.

    I’m not sure what a good work-around could be, aside from routing traffic outside the area completely. The petition I clicked was requesting that a longer tunnel be made, so that the entrance and exit points are completely outside of the heritage zone, but I’m not sure if that will also address the risk of disturbing archaeological sites.

    • I also signed the petition. We can only ever act on the best information we have available – at least a longer tunnel should better avoid currently known sites or any undiscovered ones close to Stonehenge.

      It’s a pity it even got to this point though. Why this highway would have ever been built there seems crazy. I know it’s an ancient road that has been upgraded, but it’s one thing to travel by foot or horse, and quite another to have polluting loud trucks and cars passing by and at times heavily congested.

      With the loss of spiritual knowledge in society comes the loss of respect for these spiritual sites, so I guess it’s not surprising.

  • Such depressing news. I was one of the people who initially thought this was a good idea, as that road does detract from the experience of the site somewhat, and anything that reduces its impact is a good thing. But why not just divert it so the site remains untouched. The idea that a tunnel may obstruct something like the winter solstice sunrise is unfathomably insensitive. And the sense that the sacred landscape itself will be dug up and toyed around with, who knows for how long a duration, and after completion to what impact … just seems insane.

    On another note, it does seem like some genuinely decent measures are being taken to improve the atmosphere of the site. The road that ran next to the site has been grassed over and opened to the public for free. On another note, when I visited the site last autumn, I was happy to realise how close I could get without paying an entrance fee – the whole surrounding vicinity is open by the National Trust and there are many good vantage points and ancient structures that can be explored.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-41567878

    • I can see why they’d think this might a good idea at first (i.e. let’s get this unsightly/unsoundly road out of the way), but to still think it’s a good idea to go through with it in this particular way after having heard about the potential damage to surrounding sites – not to mention obstructing the view of the solstice sun at Stonehenge itself – is unfathomable. I hope that a better solution can be found.

  • I had actually some news on this previously and was shocked and disappointed.

    Yet, we live in a time where these kinds of monuments are not seen as profound links to an eternal language or knowledge and if people don’t stand up now, who knows what kind of ‘domino’ effect this may trigger elsewhere around the world. What other monuments and relics could be in danger.

    thank you Vida.

  • Thanks Vida. That is sad. Modern “civilization” just can’t seem to help itself. Shows how disconnected we all are as a people from the source. It would be great to see this turned around somehow. I hope more people can find this website and start to uncover the truth.

  • Sadly this is all becoming the norm, all for the advancement of modern society. It always seems like there is a push to erode what is common sense these days (or perhaps it has always been there). Like there is an evilness behind these types of decisions.
    Unfortunately I am not surprised that this is in the pipeline (pardon the pun), hopefully a new less disruptive outcome to this sacred site will be a result.

  • It’s a real shame to see the lack of respect and appreciation of sacredness in this world. The threat of risking damage to an ancient site such as Stonehenge and its equally significant surrounding landscape for the convenience of installing a tunnel/highway to allivate traffic is a good example of this.

    Thanks for sharing the info on the petition Vida – hopefully there will be enough signatures and noise generated to stop the proposal altogether.

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