Wiltshire - Stonehenge

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Si
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Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Si » 8 Feb 2010, 9:31am

Not my area but I noticed, on an archaeological group, a link to the consultation concerning the proposed changes around Stonehenge:

http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/council/con ... riving.htm

I'm sure that someone will already be looking at it, but just it case, it might be a good time for locals to look at trying to get some improved cycle facilities in there - currently the approach for cyclists, esp. from the south, is not at all nice....would be good if the new VS is more accessible.

That's assuming that anything gets changed at all - on past form they'll probably spend another £30m on consultation and abortive plans and carry on with the disgraceful farcilities that they currently have.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby cjchambers » 8 Feb 2010, 9:50am

As a newcomer to the area I don't really know enough about the redevelopment, apart from the snippets I've seen in the local papers. The local cycling group does seem to be on the case - see the below letter which appeared in the Salisbury Journal a few weeks ago:

CONGRATULATIONS to Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge project director at English Heritage (EH) for setting the record straight that car and coach will remain the most feasible mode of transport for most visitors to Stonehenge for a while to come. However, EH aspirations for other travel modes do appear to be lacking substance.

At least a travel plan co-ordinator is to be appointed by EH to reduce private car use while promoting other sustainable methods of transport. Perhaps one of the roles of this co-ordinator would be to assist cyclists and pedestrians travelling up the Woodford Valley to cross the A36 at Stonehenge bottom. Every day in the summer at Stonehenge bottom, one can observe cyclists and pedestrians struggle to run the gauntlet of traffic to cross the A36. At least at the moment there is hatching which provides an unprotected refuge half-way across.

However, the planning application submitted by EH indicates this hatching will be removed and no safe crossing point is to be provided at that point.

EH, in their planning application action, are restricting access by the very sustainable modes of transport it says a coordinator is there to support. While one applauds this flagship “green” model with designs which will have minimal impact on the environment with energy sustainability as high priority, the “green” aspirations will be negated a lack of “green” transport mode routes. More definitive support needs to be provided by EH to assist safe access to Stonehenge rather than supporting the status quo of only supporting coach and car travel to Stonehenge.

DR JIMMY WALKER, Chairman of COGS (Cycling Opportunities for Salisbury)


(http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/yours ... is_needed/)

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Si » 8 Feb 2010, 10:12am

Good to see someone is on the case!
They are right about that crossing - during the short period I was working there last year we were seeing one crash a week!

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby cjchambers » 8 Feb 2010, 11:31pm

Despite being very interested in history and having 'ticked off' most of the local ancient monuments I haven't been to Stonehenge yet. I'm too worried about being disappointed, I think.

Given the proximity of the A303, I imagine it has an ambience similar to that of a motorway service station :? Ask someone about their visit to Stonehenge and they usually mention the road. It's a truly awful setting. It seems the current proposals are the 'consolation prize' after the Department of Transport decided (unfortunately but probably quite rightly) that it would be unjustifiably expensive to dual the A303 and put it in a tunnel.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Si » 9 Feb 2010, 9:22am

The mistake that most people make is to just make a flying visit to the henge itself. Much better to have a quick read up on all the other monuments there before hand and then have a roam round the wider landscape, eg follow the cursus N->S, then along the ridge of the hill and pick up the Stonehenge avenue, follow it down into SH Bottom and on to the henge. Once you are away from the henge and vis centre it's all a lot quieter and more peaceful.

Although, IMHO, Avebury, and the surrounding monuments, is much better (but then I'm biased!).

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby horizon » 9 Feb 2010, 10:15am

Far more interesting than Stonehenge in my opinion is the nearby Solstice Park Services. As they say themselves:

All in all, we're talking 11 acres of roadside and leisure heaven. Solstice Park Services is directly off the A303 and boasts a 24 hour Somerfield (with petrol station and toilet), Harvester pub, KFC and Pizza Hut. There's also a Holiday Inn with a brasserie.

While Stonehenge may give you a glimpse into the past, Solstice Park Services will give you a taste of the future - and it doesn't come with bicycles! And while Stonehenge may give you tingles down your spine as you connect with Ancient Briton, this place will give you shivers down the spine as you look at what is to come.

Just as an addition there is an interesting toll road that passes through Amesbury and then back onto the A303 past Stonehenge itself. This toll road is itself around 250 years old but is lacerated by whatever goes on around Stonehenge. Like the Blackdown Hills and Devil's Punchbowl, Stonehenge was one of the last pieces in the jigsaws of primary routes to the coast. The road engineers reckoned that they could get away with vandalism on a massive scale by leaving them till last and showing how stupid it would be to leave in place a few miles of old road. On each occasion their bluff seems to have been called.

If you ever have doubts about giving up your car, visit Solstice Park and realise that with your car you are trapped in a ghastly nightmare of a motorised culture that has lost all connection with place, with history, with local culture and food, with fresh air and local climate, with geography, with anything in fact interesting or meaningful.
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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 9 Feb 2010, 2:03pm

Agreed that Stonehenge Bottom seriously needs sorting. The other year I followed NCN 45 from Salisbury to Swindon (partly signposted, partly not yet), which is scheduled to cross there. Really not an enjoyable experience. The one saving grace is that the traffic was moving fairly slowly!
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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Graham » 9 Feb 2010, 9:00pm

Si wrote:The mistake that most people make is to just make a flying visit to the henge itself. Much better to have a quick read up on all the other monuments there before hand and then have a roam round the wider landscape, eg follow the cursus N->S, then along the ridge of the hill and pick up the Stonehenge avenue, follow it down into SH Bottom and on to the henge. Once you are away from the henge and vis centre it's all a lot quieter and more peaceful.

Although, IMHO, Avebury, and the surrounding monuments, is much better (but then I'm biased!).

I agree with all of that.
Last year's solstice I cycled over to Stonehenge. It was certainly an extraordinary experience. Not exactly a peaceful communing with the forces of nature though.
It was overrun with people, police and litter. There were huge traffic queues for miles around.
The eleven pages of rules, from English Heritage/Nature/Whatever indicated that bicycles were to be left in the parking areas ( which were at several kilometres away from the henge itself ).
Fortunately, a sensible and off-message constable, let me pass along the road-barred-to-all and through the police command compound to park right by the "event entrance". A few other lucky cyclists made it through to this highly appropriate and ad hoc bicycle parking spot.
Next time I go there it will NOT be for the solstice . . . any other day.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby cjchambers » 9 Feb 2010, 9:47pm

Graham wrote:Next time I go there it will NOT be for the solstice . . . any other day.

Try the winter solstice! No tourists, just genuine druids and curious locals. It's also at a slightly more reasonable hour. This year, my girlfriend suggested we go up there before going to work, but it was an extremely icy night beforehand, and I really didn't fancy being the first one out on the roads. Maybe next year.

horizon wrote:While Stonehenge may give you a glimpse into the past, Solstice Park Services will give you a taste of the future - and it doesn't come with bicycles!

Apparently, this isn't true! According to the Solstice Park website, part of their environmental policy is to "create cycle routes within the business park". Great! :roll:

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby glueman » 10 Feb 2010, 9:00am

The only time I cycled past Stonehenge was on a 400k audax back in the 80s. I'd like to say it was a transcendent experience but it looked like some blocks in a field in the dawn light. Avebury is more interesting IMHO. The Breton stone avenues are really spectacular.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Si » 10 Feb 2010, 10:31am

that's the thing about Stonehenge - it's actually designed to be approached from a specific direction (not from the current vis centre and not along the course of the modern road). Despite the size of the stones, it's really a pretty small monument in a large landscape. when I was working in the palisade field above the henge it was often the case that on turning around to look at it, it took several moments before I could workout exactly where it was such is its low impact on vision from that direction despite it being in full view!

This is why I suggest following the avenue from King Barrow Ridge, down into Stonehenge Bottom then up to the henge (or as near as you can get given that there is a road and two hossin' gurt fences in the way). From the ridge the henge can be seen but it's at a distance and you look down onto it - it is not on the horizon and so blends into the ground behind it a bit. As you go down the Ave. you lose site of it in Stonehenge Bottom. You then start to climb and as you approach it it suddenly looms up on the horizon, looking down onto you. At this point you are really near, and it looks big, especially when compared to your previous site of it. Thus its impact is somewhat enhanced.

It was certainly an extraordinary experience. Not exactly a peaceful communing with the forces of nature though.
It was overrun with people, police and litter. There were huge traffic queues for miles around.


Ah, but you might be employing a somewhat romanticised view of it, totally removed from how it was originally experienced. It may be the case that Stonehenge in the later Neolithic was more akin to the afore mentioned Solstice Park Services than modern view of the noble savage living at one with the earth. Thousands of people, noise, smell of burning human flesh and hair, litter* everywhere, arguments, disputes, too many people in too small a space, disease and injury, exploitation, etc etc

* now reclassed as 'archaeology' and highly valued.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Graham » 11 Feb 2010, 9:16am

Si wrote:
It was certainly an extraordinary experience. Not exactly a peaceful communing with the forces of nature though.
It was overrun with people, police and litter. There were huge traffic queues for miles around.


Ah, but you might be employing a somewhat romanticised view of it, totally removed from how it was originally experienced. It may be the case that Stonehenge in the later Neolithic was more akin to the afore mentioned Solstice Park Services than modern view of the noble savage living at one with the earth. Thousands of people, noise, smell of burning human flesh and hair, litter* everywhere, arguments, disputes, too many people in too small a space, disease and injury, exploitation, etc etc

Wow, that has completely changed my perspective!
It would seem that my unpleasant experience of the solstice 2009 was actually a lot closer to the "feel" of original, age-old events than I could have imagined.
Your last descriptive sentence wasn't very far off the mark.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby horizon » 11 Feb 2010, 10:20am

Graham wrote:
Si wrote:
It was certainly an extraordinary experience. Not exactly a peaceful communing with the forces of nature though.
It was overrun with people, police and litter. There were huge traffic queues for miles around.


Thousands of people, noise, smell of burning human flesh and hair, litter* everywhere, arguments, disputes, too many people in too small a space, disease and injury, exploitation, etc etc

Wow, that has completely changed my perspective!
It would seem that my unpleasant experience of the solstice 2009 was actually a lot closer to the "feel" of original, age-old events than I could have imagined.
Your last descriptive sentence wasn't very far off the mark.


Si, you didn't mention the long queues of Fred Flintstone type vehicles with stone wheels and skin roofs.... :D
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby Si » 11 Feb 2010, 1:47pm

would probably have been queues of boats full of dead bodies, down at the recently discovered stone circle at the Avon end of the avenue, if one subscribe's to Parker Pearson's place for the ancestor's view.

Then a long trudge up the Avenue dragging the remains of yer mother in law behind you. And when you finally get to the henge, chuck 'em all on the fire and get the burgers going.

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Re: Wiltshire - Stonehenge

Postby horizon » 22 Jun 2015, 5:35pm

The Guardian has come quite late to this discussion but at least seems to have caught up at last:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015 ... no-mystery

Depending on your feelings about this sort of thing, it's quite frightening stuff.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)