The Guardian Online has an excellent opinion piece titled “The final insult“, which asks a very good question – why is Stonehenge not treated by officials as being on a par with other great ancient sites such as the Giza pyramids?
The first view of Stonehenge as you approach from Salisbury is a clutter of what looks like scrap metal. It reminded me of a rural junk yard, but on closer inspection this turns out to be the Stonehenge car park. You can see why English Heritage feels the need to apologise to visitors before they even reach the turnstile; plaques acknowledge the unsatisfactory state of Stonehenge and describe, with beautiful diagrams of an underground museum and visitors’ centre, the utopian near-future. None of this is now going to happen.
I was lucky enough to visit Stonehenge at first light on a Spring morning (some ten years ago to the day). The morning mist slowly cleared to reveal stark, grassy terrain and a monument that, quite simply, encapsulated the word “ancient”. It was a wonderful space to be in, and I can only hope that more people in future get to experience it – whether at Stonehenge, or other wonderful ‘sacred sites’ in the United Kingdom.
In the writer’s words, “Stonehenge has been talked down by the experts. And now the philistines have an excuse to treat it as if it was nothing special.” That truly would be a crime.