If the tunnel were built it would deprive travellers even a glimpse of the the world famous monument.  The view of Stonehenge, free to the passing public whether on foot, horse, cycle or in a motor vehicle, has been a touchstone for countless generations and is – in part – responsible for Stonehenge’s position as one of the most recognised ancient monuments in the world.   Removing the chance for this casual encounter with our shared prehistory turns Stonehenge from “everyone’s monument” into a destination attraction which requires a deliberate effort, and the payment of money, to see. [1, 2 & 3]

Journalist, Peter Oborne, wrote:

“I have driven past Stonehenge more than 100 times over the past 12 months, either on the way to or returning from my parents, who live on the opposite side of the Salisbury Plain. The stones change all the time.  Creamy white driving west in the early morning. Dark against the setting sun driving west late at night. Muddy and speckled under low morning cloud. No wonder the A303 traffic slows as it passes Stonehenge.

So far, the case against the Government plan to build a tunnel under the Stonehenge site has rested, in the eloquent words of the historian Tom Holland, on the destruction of archaeological remains and the fact it drives “a great gash of concrete and tarmac through our most significant, our most sacred prehistoric landscape”. But I also believe it matters a great deal that millions of passing motor­ists can briefly connect with this mysterious and awesome place.” [4]

Former Transport Secretary objected to the Stonehenge tunnel not just because it was a waste of money but because of the loss of “the most striking, historic vista on any road in Britain! [5]

The A303 is widely considered a crucial part of Stonehenge’s setting.  Archaeologist, Professor Dan Hicks said:

“Stonehenge’s value lies not just in its prehistory, but also in its modernity. Today, the A303 is a crucial part of the monument’s setting. Yes, we must reduce the traffic. But why hide the stones from the world?” [6]

And finally, despite its traffic drawbacks the A303 has been voted the most popular road in England in a survey by Transport Focus. [7]

Further reading

  1. The Heritage Journal, 27 November 2020: “Why the loss of the free view of Stonehenge DOES matter”
  2. Stonehenge stone circle news and information, 22 November 2020: “The Stonehenge Tunnel Debate – the good, the bad, and the ugly”
  3. Tom Fort, 2012: The A303 – Highway to the sun published by Simon and Schuster. (Reviewed here)
  4. Peter Oborne’s Diary, Byline Times,  page 3, March 2022: “Set in Stones”
  5. Andrew Adonis on Twitter, 8 Feb, 2018
  6. Professor Dan Hicks, The Conversation, 23 January 2017: “Archaeologist: the A303 is a crucial part of Stonehenge’s setting
  7. Salisbury Journal, 14 September 2023: “A303 ranked most popular road in England in new survey”

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Please note: The Stonehenge Alliance has no connection with any other protest groups involved in direct action against A303 Stonehenge.

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