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Stone handaxe
THIS small handaxe is one of the most beautiful in the British Museum. It is made from quartz with attractive amethyst banding, a difficult material from which to make tools because it is extremely hard. The toolmaker would have had to hit with considerable force and accuracy to remove flakes. Such a high degree of difficulty makes the thin, symmetrical shape of this piece a masterpiece of the toolmakers’ art.
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The future
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Today Stonehenge suffers from its surroundings. It sits on a triangle of land, bordered on two sides by busy roads that cut it off from its surrounding landscape. The facilities for visitors are basic and cramped and there is at present no space available for exhibits to explain the site, its remarkable landscape, or the many fascinating finds that have been made in the area. But plans are well underway to change this, and in the future a visit to Stonehenge will be a very different experience. English Heritage and the National Trust are working with the Highways Agency and other partners on ambitious plans to improve the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The future
The future

Aerial view of the Stonehenge site today, above a computer-generated view showing its appearance after proposed changes.


Unfortunately plans to place the A303 road in a bored tunnel were rejected on the grounds of cost but plans to close the A344 road, which currently runs by the stones and separates them from the Avenue are currently underway. There are also plans to grass over the current car park and to build a new visitor centre 2,5 km (1,5 miles) to the east. This will provide parking, a shop, a café, educational facilities and exhibitions on Stonehenge and its landscape. A land train will transport visitors to within walking distance of the stones. This new and ambitious project will fulfill the vision for the future of the site outlined in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site Management Plan: to restore the landscape setting and the tranquility of Stonehenge, to improve visitor access to the surrounding monuments and to protect the archaeological landscape of which Stonehenge is such an important part. This is the future that Stonehenge deserves.

The future

Stonehenge today.


So what is Stonehenge in the XXI century? It is certainly an icon, its unique stone settings instantly recognizable as symbols of solidity and ancient achievement. It is a major tourist attraction with nearly one million visitors a year, and also a site of huge archaeological and scientific importance. Centuries of study, excavation and analysis have shown when Stonehenge was built and provided clues to the identity of the builders.

Experiments have offered suggestions about how the stones might have been moved, shaped and raised. As the understanding of people’s lives at the time of Stonehenge increases, it also helps to explain why such huge effort was expended by our prehistoric ancestors.

But there is much that we still do not know and it is here, in Stonehenge’s mystery, that part of its appeal lies. This great temple, the most magnificent prehistoric structure in the whole of Britain and Ireland, will always keep some of its secrets.


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