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Site for Stonehenge visitor centre finally confirmed

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The government has today finally confirmed the new Stonehenge visitor centre, designed by Denton Corker Marshall (DCM), will be built just inside the edge of the world heritage site

After months of negotiations, it has been confirmed the £25 million scheme will be constructed on a plot known as Airman’s Corner which is about 1.5 miles west of the stones.

DCM landed the contest to design the new facility back in February – effectively for a second time following the demise of its original proposals in 2007 - seeing off Bennetts Associates and Edward Cullinan Architects in the process.

However neither a budget nor location site was ever confirmed and rumourmongers continued to speculate about whether the centre could still be built within the world heritage site at either Durrington Down Farm or Fargo.

Speaking today Architecture Minister Barbara Follett said: ‘Stonehenge is our most important and well recognised prehistoric site and, as such, is absolutely at the heart of our national history and heritage.  Everyone agrees, however, that the way it is presented to visitors is far short of ideal.’ 

She added: ‘Consensus on how to improve visitor facilities has eluded stakeholders for far too long, and so I am delighted that we now have plans to move forward. There is still a long way to go, of course, but we now have to get on with making it happen’

The long-running visitor centre project, which has been rumbling since 1986, will be funded by English Heritage (EH), Heritage Lottery Fund, Highways Agency, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Transport.

At the same time as unveiling the site the government also announced  it intends to close the A344 which currently takes traffic very close to the stones.  

The move has delighted EH. The organisation’s chair Barry Cunliffe said: ‘Airman’s Corner had wide support and is the unanimous recommendation of the project team, supported by the major heritage groups and the landowners. I congratulate the government for making this decisive and timely move. 

‘It is in the public interest for everyone who cares about Stonehenge and its conservation to be united in supporting this scheme and ensuring that the project is successfully delivered on time.’

The government still hope the centre can be built in time for London’s 2012 Olympics.




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Readers' comments (1)

  • It is of course high time that the visitor centre question is resolved.

    Closing the section of the A344 will permit the stones to be reconnected with the Stonehenge Avenue.

    I have devised a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge (at the sarsen stone phase), and have written a book with the title "Stonehenge Astronomical Observatory". Further details are available at www.brontovox.co.uk

    The form of Stonehenge is unique, and as form follows function, it was a fascinating task to work out how it functioned.

    The design of the proposed visitor centre should make some sort of reference to the function of Stonehenge itself, or to symbolically related aspects, now that we can understand it more accurately.

    I have also produced a concept for the visitor centre, and a video showing it can be viewed via my website.

    Since the location of Airman's Corner is out of sight from the stones (due to higher ground in between), there is not the requirement to hide the visitor centre underground. Let us be bold. Those who built Stonehenge were bold, and we should honour their memory by being bold also, and not hide away underground like frightened rabbits!

    I hope that my contribution is helpful.

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