We publish a free newsletter at each Stonehenge solstice and equinox sunrise.
Around Callanish on the Isle Of Lewis there are several stone circles, of which the best known, Callanish 1, is often called "The Stonehenge of the North".
There are three single and one double rows of stones leading from the "circle", which is actually a complex design having a flattened side that gives it one main axis of symmetry. This axis runs NE down the centre of the double row, and it has been pointed out that someone standing at the N end of this avenue would see the moon when on its lowest track across the sky, not rise at all, but just skim the horizon.
Dips in this horizon would have allowed the small variations in the moon"s orbit which cause eclipses to have been accurately measured. The road round the Island is being widened from a single track to single carriageway (each side). When work started, a burial cairn was found under the peat to the N of Callanish. Historic Scotland (like English Heritage but not a quango) funded a rescue dig to investigate the site.
This showed that although 1.7km away, the cairn was an integral part of the main complex, lying directly on the axis of the stone circle. There was an inner cairn with the same flattened circle shape, its axis also pointing to the main circle. It is possible that this cairn was the actually the viewpoint used to observe the moon, making its position very important. A report in the Observer that the cairn was to be rebuilt away from the road because £50,000 could not be found to move the road instead was described as inaccurate by Historic Scotland. They received angry protests, but said it was the Western Isles Council, not they, who made the decisions.
Council staff say that although they were aware there was a national controversy, few of the objectors to the cairn being moved were local, and the Council had never even discussed the matter. So the Stonehenge Campaign asked them to discuss it, and at least allow the option of moving the road to be costed. They didn't. Roadworks will destroy the site in the New Year, simply because nobody has officially recognised there is a problem.
When the Highways Agency announced their suggested routes (B, & old options E&F) for discussion at the planning conference, Jocelyn Stevens of English Heritage was said to be 'incandescent with rage'. at the effect these would have on the landscape. English Heritage and the National Trust set up their own rival exhibition criticising the official HA routes exhibition and launching a Save Stonehenge" campaign. (Locals set up a "Save Stonehenge" campaign a few years ago - to save it from EH's visitor centre plans!) EH & NT suggested route C, very similar to the route B that appalled them, but with a short tunnel to avoid passing between two groups of houses, as B would. It would also take the road away from the E end of the Cursus, but only by tunnelling under it, and allow access to the Woodhenge area.
At the same time Stevens was saying in the Financial Times that EH make £2.5m a year from the Stones, but lose another £1/2m due to the free view from the A303. He told potential private investors in their future plans that "There is already a revenue stream, and you don"t need much imagination to see how it might increase sharply."
The 5-day conference started with EH & NT saying they wanted the A303 and A344 moved away from the Stones; the HA wanting to widen the A303 into a dual carriageway Euroroute taking motorway traffic from the M4 & M5; and local authorities wanting a wide uncongested road as quickly and cheaply as possible, on the present line (E). FoE, the local Greens and Transport 2000 argued that the West Country don't want their end of the A303 widened and that it should be left as it is or re-routed as a single carriageway only. The conference didn't agree, and went on to discuss dualled options only, but accepted that this depended on Government policy on not restricting traffic growth not changing (which it might).
Discussion of which areas of the landscape were most sensitive followed. For the Stonehenge Campaign it was argued that the whole area within what has been described as the "Stonehenge Bowl" was important. Imagine you are standing by the Stones looking at the area (and not being hassled by security!). Apart from one area to the SW, the land falls away in all directions then rises in the middle distance to form a level, apparently circular rim - hence the "bowl".
One reason why the Stones are where they are is because this level horizon is ideal for observing and measuring the risings and settings of the sun and moon. The conference eventually agreed that this was the core area that should be avoided by any road scheme.
Local authorities kept insisting on dualling the present road until it was pointed out that this and route F had been officially dropped in the House of Lords last year. As routes B & C would run close to part of the army barracks, the MoD were publicly taking part in this long running debate for the first time.
Many of us in the Campaign have felt that if the A303 has to move, it should go on their already damaged land further north (on or beyond the road at the top of the map).
When questioned on this, the MoD said they were not prepared, even gradually in the long term, to relocate part of their facilities to make room for a road corridor or improve their part of the World Heritage Site. They also claimed that one area on this possible route was the only place in the UK where a particular gun could be fired, and that the "startle effect" of other large guns being fired would cause drivers on any nearby road (even B or C) to swerve.
On day 4 EH floated plans for a £50m "Stonehenge Millenium Park" which would be larger than the present NT area, preferably with a £200m long, bored tunnel taking the A303 under it. As all the surface routes had effectively been rejected, the conference supported the long tunnel option, but not the specific route (A).
Other points agreed were that the present A303, A344 and car park should be removed; there should be somewhere on a new road to stop and view the Stones as well as any new visitor centre; and that any tunnel should be far enough away from the Stones to avoid disturbing them.
The possible effects of a tunnel on earth energies and ley lines, and magnetic fields from power cables were mentioned.
We hope to persuade a dowsing group to advise on this.
Luckily any tunnel would have to go well north or south of the Stones to avoid the sharp dip at the road junction, but the further away the huger the bill. There would have to be two tall vent pipes somewhere along its length.
Is a tunnel acceptable at all? If so, how far away would it have to be?
Is there any particular area to be avoided?
Please let us know what your view is.
___Poem from Karelia,,,Wed13Dec95___ (Guess a colour not in the Rainbow?) We don't know who built Stonehenge or what language they spoke but now we know who built Callanish. They were widening a track for tourists on the Isle of Skye when they found some Stones: did an emergency arkeyerlogickal dig, uncovering a double cairn - the grave of the builder of Callanish. So they'll have to put it back and build their road elsewhere. One Equinox I parked by the Cottages, borrowed Louie's bike and almost got hedgehog-ed at the 303/344 junction- it's stupidly bloody dangerous (and decapitates Stones + cursus/avenue??, It should be closed forthwith (from the 303 to the carpark - tourists use the safer roundabout and triangulate by Fargo Woods). Later green it + move the carpark. +++ Love from your cousin +++ firstname.lastname@example.org (PS red light + blue = magenta)
Vicki Stangroome who died suddenly [a few weeks ago] was one of the extraordinary social campaigners and workers to emerge from the 60's "alternative culture", combining a practical humanity and a literally enormous personality and eccentricity.
After starting as a volunteer worker with the 24hr BIT information service in Westbourne Grove, she became a worker there and then later was a key figure in the organisation and running of the "BIT Crash Pad (Roof)"- a free hostel for the homeless in Shepherds Bush very much of its time. Accepting anyone in need of a temporary roof over their heads. Together with others she set up "Riverpoint" night shelter in Hammersmith, in the mid 70's. She was responsible for much of the practice and policy of the organisation when it opened and she worked hard for the group for a number of years. At the same time she was a volunteer for Release, the Drugs and the Law organisation, and a principal member of its Festival Emergency Service. This was the group of volunteers and staff who took emotional, practical and first aid help to young people attending public events. She was willing to deal with anything from drugs casualties- overdoses and bad trips, first aid from sunburn to foot-rot (depending on the British weather), to helping to find food and shelter.
Government concern about the big events of the 60's and 70's was galvanised into practical concern with the foundation of a Festival Welfare Service organisation at NCVO. She became its first fieldworker. She later became vice chair of the organisation and contributed to twenty years of successful work to make open air events safer places. That welfare at events is now a concern of pop promoters, local authorities and the police is partly as a result of Vicki's hard work.
When Release stopped attending events in the early 80's she set up Festival Aid which, without any real funding and using Vicki's phone and network of friends, continued to help at the increased number of free festivals.
Without Vicki there would have been no welfare at many of these events. Festival Aid was one of the few groups willing to provide help to the Stonehenge Festival. She continued to organise the distinctive Green Field welfare services at the Glastonbury Festival.
Vicki always separated the need to give practical help from the political wrangling associated with many services. She was concerned first and foremost with getting help to people who otherwise would have had no help at all. In the late eighties she undertook research into the health and care need of so called new age travellers.
She was involved in setting up the Travellers Aid Trust.
In recent years Vicki had become deeply involved in working with people affected by HIV and AIDs.
Vicki was a talented artist and potter and her work had attracted some attention. She ran stalls in the Portobello Market for herself and for many of the charities she was involved in. She was a distinct figure wandering down the Portobello. In the autumn she picked edible wild mushrooms for some of the West End's best restaurants. No one knew where she found the time or the energy! She enjoyed a huge group of friends and the world will be a duller place without her.
, ______ _________ _______ , , / Free \ / The \ / Stones \ , , \________/ \_________/ \_______ / , , ____ ___ ___ ____ , , / \ / \ / \ / \ , , | | | | o | ! ! ! , , | | | | m | ! ! ! ,