Blog: what this means for Highways England
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This is the third in a series of conversations between Highways England Cultural Advisor, Jim Hunter and independent archaeologist, Mike Pitts. We joined them for a walk around the Stonehenge site to learn more about the upcoming archaeological works.
Mike Pitts (MP): For Highways England, how big of an archaeology project is this? How does this rank in their excavation league?
Jim Hunter (JH): I think in terms of its importance, it’s the most important excavation that Highways England has been involved in. But in terms of the actual amount of archaeology that’s going to be disturbed, it’s actually comparatively small.
By way of comparison, while working on the A14 scheme we found over 50 Roman pottery kilns and three Anglo Saxon villages including what was at the time largest Anglo-Saxon dugout building in Britain. And over 20 prehistoric sites as well. We don’t expect to find anything on that scale at Stonehenge.
While anything we do find will be important because it’s within the World Heritage Site, what we’ve done is plan the road to avoid the most important stuff. We’ve done a massive amount of before hand to try and understand the landscape as best we can, so that the impact is minimised.
MP: So careful planning reduces the amount of excavation that will take place, but what will take place will be really important.
JH: That’s exactly right.
MP: We wouldn’t have known that the A14 sites were even there if the road hadn’t been built, so because of that we get the opportunity to learn more about our island’s history. I think that’s a positive thing.