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Archaeological Work in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Historic England carried out some archaeological research work on the south side of the A303 from November 2015 - February 2016. The aim was to expand our knowledge and understanding of the archaeology of this part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Around two thirds of the landscape of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is on the south side of the busy A303 road and it is much less well understood than the North side, which contains Stonehenge, the Neolithic Greater Cursus monument and Durrington Walls henge - all of which have been the subject of research in recent years.

Unlike the land to the north of the A303, much of the land south of the road remains under intensive arable cultivation or is used for pig farming. Alongside burrowing animal damage, these agricultural activities mean that archaeological sites and monuments south of the road are often at greater risk than those in managed grassland or pasture to the north of the road.

The archaeology we found during our research is not affected by the present road proposals for tunnelling the part of the A303 running past Stonehenge.

Findings

We found evidence of a Middle Neolithic community at West Amesbury on the eastern side of the World Heritage site.

We shared our findings with Highways England and the proposed tunnel scheme will not affect this part of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Impact on the proposed tunnel scheme

Historic England's research did not duplicate or replace any aspect of the intensive and thorough programme of archaeological work that Highways England is commissioning.

We do not think that Highways England's proposals for the A303, specifically the location of the proposed tunnel portals, which are currently in public consultation, will have an impact on the archaeology we found during the excavations.

Finds report

An interim report on the excavations has been lodged with the Wiltshire Historic Environment Record and a full report will be freely available later in the year. Geophysical survey reports on work undertaken as part of this project are downloadable from the Historic England Research Report series.

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