'Restoring' Stonehenge 1881-1939

Author(s): Martyn Barber

Stonehenge was transformed considerably during the 20th century, the monument itself being subjected to more intervention and alteration from 1901 than at any time since the Bronze Age. Some of the most important episodes of excavation at Stonehenge during the 20th century were driven by a desire to interfere with the monument’s physical appearance, often but not always due to concerns about stability. The romantic ruin of previous generations – leaning monoliths, twisted trilithons and recumbent sarsens – was rationalised into a more upright, orderly design and secured for posterity with concrete. At the same time, the visibility of the enclosing earthworks was enhanced for the paying visitor, the enclosure ditch only partially backfilled and surplus material spread across the site to conceal old trackways. 1901 was also the year that the monument was first enclosed and an admission charge introduced, both intended as means of controlling the numbers and types of visitor. This report pays close attention to the circumstances surrounding three key episodes – the appearance in 1881 of some timber supports; the straightening and concreting of the massive Stone 56 in 1901; and the uncompleted ‘reparations’ of 1919-20.

Report Number:
Research Report
Conservation Aerial Photograph Interpretation Aerial Photography


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