11th January 2001 - English Heritage declares Stonehenge 'is not a fake'

Stonehenge is not a fakeAround New Year of 2001 there were media reports high-lighting the ’re-construction work’ that had been done at Stonehenge through the 20th Century.

The Daily Mail headlined: “STONEHENGE’S ‘SECRET’ MAKEOVER; How it was rebuilt last century …and set in concrete.” [1]

The Mirror titled their report ‘STONEHENGE ‘BUILT IN 1901’; [2], saying:

STONEHENGE is as much the work of 20th century engineers as prehistoric man, it was revealed yesterday. One million visitors a year marvel at Britain's most famous ancient monument. But the idea the circle of stones was created 4,000 years ago is a myth, says historian Brian Edwards.

He has uncovered photographs showing fallen stones being hauled into place using cranes and scaffolding during a series of facelifts beginning in 1901.

He said: "It has been created by the heritage industry and is not the creation of prehistoric people." [3]

On the 11th January 2001, English Heritage were moved to issue a Press Release as follows:

The Stonehenge that people see today is not a 'fake' created in the 20th century, as a number of recent media reports have implied. Nor has English Heritage been seeking to conceal the fact that restoration work was carried out to the monument over the last century.

The restoration work is fully documented in Stonehenge and its Landscape: Twentieth Century Excavations, published by English Heritage in 1995. It is also covered in books published by others, including Stonehenge Complete by Christopher Chippindale. Contemporary drawings, photographs and film footage survive and provide a fascinating visual record of the work in progress.

Restoration of Stonehenge was prompted by the need to secure the stability of the monument, both for its own safety and for that of the people who were visiting it in increasing numbers.....

In the late 1950s, a number of stones which had fallen were re-erected, but the great majority of the restoration work involved the straightening and resetting of stones which had become unstable. Meticulous care was taken to return the stones to their exact original positions, and no new stones were brought in.

Today's Stonehenge, although considerably ruined, is the monument that was erected by prehistoric man some 3,500 years ago, not an imaginative reconstruction. Had the restoration work not been carried out, it is likely that by now Stonehenge would consist of a pile of fallen and broken stones - an ignominious end for one of the world's greatest prehistoric monuments[4].

Pic: By Mavratti 2008 and Philip Rupert Acott 1877 (Tamsin Titcomb.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Footnotes

[1] Daily Mail [London, England] 9 Jan. 2001: 18. Infotrac Custom Newspapers. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA109590059&v=2.1&u=hamlib&it=r&p=SPN.SP02&sw=w&asid=6e91451561cc62410e44b5486ac0d81f

[2] “STONEHENGE ‘BUILT IN 1901’.” Mirror [London, England] 9 Jan. 2001: 11. Infotrac Custom Newspapers. Web. 7 Nov. 2014. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA68903499&v=2.1&u=hamlib&it=r&p=SPN.SP02&sw=w&asid=c9db3ab96f3ae7ce854f7a6cb2d769e5 Gale Document Number: GALE|A68903499

[3] “STONEHENGE ‘BUILT IN 1901’.” Mirror [London, England] 9 Jan. 2001: 11. Infotrac Custom Newspapers. Web. 7 Nov. 2014. Document URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA68903499&v=2.1&u=hamlib&it=r&p=SPN.SP02&sw=w&asid=c9db3ab96f3ae7ce854f7a6cb2d769e5 Gale Document Number: GALE|A68903499

[4] The Stonehenge saga, URL: http://old.britarch.ac.uk/stonehenge/stone23.html

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