October 4, 2009

Stonehenge gets facelift, still mystifies

The area around Stonehenge, a 5,000-year-old monument in England, will be given a facelift and freed from unsightly surrounding traffic, officials said.

A 1.3-mile length of highway A344 that currently comes to within a few hundred yards of the ancient wonder will be closed and grassed over, and a parking lot and visitors' center will be built a mile and a half to the west, with shuttle buses taking tourists to the monument, the Sunday Times of London reported.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport wants the construction finished in time for the 2012 Olympics, the newspaper said.

The plans come simultaneously with archaeologists' announcements that a smaller version of Stonehenge -- Bluehenge -- has been discovered a mile from Stonehenge.

Bluehenge was discovered during the summer by archaeologists at Sheffield University, and is thought by archeologists to have been constructed concurrently with Stonehenge. Its stones are missing and researchers say they may have been used to augment Stonehenge throughout a series of redevelopments, the newspaper reported.

This adds to the richness of the story of Stonehenge. We thought we knew it all, but over the past few years we have discovered that something as familiar as Stonehenge is still a challenge to explore and understand. It wouldn't surprise me if there weren't more circles. Professor Tim Darvill, a Stonehenge expert at Bournemouth University, said.