MoD sparks outrage with plans to build Glastonbury barracks that will block the sunrise at Stonehenge

March 12, 2014 | by | 6 Comments

Experts are outraged after the MoD unveiled plans to build thousands of homes for returning soldiers which would block the iconic summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge.

Army bosses want to built homes for 4,000 soldiers and their families on an 100-year-old airfield in Wiltshire on the horizon overlooking the iconic stones.

But experts say the buildings are planned for the EXACT spot on the horizon where the sun rises on the longest day of the year, watched by around 20,000 people.

The iconic sunrise over stonehenge that could be obscured by army barracks

The iconic sunrise over Stonehenge that could be obscured by army barracks

The Ministry of Defence – which is currently running a consultation on the homes – said they were “aware of the issues” and were organising a meeting with stones experts.

But leading archaeo-astronomer Simon Banton predicted a “global storm of protest” if the Army go ahead with the homes for soldiers returning from Germany.

The Stonehenge guide said when the airfield at Larkhill, Wilts., was built in 1910, military chiefs left a gap for the sunrise and bosses should similarly respect the ancient monument.

He said: “Stonehenge is the focus of a World Heritage Site of enormous cultural importance.

“It is internationally famous, instantly recognisable and the solstitial alignment of the monument is intrinsic to its original purpose.

“To propose building across this alignment invites a global storm of protest from groups as diverse as heritage bodies, astronomers, prehistorians, UNESCO, religious orders and the wider public.

“The MoD needs to demonstrate that it is fully sensitive to the World Heritage Site in order to avoid the potential outrage and reputational damage, not only to itself but also to Britain in the eyes of the world.

“When Larkhill Aerodrome was first established in the early 20th Century, a series of aeroplane sheds was built along the east side of Wood Road.

Hundreds of people flock to the ancient site to see the sunrise

Hundreds of people flock to the ancient site to see the summer solstace

Graphic to show the extent of plans to develop the military base at Larkhill, Wiltshire

Graphic to show the extent of plans to develop the military base at Larkhill, Wiltshire

“These early military and civilian aviators were keenly aware of their responsibility and so a wide space was deliberately left between the aeroplane sheds at the north end and those further south in order to allow the Summer Solstice sunrise to continue to shine unobstructed down to Stonehenge.”

He said the gap is already partially obstructed by a copse of tall trees which the Army should also remove to completely restore the sightline from Stonehenge to the horizon.

He added: “This possibility will be entirely removed if the sites are built upon.”

English Heritage and UNESCO is understood to be considering Mr Banton’s report before commenting, but Wiltshire Museum bosses agreed with the expert.

Curator David Dawson said: “Today, if you look towards the horizon there are some trees but even in 1910 when there were some air hangars built they left a gap between them so that you could still see the sunrise.”

The MOD is currently holding a consultation on the massive expansion of the army bases to the north and east of Stonehenge.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of the issues being raised concerning the Larkhill area and are in the process of organising a meeting with all statutory consultees in order to discuss them.”

Category: News

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Glastonbury barracks at Stonehenge? What? I live in Glastonbury, and Stonehenge is in another county, 82 kilometers away…

  2. Susan Meeker-Lowry says:

    Hopefully the MoD will rethink their plans. I can’t imagine something like this happening!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Stonehenge is in wiltshire

  4. Anonymous says:

    This stupidity has left me struggling for words! This cannot be allowed to happen.

  5. Anonymous says:

    An MoD spokesperson said: ‘The MoD is not considering any development that will affect Stonehenge.

    ‘We are aware of concerns about the proposed development in the Larkhill area and will be meeting with all interested parties to address these issues.’

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