Archaeologists needed for A303 Stonehenge project

Archaeologists needed for A303 Stonehenge project

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 12:28pm 3rd June 2020. (Updated at 2:06pm 4th June 2020)

3 minute read

Highways England is searching for specialists to excavate the route for the proposed tunnel - even though they don't have planning permission yet.

The project to check the land through the planned development area is worth £35 million, with bidders being sought at the moment.

They'll be responsible for documentation, site works, processing, laboratory work, reporting and dissemination, as well as archaeological evaluation and recording in the World Heritage Site.

A303 Stonehenge survey work on World Heritage Site May 2020
Some archaeological checks have been carried out in the area while the plans for the A303 upgrades have under scrutiny

Highways England Project Director Derek Parody said: 

"The World Heritage Site around Stonehenge is a heritage site of national and international importance. We want to ensure that archaeological remains are preserved and recorded, in advance of scheme construction, by commissioning appropriate archaeological expertise.

"Throughout this project we have been working closely with the country's heritage bodies and a Scientific Committee of eminent archaeological experts to ensure the scheme will conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site, and this will continue throughout the archaeological investigations and the construction process."

A final decision on the road scheme isn't expected until mid July.

In the meantime, Highways England has said they're continuing with their procurement process to find the contractors that might be working on site. 

They've said that's to prevent delays later on, with the preferred bidders being announced in 2021, if the permission goes ahead.

A303 past Stonehenge with traffic
Highways England say the tunnel for the A303 is needed to protect the landscape around the World Heritage Site and speed up connections to the South West

WHAT'S PLANNED FOR THE A303?

The whole project to 'improve and upgrade' the A303, between the Countess roundabout junction at Amesbury and Berwick Down, will cost £1.7 billion. 

The scheme's set to include things like: 

  • 8 miles of dual carriageway
  • A twin-bore tunnel that's 2 miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route
  • A new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke, with a viaduct over the River Till valley 
  • New junctions with the A345 at Countess and A360 at Longbarrow, either side of the World Heritage Site
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