English Heritage have recognized all the aesthetic and environmental issues that surround Stonehenge. Their website states that their current planning “fulfils a long standing ambition to improve the facilities on offer”. For example, they are building a new “environmentally sensitive visitor centre” 1.5 miles away. This will address the issue of poor facilities and also increase viewing pleasure.
Another example of how they are addressing the poor facilities is the “removal of the car park and facilities at the Stones”. They are planning to revert the surrounding area to grass, leaving minimal facilities such as toilets. This will make the atmosphere much more enjoyable. Finally they are addressing the issue of the environment and viewing pleasure by the closure of the A344. This is the noisy road that runs close by to Stonehenge. They are doing this to “restore a sense of dignity to the setting of one of the world’s most loved ancient monuments”.
English Heritage’s relationship with the druids has also been an area of many tensions. Emma Restall Orr, a modern druid, writes, “When I did first go into the temple, I sensed the energy to be tight, flinched, bitter[…]like a reclusive and angry young man.” However, in recent years, this issue has also been addressed with tact and consideration.
The same druid writes later in her article, “With our talks to English Heritage, there is an increasing understanding on their part of who makes up the Druid community, and access permits have been easier to acquire. More and more Druids are taking the opportunities offered to visit the great stones[…]”.
English Heritage is working in close collaboration with the druids to help make the Stones more accessible to them, in respect of their beliefs. Emma writes, “English Heritage has a vision of the temple being fully open to the public, the roads taken away and a visitor centre at more than a respectful distance…” English Heritage has been “increasingly willing to discuss the problems” with the druids and as a result, an honest, respectful relationship has blossomed.
Although many people hold the druidic beliefs in contempt, and many modern druids cause damage to stones by lighting fires in barrows, this issue has been addressed as well as English Heritage can manage. Not all the druids are willing to co-operate.