Letter: Henge in the sea

Henge in the sea

Sir: I should like to assure your correspondent (letter, 13 January) that English Heritage is indeed concerned with how best to preserve the timber circle found on the Norfolk coast.

We commissioned the recording of this structure from the Norfolk Archaeology Unit and are awaiting completion of the tests which will tell us its date.

Preservation of the circle presents a number of difficulties not least because the timbers are submerged by the sea for up to 23 hours a day. For technical as much as financial reasons, the likelihood of being able to preserve the circle where it stands is remote. Another option is to lift the timbers, conserve them and re-erect the monument on terra firma. Preliminary estimates put the cost at pounds 500,000.

The foreshore at Hunstanton has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on account of the shelter and food it provides to birds. English Nature is already concerned about the disturbance caused by visitors attempting to wade out to the site and our policy in respect of the structure will need to take this into account.

As regards the charge that English Heritage plans "to convert Stonehenge into a lucrative theme park", nothing could be further from the truth. Working with the National Trust, national and local government and other organisations, our plan will reunite Stonehenge and its monuments in their natural setting. The public will be able to roam, at no cost, throughout the World Heritage Site and among the stones.

Dr GEOFFREY WAINWRIGHT

Chief Archaeologist

English Heritage

London W1

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