Wanted: manager to look after Stonehenge - the world's most famous stone circle

The ancient monument presents a unique challenge, as Charlie Cooper discovers

Job seekers of an archaeological persuasion, pay attention: the holy grail of heritage jobs could be yours. Stonehenge needs a new manager and if there were ever a workplace with “a unique set of demands”, this is it. The salary is around £65,000 and the closing date is 5 May.

The new general manager, employed by English Heritage, will be the chief custodian of Britain’s oldest national monument. It is the first time the site has had an overall manager and the new man or woman at the top will be responsible for the biggest changes at the site in a generation, with a state-of-the-art visitor’s centre set to open at the end of the year.

They will also take charge of a team who have worked alongside the ancient stones for years, from the people in the gift shop to the night watchmen.

He or she will have to get to know the people for whom the 5,000-year-old stones are a place of enormous spiritual meaning – from Druid chiefs and prophets of Armageddon, to Siobhan the local shaman. “They’ll need broad shoulders,” says Bea Carroll, one of Stonehenge’s stewards. “Every day brings something different.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of the people passing through Stonehenge come from overseas. It is a place that the British often take for granted – but the Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Germans don’t. Nearly two-thirds of the million visitors each year come from abroad.

They come for all sorts of reasons. Simon Banton, 48, another steward, recalls three German ladies  who visited in 2012 as part of an end of the world tour. “They were taking crystal skulls to several famous world sites – Machu Pichu, the Pyramids – with the intention of opening stargates, in time for the end of the Mayan calendar.”

It’s that kind of place. For every camera-clicking tour group, there is someone who feels a deep spiritual connection with the site.

Siobhan Peal, 62, visits most days. She is “not a Druid”, but is Stonehenge’s “honorary shaman”, she says. She walks clockwise around the stones and waits for people to come and talk to her, which she says (and Simon confirms), they do on a regular basis.“This is a place where there is balance,” she says. “I feel that I have to be in this place – and people find me.

A mix of history and legend is ever-present in the day-to-day life of the people who work at Stonehenge. Things can get even spookier at night, when a contracted security firm takes over , leaving three or four men alone, in the dark, with the ancient stones.

Mr Banton recalls several night watchmen who say they have seen drifting lights over the path that runs from the stones down into Salisbury Plain. Others have talked of an unaccountable smell of roses.

Vic Ronning, 62, is a former publican who has worked at the site for 16 years, taking care of maintenance. He recalls one night when security reported a disturbance. In the morning a fake polystyrene “new stone” was discovered.  “We got rid of it, but we never got to the bottom of who put it there,” Mr Ronning says. “Probably students.”

The tatty old visitors’ centre built in the 1960s  is soon to be no more. The entire site, with the A344 running right alongside the stones and the busy A303 within sight and earshot, was branded “a national disgrace” by MPs as long ago as 1989. Under the new plan, which will finally come to fruition this year, the A344 will close along with the old car park and visitors’ centre, but the A303 will remain open. A new museum will open a mile and a half down the road. Managing the move will be top of the new boss’s to-do list.

“The beauty of this particular job is that they will be coming to it at such a pivotal time in Stonehenge’s history,” said Tim Reeve, English Heritage’s historic properties director, who will be choosing the new manager. “I’m looking for quite an unusual person who will be able to blend running a major attraction – it’s a business, lots of money and people passing through it – while also being a guardian to a very, very special place.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea