Longleat comes full circle and steps into the stone age

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The Independent Online
AFTER the Kama Sutra murals and Adolf Hitler watercolours, visitors to Longleat are to be treated to a further display of aristocratic dottiness: a full-size megalithic stone circle.

The seventh Marquess of Bath, who inherited the Wiltshire stately home last year, yesterday announced plans to build a Stonehenge-style monument in his safari park.

'Thynnhenge', as the circle will be called, after Lord Bath's family name, may lack some of the lonely grandeur of the original. It is to be erected next to the rhinoceros enclosure.

But what it lacks in situation it will make up for in authenticity and style. Lord Bath, who sports a ponytail and ear-rings, revealed yesterday that he had engaged a 'megalithic engineer' to create the structure using rocks from suitable quarries.

'There is a sense of calm, beauty and reverence in ancient stone circles,' Lord Bath said. 'Like Stonehenge, it will function as a giant outdoor solar, lunar and stellar observatory.' It will also be a venue for orchestral concerts.

The engineer, Ivan McBeth, has begun prospecting for suitable quarries with a geological expert. 'I have built three stone circles,' Mr McBeth disclosed, 'and one of them is still standing'.

Lord Bath's folly - in the wake of the explicit Kama Sutra murals he painted in his apartments, and his late father's collection of Hitler watercolours - will face a hurdle that did not trouble men of vision in the Bronze Age. He will have to obtain planning permission from West Wiltshire District Council.