Letter: Museum charges: a `moribund tax' on national culture

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Sir: If Labour is serious about dropping museum charges then perhaps it could extend this to Stonehenge. Why should monolithic English Heritage, who claim to protect our heritage, prevent free access to megalithic Stonehenge, which has become little more than a military base, with uniformed guards, dogs and barbed wire fences? Every solstice, battle stations are expensively put in place, using the Criminal Justice Act to impose selective exclusion zones, heavily policed in order to deny fundamental freedoms and access to those who, like the displaced Druids last Saturday, revere the site.

Stonehenge has become a blot on the landscape and a pain in the psyche. The ghastly tourist centre, its tills, tunnels and fences, as well as nearby roads with their bad vibrations, should be demolished. Any claim for millennium funds should be finally abandoned, along with destructive ideas for replicas and virtual reality, which have no place in ancient landscapes and will deprive us of true experience and the vital sense of continuity with prehistory, our real heritage.

Having survived, pretty much intact, for possibly 4,000 years, Stonehenge must be released from exploitation and returned to us and its historical place in the landscape to take its chances alongside other enduring and accessible stone circles such as Callanish, Long Meg, Avebury, Merrivale and Castlerigg.

CHRISTINE HILLIER

Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

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