Then and Now

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From 1500BC until 1978 Stonehenge stood unfenced and isolated on Salisbury Plain. In 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' (1891) Thomas Hardy's heroine Tess, who has murdered her husband, and Angel Clare, her lover, literally bump into it while running from the police:

"He listened. The wind, playing upon the edifice, produced a booming tune, like the note of some gigantic one-stringed harp. No other sound came from it, and lifting his hand and advancing a step or two, Clare felt the vertical surface of the structure. It seemed to be of solid stone, without joint or moulding. Carrying his fingers onward he found that what he had come in contact with was a colossal rectangular pillar; by stretching out his left hand he could feel a similar one adjoining. At an indefinite height overhead something made the black sky blacker, which had the semblance of a vast architrave uniting the pillars horizontally. They carefully entered beneath and between; the surfaces echoed their soft rustle; but they seemed to be still out of doors. The place was roofless. Tess drew her breath fearfully, and Angel, perplexed, said 'What can it be?'

Feeling sideways they encountered another tower-like pillar, square and uncompromising as the first; beyond it another and another. The place was all doors and pillars, some connected above by continuous architraves.

'A very Temple of the Winds,' he said."

Last week, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, English Heritage chairman, suggested that McDonald's be allowed to open a burger restaurant at the proposed visitors' centre, which would include virtual reality trips through the centuries and buggy rides to the stones.

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