University of Buckingham lecturer's anger after Highways Agency drill hole through structure at Stonehenge

University of Buckingham archaeology student Gemma Allerton excavating at Blick Mead with archaeologist Tom Philips during a previous dig at Blick Mead
University of Buckingham archaeology student Gemma Allerton excavating at Blick Mead with archaeologist Tom Philips during a previous dig at Blick Mead

A lecturer at the University of Buckingham has spoken of his anger after the Highways Agency drilled a hole through a 6000 year-old structure at Stonehenge.

David Jacques, who is the archaeologist in charge of the site described the news as a 'travesty'.

The hole was drilled through the structure as part of work to upgrade the A303.

The site, Blick Mead, is also called the “first place in Britain” as it is the earliest known site inhabited after the last ice age dating back 12,000 years.

There is concern that if the tunnel goes ahead it will cause irreparable damage to the site and its artefacts.

Previous excavations of Blick Mead have found thousands of flint tools and bones of extinct animals eaten during prehistoric feasts.

The site is also important because it is where hunter gatherers who once roamed Britain first encountered the neolithic farmers who went on to build Stonehenge.

The Highways Agency agreed in April they would monitor water levels at Blick Mead to check there would be no damage to remains including bones which have been preserved in the waterlogged ground if the tunnel goes ahead.

Archaeologists and the Highways Agency are holding a meeting at the site at lunchtime today (Thursday).

University of Buckingham students who study on the MA and PhD archaeology courses visit the site at Blick Mead and do a two week dig there in October as part of their studies.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Professor Jacques described the situation as a travesty saying: "We took great care to excavate this platform and the auroch's hoofprints.

"We believe hunters considered this area to be a sacred place even before Stonehenge.

"These monster cows - double the size of normal cattle - provided food for 300 people so were revered.

"It the tunnel goes ahead the water table will drop and all the organic remains will be destroyed.

"It may be that there are footprints here which would be the earliest tangible signs of life at Stonehenge.

"If the remains aren't preserved we may never be able to understand why Stonehenge was built."

In response to the accusations, a Highways England spokesman said: "We are not aware of any damage being caused to archaeological layers.

"We notified Professor David Jacques of the locations of our water table monitoring, and have adhered to guidelines in carrying out the work.

"We have also kept Prof Jacques informed and we will be meeting him today.

“Our assessments so far indicate that construction of the scheme will have no significant effects on the Blick Mead area, and we are undertaking this further hydrogeological investigation at Prof Jacques’ request in order to ensure the scheme continues to have no significant effect on the Blick Mead area.

“The works have been undertaken in a highly professional manner, with an archaeologist on site and with due care being exercised at all times.”

The Advertiser is hoping to speak to Professor Jacques following the meeting and any updates on the story will be featured in tomorrow's paper and online.