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Stonehenge: Seventh wonder or national disgrace?

The focus of this lesson is the sustainable management of Stonehenge, a major international tourist attraction in need of environmental quality improvements

A nominee for one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007, the site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. In 1993 Stonehenge's setting and presentation was condemned by the UK Parliament's House of Commons Public Accounts Committee as 'a national disgrace' owing to a stranglehold of roads and traffic and its car park and inadequate visitor facilities being positioned right next to the monument.

Key questions

What should be the management objectives for Stonehenge?

What would a management plan recommend?

What should be the management objectives for Stonehenge?

The problems that need to be management objectives need to address are:

  • Roads: On one side the busy A303 rushes past, and on the other side the A344 passes very close to the ancient site. This Stonehenge section of the A303 is a major traffic blackspot and its junction with the A344 is hazardous

  • Visitor Facilities: These are located right next to the monument, but were not built to cope with the nearly one million visitors it receives per year. The centre is linked to the monument by a concrete underpass. Interpretation of the site is also not up to the high standards that modern tourists expect - an audio tour and leaflet to guide people around the monument, and three information boards are all that is offered

  • Car Park: The car park is too small to cope with the number of cars, especially during the summer months. This encourages people to park illegally on the roadside, resulting in serious road safety problems. The car park is also visible from the stones and detracts from the spiritual atmosphere of the monument

What would a management plan recommend?

There are two main ideas on a management plan. One is for removing the roads from around Stonehenge and replacing with a shallow 2.1km tunnel and move the location of the new visitor centre with all car and coach parking to Countess East, two miles to the east of Stonehenge with and a visitor transit system. The second is to create a deep four km tunnel completely underground, leaving the stretches of the A303 and A344 to be grassed over.



On 7 July 2007 the new Seven Wonders of the World were announced after a big public vote on 21 finalists that included the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in France and Stonehenge in the UK – none of which were chosen in the seven.

Use Google Earth to find the winners:

  • Chichen Itza, Yucatán, Mexico

  • Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Colosseum, Rome, Italy

  • Great Wall of China, China

  • Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Perú

  • Petra, Jordan

  • Taj Mahal Agra, India

Do you think Stonehenge should have been chosen as one of the new seven Wonders of the World?

Main Activity

A 'National Disgrace'?

Stonehenge did not make the final Seven Wonders of the World.

Was it because it is not currently in the tranquil, untouched landscape it deserves to be?

In fact, the area that surrounds Stonehenge and the treatment of the monument itself was criticised by Parliament's House of Commons Public Accounts Committee as 'a national disgrace'.

Something needs to be done about this and it is your task to work out what should be done.

But the solutions could be controversial.

Read the briefing document outlining the controversy.

Write a list of management objectives for Stonehenge as whole class.

Then in groups create a management plan for the area.

Outline new roads and buildings (using Google Earth's drawing tools) or use a map of the area (go to the Ordnance Survey website and enter grid reference SU117419 0.

Identify the problems and suggest strategies leading to desired outcomes.


Discuss if your plan might give Stonehenge a better chance now of becoming a World Wonder next time round.

Can you research then justify your own choice of Seven Wonders from the 21 finalists?

  • Acropolis, Athens, Greece

  • Alhambra, Granada, Spain

  • Angkor, Cambodia

  • Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

  • Christ Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Colosseum, Rome, Italy

  • Easter Island Statues, Chile 

  • Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

  • Great Wall, China

  • Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

  • Kyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan 

  • Kremlin/St.Basil's, Moscow, Russia

  • Machu Picchu, Peru

  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany

  • Petra, Jordan

  • Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

  • Statue of Liberty, New York, USA

  • Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom

  • Sydney Opera House, Australia

  • Taj Mahal, Agra, India

  • Timbuktu, Mali

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