Preserving Stonehenge: One of mankind’s most famous monuments is undergoing vital repair work that will ensure it lasts for another thousand generations.
As Tuesday rolls on, conservator James Preston uses a pointing spoon atop a rare sight: scaffolding inside the stone circle of Stonehenge. It’s one of the largest conservation projects these ancient stones have ever seen.
Alongside specialist contractors from SSH Conservation, Preston and his team are repairing “defects” caused by haphazard alterations made in the 1950’s.
“Stonehenge is unique among stone circles by virtue of its lintels and the special joints used to secure the lintels in place,” adds English Heritage’s Senior Stonehenge Curator, Heather Sebire.
The conservation work is vital, English Heritage ensures. Alongside the old snafus, cracks, holes, and other precarious indentations are constantly forming in Stonehenge; the result of weather erosion.
Time’s flickering of wind and rain has battered the megalith for eons. Conservative estimates place the stone circle at 4,500-years-old. The stones themselves, however, are unimaginably ancient.
Ancient erosion is apparent to the trained eye. But it took detailed laser scans to uncover the mistakes of previous repairs.
“Four and a half thousand years of being buffeted by wind and rain has created cracks and holes in the surface of the stone,” Sebire emphasizes for Reuters. “This vital work will protect the features which make Stonehenge so distinctive.”
Stonehenge Gets a Facelift: The Specifics
For the project, scaffolding stands dozens of feet high so workers can access tops of standing stones. The tallest at Stonehenge is around 9 meters, or 30 feet.
On both these tops and the faces of the ancient stones, the removal of concrete mortal from the 1950s and 60s is taking place. Lime mortar will replace it, helping keep the stones as close to their natural state as possible while also preserving them.
It’s intricate, painstaking work, but the effort will ensure Stonehenge lasts for another thousand generations or two.
One man, however, is ensuring that those future generations remember a specific century that took care of the stones.
Richard Woodman-Bailey, 71, first placed a coin underneath one of the megalith stones in 1958. That year saw the last major conservation work, and Richard was but 8-years-old. His father, the Chief Architect for Ancient Monuments at the time, let him place the memento.
Now, more than 60 years on, Richard will place a fresh 2 pound coin inside new Stonehenge mortar.