New Sarum–The normally sedate annual meeting of the Future Wiltshire Planning Commission erupted in bickering and angry rhetoric last night over a proposal to modify the Bluestone Monument in Salisbury Wood.

Cadwael fab Ulus, representing the architectural firm of Bedwyr, Cadwael and Associates, presented preliminary designs for expansion of the historic monument.  The proposal calls for erecting five trilithons in a horseshoe arrangement inside the existing ring of bluestones.  Each trilithon would include two upright sarsen stones surmounted by a lintel.  A ring of sarsens would be placed outside the bluestones, with lintels forming a complete circle.  Existing design elements, including the Avenue and the careful alignment with astronomical phenomena would be preserved.

Cadwael’s presentation also included a demonstration of how the sarsens and lintels would be raised into position with the aid of wooden planks.

Following the presentation, Peredur ap Helion of the preservation group Neolithic Heritage objected to what he called the desecration of the 500-year-old monument, indicating his group would consider delisting the monument from the Register of Historic Megaliths if the proposed works took place.  “This is an absolute outrage,” Peredur said.  “This proposal is a slap in the face to all who have so carefully worked to construct and preserve it all this time.  We can’t just go changing things willy-nilly.  These trilithons would tower over the existing bluestones; they’d be completely out of character with the rest of the monument.  Especially having all this stone imported from Marlborough, of all places; that would wreak havoc on the architectural context.”

Cadwael, the designer, responded by pointing out that the bluestones, originally from Pembrokeshire, weren’t altogether inline with the context of Salisbury Wood either.  Cadwael predicted that as time went by the new design, as striking as it was, would become a popular attraction, setting it apart from other stone circles and giving a boost to the local tourism industry.

Geraint ap Lyons, a representative of environmental watchdog Friends of Salisbury Wood, accused the designers of glossing over the amount of wood required to provide enough platforms to lift that many sarsens and lintels into place.  “It’s all very well planning a new upgrade for the monument in Salisbury Wood,” he said, “but it would be nice to think there would be a Salisbury Wood left after the monument was complete.”  Cadwael responded that the construction plans called for the reuse of as much wood as possible.

Cadwael went on to mention that he had been in communication with the custodians of other stone circles at Avebury and Callanish, who had seemed interested in his designs and the potential of constructing a “signature” megalith in their communities.

A vote was taken on the proposed design, with the Commission approving the plan by a narrow margin.

A prior proposal to remove the time portal from the monument was not included in the overhaul. The portal has suffered from an increased number of maintenance issues over the years, but monument managers insist they can bring it back into a state of good repair.

Copyright 2011, 2014

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