The Conservation and Museums Advisory Service were lucky enough to be given a tour around the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre last week.
Newly opened by English Heritage at the end of last year the centre transforms the experience of visiting Stonehenge. The route to the stones is now a brisk walk or a rather warmer ride in the fleet of Land Rover trains. This keeps the car park away from the monument itself, restoring the stones more to their setting within the landscape.
Being newly opened the site is still developing – work had just started on the construction of replica Neolithic roundhouses on the day we visited.
For me one of the most exciting things about visiting and the biggest change from the previous experience is that for the first time you can see objects found at the site on display.
The vast majority of the finds that have been discovered in the Stonehenge landscape over the years are now held by the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Working in partnership, the two museums have loaned some of these artefacts to English Heritage for display, allowing the visitor centre to give a good feel for how people over the centuries made and used Stonehenge.
Some of the conservation work to get these objects ready for display was done by my conservator colleagues back in Chippenham, who were really pleased to be able to see their finished work on show.
If you are able, I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury and Devizes. There is no better way to get up close to the artefacts of Neolithic and Bronze Age Wiltshire.
Tim Burge, Museums Officer