High Court Rules in Favor of Controversial Stonehenge Tunnel

Will it put the historic site at risk?

Stonehenge at dawn.
Chris Gorman/Big Ladder/Getty Images

The long legal battle over a proposed tunnel that would replace an highway that runs near Stonehenge — and which has alarmed some preservation advocates — took another turn this week. Writing at ARTnews, Tessa Solomon reports that the U.K. High Court has rejected an appeal from the group Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site to block construction of the tunnel.

In an update posted to social media this week, Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site pledged to challenge the ruling and referred to the High Court’s judgment as “disappointing news.”

The central issue raised by the group is the tunnel’s proximity to Stonehenge, which they feel “would spectacularly fail the integrity of the WHS.” An earlier ruling from 2021 had been in favor of the group’s position, which made the historic site seem more secure.

As Solomon reported last year, UNESCO has also been active in the case against the tunnel, with the agency arguing that building the tunnel could threaten Stonehenge’s World Heritage Site status.

There’s also an argument to be made against building the tunnel on aesthetic grounds. In a recent opinion piece for The Guardian, Simon Jenkins argued that the road as it currently exists offers drivers something unique: a glimpse of a millennia-old historic site. Jenkins makes the case for “the delight of recognition, of bearing brief witness to five millennia of lapsed time in the occupation of the British Isles.”

Enthusiastic drivers and historic preservationists aren’t always natural allies, but perhaps this cause can bring them together.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.