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Campaigners to protest against Stonehenge tunnel

Campaigners will begin a series of protests today against plans to build a tunnel under Stonehenge.

Members of the Stonehenge Alliance will meet at the British Museum this afternoon to oppose the plans to carve a tunnel to divert the A303 under the historic site.

The Alliance will be targeting popular heritage sites throughout the summer.

The plans hope to ease congestion and improve the landscape around the site

Plans for new car park at Stonehenge

The new visitor's centre has led to rising numbers of tourists Credit: David Davies/PA

Plans for a new car park at Stonehenge are to be submitted after English Heritage admitted the current one is too small.

The car park was part of a £27 million redevelopment in 2013. Since the new visitor centre a record 1.3 million people have visited the site, and staff say they are having to turn coaches away at peak times because they've reached capacity.

The new plans would double the number of coaches allowed at a time by building on a nearby field.

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People asked how best to protect Wiltshire's heritage

Stonehenge in Wiltshire Credit: David Davies/PA

People in Swindon are being asked for their views on the strategy to protect world heritage sites in Wiltshire.

The long term plan to protect Stonehenge and Avebury - two of the county's most important landmarks - will be revealed to the public at Swindon's Central Library. The consultation is an opportunity for the public to have their say on the plan - and comment forms will be available in the Regent Circus library.

"Heading towards the spring": twice the expected number at Stonehenge for solstice

6,400 people were at Stonehenge this morning to mark the winter solstice.

This is twice the number who participated last year - Stonehenge managers say because it is dry, and schools are out for Christmas.

Kate Davies, Stonehenge General Manager, talks more about the enduring appeal of this ancient tradition.

PICTURES: Thousands gather for solstice at Stonehenge

Our reporter Rob Murphy has been with the crowds at Stonehenge, who have been up with the sunrise to celebrate the winter solstice.

It has been a cloudy one, but that hasn't dulled the enthusiasm of the thousands of people marking this ancient tradition.

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Crowds gather for Stonehenge solstice

Crowds have gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to mark the Winter Solstice. It's cloudy at the ancient stones ahead of the 0804 sunrise.

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Winter solstice celebrations at Stonehenge

For many this marks the beginning of winter. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Thousands of people are gathering at Stonehenge in Wiltshire this morning to celebrate the winter solstice.

It is one of the rare occasions when visitors can get close and actually touch the stones. The event marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is also regarded as the first day of winter. Sunrise is just after eight.

Experts slam Stonehenge tunnel plan

There are fears the tunnel past Stonehenge could create problems for archaeologists Credit: David Davies/PA Archive

Experts have hit out at plans for a 1.8 mile tunnel past Stonehenge, warning it could damage the oldest encampment discovered near the stones.

Charcoal dug up from the Mesolithic encampment at Blick Mead in the World Heritage Site, around one and a half miles from the stones, has been tested and found to date back to around 4,000 BC, archaeologists said.

A dig by the University of Buckingham has also unearthed evidence of possible structures, but more investigation is needed to see what the site contains. There is also evidence of feasting, including flints and giant bulls known as aurochs, the experts said.

But they warn that the chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain's history could be damaged by the plans for a tunnel through the World Heritage Site as part of efforts to relieve the A303 bottleneck at Stonehenge.

The two billion pound scheme would see the road put into a dual carriageway tunnel past Stonehenge, improving congestion and the setting of the stones - giving the public greater access to the wider prehistoric landscape and benefiting wildlife, supporters say.

But archaeologist David Jaques, who made the discovery of the encampment, said: "The Prime Minister is interested in re-election in 140 days - we are interested in discovering how our ancestors lived six thousand years ago."

He added: "Blick Mead could explain what archaeologists have been searching for for centuries - an answer to the story of Stonehenge's past.

"But our chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain's history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead."

Stonehenge Visitor Centre celebrates anniversary

The centre opened last December. Credit: ITV News West Country

The new Stonehenge Visitor Centre turns one today.

The multi-million pound facility began life with a few teething problems, including complaints about overcrowding and delays. However, a record 1.3 million people have visited it in the past year, including US President Barack Obama.

Earlier this year a beam of light was shone from the stone circle to commemorate the start of the First World War, followed by a special ceremony commemorating a million First World War soldiers.

WW1 soldiers marched again at Stonehenge. Credit: PA
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