There has been an interesting debate following a call that Stonehenge should be lit up at night. As the stones are in our care, we have to consider whether introducing light onto the monument and into the World Heritage Site will genuinely enhance people’s appreciation and understanding of Stonehenge.
There are many unanswered questions about the origins of Stonehenge and the reasons behind its construction. What we do know is that our prehistoric ancestors had the movement in the skies overhead clearly in mind when they positioned the stones.
By artificially lighting Stonehenge at night, this ancient relationship between the stones, moon and stars would be lost and it would stand in our way of imagining what our ancestors had in mind when they raised this remarkable monument. Therefore outside of some special occasions, we do not light up Stonehenge at night.
This approach is also informed by some serious safety issues. Stonehenge was lit up at night for a period in the 1970s and early 1980s but that practice was stopped due to an increase in road accidents caused by vehicles slowing down to observe the monument. As there is even more traffic today on the A303, that risk cannot be ignored.
English Heritage's priority is to complete the exciting project which will restore the dignity of the monument and reunite Stonehenge with its ancient processional avenue. This will considerably improve the setting of the stones, give people wider access to the fascinating landscape around the monument, and - at the new visitor galleries - provide them with an illuminating account of Stonehenge.