Highways England is helping to educate the road users and potential road builders of the future about the work being undertaken to preserve the past, and the historical significance of the World Heritage Site around Stonehenge.
The team behind the A303 Stonehenge improvement scheme delivered a presentation to Amesbury Primary School last week on its current programme of archaeological surveys and are inviting other schools to learn more about the work as part of their curriculum projects.
The survey work, which includes surface artefact collection, topsoil tests and trial trenching, is part of Highways England’s continuing commitment to preserving the World Heritage Site and in particular its Outstanding Universal Value.
And following a request from the assistant headteacher of Amesbury C of E Primary School, the A303 Stonehenge team assisted Year 3 and Year 4 pupils in their project into the proposed development of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down.
In a hands-on session, the children learned about the company’s work in protecting both the environment and archaeology, performing their own dig and handling bottle traps for newts and dormice nesting tubes, as well as safety and engineering aspects of the proposed scheme.
As part of their school project, pupils are producing information leaflets and the A303 Stonehenge team is donating book tokens for the best leaflets chosen by the school.
Highways England project manager David Bullock said:
Heritage and the environment are very much at the heart of our work at Stonehenge, and the school visit provided a nice opportunity to showcase our work to a young audience.
Ongoing archaeological survey work will ensure we gather vital information about the environment and archaeology to inform the project as it progresses, and it’s nice to be able to share this.
The school were delighted to welcome the team, and assistant head teacher Ben Crabtree said:
The visit was ideal as the children have been learning all about the A303 project and using it as a basis for many of their subjects.
Opportunities like this are hugely valuable – the children are motivated to learn, they become informed about the future of their community and they discover just how many careers are available to them. We’re hugely thankful and we look forward to continued links.
Highways England is taking part in the Year of Engineering campaign and this engagement with local schoolchildren shows how interesting a job in the highways industry can be, and can help to inspire young people to consider engineering as a rewarding career.
The £1.6 billion A303 upgrade between Amesbury and Berwick Down includes a free-flowing dual carriageway with a tunnel at least 1.9 miles long and a much-needed bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke.
As well as removing the traffic bottleneck at Stonehenge and addressing the rat-running issue through local villages, the proposed scheme will remove the sight and sound of traffic from the iconic monument and reduce intrusion in the wider World Heritage Site landscape.
As part of its work, Highways England has been carrying out environmental, archaeological and geophysical surveys since 2016, adding to its knowledge and understanding of this unique landscape and helping to develop the design of the route.
And following public consultation earlier this year, Highways England is continuing its engagement with local communities, heritage groups, archaeologists, historians and engineers to develop the detail of the scheme before submitting a planning application to the Secretary of State later in the year.
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