Archaeologists have accused a construction crew of drilling into an ancient platform about a mile away from the famous Stonehenge ring. The flint-and-animal-bone platform is about 6,000 years old, and is part of an ancient settlement called Blick Mead.
Engineers were working on a tunnel below Stonehenge when the alleged damage happened, marking the latest drama in Stonehenge tunnel saga. The tunnel is supposed to ease congestion from tourist traffic. But archaeologists like David Jacques, the lead archaeologist at Stonehenge, have previously argued it will disturb undiscovered artifacts that could shed light on the enduring question of Stonehenge’s meaning.
Now, archaeologists feel the damage they predicted has already begun.
“[Two] years ago, David Jacques discovered auroch footprints at Blick Mead, the Mesolithic site which can justifiably be called the birthplace of Britain,” tweeted historian Tom Holland (aurochs are an extinct species of cattle). “We now learn Highways England have drilled a hole through the platform of flint & bone on which they were found.”
In another tweet, he continued: “This is EXACTLY what we have been warning would happen. You cannot smash a massive road development through our most precious prehistoric landscape, and not desecrate it.”
Highways England, however, contends its engineers didn’t cause any damage, according to BBC News.
“We do not have any evidence that our monitoring, the location of which we shared with Professor David Jacques, has caused any damage to the site and we have asked for further clarification of this,” a Highways England spokesman said, according to BBC.
Though it seems that Highways England and Jacques have yet to work out what exactly is going on, Jacques and other archaeologists have continued to maintain that the engineers damaged the platform at Blick Mead, which is part of the Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“This is a travesty,” Jacques said, according to The Guardian. “We took great care to excavate this platform and the aurochs’ hoofprints. We believe hunters considered this area to be a sacred place even before Stonehenge. These monster cows—double the size of normal cattle—provided food for 300 people, so were revered.
“It may be that there are footprints here which would be the earliest tangible signs of life at Stonehenge,” he continued. “If the remains aren’t preserved we may never be able to understand why Stonehenge was built.”