Situated on the eastern edge of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, the Blick Mead area has yielded extraordinary findings from the Mesolithic period (8000-4000 BC) and provides a uniquely long radio carbon date range for an occupation site in North Western Europe. Through its chain of twenty radiocarbon dates, Blick Mead has the unique potential to illuminate the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to one which utilised animal husbandry and farming in Great Britain. This is therefore an archaeological and environmental archive without parallel. Blick Mead is already changing research agendas for understanding of the evolution of the Stonehenge landscape. Blick Mead has also returned a Neolithic date from some of the upper layers of the Mesolithic occupation site which date to the time of the building the Greater Cursus (c. 3600 BC), and rare artefacts which suggests ritual activity was taking place there at the time of the building of Stonehenge Phase 3 (c. 2500 BC). It has been described as a “point of origin” in the landscape at this time (Parker-Pearson, 2016).
The uniquely long-term use of the area by Mesolithic hunters thus could explain why the Stonehenge area became a pivotal focus for the later Neolithic people who built Stonehenge just over the ridge from Blick Mead. In 2018 the Blick Mead Project won Current Archaeology’s ‘Research Project of the Year Award’
Risk posed to Blick Mead by Stonehenge Tunnel Scheme
The crucial organic remains at Blick Mead will be lost forever if the water table in which it is preserved is not maintained. This is because the water table keeps organic matter in an oxygenated state preventing decay. Long-term evaluation of the proposal’s impact on the local waterlogged conditions in the Blick Mead spring is urgently required in light of the tunnel’s scheme plan to build an 8m high flyover/’ramp’ c. 5m north of the Blick Mead. The change in the A303 drainage systems due to the building works also needs to be accounted for and assessed in terms of impact on the Blick Mead water table. The flyover infrastructure will extend along the whole known length of Blick Mead and also along the area immediately to the east of it where peat is known to exist (peat preserves organics).
The placement of water meters to measure the fluctuations in the water table in the Blick Mead spring have yet to be related to the archaeologist’s knowledge of where the artefact spreads in the spring area are. A full assessment to gauge the local conditions of the water table at Blick Mead has yet to begin. We fail to understand how the tunnel scheme plans can have already been recommended by Highways, English Heritage, National Trust and Historic England without this work and a full assessment of risk to the water table being undertaken, especially after what happened at the Mesolithic site at Star Carr in North Yorkshire where the archaeology, which had been hitherto protected by the water table, has been damaged and some destroyed by an infrastructure project in the early 2000’s. Drilling work by a Highways/Aecom team at Blick Mead on December 2nd 2018 has already damaged the only area of the site where aurochs footprints had been found. In our view this destruction shows Highways is not operating to the highest standards of duty of care required for a World Heritage Site. It is clear a breach of UNESCO convention articles which requires member states to do their “utmost” to protect World Heritage Sites for future generations.
Operation Stonehenge: What lies beneath