The desire to provide Stonehenge with a more appropriate setting lies at the heart of current developments around the monument, of which the new visitor centre and the closure of the A344 are the most visible. However, this desire is far from new, and first came to the fore in the wake of the First World War. From 1917 to to 1921, Stonehenge had a military aerodrome - the No. 1 School of Aerial Navigation and Bomb Dropping - as a near-neighbour. After 1918, the aerodrome became a focus for debate about just what constituted acceptable and unacceptable modern intrusions into the Stonehenge landscape, ironically at a time when Stonehenge itself was undergoing considerable transformation involving concrete and heavy machinery.
As well as looking at the brief history of the aerodrome itself, this talk will also look back at the Stonehenge landscape prior to 1917 - was it really a timeless landscape of rolling downland pasture, occupied mainly by sheep, shepherds, antiquarians and the occasional landscape painter? And what happened to the aerodrome and its buildings? And did the Royal Flying Corps really ask for the stones to be removed because they were a hazard to low-flying aircraft?
A talk by Martyn Barber, English Heritage. This lecture is in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm from September to April.