Celebration is in the air this month as the National Trust, Avebury, plays host to the launch of the first joint Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Management Plan (WHS).
Key people from all over the county gathered on 18 May to toast the launch, the first plan written for the whole WHS, rather than in two halves as it was previously.
The management plan sets out the strategies to protect and care for the WHS from 2015-2021 and is the product of a wide-ranging collaborative and consultative process involving the National Trust, English Heritage, Wiltshire Council, Historic England, Natural England and the RSPB, as well as local landowners and members of the local community.
The plan sets out guidelines that take into account all aspects of the World Heritage Site; from archaeological research, nature conservation, farming, and tourism, ensuring that these aspects and more can be managed in a holistic manner that is sensitive and progressive.
Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site (WHS) said: ‘The launch of the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site Management Plan marks a watershed moment in the way we care for these unique landscapes.
‘The site has been six thousand years in the making, and this plan represents the commitment of a host of organisations and individuals to ensuring these precious places can be appreciated and enjoyed by generations to come.’
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986 for the Outstanding Universal Value of one of the densest concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age sites and monuments anywhere in Europe and is only one of 28 WHS in the UK.
The National Trust cares for over 3700 acres of this prehistoric landscape within both halves of the WHS: 1600 acres at Avebury and 2100 acres in the Stonehenge Landscape. This includes many of its most famous monuments including Avebury Henge & Stone Circles (the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world), the West Kennet Avenue, the Stonehenge Cursus, Durrington Walls henge and the Stonehenge Avenue.
Pictured above: Partial view of Avebury stone circle © National Trust Images / David Noton