Stupendous: The World of Stonehenge at the British Museum reviewed

This exhibition is Hamlet without the Prince, and all the better for it. Stonehenge is not there; it remains in Wiltshire. But 430 astonishing artefacts from the neolithic and bronze ages fill a hairpin course like a Roman chariot-racing circuit in a vast room. It is blessedly free from videos of prehistoric Britons tugging on ropes to move monoliths. There is a henge on display, though. (The word in its technical sense was invented in 1932 by Sir Thomas Kendrick, later director of the British Museum.) This is the Seahenge that emerged on the shore at Holme-next-the-Sea in 1998: 55 big oak posts round a two-ton upturned rooted trunk. Gloriously,

My night of nostalgia with Boris and co.

Rishi Sunak had a pre-game Twix and a Sprite to prepare for this week’s impressive Budget. I used to have a cup of very sugary tea. It was a tip from our joint mentor, William Hague. It coats the throat in preparation for speaking in a rowdy chamber. Even then my voice would be hoarse by the end of an hour’s Budget statement. It’s hard to convey just how noisy it is standing there with a couple of hundred adults screaming at you from a few feet away. But on Wednesday the House of Commons seemed quieter than it used to be on these big days. I’m not sure why.

Prehistoric footprints in Norfolk set us wondering

During the first lockdown last year, taking my lockdown puppy for our Boris-sanctioned daily walks, I discovered a love of prehistoric hill forts. By the third lockdown I, a hardened medievalist, had even progressed to an unexpected admiration for megalithic stone structures. My former indifference was caused by the perceived lack of people within those landscapes. Sure, they are spectacular, but it took a year of walking and a hefty amount of Googling before I appreciated how much we know about the people who shaped and experienced them. The latest book by the archaeologist and Time Team presenter Francis Pryor would have got me there an awful lot quicker. Scenes

Why Stonehenge doesn’t have to go the same way as Liverpool

It has not been a good month for the United Kingdom’s internationally important heritage sites. Stonehenge is teetering on the edge of losing its world heritage site status, with Unesco warning the UK government against a proposed £1.7b, two-mile long road tunnel near to the site. If so, it could go the same way as Liverpool, which lost its World Heritage Site status last week. In a city that boasts more Georgian buildings than Bath, the arguments have quickly polarised. In one corner, the developers and city authority decry the intransigence of Unesco and maintain that change is necessary to generate jobs and a thriving economy; and in the other,

When will Stonehenge’s lockdown end?

Another year, another row about Stonehenge. A rather sad piece on the BBC News website describes how its lacklustre custodians, English Heritage, had to cancel a live feed of the sunrise on the day of the solstice due to unspecified ‘safety concerns’ when a few people were seen climbing over a low fence to access the stones. More than 200,000 people around the world had tuned in to the live stream ‘but ended up watching pre-recorded footage of the stones until the feed returned at around 5am, showing largely cloudy skies’. Oh dear. But then disappointment has been hanging over our most famous prehistoric monument like a cloud for over a

George Osborne: Why I’m going into banking

Spring in Somerset — again. If someone had told me last February that I’d spend seven of the next 12 months here, I’d have explained that was impossible: I’ve always been a city boy. Three lockdowns later, and we’ve bought a home here. I love it. Snow, then snowdrops, now daffodils — and the wild garlic is coming up in the woods. Covid has converted me to the countryside. Bruton Place in Mayfair? Not for now. Bruton itself? Yes. There’s a Bruton Set, of course. They spend a lot of the time explaining why they didn’t want to be part of the Chipping Norton Set. I’ve met one of my