Have Ancient Monuments Always Been Protected?

It’s always sad to see some numbskull deface one of America’s natural treasures in places like Yosemite, Zion or Canyonlands national parks. But it happens around the world, too. At Stonehenge in England, tourists can no longer get near the stone monoliths -- they’ve been roped off and off-limits since 1977, to keep vandals from climbing on them, or chipping off hunks to take home.

Taking a stone souvenir was actually encouraged before 1900, when visitors were inexplicably given free chisels when they arrived at the site.

Protected thousands of years later:

  • Stonehenge landowner Sir Edmund Antrobus decided the 5,000-year-old monument needed to be protected and petitioned for the help-yourself practice to be outlawed in 1900.

  • Throughout the Victorian period, Stonehenge was a popular gathering place. More than 3,000 people would assemble in midsummer each year to watch the sun rise over the Heelstone.

  • Stonehenge was substantially restored in the early 20th century, when stones that had become wobbly were straightened, and then set in concrete.

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More Info: Smithsonian Magazine

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