Have Ancient Monuments Always Been Protected?

It’s always sad to see visitors deface important monuments, and now most governments do their best to preserve their cultural heritage. At Stonehenge in England, tourists can no longer get near the stone monoliths -- they’ve been roped off and off-limits to visitors since 1977, to keep vandals from climbing on them, or chipping off hunks of stone to take home. However, taking a stone souvenir was actually encouraged before 1900 -- visitors were even given chisels when they arrived at the site so they could have a bit of Stonehenge for themselves.

Protected thousands of years later:

  • Stonehenge landowner Sir Edmund Antrobus decided that 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 at the summer solstice each year to watch the sun rise over the Heel Stone.
  • Stonehenge was substantially restored in the early 20th century, when stones that had become wobbly were straightened, and then set in concrete.
More Info: Smithsonian Magazine

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