Archaeologists have accused the Highways of England of having inadvertently bored a large hole through a 6000-year-old structure while preparing a tunnel near Stonehenge.
Drilling allegedly located at Mead, approximately one and a half kilometers from the world-famous Neolithic Stone Ring, has infuriated archeologists, according to which engineers have drilled a three-meter (10-foot) hole into an artificial platform of flint and animal bones.
Highways England has said that they know no damage to archaeological layers of the place caused by their work, and will meet on Thursday with the archaeological team led by David Jacques, a senior research associate at the University of Buckingham.
Prior to the drilling incident, archaeologists were concerned that the construction of a tunnel and overpass close to the site could cause the water level to fall, leaving detrimental remains in waterlogged ground. The Highways Agency agreed to monitor the water level as part of the project.
The 6,000-year-old platform through which a hole was drilled preserved the hoofprints of an auroch, a huge prehistoric cattle that has now died out.
Jacques said, "This is a travesty. This platform and the hoof prints of the aurochs have been carefully excavated. We believe that hunters already considered this area a holy place before Stonehenge. These monster cows – twice the size of normal cattle – provided food for 300 people and were therefore worshiped.
"If the tunnel continues, the water level will drop and all organic remains will be destroyed. There may be footprints here that would represent the first tangible signs of life in Stonehenge. If the remains are not preserved, we may never understand why Stonehenge was built. "
View Mead is part of the World Heritage Stonehenge and Avebury Unesco. A spokesman for Highways England said, "We do not know that archaeological layers were damaged. We have informed Prof. David Jacques about the locations of our monitoring of the water table and have observed guidelines in the execution of the work. We also kept Professor Jacques up to date and will meet him there [on Thursday],
"Our previous assessments indicate that the construction of the system will not have a significant impact on the Blick Mead area. We carry out these further hydrogeological investigations.
"The work was carried out in a highly professional manner, with an archaeologist on site and a careful approach."