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Since 1897, when the Ministry of Defence bought a vast tract of land on Salisbury Plain for army training exercises, the activities of the military have had an impact on the area. Barracks, firing ranges, field hospitals, airfields and light railways were established. Some of these, such as the Stonehenge airfield, have long since been demolished, but others, such as the Larkhill airfield sheds, still stand and are important in the history of early military aviation. Meanwhile, the introduction of turnpike roads and the railway to Salisbury brought many more visitors to Stonehenge. From the 1880s, various stones had been propped up with timber poles, but concern for the safety of visitors grew when an outer sarsen upright and its lintel fell in 1900. The then owner, Sir Edmund Antrobus, with the help of the Society of Antiquaries, organised the re-erection of the leaning tallest trilithon in 1901.
This was the start of a sequence of campaigns to conserve and restore Stonehenge – the last stones were consolidated in 1964. The monument remained in private ownership until 1918 when Cecil Chubb, a local man who had purchased Stonehenge from the Atrobus family at an auction three years previously, gave it to the nation. Thereafter, the duty to conserve the monument fell to the state, today a role performed on its behalf by English Heritage. From 1927, the National Trust began to acquire the land around Stonehenge to preserve it and restore it to grassland. Large areas of the Stonehenge landscape are now in their ownership. More recent improvements to the landscape – including the removal of the old visitor facilities and the closure of the section of the old A344 that ran close to the stones – have begun the process of returning Stonehenge to an open grassland setting, but there is more that can be done. English Heritage welcomes government plans to invest in a tunnel, which would remove much of the busy A303 and help reconnect the monument to its ancient landscape
View to the south showing a section of the circular bank which encloses Stonehenge. Constructed from chalk around 3000 - 2920BC, the bank would have originally have been gleaming white, and visible across the surrounding countryside.