The Department of Culture has announced plans to build a 1.3 mile bored tunnel adjacent to Stonehenge to bury the noise pollution and congestion on the A303.

The tunnel, which will bypass the Stonehenge Bowl from east to west, should be completed by 2008 at a cost of ?183 million as part of the latest road building proposals from the Transport Department.

A bridleway is planned to replace the stretch of A303 trunk road next to the site, while the A344 will also be buried.

The National Trust, owners of the land surrounding the 5,000 year-old attraction, has welcomed the decision to dig a tunnel under the World Heritage site, rather than use the ‘cut and cover’ technique, which would damage the stones.

A spokesman for English Heritage, who manage the Stonehenge site,said: ‘The impact on monuments will be virtually none. Any benefits from a longer tunnel would decline dramatically after the 1.3 mile mark.’

Professor John C. Barrett, head of archaeology and prehistory at Sheffield University agreed: ‘Stonehenge and its landscape allow us to encounter something of the mystery and power of the prehistoric world. This proposal opens the way for a far greater appreciation of that world.’ Construction will start in 2005, pending a public inquiry.