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Millennium stone misses arrival deadline

THE MILLENNIUM Stone will miss its 22 September target date for arriving at Stonehenge as it has still failed to cross the Bristol Channel, it emerged last week.

Philip Bowen of community group Menter Preseli, which is overseeing the £100,00 Heritage Lottery funded project, said: 'Our new deadline is likely to be November.'

The project involves transporting a rock from the south Wales quarry which provided the original material for Stonehenge, to Salisbury Plain, using prehistoric techniques.

Bowen explained that much of the delay came after the 4t bluestone sank in the Bristol Channel during the volunteers' initial attempts to get it to Bristol by sea supported by two curraghs (NCE 22 June).

It was later recovered, but bad weather and a shortage of volunteers during the holiday season hit progress in August, before a hole was discovered in one of the curraghs.

'We used wool for ballast, ' explained Bowen, 'which we think acted in combination with sandbags and saltwater in rotting the twin canvas skins.'

Bowen explained that the damaged curragh was repaired and strengthened so it could carry the stone inside it.

This plan replaces the previous technique of suspending the stone in the water between the two curraghs.

'The stone curragh will be towed by the other, ' said Bowen.

'This means the rowers' stroke is maximised and hopefully we'll move a bit faster.'

Despite the delays, Bowen maintained that the Heritage Lottery funds put aside for the project were underspent. 'We've budgeted very carefully, and we still have a fair bit left, ' he said.

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