HEAVY stones "dangling" above you - that was the memory of an eight-year-old boy who laid a coin in 1958 during conservation work at Stonehenge.

Richard Woodman-Bailey, now 71, returned yesterday, September 14, to place a new coin - 63 years on from first placing the halfpenny.

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Picture by Gareth Iwan Jones 

Recalling his visits to Stonehenge during that time, he said: "Because we were down here quite a lot, certainly during the school holidays and half term, my mother would come down and make the cakes at home and then bring them down to the workforce and make the tea.

"I was just allowed to play round the stones. I've got vague memories of that. "

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"But this particular day I happened to be onsite when they were doing this big lift with the heaviest of the stones," explains Richard, who says it was "dangling" just two feet above the hole where it was going to be replaced.

"It was with the stone dangling above me that I was given this 1958 ha'penny and they said 'here lad put that under the stone'.

"I do remember not being completely under but right beside this 60-tonnes worth of dangling stone, which is why it is imprinted in the memory and I'm able to tell the story now."

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However, he believes the placing of the coin back in the 50s was "very much on the spur of the moment" and not planned like it has been in present day.

Richard says he had mostly forgotten this story, only just telling a few people from time to time in conversations.

Until 2013, when he was flicking through an English Heritage magazine, he came across the picture of him as a boy at Stonehenge.

He said he was pictured within the stone circle, standing by his father's drawing on his "mobile desk otherwise known as a wheelbarrow".

This prompted Richard to get in touch with the editor of the magazine to say the picture was of him.

This sparked more conversations of his memories of being onsite during the conservation work back in the 50s, and has ultimately led him to being able to place the new coin - marking the start of the latest conservation works.

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"It is a wonderful place and undoubtedly iconic," added Richard.

"It was very much in the heart of my own father, although he looked after all the ancient monuments in England and Wales this was very much a special place, which is why he took personal charge of it back at the time in the 50s and 1964 when the last bit of work was done."

English Heritage and the Royal Mint arranged for Richard to strike a special commemorative silver 2021 Britannia £2 coin and come back to Stonehenge to place it within the new mortar holding the lintels in place.

"It is certainly exciting to be asked to go and strike a coin at the Royal Mint. That was an interesting experience which not many people get to do," said Richard.

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"It was really interesting because it is placed on the same trilithons where the 1958 half penny was actually placed . I've now placed a coin both underneath one of the upright stones and above them under the lintel of the trilithons.

"It really is a special occasion which will stick in the memory for ever no doubt."

This comes as one of the most significant conservation projects at the 4500-year-old structure in more than 60 years starts this week.

Salisbury Journal:

Picture by Gareth Iwan Jones 

The project will see repairs carried out on the cracks in the lintels – the elevated horizontal stones – and the repacking of joints with lime mortar.

Detailed laser scans of every stone at Stonehenge, along with a recent engineers report, revealed cracks and surface damage in the lintels.

English Heritage says its conservation plan will prevent further erosion to the stones themselves, stop cracks from getting larger, and repair earlier works from the 1950s and 60s, where hard concrete mortar was used to fix lintels together and is now disintegrating.

The conservation work is expected to take two weeks.

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