A LEADING archaeology professor has claimed the Stonehenge tunnel plans will mean the loss of "over half a million" prehistoric artefacts within the World Heritage Site, should plans go ahead.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, who is professor of British Prehistory at University College London, was talking at the A303 National Infrastructure Planning hearing in Salisbury City Hall.

He claims these artefacts "would be bulldozed without record or recovery by the proposed strategy", adding "this is an unacceptable level of damage to the resources and loss of information about Stonehenge's prehistoric past".

Professor Pearson would like to see 100 per cent sampling of the area that is due to be affected by the project, which he estimates would take 300 archaeologists at least two summers to complete, as accommodations would have to be made for the weather.

He adds that "for more than 10 years, archaeologists researching within the World Heritage Site have recovered finds by 100 per cent retrieval by hand-digging, and the same should be happening with this site."

He claims the Detailed Archaeological Mitigation Strategy (DAMS) proposed by Highways England would not allow for this to happen.

This comes after Victoria Hutton, Counsel representing the consortium of 22 archaeologists, said that harm to the World Heritage Site would breach the World Heritage Convention 1972.

In response, Highways England claimed Professor Pearson was just putting forward "unclaimed theories", which would need to be tested further before given full consideration.

Jim Hunter from Highways England added: “We’ve done a huge amount of work in advance of this scheme, more than has been done for any other road scheme in this country.

“And we have a huge amount of information, upon which can base a very thorough investigation.

“What we’ve found in those investigations was interesting but wasn’t unexpected and I think that the scheme can go ahead and we’ll be confident that we can deal with the archaeological remains in an appropriate way which will preserve by record the things that are there for future generations, while at the same time achieving the aims of the scheme from a cultural heritage point of view which are to open up the whole landscape so that the experience of Stonehenge as a site as a whole is improved and the existing A303 is improved.

“I feel we are answering the problems and answering them well.”

The hearing continues.