two 'Cove' stones at the centre of the Northern Inner Circle at
Avebury have been leaning precariously for at least 300 years.
1997, on advice from the National Trust's engineers, they have been
fenced off in case one of them falls without warning.
careful analysis of the options available, the Trust, with support
from English Heritage, has appointed a contractor to return the
megaliths to a vertical position.
framework is now being erected to support the giant jacks which
will be used to adjust the angle of the stones, one of which weighs
at least 50 tonnes.
jack with blocks of stone to act as a counterbalance.
stone is about 4.9 metres (16 feet) high, the other 4.4 metres (14
feet 3 inches).
the operation starts, a team of archaeologists will excavate the
area around the stones.
their work is done the contract will go ahead and should be completed
by the end of May.
fencing will then be removed, allowing public access to the stones
again for the first time in six years.
will continue until the end of May 2003.
Mimmack, the National Trust's Property Manager at Avebury, said:
"It is good news that at long last this work can start.
visitors have been asking when the fencing can be removed and we
can now give them a definite answer.
jacking process will be carried out very gently to avoid damage
to the stones, but it will nonetheless be quite spectacular."