Spielberg WWI movie hit by Stonehenge row

Conservationists say filming upcoming war drama 1917 nearby could harm archaeological features

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is producing 1917, to be directed by Sam Mendes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hollywood duo Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes are battling British conservation groups over plans to film an upcoming First World War epic near Stonehenge.

According to The Times, the American producer and British director want to build a mock farm building and “network of combat trenches” near the ancient archaeological site on Salisbury Plain, in order to recreate a battlefield for their upcoming movie 1917.

A planning application sent to Wiltshire Council in November outlines the proposed construction - about two miles north of Stonehenge, on Ministry of Defence-owned land near the village of Shrewton. Spielberg hoped to begin construction of the farmstead this Monday, with 21 weeks of filming due to start at the end of April.

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But the plan has been delayed after the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society expressed concerns that the building work and creation of the trenches could “impact on historic and archaeological features”, reports Yahoo! News. The society insisted that a “proper geophysical investigation was needed” before construction began.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has also called for an assessment of the potential impact on the endangered Stone Curlew, a bird that lives in the area.

The Daily Mail reports that the dispute comes “soon after archaeologists claimed irreparable damage was done to the Mesolithic site when engineers monitoring water levels dug an 11.5ft-deep bore hole through a prehistoric platform in the area”.

Wiltshire Council is due to make a decision on the planning application at the end of this month.

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