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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Bluestone trek's insurance hitch
stone
Volunteers have been vital to the bluestone project
The troubled Millennium Bluestone project has hit another hurdle - finding insurance for the sea leg of its journey.

Organisers have said they have been told to get specialist maritime insurance cover for the stone - which famously sank during its journey from west Wales to Stonehenge last year - but so far no-one will take the risk.


The project can only proceed if such insurance cover can be obtained

Project spokesman Len Mullins

And it appears the controversial 100,000 scheme to move the three-tonne rock from north Pembrokeshire is once again in doubt.

The Millennium Bluestone project is sponsored by Menter Preseli - the rural development initiative - with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project was one of many to receive lottery funding to help celebrate the new millennium in Wales.

It began more than a year ago, and was due to finish in September 2000.

But the organisers have become used to setbacks.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge - the journey will end here
"The project is currently unable to gain the specialist maritime insurance cover necessary for the sea stage of the journey," said spokesman Len Mullins.

"The project can only proceed if such insurance cover can be obtained.

"The position remains under review but unless insurance cover is available, the project cannot proceed."

Efforts to follow in the footsteps of the ancient builders of the famous landmark at Salisbury Plain have been dogged by bad luck.

The plan had been to recreate the historic journey the builders made 4,000 years ago.

Less success

They transported the stone 240 miles by land and sea in order to build the monument's inner circle.

But the 21st century re-run has been less successful.

Despite setting off well in April 2000, problems soon occurred.

First a lack of volunteers delayed plans to drag the stone overland on a wooden sledge.

Hauled out

Then, as the giant boulder was being rowed across the Bristol Channel on two replica ancient boats, it slipped into the sea off the west Wales coast.

Bad weather then prevented divers from searching for it.

It was eventually found lying 16.5m underwater near the mouth of the Milford Haven estuary, and hauled out with the help of volunteers.

But efforts to relaunch the operation - which was due to finish in September 2000 - were abruptly halted when it was discovered the stone would not fit into a newly-adapted boat.

The Bluestone Project Committee has now said it is uncertain where the stone will be placed when it finally arrives in Stonehenge.

A spokesman for the committee said It would be "sacrilege" to place it among the other stones at Stonehenge, and no decision had been taken about its final resting place.

Journey graphic
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