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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Bluestone resting place undecided
The bluestone is winched from the seabed off Milford Haven
Councillors in Pembrokeshire have failed to decide the fate of the controversial millennium bluestone, which was involved an ill-fated 100,000 Heritage Lottery project.

The ambitious plan to replicate the journey of a giant stone from the Preseli mountains in west Wales to Stonehenge, by land and sea, ended in disaster when the stone sank off the Welsh coast last year.

It was later retrieved by divers and is being kept in a warehouse in Milford Haven.
Engineers help bring the ill-fated project back from the sea
Engineers help bring the ill-fated project back from the sea

Pembrokeshire council met to decide where the final resting place of the stone should be.

Several requests to house the stone have been made including one from Mynachlogddu community council to return it to its starting place in the Preseli mountains.

Plans to install the stone in a museum in Wexford in Ireland are also under consideration.

Meanwhile an application to house the monument at Oakwood Leisure park in Pembrokeshire has also been received.

The authority has admitted the disastrous episode cost it 65,000 and a grant claim for the money has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery fund.

Among the problems encountered by the project team were devising authentic transportation which worked, and having enough volunteers to pull the stone.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge - the stone's destination

But the project collapsed when the bluestone was rowed across the Bristol Channel on two replica ancient boats and slipped into the sea.

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 Millennium Bluestone project was sponsored by Menter Preseli - the rural development initiative - with Heritage Lottery backing.

Funding defended

The Heritage Lottery Fund has defended the decision to approve a grant for the project.

In a statement they said: "Whilst not achieving its end goal, the project did raise interest in the historic connection between Preseli and Stonehenge.

"Furthermore, it galvanised some 1,000 volunteers, attracting huge local interest and encouraging tourism to Pembrokeshire."

The project began in April 2000 and was created to celebrate the new millennium in Wales.

The plan had been to recreate the historic journey that it is thought the builders of Stonehenge made 4,000 years ago.

Stonehenge's creators are thought to have transported the original bluestone 240-miles by land and sea in order to build the monument's inner circle.

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