by Sandy Gerrard
Cadw record that scheduled monument BR226 “Standing stone near Traeth Bach” is at SN 96388 25380. Trouble is there is no standing stone at this location. Adjacent to a modern ditch there is a large horizontal slab, but no standing stone.
About 105m north west of the scheduled area there is a small standing stone. Perhaps this was Cadw’s intended target, the local archaeological trust certainly believe this to be the case although the Royal Commission do not record this second stone as benefitting from scheduling protection. I guess the dimmest of lawyers would have no trouble persuading a jury that the mix up caused by the scheduled monument being shown in entirely the wrong location was wholly responsible for the unfortunate accident that befell this antiquity.
Moving on and assuming that it was indeed the standing stone rather than the recumbent one that was assessed by Cadw in the first place it is worthwhile examining the reasons why Cadw attempted to schedule this feature. Sadly, an examination of the available documentation reveals that there is actually no evidence to corroborate its alleged prehistoric origin and indeed according to the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust it is listed by the Royal Commission in the Boundary Stones section in the Inventory. A further clue to the true purpose of this stone may be gleaned from its position adjacent to a small clapper bridge across a leat. The stone could have alerted travellers to the presence of the bridge and it is therefore much more likely to be a waymarker than a prehistoric standing stone.
Clearly this is not definitive proof of a mundane post-medieval explanation, but without any evidence to support a prehistoric interpretation this would seem to be only logical explanation on the table. The stone after all stands next to a low bridge which would not have been visible from a distance. It’s odd that this evidence has been “overlooked”.
Elsewhere Cadw choose not to schedule a site because there was “insufficient evidence” to support a prehistoric interpretation. This excuse looks increasingly fragile as it is clear that Cadw are content to schedule sites without providing any evidence to support a prehistoric date, when indeed a careful examination of the context of the site would have revealed that another explanation was a whole lot more likely.
Why are sites with a decent post-medieval context being scheduled as prehistoric, whilst those with a decent prehistoric context are dismissed as post-medieval? An inept, biased and subjective scheduling assessment process might be the answer!