By Nigel Swift.
It’s hard to report on something you haven’t visited before and which is partly no longer there. But that’s how it is. By all accounts the Southern circle was the best preserved of the four, with most of its ditch and bank easily visible. Now, I’m afraid, taking the circle as a clock dial with the North at 12 o’clock, there is simply nothing left of either the ditch or the bank between about 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. It is just flat. It appears from the tracks and the re-seeding it was done by using a bulldozer not many weeks ago.
There are two massive piles of stones in the field, one comprising modern builders’ rubble and one just stones. It’s possible that the latter came from the core of the henge wall but I have no way of knowing.
A stone wall on the Eastern boundary of the field in question bisects the circle so the destruction stops at this point (4 o’clock) leaving the circle on the neighbouring land untouched. The effect is to leave an exposed cross section of the henge wall within the stone boundary wall, giving a clear view of the ruthlessness of the demolition.
The henge wall also now comes to a similar sudden end on the other side of the circle, at about 8 o’clock…
Looking North (showing the henge wall that remains)
Looking South (to where the henge wall has been for 4,000 years but isn’t now)
What’s to be done? Precious little other than grin and bear it I suspect – apart from deal with the culprit. I’d be surprised if anyone else can be blamed – for who can anticipate what someone might do in an afternoon with a bulldozer?
It had crossed my mind that someone could be required to build a replica of the missing parts, at huge expense, but on balance that may not be the best way forward. There’s something almost spooky about the look and feel of the area that has been scraped and recently re-seeded. It reminded me very strongly of my visit seven years ago to that other multiple set of henges which also happen to have been treated with contempt by this century – at Thornborough. There, it’s the surroundings not the actual henges that have been destroyed and an attempt to “restore” them has been made but with a marked lack of success in my perception at least as I thought the restored areas radiated deadness, with all the charm of a verge in front of municipal offices. Of course, they WERE dead and gone, other than in some electronic file far away, as is part of the Priddy monument.
So maybe heritage crime scenes shouldn’t be prettified and should stay as a vivid example to others who might otherwise think such behaviour wasn’t all that bad and easily rectified. Instead, maybe a massive donation towards the care of other prehistoric sites would be appropriate. Oh, and the donation of all four Priddy circles to the nation together with full access rights for the public, and a sum of money to look after them in perpetuity of course. That seems like a no-brainer in all the circumstances.
For previous article on Priddy see - http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/priddy-circle-damage-and-destruction/