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From Sandy Gerrard:
Thursday 2nd February 2012 (Morning)
Access to the site is now very difficult. Miles of barbed wire fencing have been erected and there are huge machines driving menacingly all over the place. The last report from the site indicates that the two lengths of the row affected by the permitted development have either been destroyed or covered over. We are eagerly awaiting feedback on what was found. It would however also appear that a length of the row outside of the “permitted development” area has either been damaged or destroyed. As well as the obvious access problems the mountain is now covered in snow and I am awaiting a thaw before I venture out again.
Thursday 2nd February 2012 (Evening)
Just back from the mountain. Curiosity got the better of me, but as expected it was very cold and snowy. We spotted at least six huge diggers smashing their way through thousands of years of peat deposits. There were two archaeologists on site doing watching brief stuff but most of the diggers were unsupervised. The diggers bored with being confined to the area between the fences were straying into areas where I am sure they should not have been. The stone row itself has been amputated with most of the upper north eastern end being destroyed. The best preserved bit still does survive and should be OK, but the row as a whole will never be quite the same. There is still access to the site but you have to share a road with massive dumper lorries which as they pass tilt from side to side as they sink into the poorly made road – very frightening. S4C were making a programme about the row although it was not at its best because of a fairly thick covering of snow. I took loads of photographs and have posted some of the better ones. Despite promises that we would be kept informed of the outcomes of the initial meetings with the developers we are still waiting for any feedback from Cadw. This situation we find both surprising and disappointing in equal measure.
This photograph shows two diggers building the new road whilst the fence is being erected in the background.
This work is apparently being carried out without a watching brief. Whether this is legally acceptable we do not know because so far this information is unavailable despite an FOI request. However this landscape is known to be rich in archaeology – after all there are 7 scheduled monuments in it – and the peat is very likely to be hiding others. My point is that the discovery of the stone row indicates that the original work may be flawed but despite this they appear to be ploughing on regardless.
However on a more positive note and in response to being shown a draft of this feature the developers Cambrian Renewable Energy Ltd (CREL) helpfully confirmed that a stone alignment was recently discovered traversing the construction corridor on Betws Common, Carmarthenshire.
They added that
“although a comprehensive archaeological survey of the site, including a large series of trial excavations, was undertaken in compliance with our planning conditions, these previously hidden features were only revealed following a gorse fire that occurred since the archaeological survey was completed.
As soon as the discovery was made construction works in the area were diverted while CREL worked with Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) and the Welsh Government’s heritage organization Cadw to fully survey the area and catalogue the finds. This work is now complete and Cadw and CCC are satisfied that construction works in the area can proceed.
The significance of the find has yet to be evaluated but three stones have been excavated and removed under controlled conditions by ESB’s retained professional archaeologists, working to a methodology fully agreed and monitored by Cadw and Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
We will continue to work closely with experts from CCC and Cadw to properly assess those small areas of the Common which will be impacted by construction activities and to ensure that any finds are sensitively dealt with.”
This welcome statement answers some of the questions that have been raised regarding the discovery and treatment of the stone row, but many still remain unanswered and hopefully Cadw or the Dyfed Archaeological Trust will be able to explain exactly what has happened, what has been found and lost and how this extremely unfortunate situation can be prevented from happening again to an understandably concerned public.”
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