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We were sent these two pictures by Sandy Gerrard who is currently in Scotland ….. with the remark “Amazing the conclusions you can jump to if you don’t assess things in context….”
Not sure who or what he was getting at but they’re certainly interesting pictures. The first has all the characteristics of a prehistoric multiple stone row. However, the second complete with context shows that these stones rather than being prehistoric are grave markers within a cemetery. We guess he is trying to say that disregarding the context can lead to all sorts of blunders. Whether it be stone rows or solitary standing stones their context has much to tell us and should never be ignored.
It’s a weekend of Megameets!
Firstly on Saturday, there is an informal meet in the depths of Cornwall, at the stone circle in Duloe, south of Liskeard as part of the Mines and Megaliths walk. Combine a love of all things prehistoric with chat about the industrial archaeology of Cornwall – famed for it’s mining.
Mines and Megaliths. A walk in the shadow of Caradon Hill on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Footpaths and quiet country lanes lead to some well known sites, but also some hidden industrial remains that make up part of Cornwall’s World Heritage sites. Meet Outside the Crows Nest Inn (Please don’t use their carpark). 10am 574 Western Greyhound from Liskeard at 9.56am; 573 service from Looe at 9.02am connects with this. Walk will last approx 3 hours.
Then on Sunday, it’s a final call for those intending to come along to the Rollright Stones for our annual ‘Megameet’. Meet at 12:00 midday, just south of the circle (or the Red Lion at Long Compton if inclement). Bring a book (or several) to swap, have a chat with lots of lovely like minded people and enjoy the King Stone, the King’s Men and the Whispering Knights. Oh, and don’t forget a snack to eat or share! See you there!
There was an interesting statement by a planning inspector recently:
“The information submitted in support of the application includes reference to an annual financial contribution (£3,000), being made available from the income generated by the proposed wind turbine, for community projects.
Even if this was a matter that I could properly consider there is no mechanism in place to secure any such payment. I have not therefore taken it into account in determining the appeal.”
It seems the reason he ignored the “community bribe” was that there was no mechanism to guarantee it would be paid – but if there had been we can be pretty confident he would have been influenced by it. Such payments are commonplace these days and since the basis of decisions is to balance damage with public benefit, inspectors can hardly not take them into account. So if you’re a cynic (which some of us realists are accused of being) you could say that if you have deep enough pockets you can buy the democratic decisions you desire. Indeed, you could claim the situation is unchanged since the era of the Rotten Boroughs where you could pay locals to vote for you. In planning terms it’s a case of “have money, can develop” and we can all point to likely instances of that.
There’s a major defect in the thinking though. Yes, the locals might get a new Community Hall if a development goes ahead – which is a great benefit from the local perspective but what about the national perspective? Is damage to a nationally important scheduled monument made more acceptable nationally by the fact some locals at say, Upton Snodsbury, will be able to have their barn dances without the roof leaking? Probably not!
In addition of course, some incentives aren’t worth the paper they aren’t written on. Four years ago the northern setting of Avebury’s henge was badly damaged by a housing development…..
…… amid talk that the locals would at least be compensated by the provision of affordable housing elsewhere in the area, which would mean young people needn’t leave the village. Anyone seen those?
by Sandy Gerrard
The Planning Inspectorate in Wales has recently rejected an application to erect three wind turbines at Bedlinog on the edge of an area containing a large number of multi-period archaeological sites. Most significantly the main reason given for the decision is the impact the development would have had on the historic environment. Indeed this concern is eloquently expressed so: “the introduction of very large modern moving structures into a landscape which had not significantly changed since the pre-industrial age would cause significant and extensive harm.”
Hooray. The landscape that is going to be protected is very similar in character to the one at Mynydd y Betws. Essentially it is a multi-period palimpsest some of which is scheduled. There are however also some important differences:
> The nearest scheduled site would have been 570m from a turbine rather than the 72m at Mynydd y Betws
> Three turbines were proposed rather than fifteen.
> The turbines were to be built on enclosed land near to the moorland rather than on the moorland itself.
> The turbines were to be built to one side of the archaeology rather than in its midst.
When the Planning Inspectorate considered the Mynydd y Betws proposal, where the impact of the proposed scheme was considerably more intrusive and damaging to the historic environment than at Bedlinog they stated:
“The turbines would be large man made features of far greater scale than anything which currently exists. However they would be, if allowed, by their nature a temporary feature with a permission for 25 years.”
“the effect on the setting of those Monuments within the site, whether they are burial cairns or more recent upland farmsteads, would not be unacceptably harmful.”
Hopefully this radical change of heart means that in just a few short years and on the back of the lessons learnt at Mynydd y Betws the desecration of irreplaceable archaeological landscapes is no longer to be tolerated. Certainly this decision should help those fighting to safeguard our heritage and should be warmly welcomed by everyone with an interest in our uplands.
Submitted by a Correspondent:
THE SELFIE – A SHORT HISTORY
When in 1651, exactly 363 years ago yesterday, Charles II visited Stonehenge he didn’t do it to cross it off his “Bucket List”. Charles didn’t take advantage of any “photo opportunity” moment, indeed he would have shunned recognition. Nor did he arrive with a massive entourage, his servants preferred Salisbury Fair.
What changed between the visit of Charles and the visit of Barack Obama in 2014, is the selfie – everyone increasingly wanting to write themselves into the story. To borrow from one of the American President’s predecessors: it is not what the present can do for Stonehenge, but what the monument can do for the present. As well as the long past, it is surely time for visitors to be reminded to spare the monument’s future a thought…
There’s not much doubt the graffiti at the Millenium Circle at High Ham Country Park near Yeovil was deliberate – see here – as the words “Stoner was here” were daubed on one of the stones. However, 2 days later 200 miles away there was a different sort of incident at The Nine Ladies Circle - see here.
Is dressing stones up in bright pink material and causing no physical damage an act of vandalism? Especially if you do it as an “act of love and gratitude for their eternal being”? And you leave a note saying you did it as a response to previous vandalism there and you believe the Universe must be realigned”?
It’s a moot point but this chimes with one of our bugbears. Best not to mess about with ancient monuments AT ALL lest copycats do harm at another one. “No physical harm” and “in a good cause” doesn’t make it OK (National Trust at hill figures please note!) Simple really!
by Alan S
For those not in the FB Megameet group, here are the details I posted there yesterday:
Ok folks, less than 2 weeks to go! We meet at the Rollrights (see their website at http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/ for a full downloadable audio tour) from around Midday on Sunday 14th September. Gather for a chat and picnic in the clear area just south of the circle, a stroll among the stones and don’t forget the bookswap! I’ll also be looking for ideas for articles for the Heritage Journal, so please bring along any ideas you may have (and feel free to volunteer!) Also don’t forget change for your admission fee – it’s only a couple of quid, and goes toward upkeep of the site, such as the wheelchair tracking laid a couple of years ago to aid access and prevent erosion.
In the case of possible inclement weather, the backup plan is to meet in the Red Lion at Long Compton (see http://www.redlion-longcompton.co.uk/) – to find the pub head east from the stones then turn left (NW) onto the A3400. The pub is on the left about a mile and a quarter from the junction.
See you there!