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Five years ago this week Heritage Action was deep in the struggle to prevent further quarrying near to the Thornborough Henges, a remarkable international campaign that is estimated to have reached four million people and led by the tireless George Chaplin (see below).

Sadly, Tarmac plc got what they wanted, the right to rip up the landscape of what English Heritage has said is “the most important prehistoric monument between Stonehenge and the Orkneys.”  George presented the council with a ten thousand name petition that contained names from all over the world and a large number of senior archaeologists plus fifteen hundred objection letters from local people – a number that totally dwarfed any set of objection letters the council had received on any subject, ever.

Sadly, North Yorkshire County Council deemed that since the objections related to the planning application a few months previously that had been quietly cancelled and not to the slightly amended one that had superseded it, the objections were all invalid and the letters were left on a shelf and the planning committee members weren’t even told of their existence!

At this moment Tarmac plc are busily extracting the gravel (which of course no-one now wants!)

Here’s our Heritage Journal entry for July 6, 2005: 

10,000 demand exclusion zone to protect Thornborough
On Monday Heritage Action and Time Watch demanded independence for Thornborough henges by presenting North Yorkshire County Council with 10,000 signatures demanding a one mile quarry exclusion zone around the major archaeological features



George Chaplin andf other campaigners hand in their petition

We hope that this unprecedented public response, combined with numerous planning policy infringements will allow the council to reject this application.

They also handed the council more than 1,500 letters of objection to the Ladybridge quarry planning application – more than the council has ever received about any planning application.

Heritage Action and TimeWatch collected the majority of the signatures by attending local and regional events and by lobbying at many archaeological conferences. As a result a large number of senior archaeologists have signed the petition, including one of Britain’s foremost prehistoric archaeologists, Richard Bradley.

TimeWatch also presented to the council a convincing case against quarrying at Ladybridge which shows that the application infringes a great many council planning policies.

West Kennet Avenue viewed from the Ridgeway; Falkner’s stone circle would be in the field on the right of the road

The Heritage at Risk Register 2010 published today (Wednesday 7 July 2010) by English Heritage shows that the number of scheduled monuments at risk has fallen by 140 to 3,395, but the Register also confirms that the proportion of scheduled monuments at risk is still high at 17.2% (one in six), with the South West, Yorkshire and The Humber, and West Midlands having the highest share.

Hardly good news, checking the register for Wiltshire and there are 250 scheduled monuments at risk, mostly  barrows damaged and lost due to plough damage, and perhaps the words extensive significant problem i.e. under ploughing, collapse highlights the gradual loss of barrows, the modern heavy  farm machines of today completing the task of demolishment started many centuries ago. A stone circle now lost but part of the Avebury Complex is Falkner’s Circle, a solitary stone by a gateway highlights this 44 metre width stone circle, a passing memory now.

Falkner’s Stone – all that is left of the Neolithic stone circle that once lay below Waden Hill

The great East Kennet long barrow lost in its greenery of trees once hosted a bronze age barrow cemetery  surrounding  it, now all but lost to ploughing, a solitary splendour that reminds us that once long ago one prehistoric age made tribute to its ancestors thousands of years ago.

East Kennet long barrow;  Home to exuberant trees and burrowing badgers

Image credits Moss


July 2010

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