You are currently browsing the daily archive for 16/05/2012.

This article presents Cadw’s remaining responses to the the “18 vital questions” about the Mynydd Y Betws stone row posed by its joint discoverer Dr Sandy Gerrard. It is best read in conjunction with Mynydd Y Betws: Cadw’s responses [Part 1] . For all other articles on the subject put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box. As before, Cadw’s responses are each preceded by Sandy’s original question and followed by his comments.

[We also have a concern of our own, as lay people: we note that Cadw has responded with the words best answered by [someone else]”  in 13 of the 18 Questions (in the two articles) and while Dr Gerrard has agreed with that in the majority of those cases, he has strongly disagreed in some of them and has also taken issue with all of those explanations that Cadw have supplied. It is therefore to be hoped that a lot more information will soon be forthcoming regarding all 18 of the issues raised. We also feel that notwithstanding whatever information is forthcoming from the developers, Dyfed Archaeological Trust or others it is Cadw that has the over-arching responsibility in this whole matter and therefore the ultimate responsibility to fully explain everything that has gone on.]

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Question 10. Why is the explanation for Evaluation Trench 43 not consistent with the evidence?
The report states that the trench was “rapidly evacuated” on the discovery of two pieces of asbestos, yet the section drawing (below) is complete. How was this section drawn if the trench was rapidly evacuated? It must have been drawn before the asbestos was found suggesting that a decision had already been taken not to proceed any further.

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed.

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Question 11. Why is the excavation strategy employed by Evaluation Trench 43 so curious?
By placing the trench along the line of pits rather than across it in the standard way for linear features the true character of the earthworks could not hope to have been established. This approach would be like trying to evaluate the complex defences of a hillfort by only digging a trench along the ditch and ignoring the rampart. Why was this unorthodox technique used?

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed.

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Question 12. The mining pits extend into the area of Turbine 16 (see image below). Given that work was abandoned in Evaluation Trench 43 and this part of the heritage asset was also going to be destroyed why was no mitigation work carried out? (The image highlights some of the archaeological remains that were ignored during the evaluation).

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed

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Question 13. Why has machinery damaged a small part of the central line of mining pits?
The image below shows the fence dug into the edge of the mining pits. In the foreground the earthworks have been damaged despite their position beyond the permitted development area. If damage is being condoned beyond the fenced areas why was the archaeology within these areas not the subject of pre-development mitigation?

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by the developer”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – A poorly worded question that has allowed wriggle room. The point is that archaeology outside the permitted development area has been damaged by the development. Whilst the archaeological authorities were unwilling to stray one centimetre beyond the defined areas the evidence on the ground is that the developers were not so pedantic about their boundaries. If the development was being monitored closely as claimed how did this situation arise?

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Question 14. Why was no mitigation work carried out on the part of the central line of mining pits affected by the new road?
The photograph below shows a large heap of spoil having been dumped on top of historic mining earthworks that weren’t investigated prior to their destruction.

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed

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Question 15. Why was no mitigation work carried out on the part of the northern line of mining pits affected by the new road?

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed

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Question 16. Why has a fence post been inserted into the edge of a mound not recorded by the evaluation report at SN 6894910712 ?
The mound can be seen in the photograph below. It has the appearance of a previously undisturbed burial cairn. It now has a fence post inserted into its edge. In addition, note the digger track marks cutting into its surface. Assuming it is indeed a burial mound this is obviously not how the people of Carmarthenshire would wish to see the dead of any era treated and is certainly not appropriate practice.

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by Dyfed Archaeological Trust”

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Agreed

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Question 17. Why have the developers been permitted to dig a new drain (see below) to carry water from the new road across the stone row? This drain was cut after the row had been identified. It is clearly visible in the foreground. It is carrying water from the newly constructed road across the stone row (the position of which is being denoted by the ranging rod). The row will be damaged by this act. How could it possibly happen if the work is being closely monitored?

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by the developer“.

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – The question asks why they have been allowed to do this and not why the developers have done it. Difficult to see how the developers would know why despite being “closely monitored” they were permitted to do this.

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Question 18. Why have the developers’ vehicles been allowed to damage substantial areas beyond the permitted development area?
Here vehicle ruts associated with the development are shown damaging an historic bank and associated ditch….

…. and here further severe vehicle damage is evident in an area beyond the permitted development. (Any archaeology in the area will presumably have been destroyed.)

Cadw’s Response: “best answered by the developer“.

Sandy Gerrard’s Comment – Again the question is not why this has been happened but rather why they have been allowed to do it. Much is made in your response concerning the need for proportionate and limited mitigation yet areas beyond the permitted development area which were as a result not looked at all have been destroyed or damaged. The developers are very unlikely to be in a position to explain why the authorities have allowed them to carry out activities beyond the permitted development area.

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For previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box.

See also this website and Facebook Group

 

By Graham Orriss

A few years back, at one of our excellent Summer Megameets, one of the regular attendees led a guided walk for a few of us to what my memory recalls was a cairn circle, not half an hour’s walk (it may have been a lot quicker – I don’t remember!) from Avebury’s main, enormous circle.

As we emerged from the trees, through a gate and into a field, I was amazed that, although I’d been to Avebury dozens of times previously, I’d never seen – or even heard of – this fairly large and prominent feature! Ok, it’s off the beaten track, but just next to a footpath, so close to the massively visited main circle, and extremely easily accessible.

Checking the map, and attempting to retrace the route we took, I believe it was this one: Penning, or Avebury Down Stone Circle.

Penning Stone Circle © AlanS

Avebury is full of these “hidden in plain sight” gems. I remember gleefully pointing out The Longstone Cove (aka Adam & Eve) to some friends who’d also previously visited the area many times, but overlooked these extremely-obvious-when-you-know stones each time they drove past (as we did for ages before discovering them!) When one becomes aware of these sites, it makes you wonder how you ever missed them in the first place, as they now seem so conspicuous.

Another example is Rempstone stone circle, which, to be fair, is largely hidden in the trees, but at least one stone is (or at least was!) completely visible as you drive past. Again, once you know it’s there, it’s hard NOT to notice it. Not far up the road toward the Sandbanks-Poole chain ferry is the Studland stone row. Another one that is easy to drive straight past until you know it’s there and realise how visible it is.

Hidden in the undergrowth behind a ‘Private Woodland’ sign, one of the Rempstone Circle stones. © AlanS

The same applies to Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas, except this time it’s right beside an extremely busy stretch of road, and must be passed by hundreds – if not thousands – of cars every single day. I don’t know how obvious they are to the everyday passer-by, but I still remember seeing them for the first time (way before the trees were chopped down) and being amazed we’d not noticed them before. And then, just a mile up the road, is the almost completely buried Broadstone.

The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas on the A35 near Dorchester. © AlanS

Ancient sites are prolific in certain parts of the country, but in others are not so. Many times have I been searching for a site in vain, only to ask a local if they are aware of the whereabouts, and the local is unaware of the existence until that conversation! Sometimes its’ existence is a lot more obvious than others but if the locals don’t even know of these places (presumably they take them for granted as they see them every day or have grown up with them) is it likely a visitor will pick up on it as it stands out more to them? Or does it just blend so well into the background that it’s not obvious until it’s pointed out?

How many other ancient sites are there that we walk past on a regular basis, that we have no idea existed until someone else points them out, which are now – as far as we’re now concerned! – impossible to miss?

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