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By Dr Sandy Gerrard

In the moorlands of Western Britain are two very similar stone rows. They have a great deal in common but whilst one is in England the other is in Wales. The English one was discovered in 1917 whilst the Welsh one was found nearly 100 years later in 2012. Both:

  • have been damaged by industrial activity
  • sit within a prehistoric context
  • have a cairn at their upper end
  • are composed of small stones
  • have the largest stone at the lower end
  • are not straight
  • have a significant change in orientation at a point where a coastal headland becomes visible
  • have sea views along their upper length
  • have no sea views along their lower length
  • are associated with cairns
  • have not been positively dated

There the similarities end. The English row is a scheduled ancient monument whilst the Welsh one is not because there is “insufficient evidence”. The peculiar thing is both rows have exactly the same amount of evidence to support a prehistoric interpretation and yet whilst English Heritage considers this sufficient Cadw do not. As we have seen, a lack of evidence does not normally prevent Cadw from scheduling sites so why are they so reticent to schedule this one?

Lines of stones leading up a hill. One is scheduled as an Ancient Monument the other is not. Which one?

Lines of stones leading up a hill. One is scheduled as an Ancient Monument the other is not. Which one?

Nationally important?

Nationally important?

Nationally important?

Nationally important?

 SR4

Lines of stones leading from mounds of stones have traditionally been treated as stone alignments. So why is it that in England this is seen as sufficient evidence to offer protection, whilst in Wales it is not?

SR5Shifts in alignment are a common feature of stone rows. Both of these occur at a point where a coastal headland becomes visible.

SR6

These lines of stones are so similar it is difficult to appreciate why one can be seen as nationally important and the other as not.

SR7

QUESTION: When is an alignment of stones leading from a stony mound within a rich prehistoric ritual landscape dismissed as probably post-medieval?

SR8

ANSWER: Perhaps when it is embarrassingly found by a third party after the archaeological mitigation work has been completed.

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