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Following our recent article quoting Simon Jenkins, we received an interesting email from a representative of “These Fields Have Names”, a campaign group in Cornwall protesting the destruction of the countryside while building a nearly 8-mile-long new route for the A30 near Truro. They make some excellent points about ‘appreciation’ of a site not being sufficient to save it from ‘progress’:

How do you think your publication, and your archaeologists, can help prevent any more destruction to our landscape in time before complete ecological collapse? The premise that we must fully “appreciate and preserve” our landscape, as you say, is all very well, but does not give me hope when “appreciation” has not prevented needless destruction of archeology and landscape and society and ecology in the past. The sentiment that we must “act“ to preserve things by liking what we have got, not by standing in resistance to the status quo that exists, is flawed.

It has never in history been the case that acting with appreciation of what exists causes change to happen. I am talking about massive societal change here, but maybe preserving monuments and archaeology also cannot be achieved without these defiant acts. For example some physical acts of civil resistance caused men to decide to change the status quo to include allowing women and unlanded gentry the vote. Nothing else worked.

Because of this fact, any archaeologist who wants to change the status quo, I think must “act” in civil resistance on the very sites that have already been destroyed and inside the now structural “status quo” infrastuctural sites themselves which have replaced them. Rather than stand in appreciation looking at a landscape before it is bulldozed, eg around Stonehenge, how about standing in those destroyed places? The “infrastructure” sites which right now have replaced fertile soil, trees, organic fields and rich archeology and are continuing to do so, include the A30 site in Cornwall. Our A30 is that sort of place. This is what will befall Stonehenge, this change from archeology to infrastructure, otherwise.

Image copyright Cornwall Climate Care
Image copyright Cornwall Climate Care

As is demonstrated by the images above of just one small part of the A30 works, when talking about roadworks and new roads, it’s not just the footprint of the road itself that causes damage but all the associated infrastructure and heavy machinery needed to support the actual construction of the road – which can and often does cover a much wider area. A salutary warning for supporters of the Stonehenge tunnel perhaps?

Whilst we here at the Heritage Journal cannot condone any direct action which may be construed as illegal in nature, there are many actions which can be taken legally to protest or delay development and we would encourage all lovers of heritage, be that archaeological (professional archaeologists take note!) or natural, to consider what actions can be taken to stop the desecration of our heritage in all its forms.

And a final comment on the current A30 roadworks:

Part of this road did not exist before 1991. So the 2022 one will be a bypass around a bypass around a very small village. Crazy times when first a 60 mph road is built, using and destroying landscape and fertile fields and archeology, then in 2022 a 70mph road is built around that 60 mph around a 30 mph road when public transport would have been sufficient in all cases. These fields have names.

All images courtesy and copyright of Cornwall Climate Care.

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