You are currently browsing Alan S.’s articles.

By Alan S

I recently had the pleasure of accompanying Dr. Sandy Gerrard on a field trip to visit two possible stone rows in West Penwith, Cornwall. Below is a short report of our visit.

The first row visited was Treveglos at Zennor. This purported row consists of three uprights.

Having scoped out the site a couple of weeks previously, the row was found easily enough, due to the large stone at the SE end of the row acting as a gatepost, above the level of the surrounding fields.

The other two upright stones were on field boundaries heading to the NW in adjoining fields and were easy enough to spot. A recumbent stone was also found in the field near to the gatepost, looking as if it had fallen to the west from a position just slightly out of alignment with the other three. However, the area has many earth-fast stones, and this alignment could well be a co-incidence.

Sadly, upon closer inspection it appears that the NW-most stone is erected upon an Iron Age field boundary, the middle stone bears characteristic tare and feather drill marks suggesting that it must have been erected sometime after 1800AD, and is erected upon what seems to be medieval field boundary. The large stone to the SE has been drilled for use as a gatepost, but given its height may well have Neolithic origins as a standing stone.

We then moved on to the holed stones on Kenidjack Common, near the Tregeseal stone circle. I was last here a couple of years ago and reported on them then.

Sandy confessed that they resembled nothing he’d seen on any other row, and was quite nonplussed. The fact that all of the stones are set at differing angles to the line of the ‘row’, and that none of the holes in the stones are targeted at anything specific only added to his confusion. The outlier appears to be set upon a bank – either a field boundary or possible dried-up watercourse.

This particular row requires further investigation, the Rev. J Buller having described them thusly in 1842:

Each has a hole perforated through its centre of about six inches in diameter. The edges of the holes are rounded as if they had been intended, and had been used, for a rope to pass through ; and had they lain near a sea beach it might reasonably have been concluded that their use was to moor a boat. They lie in a straight line nearly E. and W. There is a space of about twelve feet between the two western most, thirty three feet between the two centre stones, and nine feet between the two eastern ones, by which also it will be seen that one of the two last is broken in half, and the violence which effected it probably caused it to be removed three feet further towards the east. Originally there was in all probability a space of twelve feet between those at each end, and thirty feet between the two centre stones. They are from five to six feet long, four feet wide, and about one foot thick…

The spacing of the stones has been changed in the intervening years, and doubtless their orientation has also changed. Given this fact, it is unlikely that a definitive interpretation will ever be obtained.

The conclusion on the day was that neither row is likely to be Neolithic in origin, but Sandy will publish the full results of his analysis on his Stone Rows website in due course.

Welcome to a new series, ‘Tarot Tuesday’.

Most people know of the Tarot as a system of divination using a special deck of cards. What is less well known is that the Tarot is based on a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. In the late 18th century, it began to be used for divination in the form of tarotology and cartomancy – see Wikipedia for more details.

There are two main sections to the Tarot as used in divination, known the Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, with which we shall concern ourselves in this brief series.

Many interpretations have been placed upon the cards, dependent upon which divination system you follow, and many designs have been created over the years, covering just about any subject you care to name. Possibly the most well known of the decks available today is the Rider-Waite Tarot, the Major Arcana designs of which are based on the Tarot de Marseilles.

 

What we shall be doing in this series of posts over the coming weeks is attempting to link the Major Arcana cards to archaeological heritage sites in our own inimitable way, using the generally accepted divinatory meanings for each card as our guide. Hopefully, this will become self-explanatory as the series continues. Whilst illustrations will largely be taken from Rider-Waite, other deck images may be used from time to time, and will be acknowledged as required.

The cards will not be drawn in sequence, but on a random basis, so that no-one, not even me, will know in advance what the subject of the next card in the series will be. Of course, all interpretations are subjective, so please feel free to comment as to which monument comes to mind for you as we explore each card. Those familiar with the Tarot may draw their own conclusions as to the order in which the cards appear.

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England – listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and battlefields.

Sounds good, no? And in even better news, as recently reported by the BBC, the NHLE has recently had an update, with 17 new sites being added – including an industrial estate, a business park that “features circular forecourts following the turning circle of a car” and a Crown Court building which first opened in 1988.

Whilst we’re sure that these are all worthy in their own way of their place on the list, we can’t help but wonder about the omission of some much older sites, many of national importance.

Elizabeth Dale, a friend of the Heritage Journal, recently highlighted some of the very important omissions which are in danger of being lost to development on her blog: see “Our Defenceless Monuments.”.

And World Heritage Site status doesn’t afford any more protection to unlisted sites within the boundaries than to those outside of it. Blick Mead is a case in point within the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS area, it remains unprotected by scheduling and in danger of being damaged (if not totally obliterated) by the groundworks for the planned tunnel at Stonehenge..

Whilst, in theory, anyone can nominate a site to be scheduled, there does not seem to be an easy way for a member of the public to find how to actually go about this. For instance, searching on Google for Scheduled Monument Application brings up many links, most of which refer to Scheduled Monument Consent – which is something entirely different and is a way for Developers to apply for permission to work within and around scheduled monuments. But if an application is put in, to suggest scheduling and protecting an unlisted site, even nationally important sites are scheduled only if it is felt that this is the best means of protecting them!

And yet a “car turning circle” merits inclusion in the list! We sometimes despair…

Protected: Aztec West Business Centre, South Glocs.

Unprotected: Trevean Courtyard Settlement, Cornwall

By Alan S.

Our video tour continues with the remaining circle at Tregeseal, in the shadow of Carn Kenidjack, the ‘Hooting Carn’.

Look for more videos in this series in the coming weeks.

Alice Farnsworth is back, to answer another reader’s archaeological query. Don’t forget to send in your questions, and you may be lucky enough to get your own answer from Alice!

 

 

 


Q. As the old adage goes: ‘Take only photographs, leave only footprints‘, but don’t footprints cause erosion to delicate sites? How can I minimise my interactions with our ancient sites, given that I feel visiting a site in person is the only way for me to truly experience it?

A. Ha! Yes, it’s true that footfall is a major cause of erosion at our ancient sites, especially at the more popular sites. For instance, the banks at Avebury have often been fenced off to allow the soil to recover from visitors.

There is no simple answer to this question. one way to minimise impact would be to only view sites from a distance (as enforced at Stonehenge), but I can see that this is unsatisfactory in many ways. Limiting your visits to sites that are much less popular with tourists would allow you to gain the interaction you seek. But remember that many of the lesser known sites are on private land where permission may be needed to visit them, or may be off the beaten track with the safety issues that that implies.

Ensuring that you only visit in periods of suitable weather will also reduce the impact of your visit, as fragile sub-surface archaeology can be unwittingly damaged when the ground is sodden. But beware if the weather has been too dry, as the ground underfoot may then crumble and erode, and again, archaeological evidence could be destroyed.

Of course, when visiting any ancient or historical site, you should always attempt to remove any rubbish left behind by others less considerate than yourself, and of course, ensure you do not leave any detritus of your own.

In short, enjoy your visit, and leave the site as you would hope to find it – in its natural state.


Rain is forecast that will significantly add to the standing water on Byway 12 at Stonehenge today – the stretch south of the A303 can be seen in the accompanying photographs taken during April.

It may dry off soon enough but everything the Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, transport, and waste, Bridget Wayman, stated about the Ridgeway at Avebury, when closing the route to motorised traffic for a further 21 days, also applies to Byway 12 south of the A303 at Stonehenge:

“The weather in recent weeks has left the surface of the byway severely rutted, and it is still holding water in numerous locations. There are globally important archaeological features on and immediately below the surface and they need to be protected from further damage.”

We might then recall that Highways England adopted Byway 12 in September 2016 as an access route for digging machinery in connection with the now abandoned western portal location for the Stonehenge tunnel, and in the coming weeks a repeat performance is expected, in the name of the Stonehenge tunnel scheme now totally discredited by ICOMOS UK.

Standing water on byway 12

Why then is Wiltshire Council rightly protecting the Ridgeway at Avebury, but failing to extend protection to Byway 12 in the Stonehenge half of the WHS (World Heritage Site)? Keep the diggers off Byway 12 please!

Like many places, the Ridgeway as it passes through Wiltshire has suffered from the intense periods of snow and ice in 2018 that has left precious archaeology vulnerable in the wet conditions. A section of this route near Avebury has though a knight in shining armour: Wiltshire Council has extended the annual prohibition of public motor vehicles which usually runs from 1 October to 30 April, for a further 21 days to protect the surface and archaeology from further damage. It has even been stated that if need be this prohibition of motorised vehicles could be extended further for another 21 days whilst remaining open for walkers, horses, and cyclists.

Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, transport, and waste said:

“The weather in recent weeks has left the surface of the byway severely rutted, and it is still holding water in numerous locations.
“There are globally important archaeological features on and immediately below the surface and they need to be protected from further damage.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and would like to thank the public for their understanding and co-operation.”

Credit: Wilts CC

Well done Wiltshire Council, credit where due and all that.

Source: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/byway-closed-to-aid-ridgeway-recovery

Like many places Cockfield Fell, near Bishop Auckland, has suffered from the intense periods of snow and ice in 2018 that has left precious archaeology vulnerable in the wet conditions. This Scheduled Monument has though a knight in shining armour. Lee McFarlane, an Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, has been quoted as saying that:

“Cockfield Fell contains archaeological remains from the prehistoric period through to the 19th century and is a very important scheduled monument, which is protected by law.

“We are very concerned about the damage by 4×4 vehicles to the archaeology on the site and will be working with the landowner and the police to restrict vehicle access to ensure Cockfield Fell can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Image credit: Sarah Caldecott

Well done Historic England, credit where due and all that.

The Northern Echo

 

The various current proposals for altering the A303 around Stonehenge all share a common theme in that they will all be bad for local wildlife. The Great Bustard Group (GBG) has worked hard to try and ensure the iconic Great Bustard is at least considered during the various meetings, consultations and reviews.

It has been an uphill battle with each new team of consultants or experts having to be identified and then briefed from scratch. One expert working for Highways England confidently announced they had been told there were no Great Bustards in the area.  GBG staff took them out and showed them over 15, almost in sight of the Stones. The next meeting comes along and there is a new face, who knows nothing about the birds.

A new threat to the recently restored population of Great Bustards now exists. Ground Water & Ecological surveys are taking place in the fields around Stonehenge. These are now involving teams in hi-viz clothing and vehicles with loud reversing beepers and they will be roving the fields used by some of the rarest birds in the UK for nesting.

That this should be taking place anywhere during the bird nesting season is concerning, but in an area with nesting Great Bustards and the rare and sensitive Stone Curlew it is particularly concerning.  The birds will either be denied the places to nest, or the worse scenario is that they will abandon their eggs due to the disturbance. The GBG was told about the latest works but only days after they had started.

No Great Bustards have been released within miles of Stonehenge and the birds have moved into the area naturally, and have nested there.

The GBG works closely with local farmers and land owners to do everything possible to ensure the Great Bustard nests are successful.

David Waters
Executive Officer
Great Bustard Group

The National Rural Crime Network recently launched a National Rural Crime Survey.

Do you think rural crime has gone up or down? Do you feel safer? What’s your view of the police in your community? Why not have your say and make your voice heard in the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey?

Please spare a few minutes to take part –

Sadly, the desecration occurring at Stonehenge is not, for some reason, defined as a rural crime, or indeed, an illegal act of any sort.

Archives

May 2018
S M T W T F S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,907 other followers

%d bloggers like this: