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STATEMENT: PRIDDY CIRCLES.

Following a detailed investigation by English Heritage and Avon & Somerset Police into the circumstances surrounding damage to one of the Priddy Circles, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a local man has been summoned to appear at South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates’ Court on 19th April 2012 for an alleged offence in connection with works to a Scheduled Monument without Scheduled Monument Consent contrary to section 2(1) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

Priddy Circles, near Wells, is a scheduled monument of four large Neolithic circular earthwork enclosures.

Issued by English Heritage Communications

4 April 2012

Sandy Gerrard writes:

18 vital questions  regarding the construction of a windfarm on the Mynydd Y Betws archaeological landscape are yet to be answered. Here are the first eight:

Background:
On the slopes of Bancbryn (forming part of Mynydd Y Betws) there is an incredibly rich multi-period archaeological landscape the importance of which has in part been recognised by Cadw’s designation regime. To all intents and purposes this looks like an important ceremonial/ritual landscape with a stone row forming its focus. The hillside is further enhanced by the survival of a range of historic features highlighting the importance of the area in more recent years. This impressive landscape now has a large road cutting right through its heart and shortly will have two substantial wind turbines towering 110m above it. The setting of this significant landscape will be compromised for years to come and even after the turbines have been dismantled the archaeology lost in their construction will be gone for ever. It is just not possible to replace archaeology once it has been destroyed and for this reason and quite rightly so there are legal constraints in place to ensure that archaeology is recorded before it is destroyed. This has not happened at Mynydd Y Betws and it is therefore surely appropriate that an explanation of this lamentable situation is forthcoming. To provide a focus I would suggest that answers to the following questions are needed:

Question 1. Why was no earthwork survey ever conducted?
If this work had been carried out the archaeological remains of many periods would not have been destroyed before they could be recorded. The Planning Inspector observed that there was unrecorded archaeology within the development area and despite this no measures were taken to remedy the situation. The plan below is an unofficial survey of the archaeology and evaluation trenches. It took 2 days to produce and on many levels is more informative than the evaluation work carried out as part of the planning conditions. A survey of this type would have provided a context for the archaeology within the development area and allowed a properly targeted and effective mitigation exercise.

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Question 2. Why was no watching brief carried out when a fence was erected on the very edge of a scheduled monument (see image below)?

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Question 3. Why was no archaeological watching brief  being conducted on 16 th January 2012 when a large digging machine was removing topsoil adjacent to a scheduled monument (see image below)?

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Question 4. Why despite the fact that Evaluation Trench 36 (see below) was cut straight across the stone row  was the stone row not identified?

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Question 5. Was the possibility of protecting the row below the new road even considered?
At Rotherwas, near Hereford, English Heritage insisted that the Rotherwas Ribbon,  a linear feature (see below) of unknown significance be protected in this manner when a road was built, thus preserving it in situ…..

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Question 6. Why was no evaluation trench placed across the obvious linear hollow labelled on the map as a hollow way (see below)?
Given that a length of this earthwork was going to be destroyed by the new access road why was no trench actually placed across this very obvious earthwork and instead positioned on apparently level ground next to it? Why was this very obvious archaeological feature within the permitted development area ignored by the evaluation report? Does not this oversight confirms that the evaluation was not carried out to adequate standards, as graphically illustrated by the fact that most of the feature within this photograph was subsequently destroyed?

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Question 7. Why was no evaluation trench placed across the three cairn-like features between Evaluation Trenches 38 and 39?
The photograph below shows a probable cairn partly within the permitted development area below the bucket of the digger. This feature was not located during the archaeological mitigation works.

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Question 8. Why was the bank with associated ditch near to Evaluation Trench 40 not examined and why was the trench not excavated on the site of the earthworks? The feature has now been cut through by the road and is clearly visible in the section formed by the newly constructed road ditch – see below.

…… whereas the surviving ditch and associated bank can still be seen beyond the permitted development area (see below):

The remaining 10 questions will be published shortly but the following comments are relevant to them all:

Three main agencies are involved in this matter and some of the questions are more pertinent to Carmarthenshire County Council than others. However, as the authority responsible for firstly approving the scheme of works and more importantly for discharging the planning condition it is clearly justifiable for the public on whose part they are acting to ask why so much of the archaeology has been ignored in the process. Nowhere does it say that most of the archaeology should be disregarded or ignored, but sadly this is clearly what has happened and an explanation would in the circumstances seem appropriate.

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

See also this website and Facebook Group

The Wrekin in Shropshire is visited by countless thousands of people and erosion due to footfall is an ongoing problem. Particularly affected is “The Barrow between Heaven and Hell’s Gate” close to the summit. Volunteer restoration teams have recently been at work to protect it.

               (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Pete Lambert, from Shropshire Wildlife Trust explained: “We are covering it with matting and then sowing it with grass seed to protect it from further damage. It was starting to become very exposed so we needed to seal in that bit of archaeology.”

The Wrekin was once home to the Celtic Cornovii tribe which built the fort and called it their capital. It sprawled the summit of the hill and covered about 20 acres. Mr Lambert added: “Hell Gate, the earthwork entrance created by the Cornovii, has also suffered extensive erosion and is being restored“.  More here.

Remember how the Rotherwas Ribbon had a road built over it thanks to the pressure from quango, Advantage West Midlands plus the reluctance of English Heritage to schedule it? You’d think that was the end of it and that things couldn’t get worse for this world-unique monument, yet they just have. Chancellor George Osborne has just announced that the Rotherwas Business Park has been granted Business Enterprise Status.

There are a couple of stunning Ribbon related facts about that: Firstly, it seems that one of the key reasons that Enterprise Status has been granted was “the benefits of the new direct road link to the A49 from Rotherwas” – and that’s the very road that was driven (without good economic reason said the Government Inspector at the time) over the Ribbon!  Secondly, the rest of the Ribbon (still not scheduled! EH said it would “take some time” to decide and that was years ago) curves several hundred yards towards (and actually into) the Business Park – which, as an enterprise zone, will be expanded onto the land surrounding it using “lower levels of planning control”. So one must wonder: is the Ribbon “in the way” again and if so what will happen to it?

To summarise:
Because the Ribbon wasn’t scheduled at the time, a road was built over it.
Because the road has been built, enterprise zone status has been conferred. 
Because enterprise zone status has been conferred the rest of the Ribbon might now be under threat.

Pretty awful, is it not, for a monument that the County Archaeologist said was comparable in importance to Stonehenge before he suddenly desisted? We could perhaps start a petition calling for it to be scheduled… but somehow that doesn’t seem likely to happen now.

Or ever, don’t you agree?

Writing in today’s BBC’s NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT Louise Ord (Assistant Producer, Digging for Britain) reports that –
 
A suspected Iron Age road, made of timber and preserved in peat for 2,000 years, has been uncovered by archaeologists in East Anglia. The site, excavated in June, may have been part of a route across the River Waveney and surrounding wetland at Geldeston in Norfolk, say experts. Causeways were first found in the area in 2006, during flood defence work at the nearby Suffolk town of Beccles. It is thought the road is pre-Roman, built by the local Iceni tribe. Exact dating has yet to be carried out but tree-ring evidence suggests a date of 75BC. That dates the timber road to more than 100 years before the Roman invasion, which saw the Iceni and their leader Boudicca lead a revolt which threatened to end Roman rule. In AD60, the Iceni ambushed one Roman legion and sacked Roman settlements at London and Colchester before being defeated.
 

Full article here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14503302

 

Further information and photos from the Daily Mail, with a video of the excavation featuring Alice Roberts

See also Boudicca’s lost tribe .

Many politicians have called for an end to Regional Development Agencies and The Taxpayer’s Alliance is scathing, to say the least, about  one in particular – “Advantage West Midlands”.  It’s really worth a look   

We aren’t fans either. You may recall it was Advantage West Midlands that insisted on building a road (that a government Inspector twice said wasn’t needed) over the Rotherwas Ribbon (that the County Archaeo said was as important as Stonehenge). See here… Of course, that’s all old news now, the road went ahead sweet as a nut, English Heritage having declined to schedule the Ribbon in time.

All that being so, we aren’t overjoyed to see on Page 67 of English Heritage’s just-published Annual Report and Accounts that Advantage West Midlands are listed as one of the 26 “Grant Making and Public Bodies” that have given EH money. No doubt there are some technical or accounting reasons why that should be but at first sight the fact that taxpayer-funded heritage wreckers are handing over taxpayers’ funds to support taxpayer-funded heritage guardians is a bit irritating to anyone that supports heritage guardianship – or pays tax.

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