You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Damage and desecration’ category.

The following update was recently released by our friends, the Stonehenge Alliance.

Extract from #2.3, Final Report on the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / ICCROM Advisory Mission to Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, 19-21 April 2022:
     “The Mission again raised the question regarding the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) attributes of the property, arising particularly from impacts on the integrity and authenticity of the Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary landscape and hence the exploration of alternatives to the A303 passing through the very heart of the WHS and so close to key monuments.” 

New Transport Secretary consulting on UNESCO’s Advisory Mission’s report

Dear Supporters,

National Highways has commented on UNESCO’s  Advisory Mission’s report following their visit of April 2022 published last month.

Last week, during a period of national mourning, the new Transport Secretary invited Interested Parties to respond to NH’s comments by 28 September.   Despite this tight deadline we hope you will be able to do so.

The Mission advised that a less damaging scheme, such as a southern bypass, should be sought and indicated that, at the very least, any tunnel should be extended to the western WHS boundary. National Highways insists that its current scheme would bring benefits to the WHS and that a longer tunnel would not be worth the expense.

The Stonehenge Alliance will send a response to the Secretary of State and share its response in due course. 

If you wish to respond we have shared some reactions and links via the link below. 

Points concerning UNESCO’s Advisory Mission report

About the Stonehenge Alliance

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm..  

More about us 
The petition against the road has almost reached 220,000 signatures.  You can sign and share it  here.

We have not nor ever will change our opinion of the proposed A303 road scheme with its hugely damaging tunnel. Our opinion has remained consistent since this letter (below), nicely summarising the situation, was published in the Daily Telegraph 28 April 2014. We don’t want to lose the free view from the A303, we don’t want the cuttings on either side of the tunnel to remove everything in the road’s path, and we don’t want a flyover landing alongside Blick Mead.

We will continue to resist this damaging Scheme and will lay down in front of the path of the tunnel if it comes to that. All we want is for Unesco to stand firm and not be taken in by late attempts to pretend the Scheme benefits the World Heritage Site. It does not. STAND FIRM UNESCO – BACK US UP PLEASE.

one of the joys of going on the current A303 is that one gets a glimpse of Stonehenge and I think that is a great benefit and it’s uplifting for people to see”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

As another deadline for the future of the Stonehenge WHS approaches, we have received the following communication from the Stonehenge alliance:

Dear Supporter,

This is a reminder to let you know that the deadline for comments on submissions by National Highways is nearly upon us. 

We are most concerned that, once again,  National Highways is lobbying hard for its discredited Stonehenge road widening scheme to be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport.   
CLICK HERE FOR KEY POINTS TO INCORPORATE
We believe our list of points make a compelling case for a re-examination of the scheme BEFORE the Secretary of State redetermines a re-application for the very same road scheme.

Comments must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate  by 23:59, MONDAY, 4 APRIL 2022
Please email: A303Stonehenge@planninginspectorate.gov.uk
Western tunnel entrance and cutting | Photo and image credit: National Highways 2019.  More images of the Stonehenge road scheme can be found here.
Thank you so much to all our supporters who have sent comments to the Planning Inspectorate. 

Several of you have pointed out that if you did not register as an “interested party” for the Examination in 2019 you might receive a bureaucratic reply from the Planning Inspectorate as per the graphic below.

  
DO NOT be discouraged!  Your comments will be read, they will make a difference and, we sincerely hope, will be published by the Secretary of State for Transport along with all the others.  One of our supporters who took exception to the irksome reply, elicited an informative response from the Planning Inspectorate. The exchange can be read here.
ABOUT THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE: The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.

After a two-year silence, developers are mounting a fourth bid to build housing in the landscape setting of one of Britain’s pre-eminent Iron Age hillforts.

Since being allocated in Shropshire’s local plan (SAMDev) in 2015, land near the hillfort known as OSW004 has faced a succession of planning applications and revisions, each attracting substantial and sustained opposition both locally and nationally.

Campaigners say that although housing numbers have seen a slight reduction, from 91 to 83, the latest scheme still constitutes ‘major development’ within the near setting of a scheduled monument. They claim that an even greater proportion of dwellings would exceed, either wholly or partly, the northern limit for new buildings that was agreed between Shropshire Council and Historic England as a condition of the site’s allocation for housing.

A change in ownership rights affecting access across the railway line also prevents the application complying with special conditions for development. 

Substantial harm

Campaign group HOOOH (Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort) insists that the revised application does nothing to mitigate what would be substantial harm to the setting and significance of the hillfort. They argue that Old Oswestry is a scheduled monument of great national importance, meaning that any development within the setting can cause substantial harm in contravention of planning law. English Heritage has described Old Oswestry as ‘one of the greatest archaeological monuments of the nation’. 

“We are at a frightening tipping point in Old Oswestry’s 3000-year history,”  HOOOH said.

“The proposals threaten a new direction of town growth that will devastate the hillfort’s surviving but fragile setting, after we have held Oswestry’s urban edge at a respectful and protective distance for generations.

“Housing will obliterate one of the best views of the hillfort for visitors approaching Oswestry from the east, leading to substantial harm to the heritage significance of the monument by destroying appreciation and understanding of the hillfort in its landscape setting as seen from this important vista.

“The town’s northern development boundary will creep ever closer to the hillfort to make way for this out-of-place housing, eroding the hillfort’s rural setting and devaluing its status and visual dominance in the landscape.

“More worrying still, it will give a potential foothold for further construction that will side-line the hillfort as the Oswestry Growth Corridor takes shape along the bypass.”

High quality agricultural land

Classed as greenfield and high quality (Grade 2/3a) agricultural land, OSW004 was originally allocated because the public benefits to meet housing targets were judged to outweigh the detrimental impacts on one of Britain’s archaeological jewels. But HOOOH says new targets have been scaled back in the forthcoming SAMDev revision, and more than sufficient land has been identified elsewhere to accommodate long-term housing growth in Oswestry.

“The over-ambitious housing targets and over-stated need for housing land that were the main imperative to build seven years ago no longer exist,” HOOOH continues.

“The push to develop now is purely down to a housebuilder keen to capitalise on the site’s very saleable proximity to a sleepy, green hillfort despite the devastating impacts on world-class heritage and on a landscape highly valued by the community. We trust the planning committee will see sense and throw it out.”

Campaigners point out that planning consent for housing just a short distance along from OSW004 on Whittington Road was recently refused because it would add to traffic congestion and safety issues at the junction with Gobowen Road.

HOOOH said: “An estate of 83 houses at OSW004 would make these traffic problems considerably worse. Joined up planning is needed to see that OSW004 is the wrong location for Oswestry’s sustainable development due to the disconnect with schools and shops, the additional traffic congestion, and the inappropriate use of land of high heritage and agricultural value.”

Dominate the landscape

Iron Age hillforts were strategically located to dominate the landscape and signpost tribal territory and power. Often referred to as the Stonehenge of the Iron Age, Old Oswestry ranks among the most impressive of Britain’s prehistoric sites. This is due to the earthwork’s unique and complex design, the extent to which the monument and surrounding landscape have been preserved, and their importance to our understanding of Iron Age society.

The historic farming landscape around the hillfort contributes greatly to how we experience Old Oswestry in its setting and how we can appreciate its heritage significance. This landscape is, therefore, an integral part of the safeguarding and conservation of the scheduled monument.

The housing bid has consistently met with mass objections from the public, local stakeholders, and influential national heritage bodies including the CBA (Council for British Archaeology), RESCUE (the British Archaeological Trust) and The Prehistoric Society.

High profile academics and media figures have also voiced their support for the campaign including Professor Alice Roberts, Professor Michael Wood, Professor Mary Beard, Bettany Hughes, Dan Snow, Tom Holland, Francis Pryor of Channel 4 Time Team fame, and the author Cressida Cowell. The campaign was also featured on Griff Rhys Jones’ ITV series, Griff’s Great Britain. 

The public deadline for representations to the planning application (reference   20/01033/EIA) is February 9. Full details can be found at https://tinyurl.com/44m38rna

HOOOH says that if anyone encounters problems making representations via Shropshire Council’s planning portal, they can email them to: planning.northern@shropshire.gov.uk

More information on the 10-year debacle over development in Old Oswestry’s setting can be viewed at www.oldowestryhillfort.co.uk

As happens every summer, we have received various reports of ‘incidents’ at some of our wonderful ancient heritage sites. 

In Oxfordshire, at the Rollright Stones, some idiots recently lit a fire in the centre of the Kings Men circle. This has caused damage to the grass in the centre, potentially damaging archaeology. 

This is not the first time that the circle has been subjected to an attack by inconsiderate idiots. In the past, the stones have been daubed with paint, and in one incident, a burning tyre was hung over some of the stones. The ranger’s hut at the stones was also the subject of a deliberate arson attack a few years ago, meaning that those who volunteer to watch the stones overnight no longer had a place to shelter.

Meanwhile, in Wiltshire, we have heard of attacks on cars parked at Silbury Hill and in the West Kennet lay-by, resulting in valuables being removed (stolen) from those cars. Sadly, this is a common problem throughout the year, but such activity always seems to increase in the summer.

And in Cornwall, one of the holed stones on Tregeseal Common has been toppled. At the moment it has not been determined whether this was a deliberate act or an accident caused by the cattle that roam the moor.

Sadly, there is no easy answer to these seasonal problems. Whilst it’s easy to call for harsher penalties for the culprits, actually identifying and apprehending them is another issue entirely. Heritage crime is acknowledged by the police and is being given a higher priority than in the past, but the resources are just not there to deal with it effectively. 

Education can help, but often these crimes are caused not by locals, but by visitors. The lack of consideration for local heritage has been exacerbated this year by the sense of entitlement that many holidaymakers have been displaying, often stating things like “I deserve a holiday after being locked in because of the pandemic, you’ll just have to put up with it”.

Have there been any such incidents in your area? Do you have any ideas on how such issues can be tackled? Please let us know in the comments.

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow near Wellow in Somerset is one of the country’s finest examples of a Neolithic chambered tomb. Dating from about 3500 BC, it is 30 metres long and has multiple burial chambers open to view. The barrow is open all year round, and entrance is free. The entranceway to the barrow holds a spectacular ammonite fossil.

Some people have reported difficulty in locating the barrow in the past, which attests to its remoteness. Sadly, this remoteness worked against it last month, when persons unknown visited the barrow and daubed the internal walls with red paint.

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses, or any other information leading to the apprehension of the person or persons responsible for this heritage crime (for crime it is, regardless of how ‘fixable’ the damage is).

We’re pleased to report that there is a new player in the site guardian arena. A new group has been formed to look after several sites on the Derbyshire Moors. We welcome GSSN, the Guarding Sacred Sites Network, who introduce themselves in the guest post below. We look forward to hearing good things about their work going forward.

There are many beautiful, ancient sacred sites on Stanton and Harthill Moors, in Derbyshire. Nine Ladies, Doll Tor, Rowter Rocks, Nine Stones Close, Robin Hoods Stride, to name a few. These sites are always under pressure of various kinds.

The damage at Doll Tor during lock-down didn’t go unnoticed as the images spread across social media sites. Although shared on Facebook, no one had reported it to the PDNPA, English Heritage, or the Rural Heritage Police. This is where our group began. We reported the damage and realised there was a lack of information about what to do if one witnessed or discovers damage at sites. We made a poster, set up a Facebook group, and became inundated with messages of hope and offers of help, from people across the country.

Since then we have created an adopt a site monitoring scheme which covers Stanton Moor and Harthill Moor. We have a monitoring form and some guidelines for volunteers to follow. We’ve listed the potential hotspots for rubbish and damage in the area and created a ‘How to report damage’ leaflet. Sites on the list have been monitored every weekend since we started the group.

Many of you will have seen the posts on Facebook about the recent and very busy solstice celebrations at Nine Ladies over the past weekend. Thankfully there has been a group of volunteers on the moor acting as unofficial stewards and collecting rubbish from the site, as well as educating people. At the time of writing this, I can happily say all the rubbish has been collected and taken off-site. Indeed, it may now be cleaner than many other spots in the area.

Organisations who are officially responsible for large numbers of archaeological sites, such as the National Trust and English Heritage, have recognised that one of the most productive ways to ensure their long-term survival and conservation is via a regular and systematic monitoring scheme undertaken by local volunteers. In this way, sites which might not be encountered that often by archaeological staff (e.g. due to their out of the way locations on moorland, farm fields, and cliffs) can still be visited regularly, and any actual or potential damage can be reported and acted on before it gets out of hand. This information is then fed into a database designed to record each site’s current state, including any problems and the subsequent response to them. By recording such information, the database becomes a tool with which to make informed decisions about the management of a broad range of sites, based on their type, construction, location, and so on.

Our second shared responsibility is to create interpretation material that informs visitors about the importance of the sites through an educational website, books, artworks, and so forth, that encourages a sustainable love and appreciation for our sacred sites. ‘Sacredness’ is not simply a matter of joy in experiencing a beautiful or historic place, but a component which motivates people in how they interact with places. Our network is a platform to explore ways that we can help to educate people through positive, informal, and relaxed experiences. Our goal is to help protect sacred sites in this area from any damage. Damage includes digging, rubbish, graffiti, fires within the circles or close to the stones, machinery damage, vehicle access, and other types of damage to the natural environment.

Stanton Moor, in particular Nine Ladies, is a contested space. Many people have very strong opinions about how it should be treated. How can the complexity of meanings surrounding a place, be represented, through formal management and interpretation? This question is difficult to answer. There is no easy solution, there are many. Each site has its specificity, each visitor, their preferences. Such issues are faced by environmental educators, archaeologists, heritage managers, landowners, those who provide information for others regularly.

If you would like to join us on our quest for preservation and education, please like our Facebook book, Guarding Sacred Sites Network, or email guardingsacredsites @ gmail.com.

Following on from the shocking story of Doll Tor earlier this week, scanning through social media shows that there have been several such incidents of vandalism, desecration and sheer numptiness at various sites over the past couple of weeks. Examples include:

  • Doll Tor – as we reported earlier this week, stones have been uprooted and camping fires set within the circle.
  • Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor – picnicking rubbish strewn across the site.
  • Caerleon, Gwent – a series of vandalism events between March and May where stones were displaced and smashed, whilst access to the sites was closed.
  • Carn Euny, West Penwith – a group were videoed leaping around the stones in a ‘parkour’ like fashion, potentially damaging the site. Bear in mind that remedial work was done recently to the floors of the courtyard houses which may not yet have ‘bedded in’ properly.
  • The Hurlers, Bodmin Moor –  General litter strewn around the site, including several Nitrous Oxide canisters.

Add into this catalogue the recent mayhem (only word for it!) at Durdle Door and other beaches around the coast, and serious questions must be asked about the psychology of the people that act in this way.  Is it possible that lockdown and the isolation that many people have been under for the past couple of months has somehow reduced their sense of social responsibility? Or has it increased their sense of entitlement – “We’ve made the sacrifice so now we can act as we damn well please”? If you’ve partaken in such behaviour, we’d love to hear from you to explain how you can justify your actions – please see our contact page or leave a comment below.

As usual, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation across the country as the summer progresses (and lockdown eases). If you witness any irresponsible behaviour, or indeed any evidence of heritage crime, please report to the local police or other authorities with photographic evidence if possible. But under no circumstances should you put yourself at risk in gathering any such evidence! Be sensible, but socially responsible out there.

Thankfully, it seems that the coronavirus crisis has delayed a final announcement on the tunnel being made. The following comments were submitted by a supporter of the Heritage Journal:

Stonehenge at Sunset, 1840, by William Turner of Oxford.

People sometimes say to me that the 20th-century archaeologist and writer Jacquetta Hawkes said that “every age has (gets) the Stonehenge it deserves”. I always say back to them something along the following lines:

If the tunnel gets approval then all future generations will get the Stonehenge landscape they don’t deserve as significant parts of it will be damaged. And once that damage has been done, then there’s no turning back from that for three things.

  1. Blick Mead.
  2. The western burial grounds. And all the unknown percentage of sieving in the western burial grounds that Highways England didn’t do “on cost grounds” (when archaeologists like MPP and Paul Garwood etc are asking for 100% sieve-rate in certain areas but Highways England won’t agree to anything like that).
  3. And also any previously unknown archaeology that is in the way of the tunnel as I don’t think the people (in charge) are trustworthy or competent (ref. the BM boreholes).

Archives

September 2022
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

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 10,874 other followers

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: