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Carn Brea, near Redruth in Cornwall is an important Neolithic Tor Enclosure site. Word has just reached us that the area at the north base of the tor is under threat of development (shades of Old Oswestry here?). The intended use of the land is for a major BMX park and racetrack, a much-needed facility for the local youths. The right idea, in the wrong place! Below is a message from a local campaign group trying to get the development re-sited.

A message from Friends of Carn Brea Meadow

As you may or may not know there is a planning application currently filed with Cornwall Council to develop part of the land at the base of Carn Brea. You can see the application here – https://goo.gl/9g3Hny

Take a look at the two photos below.

Photo 1 shows Carn Brea, according to Historic England a “Neolithic hilltop enclosure with a later settlement and defensive structures, a prehistoric field system, a medieval castle and deer park”. You will notice the green fields flanking the hill – well these vital flood areas (most of which are classed as a conservation area) are in danger – BIG DANGER.

Photo 2 shows the same view but highlights two areas. The area marked in Red is hoping to be developed in the planning application. A local professional who was invited by Cornwall Council to assess the planning application said in their findings “Approval of this application might set a precedent for further encroachment of the land around Carn Brea.” – such as that marked in Blue.

This has caused a big storm in the area; the proposed development is for a BMX racing facility. The Friends of Carn Brea Meadow (consisting of families, working local people and retirees) have nothing against Cornwall having such a facility but they cannot support an application to develop over 8 acres of beautiful land.

Did you know the proposed development would see the destruction of over 140 perfectly healthy trees – trees that were planted by the local community over 20 years ago as a part of a publicly backed community initiate?

But we’re not alone – over 2000 objectors have signed this online petition – https://bit.ly/2n15jBr saying they agree that this land should not be developed.

Wait, there’s more.

Did you know this current land is free to access (YES that’s right, you can go there with you families, just like many locals do, for FREE) and the area in Red has matured over the years to become a beautiful natural meadow – it even has orchids growing in it. Not supermarket potted orchids – real naturally growing ones. Go and take your children there and show them.

But we need your help to protect this area.

The racetrack wants to use BIG LIGHTS so it can operate for up to 12 hours a day all year round (weather dependent).

It wants to use a TANNOY SYSTEM so race commentary can be heard by the masses.

It wants PARKING FOR UPTO 200 CARS.

It wants to WIDEN PARTS OF THE GREAT FLAT LODE (a Heritage Mining Trail) SO CARS CAN DRIVE DOWN IT.

None of the Friends of Carn Brea Meadow are against Cornwall having a BMX racetrack locally but cannot support the development of land that –

– Falls within a conservation area.
– Is an area of Great Landscape Value
– Is a World Heritage Site.
– Is next to one of Cornwall’s largest UNESCO World Heritage assets.
– Is listed as partly in county wildlife site area.
– Is listed as an early medieval site.

All definitions and points above were taken from Cornwall Council’s online public mapping information. https://map.cornwall.gov.uk/ website/ccmap/…

So how can you help us save this land?

It’s simple, just follow these easy steps, but you’ll need to hurry –

  1. Share this post.
  2. Go to https://goo.gl/9g3Hny by the 9th of August and submit an objection – this is your only formal way to voice your objections in time to Cornwall Council.
  3. Sign the public objection petition – https://bit.ly/2n15jBr
  4. Sign the public petition for a detailed ecological study of the site to be conducted – https://bit.ly/2OHtKjH

Thank you, let’s try and save Carn Brea and the surrounding land from development as once it’s gone – there’s no getting it back.

All of the information used in this post was sourced from Cornwall Council, the submitted planning application documents, and Historic England.

Kernow bys vyken!

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 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.

The authority running the Lake District National Park has been accused of “violating its World Heritage status“. It’s a shattering accusation to level at official guardians for it is saying they have failed to do the very thing they were appointed to do. It’s all about a “massive increase” in motorbikes and 4×4 vehicles which have “profoundly changed the landscape”. In their defence the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) said it would be “preferable if people did not take vehicles on these routes” but it was legal. A familiar, metal detecting style reaction – a shrug, a grin and the words – “it’s legal, innit?

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Of course it could do more to prevent it. It has statutory powers and a statutory duty. Campaigners are asking UNESCO to force it to use its traffic regulation powers to keep off-roaders off unsurfaced tracks. For its part the LDNPA is refusing to do so and says  although traffic regulation orders “cannot be ruled out”, using them was a last resort and it has “no immediate plans” to do so. So it would be “a last resort” to prevent the World Heritage status being violated! Why isn’t it a first resort?

Are you indignant? Do you think the guardians of the Lake District should take action against off roading which violates World Heritage status? Presumably. What then do you think abot the fact the guardians of Stonehenge are supporting a massive, mile long new road being ruthlessly driven through that World Heritage Site? Please write and express your opposition here.

 

 

It’s happened before so you never know, but it would put English Heritage in a terrible position. The Government wanted a tunnel for transport reasons and told English Heritage to support them – so they came up with some heritage improvement reasons. And it’s those which may yet leave them in an embarrassing self-made mire if the road project is cancelled – for which of these two possible announcements would they make?

In our role as guardian of Stonehenge, English Heritage regrets the Government’s plans not to invest in a fully bored tunnel of at least 2.9km” thereby implying they still thought a short tunnel would be good for Stonehenge and they’d continue to campaign for one forever!

Or …..
In our role as guardian of Stonehenge, English Heritage welcomes the Government’s plans not to invest in a fully bored tunnel of at least 2.9km” thereby implying they don’t think a short tunnel would be good for Stonehenge and their stance for the last 4 years was insincere!

It seems that it only takes a simple game of “just suppose” to cast a searing light onto the role of the main guardians of Stonehenge. It’s not a pretty sight.

We note with some surprise that English Heritage have launched a £50,000 appeal for remedial work to four cannon, two 18th-Century nine-pounder guns at Etal Castle Northumberland, and World War Two anti-aircraft guns at Dover Castle in Kent and Pendennis Castle, near Falmouth.

This appeal comes on top of their existing £20million budget. English Heritage (EH) has a duty to care for the nation’s collection of historic places and artefacts, and says it needs the funding to keep up with the rate of deterioration of not only the four mentioned cannon, but also many others at risk from weather erosion.

But it occurs to us here at the Journal that, given that duty of care and the need for funds for restoration work, that EH would be better off reviewing (and cancelling) their plans for work that no-one really wants and that does not fit the duty of care criteria.

The planned ‘bridge’ at Tintagel Castle is a case in point – it certainly cannot be considered to come under the duty of care heading for the site, being something that is out of keeping with the origins of the site. Indeed the bridge (planned costs of £4million) can only be seen as an unwelcome intrusion, designed purely to increase visitor numbers with no concern for the heritage of the site in question.

…and that £4million could pay for an awful lot of cannon to be restored and protected for future generations, with no need for a special appeal.

Much is made of the “knowledge dividend” that digging a mile long scar through the landscape will deliver. But one has to ask: if it’s so beneficial why not do it anyway without building a road?! Clearly the dividend isn’t a true benefit it’s an excuse for supporting massive destruction.

In any case, as all archaeologists know, rushing to find everything in this generation is pure cultural vandalism because so much will be lost. Far better to leave it for the next generations – perhaps hundreds of years hence – who can then learn far, far more using better techniques in a gradual, unhurried, incremental and less damaging way.  There’s even a case for not uncovering some knowledge at all, as Jon Parton suggested in the Journal in 2009:


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A Guest Article by Jon Parton (first published in 2009)

The East Kennet Long Barrow is little regarded compared with its celebrated and far more visited neighbour, West Kennet Long Barrow. This inequality is unjust, firstly because East Kennet is enormous – a cathedral to the parish church that is West Kennet – and secondly because, unlike the opened, eviscerated West Kennet, graffitied, tealit and crassly modernised, robbed of its bones and mystery, East Kennet has not been opened.

This makes it very special amongst the Wessex monuments which have been repeatedly exposed in the name of science or greed, with another neighbour, Silbury, being the most famous example. Unlike in that case, no endless succession of inquisitive seekers has bored into East Kennet in pursuit of that which they destroyed and no-one has felt the need to apologise by writing “Bones of our wild forefathers, O forgive, if now we pierce the chambers of your rest”. Everything – and everyone – within East Kennet lies safe and secure, just as intended by those who sealed it 250 generations ago. Uniquely, miraculously, East Kennet hugs within itself a last precious cache of unsullied mystery.

Should it be opened? “Of course!” say some. “Who knows what treasures might be revealed for the enjoyment of all instead of remaining pointlessly hidden forever more? Who knows what knowledge might be recovered about those who built it and lie within it, providing them with a form of immortality rather than eternal obscurity?” Therein lies the obvious answer. And yet…

For me the choice is the reverse, and clear. For surely, all the gains combined could not compensate for one particular loss: the loss of the last and greatest of Wessex ‘s jewels – the last, true, flawless mystery. Where is the wonderment at West Kennet? What poet can sit alone on its turf and fancy he hears ancient whispers in rustling leaves? Who can visit the mysterious past by pausing at a display case of bones? Who can stand by poor Silbury without an uncomfortable feeling we have betrayed real people who created a private wonder and that we owe them a profound apology? Are we to assert that this is our time, not theirs, our hill, our barrow, our heritage, our mystery? Do we flout the wishes of other humans on the simple grounds that they are dust, we want to and can? Is this the future we want for ourselves?

But mostly, it’s the mystery. Let us not shatter it, as we have all the others, to satisfy our present, self-serving vulgar curiosity. Let us leave it pristine and unattainable forever and thereby of value beyond the wildest dreaming of those with eager or righteous spades…

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