Guns of the Armada
Editor Simon Denison
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Stonehenge roads proposal
At the end of February the CBA hosted a meeting about the roads proposals for Stonehenge and their integration with other changes to the World Heritage Site (writes George Lambrick).
Chris Young from English Heritage confirmed that the WHS management plan, published recently, was guiding the management, development and presentation of the landscape. Keith Rowe outlined the National Trust's proposals for managing the surrounding land, supported by DEFRA's special new stewardship scheme paying farmers 50 per cent more than usual to take land out of cultivation.
Prof Tim Darvill of the University of Bournemouth stressed the importance of knowledge and research in underpinning long-term management and presentation of the site. The research framework for Stonehenge, which he has been coordinating for English Heritage, is nearly complete.
Representatives of the Highways Agency outlined the assessment and design process for the roads. They not only confirmed that both a bored and cut-and cover version of the 2km tunnel are under full consideration, but also hinted that the bored tunnel may well emerge as front-runner. A long 4km tunnel, favoured by some, is not seen as cost-effective. Nevertheless both long and short-tunnel options will be compared in the environmental impact assessment. The Government's final decision is due by the end of 2002.
Andrew Lawson of Wessex Archaeology explained the wide range of archaeological surveys being done, and said that first results suggest very little significant archaeology along the line of the tunnel past Stonehenge.
Nicholas Pearson, the scheme's environmental consultant, explained some of the practicalities of achieving a reunified tranquil landscape around the stones. Issues such as avoiding light pollution from the approaches to the proposed tunnel are being looked at.
Stuart Bromley of engineers Mott MacDonald illustrated some of the structures required, including the bored and cut-and-cover tunnel options. The appointment of a contractor is imminent. Already ideas about keeping construction sites limited as much as possible to the final footprint of the scheme are being considered. Illustrated notes from the meeting and other information about Stonehenge can be found at www.britarch.ac.uk/stonehenge.
Peat digging on Thorne Moors
At the end of February the CBA welcomed the news that us-based company Scotts had struck a £17.3 million deal with the Government bringing an immediate stop to peat extraction on Thorne Moors in Yorkshire and Wedholme Flow in Cumbria (writes Alex Hunt). However, we were disappointed that extraction will continue on parts of Yorkshire's Hatfield Moors for a further two years. The announcement follows a long campaign by the Peatlands Campaign Consortium (BA October 2000, June 2001) of which the CBA is a member.
The end of peat extraction brings an opportunity to manage these areas in ways that respect their archaeological and palaeoenvironmental value, and English Heritage has said it hopes to work with English Nature to achieve this aim. Scotts has also committed itself to processing 'green' renewable peat alternatives.
We would like to thank all those who have generously contributed to the CBA appeal in the last five months (writes Francis Pryor MBE, CBA President).
But the overall number of responses has been rather disappointing, so if you have not yet done so please consider making a donation. We need your support to help others to discover the rewarding world of archaeology. Large or small, all contributions are very welcome.
Spring books from the CBA
This month four Research Reports will be published by the CBA (writes Jane Thorniley-Walker). The Coastal Archaeology of Wales, edited by Andrew Davidson (£19.95), provides a thorough survey of the archaeology of the Welsh coast, with attractive air photographs. It follows the completion of a series of Cadw-funded surveys which assessed current threats to the coast and recorded the location and importance of the endangered archaeology.
The archaeology of small towns in Roman Britain is well-served by the remaining three reports. The final volume in the Alcester excavation series, Roman Alcester, northern extramural area by Paul Booth and Jeremy Evans (£36.00), focuses on the area of the town containing the early fort around which the town is believed to have originated. Cataractonium: Roman Catterick and its hinterland, Parts I and II (£32.00 each) publishes the findings of over 40 years of research at Catterick, North Yorkshire. Together, the reports will move forward the investigation and understanding of urbanisation, military/civilian relations and levels of Romanisation in Britain.
For further information, please contact the CBA (firstname.lastname@example.org). Orders, please, to York Publishing Services in York, tel 01904 431213.
Changes to planning system
In March the CBA submitted its comments to the DTLR consultation about the future of planning. We stressed the importance of retaining the principles for decision-making in PPG15 and 16. As knowledge is essential for good decision-making, more resources should be put into good historic environment records, building on existing SMRs.
We supported more community involvement in planning, but pointed out that proposals to remove county structure plans in favour of regional policy would be less democratic and could undermine county archaeological services. Local historic environment services should become statutory, with adequate resourcing instead of constantly being squeezed. (GL)
Threats to funding of portable antiquities scheme
In 1995 the CBA published a highly influential report about archaeology and metal detecting (Metal Detecting and Archaeology in England, Dobinson & Denison) that was instrumental in developing the portable antiquities scheme, which encourages reporting of objects found by detectorists and the general public. The scheme, which is jointly funded by DCMS and the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been highly successful in showing the wealth of knowledge to be gained from collaboaration between archaeologists and detectorists. Where it operates, the scheme has underpinned adherence to the Treasure Act, and as it expands it has helped spread the message that portable antiquities are not just 'Treasure' to be looted, but have a wider archaeological interest.
But over the last few months, the HLF has repeatedly delayed a decision on whether to continue its support, and DCMS has so far failed to make a commitment to underwrite the scheme for more than 12 months. The staff who provide the recording services are being left with an uncertain future and several have left or are threatening to do so. The CBA and the Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities are continuing to campaign to have the scheme put on a sound long-term footing, to remove this debilitating uncertainty about future funding. (GL)
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005