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Ground damage and disruption at Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall
Narration and video by Roy Goutté
Earlier this month we ran a feature by Mr Roy Goutté on the disruption (and potential damage) caused by horses/ponies and vehicles to the ground immediately surrounding Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall. The video above shows startling and dramatic new evidence of that recent damage.
A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Text and images © Roy Goutté.
Trethevy Quoit summer 2012
On the 31st of January 2013 I made an unscheduled visit to Trethevy Quoit, a portal dolmen sited in a field adjacent to the tiny hamlet of Trecarne just off the south-eastern fringes of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Grid Ref: SX259688. Accompanying me was an English Heritage at Risk Project Officer. Prior to this we had spent time on Craddock Moor discussing the possibility of remedial work being carried out on its stone circle which had fallen into disrepair and was slowly being consumed by the peat beneath and the gorse and brush above! The visit to the quoit, just some two miles away, was a very welcome time filler for the officer who had time to kill before her next appointment.
Over the past two years I had spent many hours at the quoit researching for my new book Trethevy Quoit… Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece and had on many occasions during those visits sat on the lush grass of the quoits empty field and looked on in wonder at what our great ancestors had bequeathed us, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was to cast my eyes on that day. Horses… and plenty of them!
Without a care in the world it would seem, horses and ponies had been allowed to run free in the field without making any attempt whatsoever to protect the monument. Not even the simplest of electrified animal fencing had been installed which was simply inviting disaster. Due to our overly wet winter in Cornwall, and the horses galloping around like mad things, the ground had become so churned up that the grass in places had been replaced by mud and was no longer visible! Naturally the English Heritage Officer was as equally appalled as I was and immediately took notes and photographs to report back with.
Today (the 16th February) I made a return visit and was even more horrified. The horses had either been removed or out being ridden for a few hours, but the field area around the quoit was much, much worse than it had been before with huge tractor tyre tracks around it and hoof prints encroaching up to and onto the low remaining banked cairn surrounding the base of the quoit. It was in danger of becoming unstable if this was to continue as the side orthostats/slabs of the tomb rely on the banked cairn being there to keep their base in place! The consequences of this banking becoming dislodged or destroyed didn’t bear thinking about!
Tractor tyres and hoof-prints cutting up the ground to the north of the quoit with hoof-prints embedded in the banked cairn holding the side flanking stones in position
And the same to the southern side showing the banked cairn being encroached upon
I contacted English Heritage immediately and have left it in their hands. I stressed the importance of an immediate visit and emailed them a series of photographs. I also shot a video showing the damage that had been done and offered them any assistance I can as I live locally.
I find it unbelievable that in these supposed enlightened times a landowner can be so irresponsible as to allow horses to trample all around and over a banked cairn of a Scheduled Monument without making any attempt whatsoever of safeguarding it first. It beggars belief that in this day and age, someone can be so lacking in respect or concern for our heritage.
The quoit has stood in this field for some 5,000+ years and we have been allowed free access to it for as long as memory serves. It is Cornwall’s finest remaining fully standing cromlech and it is irresponsible acts such as this that can remove that access to us, but worse still, see the ultimate demise of Cornwall’s real jewel in the crown… our Megalithic Masterpiece… Trethevy Quoit.
Mary Leakey. Source Wikipedia. Image credit National Institutes of Health
The Euston Arch in its heyday
“The Euston Arch was a powerful symbol of the optimistic spirit of the Victorian railway. Its demolition in the 1960s confirmed that blandness and lack of imagination had replaced the heroic vision of the past. Completed in May 1838, it was the centrepiece of Euston Station, the world’s first main line terminus in a capital city. Built on a huge scale, it symbolized modernity and new links between London and the north. It was the first great monument of the railway age, which Britain pioneered.”
Demolition of The Euston Arch in 1962
“The Arch was demolished in 1962 after a short and sharp campaign to save it. Sanctioned by a philistine administration, the demolition now seems shocking and is widely regarded as a terrible mistake. In a story stranger than fiction, most of the stones from the Arch ended up at the bottom of a river in east London. The survival of much of the original material from the Arch, as well as detailed drawings, means that it can be faithfully restored, returning to Britain a masterpiece of international significance. …rebuilding the Arch would regenerate Euston in the best possible way, attracting investment and creating a great heritage asset for the wider community.”
A clip from a 1993 film showing Dan Cruickshank searching for the remains of The Euston Arch
“Since [the Arch’s demolition in 1962] the enormous popularity of the restored St Pancras, soon to be followed by a restored King’s Cross, has shown that celebration of the past and potential for the future are not mutually exclusive. The restoration of Euston Arch would restore to London’s oldest mainline terminus some of the character and dignity of its great neighbours.”
Michael Palin, Patron of the Euston Arch Trust.
Above quotes and images from The Euston Art Trust. For further information, and to support the restoration of the Euston Arch, visit the The Euston Arch Trust website. See also our feature on Conservation, Preservation and Restoration above.
A guest feature by Littlestone.
One of two sarsens at the entrance to Fryerning Lane on Ingatestone Highstreet, Ingatestone, Essex
The Heritage Trust
And the stones in the road shone like diamonds in the dust.
And then a voice called to us to make our way back home.
Mary Chapin Carpenter.
No, this isn’t about that stirring song, Stones In The Road, by Mary Chapin Carpenter (though it could be) on her 1994 album of the same name, but about the megaliths that lay scattered along our highways, byways, high streets and lanes which, depending on your point of view, can certainly be either, ‘A thousand points of light or shame’.
Two stones (above) in Ingatestone High Street, Essex, almost certainly once formed a stone circle but, sadly, are still there and still vulnerable to damage now as when this was first written. The stones in Ingatestone’s High Street are not the only examples of megaliths used as buffers, pushed onto verges or just left where they are, awaiting their fate to be damaged or deliberately broken up. William Stukeley’s 1724 Groundplot of Avebury shows no less than nine stones in the roads there, all now long gone but once part of the proud Avebury Henge.
Stone on Flowergate (road) in Whitby, north-east Yorkshire
The Heritage Trust
On Flowergate (road) in Whitby, north-east Yorkshire, there is a stone outside the Little Angel pub. It’s not clear that this is originally from a megalithic structure but, as British History Online records, “The monoliths which exist in the parish possibly mark ancient British interments.” so there is a possible connection between this stone and a megalithic site. British History Online again records that, “A diligence commenced in 1788 to run twice a week from the ‘Turk’s Head’ and ‘White Horse and Griffin’ at Whitby to York and another to Scarborough began in 1793. The mail-coach started in 1795 and ran three times a week. A Sunderland coach commenced in 1796. All the coaches ran from the Angel Inn.”* The stone now has steps cut into it and was perhaps used to assist passengers in and out of their carriage, or riders on and off their horses.
Stones on the verges outside The Church of St Barnabus at Alphamstone in Essex
The Heritage Trust
Turning south again there are stones on the verges outside The Church of St Barnabus at Alphamstone in Essex and outside the lichgate of The Church of St Mary with St Leonard, Broomfield also in Essex – both almost certainly pre-Christian sites.
Stones outside the lichgate of The Church of St Mary with St Leonard, Broomfield also in Essex
The Heritage Trust
The examples above of ‘stones in the road’ are just a few of perhaps many more scattered through the country – some with possibly intriguing histories. It’s been suggested, for example, that the stones in the little village of Berwick St James, Wiltshire may have originally been part of the Stonehenge complex (see Dennis Price’s Inigo Jones’ lost Altar Stone from Stonehenge and somewhere called “St James” article.
The London Stone. Source Wikimedia. Image credit Lonpicman
But perhaps the most famous ‘stone in the road’ of them all is the London Stone in Cannon Street, east London. Both the stone, with its receptacle and iron grille, were designated a Grade II listed structure on 5 June 1972. It’s recorded that the, “London Stone was for many hundreds of years recognized as the symbolic authority and heart of the City of London. It was the place where deals were forged and oaths were sworn. It was also the point from which official proclamations were made.” Legend has it that, “So long as the stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish.” Let’s hope so, and as one of the longest surviving, and most respected ‘stones in the road’, this stone might, perhaps, have lent itself to the 2012 Olympic Games – for what better symbolizes the history and continuity of the City of London, and a place to swear the Olympic Oath, than this stone that lies at its very heart.
And the stones in the road leave a mark from whence they came.
A thousand points of light or shame.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
* From: ‘Parishes: Whitby’, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 (1923), pp. 506-528.
Inside the Semitic Museum of Harvard University, assistant Director Joseph Greene (right) of the Semitic Museum, and Adam Aja, Assistant Curator of Collections, Semitic Museum, discuss the creation of a digital 3-D model of a lion statue dating to the Nuzi period.
Image credit Kris Snibbe, Harvard Staff Photographer
Ishaan Tharoor, writing for TIME Style, reports that –
…3,300 years ago, when a rampaging army ransacked the town of Nuzi whose ruins now lie southwest of the modern day Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The conquerors—the Assyrians, one of the more bullying empires of Mesopotamian antiquity—overran the town’s defenses, burned down its buildings, slaughtered or enslaved its inhabitants and looted its temples. What was not plundered was left, in many instances, smashed, tossed down wells and discarded in the smoldering wreck of the city. And there it lay for millennia until a team of archaeologists spearheaded by a number of American universities excavated the site in 1930 and unearthed its broken treasures.
Among the finds at Yorghan Tepe (the modern day name for the site where Nuzi once stood) were a set of lions thought to have flanked an installation of a statue of the goddess Ishtar. These and other objects were, under the colonial administration of the time, divided between local authorities and foreign archaeologists. The remains of one lion—fragments of its hindquarters and front paws—were claimed by Harvard’s Semitic Museum, while another more intact one made its way to the University of Pennsylvania. A decade ago, the two lions were reunited when Penn allowed their statue to be sent to the Semitic Museum on loan; it’s believed the lions were once mirror images of each other (their tails move in opposite directions).
But, with UPenn now seeking the return of its lion, Harvard’s curators were left with a quandary. How could they show off the precious fragments they had to visitors without the more intact version also on display? The solution was 3-D printing. Learning Sites, an outside company that does 3-D scans of archaeological artifacts, had already been at Harvard helping the Semitic Museum digitize some of its ancient wares. The company was then drafted in to help scan UPenn’s lion and digitally model a new physical copy to which Harvard can affix its fragments.
Full article here.