You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2013.

Ground damage and disruption at Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall
Narration and video by Roy Goutté
©
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.

 

trevethy-stone-by-charles-knight-circa-1845-31
 
Trevethy Stone by Charles Knight (circa 1845)
Pivate collection, Great Britain
 
Well, it’s not just sheep, and it’s not just prehistoric sites with sarsens or other standing stones in them, but it is an indication of the disruption, if not the actual damage, sheep and other livestock are causing to, and at, some of our heritage sites here in Britain. We recently ran a feature by Mr Roy Goutté on the disruption (and potential damage) caused by horse-riding and vehicular activity to the ground immediately surrounding Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall. This was an extreme example of such damage but we’ve noticed similar activity across the country from Carreg Samson in south-west Wales to Avebury in Wiltshire. At Carreg Samson there is no exclusion zone between the monument and the cattle that are allowed to use the stones as ‘rubbing posts’ – consequently the cattle churn up the ground around the monument in the same way as horses have at Trethevy Quoit.
 
At Avebury, sheep are allowed to graze freely within the circle but, although they do not churn up the ground in the same way as horses or cattle, they do, nonetheless, have an adverse affect on the stones and the thousands of people who visit the area each year. Using sheep is perhaps an environmentally friendly way of keeping the grass short but it’s no easy task avoiding the animals’ countless droppings and nigh on impossible to find a clean place to sit on the grass and enjoy the place for what it is. More worrying is the affect the sheep are having on the stones; take a moment to look at this photo and try to guess what the problem might be.
 
 
A pastoral scene of sheep grazing at the Avebury Stone circle or something more unpleasant?
Image credit and © Moss
 
Did you spot the problem? If not look at the photo below. There’s a dark line of dirt and lanolin near the bottom of each stone where the sheep have rubbed themselves against it. This can hardly be very healthy for children who may come in contact with the dirt, not to mention the affect it might be having on the delicate lichen that grows on the stones.
 
 
A dark line of dirt and lanolin near the bottom of each stone due to sheep activity (note sheep on left)
Image credit and © Moss
 
The Heritage Trust would suggest that an exclusion zone is put in place around all our ancient monuments where damage or disruption from livestock activity might be a potential hazard to those monuments or to public health and safety.
 
 
 
 
Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent for BBC News Science & Environment reports that –
 
The length of time modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) overlapped in Europe has been a keenly debated topic in recent times. A long overlap raises important questions about the extent to which we might have interbred with them, and possibly even contributed to their eventual demise.
 
Research published in 2011 indicated modern humans were living in the lands now known as Italy and the UK as far back as 41,000-45,000 years ago. This may have put them in contact with European Neanderthals who, according to previous dating studies, persisted on the continent for many millennia after these dates. On the Rock of Gibraltar, for example, it has been suggested that Neanderthals could possibly have hung around until as recently as 28,000 years ago before finally dying out.
 
Full story here.
 
 
 
‘Slave Labour’ by Banksy
 
Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ mural is scheduled to go under the hammer today at Frederic Thut’s auction house in Miami, USA. The sale description reads MODERN, CONTEMPORARY AND STREET ART: Asian, Latin American, American, European Artists, including Street Art, and the mural is expected to achieve a figure in the region of £450,000 ($700,000). The work, thought to be a commentary on the use of sweat-shop labour, first appeared on the wall of a Poundland store in Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, North London in May of last year but then ‘disappeared’ earlier this month. Poundland say they are investigating the disappearance of the mural and maintain they were not responsible for its removal.
 
Frederic Thut claims that the mural was not stolen but ‘legitimately removed’ by the owners of the wall; he has accused local people of assuming moral ownership of something that is not theirs. Councillor Alan Strickland however says that locals see it as an act of theft: “The feeling in the community here, very strongly, is that this is a piece of art given freely by Banksy to our community. It belongs to our community, and we’ve really enjoyed having it here. It seems quite wrong to take that out secretively and sell it at auction in Miami for half a million dollars. That seems completely counter to the spirit with which Banksy gave it to us.”
 
We have seen this sort of ‘removal’ of art from countless sites across the globe – perhaps the removal of Buddhist murals, manuscripts and artefacts from Dunhuang in Western China is the closest parallel to the Banksy mural where a similar ‘legitimate’ argument was used. The principal however is not whether it is legitimate to remove art from its original context but whether it is morally right to do so. Patently, it was not morally right to remove the Banksy Slave Labour mural from its North London context and we unreservedly support those campaigning to have it returned to its place of origin. Banksy’s position is that if you take his work out of its context it is no longer his work, it is not a Banksy. Purchasers of the work (if it is purchased) should take heed of that. Meanwhile, perhaps Banksy has had the last word as an appropriate ‘rat’ stencil has appeared next to the missing mural with the one word caption – Why?
 
 
The Rat stencil, possibly by Banksy, has now appeared next to the removed mural in Wood Green, London
Photo credit Antonia Kanczula
 
The sale at Frederic Thut’s will begin from 3pm today (local time) and will be held at –
 
FAAM
346 NW 29th street
Miami, Florida 33127
USA
 
Contact – info@faamiami.com
Tel: +1 305 573 4228
Fax: +1 305 573 4245
 
Update: The item has now been withdrawn from auction. Details here.
 
 
 A guest feature by Littlestone.
 
 
A coach penetrating deep into the sacred heart of the Avebury complex, never right!
Caption and image © Arcturus
 
The Diamond Stone (or Swindon Stone) in the corner of the north-west sector of the Avebury Henge is thought to be one of the few stones in the Avebury complex that has never fallen or been moved. In other words this massive megalith, which is some four metres high, three metres wide and over a metre thick (and estimated to weigh nearly fifty tons!) has stood in its present position since it was first erected there some four thousand years ago.
 
 
The Diamond Stone (fourth stone at top closest to road) as recorded by William Stukeley in his 1724 Groundplot of Avebury
 
But for how much longer will this ‘diamond’ from our megalithic past remain unmoved, let alone undamaged? The Diamond Stone sits perilously close to the Swindon-bound A4361 that runs through Avebury, indeed one corner of the stone hangs over the fence between the grass verge and the road itself and is subject to constant (and during the morning and evening rush hours) heavy vibration from passing traffic. It is astonishing that the local authorities have only recently introduce a 30 mile an hour speed limit through Avebury, but is this enough to reduce vibration to the stone let alone minimize damage to it should it be hit by a passing car, bus or heavy goods vehicle?
 
 
The Diamond Stone today, poised at the edge of the Swindon-bound A4361
Image credit Moss
 
Surely the answer is to narrow the road at this point (increasing the grass verge nearest the megalith) and install road signs with alternating priority arrows. This would have the effect of distancing the stone from the road, reducing vibration to it by limiting the speed of traffic passing by, and would also have the added benefit of making the road safer for people crossing between the north-west and north-east sectors of the Henge. This is not rocket science; road signs with red and black arrows indicating priority are found all over the country so why not here? With a little imaginative planning two simple electronic road signs could be installed and programmed to change their priority with the flow of traffic during the morning and evening rush hours.
 
There has been an appalling amount of destruction of, and damage to, the Avebury megaliths over recent centuries, and the Diamond Stone is sadly yet another tragedy waiting to happen there. “Two open community meetings will be held in Avebury’s Social Centre at 10.30am on 23rd February and at 5.30pm on 7th March to discuss [new traffic plans for the area], and further amendments will follow as a result of these meetings.” Let’s act now to protect the Diamond Stone from potential damage before it is too late!
 
Information on the Avebury World Heritage Site Transport Strategy can be found here.
 
The Lord Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925)
Source Wikipedia. Artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
 
“Imagine the North East without Lindisfarne, Warkworth or Berwick, imagine the North East without its great castles, abbeys and historic monuments. It is largely thanks to the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act that these stone and brick eye-witnesses to our past survive today to tell their story.”
 
Lord Curzon
 
This year, 2013, is the centenary of a landmark moment for England’s heritage. The passing of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act in 1913 recognised for the first time that there are physical remains of the nation’s history which are so special and so significant that the state has a duty to ensure their continued survival.
 
English Heritage. More here.
 
 

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!

roy 2

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.

Roy Goutté


5,000 + years of our heritage under siege by inconsiderate landowners and horses

 

 
Deutsche Welle reports that –
 
Everyone should have access to Germany’s cultural heritage. That’s the goal of a new multimedia portal, the German Digital Library. It encompasses sources from 1,800 cultural and academic institutions.
 
The website is still in the trial phase and there are a few rough edges to smooth out, but that will soon be resolved. The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB), or “German Digital Library,” is set to be an online collection of knowledge like no other.
 
The German Digital Library aims to be a network of culture and research, a unique archive of the cultural consciousness of Germany. And Europe, since the DBB constitutes another building block of the European online culture portal “Europeana,” a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitized throughout Europe.
 
More here.
 
 

Mary Leakey. Source Wikipedia. Image credit National Institutes of Health

Mary Leakey (6 February 1913 – 9 December 1996) would have been 100 last Wednesday. She spent a great deal of her life at Olduvai Gorge in eastern Africa with her husband Louis. Olduvai Gorge is seen as the cradle of humanity, though there would be some who would disagree with that. As far as evolution goes however you’ve got to start somewhere. It is still good though to recognise a woman who actually began as a so-called amateur and ended up being an expert in her subject (her son still continues the family tradition).
 
So, to all explorers and archaeologists who work ‘in the field’ a toast, and a belated happy birthday to Mary Leakey.
 
More on Mary Leakey here.
 

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.

 

 

 
Historic sites in Wiltshire, England
 
The General, The Scientist & The Banker: The Birth of Archaeology and the Battle for the Past. An exhibition at the Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, London from the 6 February to 21 April 2013.
 
English Heritage’s press release reads –
 
In 1859 two extraordinary events changed the way people considered human existence: a flint handaxe was found in a gravel quarry level with bones of extinct animals, and Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s big idea and the discovery of the axe broke the Biblical version of history.Opening with the book and the rarely seen axe, this exhibition tells the story of what happened next, as archaeological pioneers battled to save Britain’s great prehistoric sites from destruction.
 
“Rare objects, drawings and manuscripts will bring to life a tale of Victorian prejudice and vision as well as illustrate the achievements of three men: scientist Charles Darwin, archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers and finally, banker and politician John Lubbock. Together they revealed how the landscape is rich with ancient history, as they fought to bring recognition and legal protection for Britain’s ancient monuments.
 
 

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.

 

 
 
A 26,000 year-old carving, in mammoth ivory, of a woman’s face.
Image credit Moravian Museum, Anthropos Institute, Czech Republic
 
 
One of the artefacts now on show at the British Museum in its Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind exhibition which runs until the 26 May 2013.
 
 

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.

 

 
Stonehenge
©
The Heritage Trust
 
There will be an afternoon walk on Saturday, 2 February to learn, “…about the ancient archaeology of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and the area’s varied wildlife. On this three-mile walk with views of the stone circle, the ancient earthworks that have revealed much about the people who once lived and celebrated there will be visited. Talking points include the Cursus, the many and varied barrows, and an ancient avenue connecting ceremonial centres.”
 
The walk will cost £5 per head (children free) and will start from the Stonehenge car-park at 2pm. For further details and to book call 0844 2491895 or 01980 664780.
 
NB. Above quote taken from The Wiltshire Times which states the walk is on Sunday when in fact it is on Saturday, 2 February.
 
 

Categories

February 2013
S M T W T F S
« Jan   Mar »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
2425262728  
Follow The Heritage Trust on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: