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Stowe’s Hill report by Roy Goutté.

The tower building continues but with further concerns…

Image credit and © Roy Goutté

Stowe’s Pound is sited atop a prominent granite ridge to the north of Minions village in the south-eastern sector of Bodmin Moor. The hill itself is perhaps best known as the site of the Cheesewring, famous in folklore, and of Cheesewring Quarry, which has taken a massive bite out of the hill’s southern tip. The hill is sited at the edge of the moorland, overlooking Rillaton Moor and Witheybrook Marsh, to the south and west, and the upper reaches of the River Lynher to the east; the tors of Dartmoor can be seen on the distant skyline.

Two massive stone-walled enclosures encircle the summit of the ridge, a small tear-drop shaped primary enclosure, encircling the tors at the southern end of the hill, and a larger subsidiary enclosure which encloses the large whale-backed summit ridge of the hill. These enclosures are similar in many ways to the excavated tor enclosures at Carn Brea and Helman Tor, which are dated to the early Neolithic period (4000 – 3500 BC).

Though very ruinous, the ramparts of the smaller enclosure still stand in places up to 5 metres in height and are between 5 and 15 metres wide. It must once have been a very imposing structure. The larger enclosure, though clearly secondary, might still be contemporary with the other. Its ramparts are noticeably slighter and vary between 5 and 10 metres in width. It has two clearly identifiable entrances on the west and east sides and several other smaller gaps and later stone quarries along the walling in between. There are traces of at least two roughly concentric outer ramparts, best seen on the north-eastern side, and other outworks flank the hill slopes. Curiously, there are no identifiable entrances through the walls of the small enclosure, and no gate or passage providing a link between the interiors of the two enclosures.

(Historic Environment Service of Cornwall County Council)

In 2014, I and other members of the TimeSeekers volunteer clearance group, were asked to help with the removal of the illegal ‘towers’ being built on Stowe’s Pound’s rampart defence walls (see above photo). Granite blocks were being removed from where they have lain for 1000’s of years making up the defensive ramparts, a simple but ingenious method of keeping an enemy at bay in this age of very basic weaponry. They were not removed far however, as in the main the towers were being built on top of the ramparts itself, but nevertheless, it was an illegal act as they were damaging a Scheduled Monument.

We spent quite a few hours not just pulling them down, but placing each stone back carefully into the areas that had suffered the most. The ones that had been most exposed to the elements over the years had growth on them, so selecting the top and side stones were made much easier. It may not sound that important but the fact was that the monument was being damaged even though we are supposed to be living in an ‘enlightened age’. What made matters worse was that schoolchildren were encouraged to build them and helped by their parents. Even as we were pulling them down others were being built nearby so those responsible received a friendly warning. What was really worrying was the common reply, ‘Well they’re only stones aren’t they’.

2015 was a ’quiet’ year in comparison with a few towers appearing spasmodically and much the same in 2016 although it did see the commencement of a new approach by the ’builders’ which is slowly growing.

As the following short video will show, the rampart stones are now also being removed and carried over to the large natural granite stones lying around within the Pound and towers erected on them. On completion, they are then left standing or pushed over and the builders walk away leaving the stones lying in the grass or in the gulleys created by those large stones being close together. The result, if left like that, are the ramparts slowly diminishing in height in places and the removed stones scattered around the inside of the Pound! This cannot be allowed to continue!

Video credit and © Roy Goutté

If asked to help out again, members of TimeSeekers will be pleased to assist in the re-gathering of the removed stones – of which there are many more than shown – and return them to their rightful location. In the meantime, in my opinion, suitable signage should be seriously considered by the powers that be to ensure that this outrage should not be continued.

However, to finish on a more pleasant note, enjoy the serenity of a quadcopter fly-over above Stowe’s Hill, the Cheesewring and the Pound. Wonderful.

Drone Video
Devon & Beyond 2016
Cheesewring Minions Bodmin Moor Cornwall from above DJI Phantom 4 drone

 

 

 
 
Muireann with Seamus Heaney (sitting far left) and friends, Feis Teamhra, Hill of Tara 2010
Image credit Carmel Diviney
 
This week one of the great campaigners for saving the Hill of Tara has died – Dr. Muireann ni Bhrolchain. I followed the campaign for years in the news and of course she and her fellow protestors (including the poet Seamus Heaney) failed in stopping the M3 motorway in Ireland, but they fought a good battle. Really I should put some harp music on for that was the symbol they used, but instead a speech by her here highlights what she stood for in the face of heritage destruction.
 
Moss.
 
There is a full obituary to Muireann here and also another moving one by Ian Morse in yesterday’s Irish Times
 
From warrior to legend
 
As you pass into legend Muireann know you were peerless in your chosen field. Your legacy is your humanity and intellect and the passion by which you told your truths. You were a rarity because you inspired those seekers of knowledge with the simple contents of your heart and soul. You challenged those who failed to understand the true meaning of heritage, and in truth made them realise their own inadequacies. Rest in Peace within your new realm knowing the flame you ignited will never be extinguished. It was my honour and privilege to call you friend.
 
With love and respect
 
Ian Morse
 
 
Hambledon Hill Iron Age Fort in Dorset, England
©
The National Trust/Ross Hoddinott
 
The National Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has bought Hambledon Hill Iron Age Fort in Dorset (south-west England) for £450,000. Money to buy the Fort came from a Natural England grant and a legacy gift left to benefit Dorset countryside. Hambledon Hill Fort, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, was built more than 2,600 years ago and stands at 190m (620ft). It spans the equivalent of 50 football fields and its historical uses included communal occupation, farming, feasting, conflict and burial.
 
The National Trust owns seven Hill Forts in Dorset. Hambledon Hill is also important for the range of wildlife it supports. More here.
 
 
Roundel from the replica Barbury Castle Roundhouse
©
The Heritage Trust
 
This lovely little roundel, showing a white horse, beehive and honeybee, was one of several that adorned the interior of the replica Iron Age roundhouse that was designed and built by Chris Park of Acorn Education in 2006. The replica was sited close to the Iron Age Barbury Castle hill fort in Wiltshire, England. Sadly the roundhouse was deliberately set on fire in October 2008 and nothing now remains of it.
 
  
Replica Iron Age roundhouse that once stood close to Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, England
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Swindon Advertiser report of the incident here.
    
In August of this year we highlighted the threat to Old Oswestry, “… an early Iron Age hill fort in the Welsh Marches near Oswestry in north west Shropshire. It was designated as a scheduled monument (number 27556) in 1997 and is now in the guardianship of English Heritage. After the hillfort was abandoned it was incorporated into Wat’s Dyke, and two sections of this are adjacent to it.” In today’s Observer, Jamie Doward reports that –
 
…in what critics say is a result of the government’s new planning policy, proposals have been drawn up to build almost 200 luxury homes next to the ancient site, angering local residents and heritage groups. Some 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing the development, part of the county council’s plan to build 2,600 homes by 2026 to comply with government targets.
 
One of 25 hill forts in Shropshire, Old Oswestry has a series of perimeter ditches, formed between ramparts, that were designed to slow down attackers. An archaeological survey in 2010 found man-made structures in fields to the north-east of the fort. Two years ago the discovery of an iron age road, thought to connect The Wrekin, near Telford, with fields near the site, indicated that there was likely to be important evidence of past cultures buried under the soil.
 
English Heritage, which describes Old Oswestry as “a site of great national importance, one that helps to define our national story and identity”, has joined Oswestry town council in opposing the scheme, which locals say will do little to ease housing problems. They claim that the 188 homes planned for up to three sites around the fort will be expensive, low-risk developments “for affluent commuters, rich retirees, country retreat investors and holiday cottage landlords”. The development will be studied closely by the likes of the National Trust, which has warned that the government’s new “pro-development” planning framework will result in a glut of upmarket homes being built on greenfield sites because these offer the best returns for construction firms.
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Old Oswestry is a large and impressive early Iron Age hill fort in the Welsh Marches near Oswestry in north west Shropshire. It was designated as a scheduled monument (number 27556) in 1997 and is now in the guardianship of English Heritage. After the hillfort was abandoned it was incorporated into Wat’s Dyke, and two sections of this are adjacent to it. Source Wikipedia entry on Old Oswestry Hillfort.
 
The Shropshire Star reports yesterday that –
 
More than 2,000 people have now signed a petition urging planning chiefs to ditch proposals to allow houses to be built in the shadow of Oswestry’s Iron Age hillfort.
 
Various areas of Oswestry have been put forward for potential development under Shropshire Council’s SAMDev plans which will govern where homes will be built in the future. Among the areas are parcels of land around the town’s hillfort, widely regarded as one of the most significant landmarks of its kind in Europe.
 
Oswestry businessman John Waine launched an online petition just over a week ago calling for Shropshire planners to think again. And as of yesterday, 2,060 people had signed up to the petition, which has been posted on the change.org website. Public opinion is being gathered on the plans as part of the second round of consultation on the SAMDev document. The consultation ends on August 23.
 
Mr Waine describes the hill fort as the “jewel in Oswestry’s crown, an under-valued heritage asset and the old ancient heart of the town” and will pass on the petition to the north planning committee at Shropshire Council.
 
People from all over the country, many with Shropshire connections, have backed the petition. Taran McCarnun, of Salisbury, said: “I am a native of Shropshire, born and bred in Shrewsbury. Even forgetting the fact that the Cornovii tribe held it as their seat of power for centuries, this hillfort is the only one of its kind anywhere in Europe. This must be protected at all costs.”
 
Full article here. Those wishing to oppose development around Old Oswestry Hillfort are asked to sign the petition here. The deadline for registering objections is the 23 August 2013.
 
 

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