Out­stand­ing news

Al­most a hun­dred an­cient mon­u­ments sit within Corn­wall’s Area of Out­sand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty and we need to look af­ter them

Cornwall Life - - INSIDE -

The AONB is home to a hun­dred an­cient mon­u­ments

Corn­wall’s pro­tected land­scape is well known and much loved for its iconic tin mines and pre­his­toric stone cir­cles and th­ese fea­tures of­ten form some of our vis­i­tor’s fond­est mem­o­ries - and the rea­son why so many re­turn time af­ter time. Th­ese fea­tures are also much trea­sured by the many lo­cal vol­un­tary con­ser­va­tion groups who tire­lessly give up their own time on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to safe­guard her­itage sites, work­ing with lo­cal landown­ers, across the county from Rame Head to West Pen­with.

But did you know that the Corn­wall Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty (AONB) was the main fo­cus for the county’s sched­uled mon­u­ments?

There are cur­rently 90 Sched­uled An­cient Mon­u­ments (SAMs) in the Corn­wall AONB on the Her­itage at Risk Reg­is­ter out­side of West Pen­with. Cor­nish mon­u­ments at risk range from pre­his­toric set­tle­ments, bar­rows and stone cir­cles to de­fen­sive and in­dus­trial her­itage fea­tures. A fur­ther 50 sites in the AONB are also in dan­ger of be­com­ing at risk if no ac­tion is taken to ad­dress their con­di­tion. Col­lec­tively th­ese sites are prin­ci­pally on Bod­min Moor, the Lizard and at Rame Head, with the main threats be­ing veg­e­ta­tion and tree growth and a lack of aware­ness of their man­age­ment needs. De­spite their ob­vi­ous in­ter­est, the vast ma­jor­ity of sites con­tain no on-site in­ter­pre­ta­tion or de­scrip­tions other than what sur­vives of the mon­u­ment so most peo­ple would be un­aware that they are pass­ing through an Iron Age or Bronze Age set­tle­ment or de­fen­sive fort. Only with the stone cir­cles, tin mines or 18th cen­tury forts that have a sig­nif­i­cant phys­i­cal pres­ence are more ob­vi­ous.

In some cases in­ap­pro­pri­ate, al­beit un­in­ten­tion­ally, harm­ful at­ten­tion by vis­i­tors can be a threat to sites such as at Stowe’s Pound on Bod­min Moor where the build­ing of ‘fairy cas­tles’ by vis­i­tors risks harm­ing the orig­i­nal her­itage value of this site. On oth­ers such as the rock labyrinth art at Rocky Val­ley, Tin­tagel, the trac­ing by vis­i­tors on to pa­per of the labyrinth fea­tures on the cliff face is caus­ing the grad­ual ero­sion of th­ese fea­tures them­selves. In th­ese and other cases her­itage is best safe­guarded for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by leav­ing only foot­prints on the path and tak­ing only pho­to­graphs and mem­o­ries home.

Ear­lier this year the Corn­wall AONB Part­ner­ship was awarded a £9,700 grant from His­toric Eng­land to de­velop a project to in­crease our un­der­stand­ing and aware­ness of the needs of our sched­uled mon­u­ments across some of Corn­wall’s most out­stand­ing land­scapes, work­ing with landown­ers and com­mu­nity based con­ser­va­tion groups.

With the sup­port and ex­per­tise of the Corn­wall Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Unit, we have now com­pleted four train­ing ses­sions with Truro Col­lege’s ar­chae­ol­ogy stu­dents and the com­mu­nity-based con­ser­va­tion groups Time­seek­ers, Corn­wall Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety, Lizard Ar­chae­ol­ogy Net­work, Me­neage Ar­chae­ol­ogy Group, Rame Con­ser­va­tion Trust and Caradon Ar­chae­ol­ogy to equip lo­cal vol­un­teers with sur­vey­ing skills and knowl­edge to en­able them to help shape the project. Th­ese train­ing ses­sions were the first time that some of th­ese sep­a­rate groups had met to­gether to share their ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence and to con­sider how they might build on this and work to­gether in­creas­ingly in the fu­ture for the ben­e­fit of Corn­wall’s sched­uled sites.

This is the first step to de­vel­op­ing a plan that will seek to safe­guard and sta­bilise the most vul­ner­a­ble and threat­ened sites and pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple and vis­i­tors to learn about, re­spect and ap­pre­ci­ate the built her­itage of the Corn­wall AONB whether through walk­ing and cy­cling past th­ese sites or tak­ing a more ac­tive role in their phys­i­cal con­ser­va­tion such as through scrub clear­ance or vol­un­teer ar­chae­o­log­i­cal digs.

‘Th­ese won­der­ful sites and Pre­his­toric re­mains have been be­queathed to us by our Late Ne­olithic/Early Bronze age an­ces­tors,’ ex­plains Roy Goutte from Time­Seek­ers. ‘To al­low them to fall into a con­tin­u­ing state of ruin and hid­den by un­der­growth is an in­sult to their out­stand­ing build­ing achieve­ments and why we, as a group, are so com­mit­ted to keep­ing them tidy and in the pub­lic gaze for the fore­see­able fu­ture.’

Any­one in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about sched­uled mon­u­ments or the Her­itage at Risk Reg­is­ter can search for sites near to you at His­tori­cEng­land.org.uk/HAR

By reg­is­ter­ing with His­toric Eng­land peo­ple can post their own pho­tos and re­views of sites to add to knowl­edge and up to date con­di­tion sta­tus of th­ese im­por­tant, parts of the Corn­wall AONB.

So next time you take a walk out in Corn­wall’s AONB, take a deeper look at the land­scape and land­form and see how much more you can spot, ap­pre­ci­ate and learn about this of­ten for­got­ten and hid­den as­pect to Corn­wall’s pro­tected land­scape. You will be amazed at what you will find out.

info@corn­wall-aonb.gov.uk @Corn­wal­lAONB

Le­vant Mine: Corn­wall’s min­ing re­mains cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion and the eye. Photo: Roy Cur­tis

The an­cient re­mains known as Stowes Pound on Bod­min Moor is un­der threat from un­know­ing vis­i­tors who leave ‘fairy cas­tles’ at the site

Some An­cient Mon­u­ments in Corn­wall are well known like Tin­tagel Cas­tle thanks to its mar­ket­ing and events like the un­veil­ing of its new­est res­i­dent a bronze statue of King Arthur in recog­ni­tion of the myth which has drawn crit­i­cism as well as vis­i­tors. Photo Emily Whit­field-Wicks

Trevethy Quoit on Bod­min Moor is a ne­olithic burial cham­ber. Photo: Mary Poad

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