The Hurlers, Bodmin Moor

The Hurlers, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

The Hurlers are located on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Parts of three circles can be identified.

The site is in the care of English Heritage and is managed by the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

Radical Road, radical response

The Radical Road runs along the side of Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, providing panoramic views over the city of Edinburgh and its surrounding landscape.  The path, which runs steeply along the face of the Crags, gained its name from unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland who were given work to pave the track following their failed efforts during the so-called ‘Radical War’ of 1820.

This insurrection arose as social unrest by workers who were fed up with poor working and living conditions from the government. A national strike which began in Glasgow on 3rd April 1820 spread, with protest leaders arrested in different parts of the country. Executions and transportation to the colonies was the result for some of them.

Following a Royal visit to the city by King George IV in 1822, Sir Walter Scott suggested that work could be given to unemployed weavers to build a footpath around the Crags, as part of an improvement for recreation in the Royal Park surrounding the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Radical Road has, however, been closed to all access since September 2018, following a major daytime rock fall, when over 50 tonnes of loose rock landed on and around the popular pedestrian pathway.

In March 2019, there were calls in the local press to reopen the route, but it remains closed with normally temporary barriers looking like permanent features. At the time of the last press coverage, Historic Environment Scotland which manages Holyrood Park commented:

“There have been a number of substantial rock falls from Salisbury Crags onto the Radical Road and surrounding area over the last few years with increasing regularity. Following the rock fall in September 2018, and with the continued risk of further rock falls, HES took the decision to close this path and adjacent desire routes to public access. These routes will remain closed while we assess the situation with advice from our geotechnical engineers. We are very conscious of the significance of Hutton’s Section and the desire for public access to it. However at present, visitor safety is our main concern.”

A further update appeared in the media in July 2019, following a BBC Freedom of Information request. This suggested that the path could be permanently shut amid fears on continuing and increased rock falls.  Various options identified by consulting geotechincal engineers are requiring careful consideration given the high levels of visibility of the path given its height in the city’s landscape, its popularity as a recreational asset  and the fact that Holyrood Park is scheduled as an Ancient Monument requiring specific management regimes.  Given the deteriorating weather as Winter approaches, there is little prospect of access anytime soon and there have been few updates on the situation beyond the gnomic comment from Historic Environment Scotland that, “Due to the complexity of the situation, there is no specific timeframe at the moment”.

The situation in the Park is unfortunate, due to its ever-increasing popularity, the park being a superb recreational asset for the city, and desire for good viewpoints over the skyline of the city which is a key component of the Edinburgh destination image.

Such situations are likely to become more widespread  though, given climatic changes and increased incidences of freeze/thaw cycles and heavy rainfall at different parts of the year.  Balancing of access and health and safety, through risk analysis and environmental change risk modelling is high on the agenda for the heritage sector, but this is often thought of in more remote locations than the centre of the capital city.  Historic Environment Scotland is at the forefront of thinking about this – as seen in the recent Climate Change Risk Assessment for its properties in care.

In Holyrood Park however, given its high level of expected accessibility by residents and visitors, there is perhaps therefore a case for a better interpretive strategy than simple warning barriers and notices currently provided, to bring the message of environmental threats and risks to the historic environment and otherwise taken-for-granted cultural landscapes to broader attention.

 

Amusement in Aberdeenshire as newly discovered stone circle turns out to be… well, new.

There has been much amusement in the media over the past few days around the official recording of a stone circle before Christmas by archaeologists from the local council and the national heritage organisation, Historic Environment Scotland, which has turned out to be only around 25 years old.

Described earlier as a smaller variation of sites typical of the region, it was noted that is was in very good condition, and that it was surprising that the site had not been formally recorded before now. The former owner of the land, however, has recently got in touch with the officials explaining that he built the replica in the mid-1990s.

Cue much collective guffawing and some professional embarrassment – neatly summed up on the BBC’s Newsround website as, “Awks!”  The local archaeologist took to twitter noting ruefully, “If you are having an awkward day at work at least you’re not that guy who identified a new prehistoric stone circle to the press that now turns out to be about 20 years old.

A nice piece in the Scotsman this week puts this all into a wider perspective, noting that many archaeological sites of this kind remain mysterious; flags that the honesty and candour of professionals involved will do them good rather than harm; and that there is a history of making ‘new’ monuments.  The example of the Sighthill Megalith is given – and I would encourage you to read Kenny Brophy’s blog on this site, and his other investigations into the past around us in the everyday urban environment.

I agree with the Scotsman article and forsee that the site will indeed become of greater interest to visitors, and should rightly do so.  Given the ’30 year rule’ which applies to listing sites in the built environment, the site is already almost of an age where it could officially be ‘heritage’, and in due course could indeed merit protection – and why not?  It may be a site of its time, and hopefully investigation won’t stop entirely – it would be great to professionally record the motivation of the builder of this new/old site – and, as archaeologists often say, to gain an insight into the society which created it – an advantage we don’t have for sites which really are 4000 years old.

Nether Largie South Cairn

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Nether Largie South Cairn © David Gill

Nether Largie South Cairn is part of the prehistoric landscape at Kilmartin. It was excavated by Canon Greenwell in 1864. Its first phase appears to belong to the early Neolithic. Two cists were cut into the outer part of the cairn, probably ion the Early Bronze Age.

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Nether Largie Cairns, Kimartin © David Gill

 

#HeritageDay17 Glenfinnan

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Glenfinnan © David Gill

The Glenfinnan Monument, in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, marks the point where Prince Charles Edward Stewart landed in 1745. The column was erected in 1815

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Glenfinnan © David Gill

Assynt and the Northwest Highland Geopark

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Assynt © David Gill

The crowdfunding support for the Northwest Highland Geopark continues. However with only two days to go, there is still 75% of the project amount to raise.

You can support the project here.

Love the Northwest Highlands Geopark

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Suilven from Lochinver © David Gill

The Northwest Highlands Geopark is crowdfunding to support its work and maintain its UNESCO recognition.

Please support its great work in one of the outstanding landscapes of the British Isles.

Crowdfunding and NW Highlands Geopark

The NW Highlands Geopark is one of the those special places with dramatic landscapes: mountains, lochs, bogs, coastline. There is a crowdfunding exercise to support the park.

Hadrian’s Wall: Mucklebank

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Mucklebank, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

Turret 44b lies on the top of Mucklebank Crag to the east of Walltown Crags. T44b was excavated in 1892. There is a dogleg in the wall at this point: the north and west sides of the turret form the exterior. The latest occupation is indicated by a coin of the emperor Valens (364-78).

To the west of Mucklebank is Walltown Nick.

Guidebooks to Housesteads

Housesteads_MoW
1952 [5th impress. 1960]
The Roman fort at Housesteads stands at one of the most dramatic points of Hadrian’s Wall. The site was purchased by John Clayton (see also Chesters) and the fort was excavated by Robert Carr Bosanquet, a subsequent director of the British School at Athens. During the 1930s there was a major campaign to protect Hadrian’s Wall, and in 1930 the Housesteads estate was presented to The National Trust. The first guidebook to the site was written by Eric Birley (National Trust, 1936).

Housesteads_MPBW
1952 [8th impress. 1970]
In 1951 Housesteads was placed in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. Birley’s guide was revised and published as a Ministry of Works guidebook (2nd. ed. 1952). This includes sections on The Site; Historical Outline; The Fort; The Milecastle; The Settlement; and The Museum. There is a fold-out paper plan inside the back cover. This guidebook continued as a blue guide into the 1970s.

Housesteads_EH
1989

English Heritage produced by a guidebook by J.G. Crow (1989). The guide carries advertising for Gateway. This fully illustrated (but black and white) guidebook starts with a Tour of the Fort, and then moves outside: Milecastle 37; Civil settlement; Knag Burn gateway. There are then sections on Northern Britain under the Romans, and a History of Housesteads Fort, including images of Bosanquet’s excavation. It includes a reconstruction by Richard Sorrell after Alan Sorrell.

Housesteads_EH_red
2012

The current English Heritage guidebook is also by Crow (2012). It contains numerous colour photographs, plans, and historic photographs. It leads with a tour of the fort and then features outside; there is a section on ‘the fort in its landscape’. There are a number of special features including the garrison, and gambling and crime.

This is one of a series of forts on or near Hadrian’s Wall that have (mostly) English Heritage guidebooks: Wallsend, Corbridge, Chesters, and Birdoswald.