Burcot & Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames
The huge sand and gravel quarry proposed on rural land near Clifton Hampden would destroy the ancient archaeological features of the site that include an Early Bronze Age Bronze Age barrow cemetery (see below).
In recognition of this, an application was made last year to English Heritage for the barrow cemetery to be classified as a Scheduled Monument. The cemetery was under consideration 30 years ago but the process was not completed. English Heritage considered the application for listing carefully and made a positive recommendation to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the site’s suitability for scheduling.
Full details of the decision can be found here on the English Heritage website. To summarise the publically available information, the barrow cemetery, which can be seen as ring ditches visible as crop marks at Fullamoor Plantation, is now scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. The principal reasons for designation are:
- It has been defined as a site of NATIONAL importance and has to be protected.
- Rarity – barrow cemeteries are sufficiently rare nationally that there is a presumption in favour of scheduling those that are relatively complete and that retain archaeological remains.
- Documentation/finds – trial trenching has recovered a range of artefacts and remains related to the use of the area as a Bronze Age funerary site.
- Survival – despite the loss of upstanding barrow mounds, the ditches survive well and to significant depth, and the group itself is complete and illustrative of the dispersed cemetery form.
- Diversity – the form of the individual barrows cannot be established without further investigation of the ring ditches, but it is known that one is an unusual disk barrow, and that another is a multi-phase double ditched barrow, representing a range of approaches to Bronze Age funerary ritual.
- Potential – trial trenching has revealed that there are archaeological remains beneath the ploughed topsoil on the crop mark features, and there potential for further remains to exist between the barrows.
What does this mean for the campaign?
It’s not possible to tell yet what the exact impact and implications on the proposed development plans will be, but considerable consideration will now need to be given by the developers as to how they intend to develop the site without disturbing the newly protected area, and how their 20+ year restoration plans (for example, for a six-lane rowing lake) will be adapted to encompass the legal protection awarded to the barrow cemetery site. More information will be available on this website as and when we know more.
Reference (for designation rationale)
http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1421606. Accessed January 2015.
Autumn 2015 update
Two further applications have been made. The first is to consolidate the existing SAM into a more regular shape and incorporate some additional adjacent archaeological features. This would increase the area of the SAM from c.11 to c.14 hectares (c. +25%). It is still being considered and we are quite hopeful. The second was a new application to protect other archaeological features on the site but unfortunately was rejected. We are considering whether to appeal this decision.