Small Woodland Owners' Group

Scheduled Ancient Monument

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby adam » Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:35 pm

Hi,

If anyone on this forum has a scheduled ancient monument within their woodland, I'd be very interested to hear your experiences of how this has or has not impacted your ownership and management. I'm very tempted by a lovely looking woodland that apparently has an iron age fort in it.

Thanks,
Adam.
adam
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:40 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby oldclaypaws » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:10 pm

As Chair of my local history society and a coin collector with some experience of detecting, I'm familiar by degrees with the regulations governing scheduled monuments. From a practical woodland management point of view, I can't see it making any huge differences to normal forestry operations or activities, provided you don't disturb below the ground surface. Felling and replanting trees shouldn't be an issue, but in addition to felling licences any plans will need to be passed by English Heritage. It would be worth while ringing the local office prior to purchase and enquiring how sensitive this site is and whether that would impact on woodland activity. You wouldn't be allowed to dig any trenches or for example put in heavy equipment to make new tracks as this could disturb the archaeology. The only people allowed to dig on the site are licensed archaeologists, this is unlikely to happen. If its known to be an important site, it'll probably have already been surveyed and to do so again will need your consent.

If its a really nice wood, the fact its scheduled shouldn't necessarily put you off. The only irritation you might have to put up with is there is a low-life species called 'nighthawks', that is to say detectorists who ignore the law and deliberately target scheduled sites, usually during the darkness hours to avoid discovery - theres a small possibility if the monument appears on maps, it could draw the occasional intruder drawn to 'treasure'.

Personally, I'd love a hill fort woodland. Mine probably isn't (or not recorded as such), although its surrounded by unusually high banks, on a defensive ridge with a commanding view of the valley & near a water source, which did excite a local historian- he thought it might be a Roman camp. (unlikely).

If you like it, I can see no sensible reason not to go for it, subject to checking with the local English heritage or County Archaeologists Office that usual low impact forestry is acceptable on the site. The vendor might already have documentation or correspondence about the particular site from the authorities, offering further historic information and possibly guidelines about what activities and agricultural practices are appropriate there. Many ancient sites are wooded, it just takes a little more sensitive management to ensure the archaeology is protected, after all its probably been there for over 2000 years and is part of our heritage. Roughly which region of the country is it in and what trees are on it?

Link to useful bumph here;

https://www.gov.uk/sites-of-special-scientific-interest-and-historical-monuments
oldclaypaws
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:13 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby adam » Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:23 pm

Thanks ... that was a very helpful reply :-)

The woodland is (just) into South Wales so would come under CADW. Agent suggests that the current owner has not done any work to the site so not engaged with CADW ... that fits with what I know of the site as I don't think there are any tracks/paths etc into woodland, just around it.

So there's a fairly densely packed mix of beech, ash, oak and conifer with access being the biggest challenge. A large part of the appeal is that it is only about 2 miles from my house compared to my current woodland at about 40 miles away. I have the idea that I could end up running little quad instead of a 4x4 and getting to visit more often. I kind of like the idea of the hill fort being there but need to think some more about if that would stop me trying to (sensitively) clear some small tracks for access.

Thanks,
Adam.
adam
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:40 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby oldclaypaws » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:29 am

As you'll probably know, if its an Iron age fort they usually consist of a series of concentric defensive ditch & wall rings, if its well preserved and you do a circular walk on top of the outermost wall, you should at some point come across a 'gap' in the wall, which will be the entrance. Follow this cut through the walls and ditches up to the top, and you've got a pre-made track up to the top. Occasionally they meandered between the walls, such as at Maiden Castle, but more usually its a single cut to the top, maybe with side ramparts.

hillfort600.png


The peak of hillfort building was in the Bronze / Celtic age, the millennium before the Romans. They fell into disuse during the Roman occupation of the first 5 centuries AD, as apart from the occasional rebellion the country was fairly peaceful and demilitarised. Many were then reused in the 'dark ages' from the mid 5th Century, when the Romans legions were recalled to defend the collapsing Empire, leaving Britain undefended. The Welsh borders were a hot-spot of conflict and forts were very likely to have been reused at this point, so I reckon your fort may have been reused between the 5th-8th Centuries. Firstly, the native Romano-Celts retreated West to Wales & Cornwall in face of the invading pagan Anglo Saxons (which is why the Welsh are the original natives, the English are more recent German arrivals). The Arthurian legends grew in the Welsh borders at this time, possibly from resistance by a Roman Christian general called Ambrosius Aurelianus. 'Camelot' was probably Cadbury Castle near us in Somerset, another reused hillfort.

Later on in the 8th Century there was trouble again in your bit, particularly from the aggressive expansion by Offa of Mercia, he fell out with the Welsh and just about everyone else. Its quite likely your fort was occupied at this time, so it might contain late dark age goodies, but most likely just exciting things like odd post holes and waste pits.

If you get it, do as much (academic) research as you can, although there's very little known about the history of the region from the dark ages, there are very few contemporary accounts. There might have been historic descriptions, surveys or folklore though. Place names can be quite a clue linking into historic events or characters, for example Oswestry is supposedly the site of where Oswald of Northumbria was lashed to a tree and dismembered. Nice. The trees are likely to be stabilising the soil and preventing erosion, so maintaining it as a wood is probably good for it. If theres the odd fallen tree, see if anything turns up in the root hole, but don't be tempted to get a metal detector and go digging, it would be illegal and you'd just cause damage- it needs a professional archaeologist to know what to look for or else its destroyed. You could try and get someone to do a Lidar survey, where a remote plane or drone maps the surface and produces a 3D map.

Its great to have a wood within a couple of miles, you can go every day and develop a real affinity with it. Your thinking is sound, mix of trees sounds good too. Mine is 3 miles away, one of its best features for us.

Have fun.
oldclaypaws
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:13 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby Meadowcopse » Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:55 am

This criminal case failed near me...
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/allowed-bulldoze-offas-dyke-because-7214632

Although most of the reports at the time go a bit 'Daily Mail' regarding the person responsible - a story from behind the scenes and under reported, is that the Seller (living very near by), the respective legal parties involved in the plot sale and purchase and Sales Documents and Land Registry documentation and any searches (if performed), would point to a systematic failing of attention being drawn to a Scheduled Ancient Monument on the plot. (Unless of course there was a reluctance or impracticality to potential prosecution or regulatory proceedings of legal and admin staff associated with the sale and purchase).

I know in my last job that the phrase "ignorance shall not be a defence" was written into various acts and regulations I had to comply with....
Meadowcopse
 
Posts: 207
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:13 am
Location: Cheshire

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby oldclaypaws » Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:06 pm

An unfortunate episode, although there is a lot of it left and it is at the end of the day a bank and ditch. Our protection of archaeology is a recent phenomenon and the UK has its fair share of cultural vandalism. Half the farmhouses of Southern Northumberland include bits of Hadrian's Wall- a good free source of stone for centuries. Henry VIII and Cromwell's soldiers deliberately smashed up hundreds of our best medieval churches and cathedrals. Stonehenge was 'reconstructed' using concrete and heavy lifting gear in the 1950's ! An episode hushed up by English Heritage (don't tell the visitors, they think its been like this for 4000 years).

restavraciya-0095.jpg


Not sure who the award for greatest archaeological vandalism should go to. Lord Elgin caused huge structural damage to the Parthenon when he was cutting the best marble bits off it to redecorate his mansion in Scotland, although this is minor compared to when the Venetians blew the roof off it in the 17th Century while bombarding Athens. Prior to that time it was largely intact, but being used by the Ottomans as a gunpowder store. Boom !

Not sure who the current award should go to. The Taliban did quite a good job on the Buddhas of Bamiyan with dynamite, and Isis have been well busy blowing up mosques and shrines, but my nominee for vandals of the Century goes to the Saudi Government. They've virtually demolished all of historic Mecca, which is a 1400 year old world heritage site, and are replacing it with huge bad taste hotels and shopping malls. There's even a debate over digging up Mohammed and reburying him in an anonymous unmarked grave- they've already done it with his father. They'll probably put a McDonalds or Range Rover Dealership on top of where he used to be.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-destruction-of-mecca-saudi-hardliners-are-wiping-out-their-own-heritage-304029.html
oldclaypaws
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:13 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby adam » Fri Feb 06, 2015 9:53 pm

Well, it took a while but Wilcrick Hill is now ours :-) Although looking at all the jobs that need doing as I walked the dog round there today I am starting to wonder if I own it or it owns me !

The sad part is that I probably need to think soon about selling my other woodland near Dursley ... not sure I'm quite mentally ready for that but I suspect that very soon I'll be struggling to find the time for 2 woodlands :-(

Adam.
adam
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:40 pm

Re: Scheduled Ancient Monument

Postby oldclaypaws » Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:03 pm

We've PM'ed quite a bit as you discreetly progressed the sale but delighted that you've completed, it sounds very special and glad to have been of 'umble assistance.

You've ended up with a very special wood at a very good price, congrats. Not at all jealous. :mrgreen:

Daubing my woad in prep for a visit.
oldclaypaws
 
Posts: 1132
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:13 pm


Return to All things legal

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest

cron