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Archaeo News 

23 April 2003
Achavanich circle damaged by lay-by

Highland Council workers were preparing to tarmac over historic ruins to create a lay-by for visitors to the standing stones at Achavanich, a 4000-year-old ancient monument near Lybster (Scotland), before a concerned local historian pointed out the gaffe to embarrassed council chiefs.
     Work ground to a halt while Historic Scotland assessed the damage and the local authority employed an archaeologist to ensure work can continue without further damage to the site. The project was funded by the Highland Council’s Scottish Executive windfall, and it was hoped the lay-by would provide “safe and convenient” access for the public to reach the ancient monument.
     Ian Hargrave, acting Caithness area manager, revealed that the Highland Council believed the scheduled monumental site stopped at the fence, in off the roadside, when in fact it extends to the edge of the road. “Historic Scotland has examined the site and an archaeologist consultant has been engaged to ensure the project can be completed.
     The council did not need planning permission for the project because it falls under the auspices of the roads authority. However, Richard Guest, the area transport, environmental and community services manager, admitted it would have been wise to consult Historic Scotland over the plans. Mr Guest added that an initial report by the archaeologist employed by the council suggested that the area dug up by the council to lay the foundations for the lay-by did not hold anything of archaeological importance.
     However, an Historic Scotland spokeswoman said she believes the site destroyed by the council is part of the unusual horseshoe-shaped arrangement of small standing stones at Achavanich. She added: “Fortunately the damage was minimal.”

Source: John O'Groat Journal

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