| 2 April 2004
Scottish film studio plans threaten ancient sites
Plans for a massive film studio and housing development at Aberuthven in Perthshire, Scotland, have placed under threat an area rich in ancient sites. Qullico 100 has submitted plans for the huge complex which will not only impact on local archaeology, but will also dwarf the existing village.
The proposed studio site is bound to the north by the River Earn, and to the south by the village of Aberuthven. In this relatively small area is to be found an extensive complex of prehistoric ceremonial and funerary monuments, suggesting this site was an important ritual centre over thousands of years.
The most visible remains of this complex is a 2 metre high standing stone, known alternately as Haugh of Aberuthven or Belhie, dated to 3000 BCE and standing on the edge of a 22 metre wide enclosure defined by a 2 metre wide ditch, identified as a probable henge. A few metres to the north-east is a penannular ring-ditch of 8 metres diameter, which has been been identified as a possible "mini-henge".
Both these sites have been scheduled by Historic Scotland, and as such will have a protective "buffer zone" around them during any development work. However, while these sites won't be destroyed, their aspect and ambience will be dramatically altered - currently at the centre of a field, the plans will see them hemmed in on all sides by 2 car parks, a golf clubhouse and a hotel.
Also scheduled is the Drumtogle enclosure at the north-east end of the village, which under the proposed plans will end up sandwiched between two busy roads. Amongst the other sites under threat are the remains of a four-poster stone circle, a Class I henge, an enclosed cremation cemetery, a barrow, a probable palisaded homestead, several ring-ditches, pits and enclosures, not to mention numerous crop-marks - linear and scattered - whose significance has yet to be established.
Because many of these sites are sub-surface archaeology or only visible as crop-marks, the potential impact on them from the excavation and construction processes is total destruction.
Following the first application by Qullico 100 in February 2003, local residents set up ACT (Aberuthven Community Threatened). Bill Fyfe of ACT said "The village at present consists of 130 houses and has a population of 300 people. The proposed development is to add 606 houses which would result in approximately 1500 more residents. We felt the need to pool our resources to fight the development and our chosen way of life."
The local authority, Perth & Kinross Council, have so far received over 450 letters of objection to the development. Anyone concerned by the proposed plans and their impact on the local environment should write, expressing those concerns, to:
Mr Ian Sleith
Planning and Development Director
Perth & Kinross Council
35 Kinnoull Street
Letters will be accepted up until the planning meeting in June or July.
Source: Andy Sweet (2 April 2004)
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