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8 January 2005
Society to challenge ancient stone cover-up decision

Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society may challenge the decision to deny it the chance to display an important archaeological discovery. The society was disappointed to miss out on a significant carved stone, more than 4,000 years old, which was found on the North York Moors near Fylingdales. The stone was one of thousands of archaeological remains exposed by a major fire on the moors last year and archaeologists believe it is of national importance. Unlike other rock art from the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age, the piece of sandstone features a geometric design and experts are speculating whether it might be a map or a landscape picture.
     Since the fire in September last year, conservationists have been working to restore the landscape to its original condition.  As well as preserving the ecology of the area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the work is intended to protect the artefacts and earthworks from erosion by the weather. These efforts will continue for some months but the carved stone already has been returned to the earth where it was found. Before this was done archaeologists laser-scanned and photographed it.
     However, some historians are arguing the stone should have been put on display and are disappointed not to have been consulted. Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society chairman Fred Payne discussed the matter. "We feel it should be exposed, rather than buried again," said Mr Payne. "It should be on display, and in Yorkshire, if not in Whitby then at the Yorkshire Museum in York. To my knowledge, no-one locally was consulted."
     Peter Barfoot, English Heritage's head of advisory services, said the laser-scanned image showed more detail on the stone than could be seen with the naked eye. Many other carved stones excavated nearby were also scanned and returned to the ground.

Source: Whitby Today (7 January 2005)

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