| 6 March 2005
Iron Age fort threatened by planned coal mines
Plans to opencast a stretch of the Dearne Valley in Barnsley (South Yorkshire, England) should be halted until an Iron Age fort is located and preserved, councillors have said. Coun Michael Stokes said a full survey should be conducted to locate the ancient settlement, which is on the banks of the River Dearne, before UK Coal started 'tearing up' parts of the valley. He first learned of the remains of the fort in the 1980s when he was involved in the derelict land reclamation of the area. He said he was told about it by academics from York University, which was responsible for all archaeological sites in the West Riding. But they would not release details of its whereabouts fearing it would become a target for vandals.
UK Coal owns much of the valley from Low Barugh to Smithies. The firm has identified seven small areas that it wants to mine. Work has already started at one area off Dearne Hall Road, but all other sites still require planning permission. Coun Stokes said: "We need to know where the fort is before they start tearing up parts of the valley and the way to do that is to have a full archaeological survey. Unfortunately the university would not release the whereabouts of this fort as it feared it would become a target for vandals and would be better off left buried."
The area also contained sites that related to Barnsley's industrial heritage and they needed to be documented and if possible protected, he added. A spokesman for UK Coal said they always undertook archaeological surveys before worked commenced to identify and preserve historic remains.
Source: Sheffield Today (1 march 2005)
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