| 4 February 2007
Prehistoric Welsh site development fears
Experts and residents near an Anglesey archaeological site (Wales), earmarked for a hotel and commercial complex, claim it is in danger of being lost forever. Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies has ordered the development of Ty Mawr on the outskirts of Holyhead, saying it is crucial to regeneration there. But there are concerns that historical finds may still lie uncovered there.
The assembly government said the development was a "high priority" to counter job losses in the area. Ty Mawr has a number of important scheduled monuments including the Trefignath Burial chamber. An archaeological assessment is going on at Ty Mawr before development work gets underway.
Neil Johnstone, an archaeologist with the regeneration agency Menter Mon, said that significant finds have already been found in the area and there could be more. He said: "On Anglesey, what they'll find, by and large, reflects the fact that it was a rural society for most of its existence so they're likely to find evidence of where people lived. Possibly prehistoric or even medieval remains of houses and possibly something about their religion and ritual. Burials have turned up in this part of Anglesey before now."
The main interest at Ty Mawr is a roundhouse settlement, probably dating from the later prehistoric/Romano British period. Work on that has not yet started so its significance has not yet been properly evaluated. Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, the site's supervisors, said "some interesting enigmatic features have come up which look to be prehistoric but will need confirming by scientific dating".
When planning consent was granted for the site, one conditions was that an archaeological assessment be conducted. This concluded that construction must be shown as "absolutely vital" to justify such a major archaeological loss. But one local resident and objector Simon Mills said, in his view, the site was being 'despoiled' and questioned the way the assembly government manages Wales' historic heritage.
He said: "It seems planning has been given and part of the requirement was to do the archaeological survey. If the archaeological survey was done beforehand then artefacts that are brought to light could help save the site and allow the development to go ahead on a non-important site."
Enterprise minister Andrew Davies said the Ty Mawr development was crucial to the future economic well-being of Holyhead and that a management plan drawn up by a team of archaeological consultants would protect whatever was found.
Source: BBC News (28 January 2007)
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