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14 September 2008
Cash to reveal moors ancient secrets

A 27,000 funding boost is to be used to help document the archaeological recording and research of sites unearthed following the Fylingdales Moor (North Yorkshire, England) fire in September 2003. The project, which is being funded by English Heritage, will also be used to produce advice on lessons learnt from the fire and subsequent restoration projects as well as guidance on disaster planning for moorland environments which contain historic sites.
     It will be managed by the North York Moors National Park Authority and Blaise Vyner, an experienced local archaeologist and private consultant who has been involved in the site since the initial post-fire archaeological survey, will carry out the project. Although devastating, the fire uncovered a huge concentration of previously unknown archaeological sites dating from the early prehistoric era through to Second World War practice trenches.
     After a rapid period of archaeological recording and mapping of the sites, a programme of regeneration was carried out to prevent further damage to the moorland from erosion by wind and rain. This is now considerably advanced with a healthy covering of heather and other vegetation on the moor and little remaining signs of fire damage.
     Graham Lee, the national park authority's senior archaeological conservation officer, said: "As the moorland regenerates, the archaeological sites are being covered so it is important we draw together all the information gleaned from these sites for interested parties to access and learn from at a later stage. We also need to look back at lessons learnt so we can provide advice to others looking to develop counter-disaster proposals for the management of moorland rich in archaeological or cultural heritage features."
     Dave Went, project officer with English Heritage, added: "The Fylingdales fire opened up a whole new chapter in our understanding of the history of the moor. But it also presented huge challenges to the archaeologists who had to respond by recording this new evidence quickly and effectively and by making sure all the right steps were taken for the long-term preservation of the remains."

Source: Whitby Gazette (22 August 2008)

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