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7 December 2012
Ancient forts in Scotland at risk of being destroyed

An entire hill, famed for its archeological heritage and geological significance, is to be removed from the Scottish skyline to make way for a quarry under plans being considered by West Dunbartonshire Council.
     Sheep Hill, in the Kilpatrick Hills on the Clyde, is the site of ancient Bronze and Iron Age forts which local residents and experts say will be destroyed by the expansion of a stone quarry. Allowing the hill to be wiped off the map would be "an act of wanton destruction of our environment and inheritance", according to Clydebelt, a local environmental group, which is calling for Scottish ministers to intervene to save the hill.
     A proposal to revise mineral permission for an existing quarry run by a local firm near Sheep Hill is due to be discussed by West Dunbartonshire Council and has provoked fierce opposition from local groups. Silverton and Overtoun community council says digging away the hill would be irrevocable. "When Sheep Hill is gone, it is gone," said the council's Rose Harvie. "Future generations will look back and wonder how such destruction could have been permitted."
     Archaeologist Dr Euan MacKie has studied Sheep Hill since the 1960s. "It would be an act of appalling vandalism to destroy it," he said. He accused the quarry company of having little concern for the area's rich archaeological heritage, and the local authority of failing to capitalise on it.
     The quarry company, William Thompson & Son, which has extracted whinstone at its Sheep Hill quarry for decades did not respond to repeated requests to comment. A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesman said: "Sheep Hill is the site of a scheduled ancient monument. Scheduled ancient monument consent for the removal of Sheep Hill fort was granted in 2002."

Edited from The Herald Scotland (2 December 2012)

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