|16 January 2014
Priddy Circles update
In May 2011, large-scale damage was done to one of the four Priddy Circles - a group of large, circular earthworks of prehistoric date in Somerset, southwest England - when a bulldozer was used to make a track through the Scheduled Monument, destroying part of the embankment and leaving deep ruts in the ground.
In October 2012, Mr Penny - owner of the land on which Priddy Circle One is located - pleaded guilty to carrying out the unauthorised works, and agreed to pay for repairs to the monument and other mitigation works, at a cost of around 38,000 pounds. He was also fined, and ordered to pay court costs. In addition, Mr Penny signed a Voluntary Agreement committing him to funding a package of 'reinstatement' works to be approved by English Heritage.
Given the significance of the Priddy Circles, English Heritage felt that the damage should not be repaired without some archaeological investigation taking place. A programme of assessment and evaluation therefore took place over the spring and summer of 2013, including a geophysical survey of the damaged parts of the site. An archaeological excavation was then done in September and October.
Post-excavation analysis and recording are currently underway, and the results will be published in due course. It is hoped they will advance our knowledge and understanding of this rare and early monument type, and help inform management decisions for the Priddy Circles and similar monuments.
The final part of the reinstatement works is due to take place early in 2014, when some reconstruction of the embankment will restore some of the form and legibility of the circle, as well as cover and protect important Neolithic archaeology which had been left exposed by the damage.
Edited from Heritage News (9 January 2014), English Heritage (2013)
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