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14 May 2005
Gravel extraction threatens a Welsh valley rich in archaeology

An expert called for a halt on planned gravel extraction in a Welsh valley rich in archaeology. Professor Simon Haslett, from Bath Spa University College, said the range of finds he had unearthed told a previously unknown story of more than 7,000 years of human history in the Olway valley between Monmouth and Usk.
     In just a short excavation in a small trench, Prof Haslett found neolithic flint tools and the possible site of a major Roman road. However, the site has been earmarked for quarrying by Monmouthshire County Council on behalf of the Government. But Prof Haslett said there were too many unanswered questions and more had to be done to discover what other archaeological riches lie under the soil. "If we have to extract gravel from the flood plain then first of all it requires extensive archaeological surveying, " he said. "A lot of archaeology could be lost if gravel extraction went ahead and bulldozers came in and indiscriminately dug up the valley. Prof Haslett said he hoped local archaeologists would take up the baton and lead the way in discovering what finds were there and what story it could tell about the area. No one from Monmouthshire Council was available for comment.
     Recent research, particularly in the Somerset Levels, has led archaeologists to focus their attention to the lowlands, away from obvious sites like hill forts, he said. Prof Haslett, the university's head of geography, carried out the dig in 2002 but has only recently confirmed all his discoveries. His main focus was to look at the effect of the Ice Age on the river valley but said that as he dug deeper, the archaeology came up easily in steady layers from Victorian times through to the Stone Age.

Source: Western Daily Press (14 May 2005)

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