By Dave Gilbert
Recently a team from Red River Archaeology has been conducting field surveys in North Wales in advance and during line replacement work for the National Grid. These power lines are vital to the infrastructure of the country and cross a rich historic landscape, containing numerous archaeological sites. Part of this work has involved scheduled monument condition studies, before during and after work on the nearby pylons and lines. These surveys and monitoring were conducted to ensure that no damage was done to any of the monuments along the route of the power lines. These monuments form a significant element of the historic landscape, but what are they and why are they important?
When archaeological sites or historic monuments are considered to be of national importance, they may be scheduled. This gives them legal protection from any activity that might damage or destroy them. The legislation notes that some scheduled monuments are earthworks, some are buildings in ruins; others have no visible remains visible above ground but have significant remains buried below ground and some are submerged in lakes or coastal waters.
Scheduling does not prevent people from accessing or carrying out some routine work on the scheduled monument. However, if the work planned would disturb, remove, or destroy any part of it, then permission must be sought from Cadw for scheduled monument consent. This consent may have a number of conditions that those undertaking the work must follow, similar to a condition of planning.
The importance of scheduled monuments should not be understated. They serve as a backdrop to our daily lives and provide enormous public benefits; they enrich our environment, contribute to a sense of national identity and shared heritage, as well as providing links between the past and the present. Such monuments remind us of past people and events and help people to understand their place in the world today. It has been noted that they can also serve as a catalyst for health and well-being, learning, tourism, and community engagement activities.
For Wales, these benefits significantly contribute to the well-being goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This is a unique piece of legislation that offers a huge opportunity to make a long-lasting, positive change to current and future generations; and Red River Archaeology is very proud to be able to make a small contribution to these goals with our work.