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Working within Scheduled Monuments
#1
Now that Troll isn't posting much I thought it was time for someone else to start a good ranting thread. Has anyone else spent time doing crappy little jobs inside Scheduled Monuments and been a bit horrified at the way things get done. My own personal favourites have been:

Going to a major castle every couple of years to watch yet another service trench being dug, often by machine and frequently next to the area you last saw and therefore trashing the archaeology in liitle narrow, difficult ot interpret, strips.

Doing a watching brief on an extension to a house (no surprise there) but within a water filled medieval moat (Scheduled of course). All done by machine and in entirely the same way as if it had been an ordinary site.

Digging evaluation trenches!!!! in the courtyard of a medieval hospital with some standing remains to see if there is any archaeology (I would add more exclamation marks but they would never be enough).

Many of these jobs have left me and colleagues saying 'but it's a Scheduled Ancient Monument'. I'm sure other will have there own jolly little horror stories to tell.
#2
I too have a number of similar stories, where there appears to be little difference in how the site is treated between SM's and normal development site's. Who's to blame?
#3
Blame? The morons responsible for the method statements and the muppet Curators who allow them.The Secretary of State for their hands off approach too. I spent 16 months trying to stop one particular developer from trashing scheduled Monuments and listed buildings.I was confronted with their consultants who frankly had far more interest in their percentage mark-up than being professionals and, a County Mounty whose approach was "Simon, stop making things more complicated than they already are".I feel that the day we all accept that the current state of play is nothing short of contrived capitalist theft-the better off we will be.The trick is to expose these parasites in the media.They love to hide in the shadows and please Mr client like some pubescent puppy and the poke in the eye they fear the most is the exposure of their behaviour.Silent Bob-I`m stuck in the wilds in trenches unseen by living beings! Won`t be able to maintain my usual visits here but applaud anyone who feels like a rant!!! Do it! A lot!Big GrinBig GrinBig Grin


..knowledge without action is insanity and action without knowledge is vanity..(imam ghazali,ayyuhal-walad)
#4
Permissions for scheduled monuments are taken by the DCMS on the advice of English Heritage - whose advice they can accept or ignore - this is not Scotland or Wales remember. The local curator will have no input into the matter. Frequently we are presented with a scheme, however bizarre, curious or twisted, and left to come up with a specification to try and answer it in some way.

The heritage protection review will now leave scheduled monuments to be dealt with by local authorities presumably with a similar frame of reference to the DCMS on the advice of EH as there is presently with listed building applications.

Hands up who feels this offers any improvement.


#5
From Troll:
Quote:quote:Blame? The morons responsible for the method statements and the muppet Curators who allow them.The Secretary of State for their hands off approach too. I spent 16 months trying to stop one particular developer from trashing scheduled Monuments and listed buildings.I was confronted with their consultants who frankly had far more interest in their percentage mark-up than being professionals and, a County Mounty whose approach was "Simon, stop making things more complicated than they already are".
As HB correctly points out, County Mounties have no powers here - any works of the sort described are subject to Scheduled Monument Consent, granted by DCMS on the advice of English Heritage. I have made several successful applications for SMC under this procedure, and in my experience EH are quite rigorous in their consideration of the case. If the developer subsequently does anything not allowed under the consent, they are liable to prosecution - and EH have shown themselves willing to prosecute in the past.

A couple of years ago I researched what happens if EH advise against the grant of consent but the applicant nevertheless chooses to proceed with the application. At the time of my inquiry, EH and DCMS could find no records of any such case in the previous 6 years - because developers nearly always withdraw their application, or change it to satisfy EH requirements, in the face of EH objection. As it happens though, there were two cases pending at the time. One went to a full Public Inquiry (I don't know the outcome), and the other to a formal Hearing (which I attended as an observer. The application was refused).

The implication here is that, unless there was a prosecution or other enforcement action, any works of the sort described by Silent Bob and decried by Troll have probably been approved by EH and are being done to their satisfaction. Under those circumstances, there is not much that either a County curator or a Consultant could do.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
#6
I am not really blaming English Heritage. It is the way such jobs procede that irritates. The typical 'you are in the way' attitude often extends to working within large archaeological sites, which is pretty annoying when they are Scheduled. As for doing evaluations proceeding possible large scale development, it is the principle that really bothers me. If you are actually going to try to develop a Scheduled Ancient Monument (I don't really mean sites under state guardianship) then why evaluate at all? An area excavation should surely be the minimum.
#7
Presumably because the evaluation will inform one or more of the following:

  • EH's decision as to whether to advise DCMS to grant or refuse consent
  • the design of the excavation
  • the design of the development or its construction method (e.g. to reduce the impact)

All of the above have been relevant in the cases I have dealt with. Note that the evaluation itself, if it is intrusive, would require its own Scheduled Monument Consent.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
#8
Quote:quote:The morons responsible for the method statements and the muppet Curators who allow them

In Scotland, Historic Scotland are responsible for approving all applications for Scheduled Monument Consents, and the local authority curators have no involvement. We've got around that in some cases by commenting to the relevant council on the effect on the setting of the monument, but any mitigation measures that take place within a scheduled area are entirely approved by HS.


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