Members from the Kernow Branch of the Celtic League joined forces with representatives from other organisations on Friday (5th August, 2011), at a meeting with English Heritage and English Nature following allegations of the mismanagement of a site of historic interest in the west of Cornwall.
The Kernow Branch was contacted by Save Penwith Moors (SPM) last month to ask for assistance in their campaign to prevent damage that they alleged was being abused and mismanaged by English Heritage and English Nature to the Tregeseal stone circle on Penwith common. English Heritage and English Nature had allegedly allowed cattle that were not common to the area to graze the site, and subsequent damage to the Tregeseal stone circle had been caused, because the cattle were using the standing stones as scratching posts.
Nick Russell of English Heritage and Peter Bawden of English Nature met with the Kernow Branch, Save Penwith Moors (SPM), the Cornwall Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN), local farmers and residents, to defend the allegations after the Kernow Branch contacted the press with film footage of the cattle damaging the stones and making a series of freedom of information act requests, asking who had given the English quango’s permission to graze cattle on common land and to erect barbed wire fences in some cases. Mr Russell admitted that cattle had been responsible for causing damage to the stones despite earlier denials amid previous suggestions that some of the damage had been caused by badgers.
The meeting occurred on the Tregeseal site and even though no cattle were on the land at the time, the branch photographed the area and collected evidence of the damage. As a consequence of the meeting the beginnings of a solution were agreed upon, which included the establishment of an action plan where in the medium term smaller animals would be allowed onto the moorland area, a slightly enlarged grass areas would be opened up for grazing, proper scratching posts would be established and some of the barbed wire fencing would be removed and replaced with a more suitable material.
Speaking after the meeting local campaigner and archaeologist Craig Weatherhill, thanked the Celtic League for their involvement by jointly arranging the site meeting, accessing useful information for the campaigners and generally raising the profile of the campaign. Chris Webber of the Kernow Branch later reported to the branch:
“Cornwall’s unique heritage needs protecting and I was pleased to visit the site and to see and document some of the effects of cattle damage.
“It was interesting to hear that despite earlier denials, there was a clear admission that cattle licensed by English Nature to use the area had indeed caused the damage and that the start of a solution has been agreed. English Heritage seem keen to pass over custodianship of these sites to a more locally based organisation and that can only be a good thing, because they are too distant to be effective and do not seem to understand the importance of these places to the people of Cornwall.
“Representatives of both the English quangoes have said that their organisations are inappropriately named and we have that on record. We in the League are pleased to support Save Penwith Moors and others and have offered to continue to do so. Meanwhile we will call upon Cornwall Council to ask for a Cornish based heritage organisation.”
For further information on the branch’s involvement in the campaign, please contact Branch Secretary Mike Chappell on:
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information