Race to save ancient fort site hit by massive fire
AN emergency meeting has been called to save an Iron Age fort in East Lothian threatened by a massive blaze which has burned for a fortnight.
Council bosses and environment watchdogs are drawing up an action plan to salvage the fort and hidden archaeological treasures on Traprain Law which may have been destroyed by the huge grass fire.
Firefighters have been battling every day for two weeks to control the fire, thought to have been sparked by a discarded cigarette, which is continuing to burn underground. The hill has been closed until fire chiefs and council bosses are sure the blaze is completely out.
East Lothian Council officials and Scottish Natural Heritage are drawing up an action plan to determine the extent of the damage to archaeological treasures and botanical life. Due to the intense heat, archaeologists from East Lothian Council and Historic Scotland have been unable to get close enough to accurately gauge the damage.
Heritage officer Biddy Simpson said she was hoping to get a team together to carry out a survey as soon as the site is safe.
She is concerned that the site has been badly damaged and the fire could have exposed new archaeological finds to the elements.
"It is really difficult to say how much damage will have been caused, but the fire will almost certainly have exposed new finds which will start to deteriorate rapidly if the ash covering them is blown away."
Patches of fire continue to flare up and it is thought only heavy rainfall will extinguish the fire completely.
Five fire crews and 28 firefighters from Haddington and East Linton stations were called out to Traprain Law when the fire broke out two weeks ago.
From Edinburgh Evening News
Posted by stubob
22nd September 2003ce
Edited 24th September 2003ce