Tarmac announce horse burial at Thornborough
A more comprehensive article appears in the Ripon Gazette:
Horses find shows that we are not riding roughshod through archaeology - Tarmac
Quarry firm Tarmac has faced bitter criticism from campaigners fighting to protect the prehistoric Thornborough Henges and has been accused of destroying archaeological remains in the same area. But nothing could be further from the truth, the company tells Lee Sobot.
Earlier this year, the skeletal remains of four horses were discovered at Nosterfield Quarry, near West Tanfield.
A fragment was sent for carbon dating in Scotland and the recently revealed results tell us that the horses date back to the Iron Age - in this case about 50AD.
The horses were lying nose to tail, suggesting something remarkably ritualistic about the find. The skeletons are now being stored at Kings Manor in York, part of the University.
Discoveries like this are rare, highly significant and of major archaeological interest.
So who discovered them? It was Tarmac, the firm that stands accused not caring about the archaeology of the area.
Tarmac say discoveries like these are proof they want to preserve archaeology, quite the opposite of destroying it.
"Quarrying in the UK has provided us with a massive amount of archaeological finds" says Mike Griffiths, the site's archaeologist employed by Tarmac.
"I have been doing this since the 1960's and I am happy to say that more archaeological information has come through quarrying than any other source".
Mr Griffiths began looking at the Nosterfield Quarry and Ladybridge Farm sites ten years ago. He is paid by Tarmac to ensure they are not quarrying land containing significant archaeology. He must also ensure any archaeology found is removed and recorded.
Over the years, field walking, test pitting, trial excavations, geophysical surveys and sieving and sampling have been among the performed by Mr Griffith's team.
The discovery of four Iron Age horses at Nosterfield Quarry proves that Tarmac and Mr Griffiths are doing their job and the skeletal remains are by far the most significant discovery on the site.
But Mr Griffiths says he can assure campaigners, including Friends of Thornborough, that similar finds are unlikely to exist at Ladybridge Farm, set to be quarried in 2006 if planning permission is granted. After years of research he says he knows best.
"The Iron Age horses are a significant find and are probably connected to the Romans," he says.
"But there is not as much archaeology here as people say. We have done the work, we have done the topsoiling and we know. I get really annoyed when people say Tarmac are not bothered about archaeology and just want to bulldoze their way through - people have misconceived what Tarmac are about."
"We strip the area first to check for archaeology and every single discovery is recorded and reported."
Mr Griffiths says that, unfairly, he and Tarmac are on a loser as regards any archaeological investigations, despite the fact that Tarmac have spent £420,000 researching the archaeology of Nosterfield Quarry and Ladybridge Farm. If archaeology is found "we told you so" will be the response from campaign groups like the Friends of Thornborough. If not, Tarmac will be seen to be quite literally, hiding the facts.
"Now we are producing the results of our archaeological studies and we are not producing the picture that people want to see," says Mr Griffiths.
"But we are producing the real picture. A lot of emotion has got into this but we are producing the facts and it is time that some of that emotion was diffused."
A huge file on the table is bursting with extensive archaeological research, and Mr Griffiths says Tarmac has stopped at nothing to ensure meticulous studying has taken place. Tarmac is now preparing to present the council with a detailed evaluation report of Ladybridge early next year. It will say there is little significant archaeology and what there is is scattered.
Rob Moore, estates manager for Tarmac Northern says "We have gone well beyond the legal requirements in our research."
As well as arguing there is little archaeology on Ladybridge Farm, Tarmac say there are numerous other reasons why quarrying on Ladybridge must go ahead, and leading them is demand.
Posted by BrigantesNation
11th October 2004ce