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'Don't desecrate the chieftain's grave'

Article in the 'Craven Herald & Pioneer'- March 23 2009

Modern cairns built by Dales hikers will be dismantled this weekend under plans to preserve a Bronze Age chieftain's burial site.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has organised the initiative after expressing fears that walkers have unwittingly used rocks from the ancient burial mound to build new landmarks.

Now local archaeologist Yvonne Luke and Dales volunteers plan to dismantle the cairns and all but one of the windbreaks at Beamsley Beacon, near Bolton Abbey.

Robert White, senior conservation officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "There are problems at a number of historically-important sites in the national park, including Beamsley Beacon.

"During the Bronze Age, some 4,500 years ago, a large stone mound was built there, probably to mark the burial place of a local chieftain and as a boundary marker. "Much of this cairn, now about 11 metres in diameter, still survives, but in recent years it has suffered a lot of disturbance due to people using stones from it to make modern cairns and windbreaks. Another smaller historic cairn lies further along the ridge at Old Pike and that has also lost some of its stones.

"We would urge walkers to resist the temptation to pick up stones and build cairns – wherever they are – because they can unwittingly damage ancient, historically-important sites like this stone mound."

Walkers have always appreciated the good views at Beamsley Beacon. Its name, recorded in 1667, suggests it was used as part of a signalling system using fires. In 1804, during the Napoleonic wars, the beacon was refurbished and a guardhouse was constructed to shelter the beacon keeper.

Unfortunately, the stone foundations of this building are also suffering from modern stone moving.

A temporary poster urging people not to build cairns and explaining why will be put up on the concrete triangulation point and will eventually be replaced by a permanent interpretation panel.

A detailed archaeological survey of the hilltop has been done and Mr White and his team are appealing for old photographs of the site.

Contact Mr White or members of the Historic Environment Team on 0300 456 0030.
caealun Posted by caealun
23rd March 2009ce
Edited 24th March 2009ce

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