Blagdon Local History Society Meeting : Wed 11th September 2019
North Somerset’s Heritage with Cat Lodge & Dr Kate Hudson-McAulay . by Mike Adams
Kate (above left) is the Conservation & Heritage Officer for North Somerset Council & Cat (above right) is the Senior Archaeologist . They work closely together in conserving our local heritage and also in publicising what they do by going out into the community, which includes talking to groups such as ours. They are both full-time employees, which is the exception rather than the rule plus there is a part-time Historic Environment Record (HER) Officer. It was a very interesting talk of which the following is only a partial coverage and there are many ways in which we will follow up as a society. We would encourage all our readers to follow the links at the end of this article.
Every Monday, the list of between 50 and 100 new planning applications has to be gone through and a selection made of those having implications for our heritage, and make recommendations for further work or mitigation. They stressed how important it is for them to make their presence known at as early a stage as possible in the planning process so that they can affect matters before any decisions are taken. Cat gave the example of a Roman pottery kiln in Congresbury, which was in the line of the new Bristol Water pipeline constructed from Barrow Gurney to Cheddar. While half a ton of pottery was excavated and saved, part of the site itself was irrevocably damaged by the works. The kiln has been preserved ‘by record’. Its excavation has enabled experts to define a ‘Congresbury Ware’ typology which has subsequently been identified over a wider area of the South West than previously believed.
Finds from a Roman pottery kiln in Congresbury
Worlebury Camp, an Iron Age hillfort on the northern outskirts of Weston-super-Mare, has been placed on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk Register’. This followed some voluntary work in 2016, which discovered many problems, notably the growth of trees. The site is Council-owned and Cotswold Archaeology were commissioned to undertake an archaeological condition survey, which in turn informed a Management Plan was produced by Cat. This management plan sets out objectives including removal of trees (principal threat to the archaeology), upgraded and improved signage and interpretation liaison work with local schools will be expanded so that the community learns about this very important site on their doorstep.
An Iron Age foodstore at Worlebury Camp (left)
A very early post-Roman cemetery near Yatton Rugby Club. (below)
A cemetery containing over 500 grave cuts, believed to date from the post- Roman period, was discovered recently in Yatton. The discovery was made when Bloor Homes were about to build a housing development. Excavations were undertaken in 2017 and 2018 across different parts of the site. It is commonplace in commercial archaeology not to publicise the excavation widely to avoid risking the integrity of the site. The decision attracted some criticism but the findings were showcased last month at Yatton Rugby Club as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days.
Kate told us about the Conservation and Heritage section of the Council. One of their policies is to promote the use of correct materials in building projects. For example, the pointing of brickwork is particularly important on many listed buildings, which require breathable lime mortar. Kate informed us of a new Council publication – the Shopfront Design Guide – a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) intended to be an additional policy reference for future planning applications.
Barrow Gurney has recently enjoyed some relief from the amount of through traffic following the opening of the South Bristol Link road. The historic village has been designated as a Conservation Area and some constructive work for a new pavement in the village has been done with the help of funds from Bristol Airport.
North Somerset Historic Environment Record: http://map.n-somerset.gov.uk/her.html
North Somerset Map: http://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=nsom