HC Deb 12 May 1953 vol 515 cc1056-7
51. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Minister of Works why the famous long barrow at Manton Down, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, dating from about 2,000 B.C. and scheduled as an ancient monument, has been destroyed.

Mr. Eccles

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) on 5th May. The barrow was damaged in the course of agricultural operations last summer.

Mr. Fletcher

Can the Minister say when he will be able to make a further statement about what steps are being taken?

Mr. Eccles

Quite shortly, I think, but under the Ancient Monuments Act I cannot prosecute after six months have gone by, and the damage was done more than six months ago.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Minister aware that the owner is reputed to have said that he was unaware that it was an ancient monument? Is that really the case?


He should not have been unaware, because it was listed. Once an ancient monument is listed it is registered as a local land charge. It may be that we should try to put up more notices where there are ancient monuments.

Mr. Nicholson

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) on being the only man alive who can date a neolithic monument with such precision? Will he also tell the House what steps are being taken to see that such earth works are kept under constant or occasional supervision to ensure that they are not destroyed?

Mr. Eccles

In defence of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), it should be said that he got the date from the Ministry of Works: it is a very round figure. We must look into the whole question of how to protect these out-of-the-way monuments.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is it not a fact that the mere existence of a land charge would not be likely to come to the notice of owners? Could not some more direct means of notifying them be devised?

Mr. Eccles

The difficulty is that there are some 7,000 ancient monuments of this kind. To put boards up everywhere and to keep them in good order would require a lot of money and a lot of staff.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is there any risk of these notice boards being put on the House of Lords?