HC Deb 20 December 1960 vol 632 cc1038-9
4. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Works what urgent action he will take to prevent further damage to and destruction of ancient monuments under his care, and to repair recent damage to a section of the Wansdyke, near Marlborough; and why he permitted the total destruction, by bulldozer, of a barrow on Morgan's Hill.

The Minister of Works (Lord John Hope)

The incident affecting the Wansdyke is in the hands of solicitors, and it would not be proper for me to make a statement about it at present.

The barrow at Morgan's Hill was on land belonging to the Crown Estate and, although ancient monuments on such land are not scheduled under the Ancient Monuments Acts, steps are taken to safeguard them. I understand that the destruction in this case was unauthorised and accidental, but I have arranged for those occupying Crown Estate land containing monuments to be reminded of their responsibilities towards them.

I am satisfied that the existing legislation is generally adequate to ensure the proper protection and preservation of ancient monuments.

Mr. Noel-Baker

The Minister will be aware that Wiltshire contains a larger number of these ancient monuments, especially barrows, than any other part of the country. They are a very important part of our archaeological heritage. A great many of them are rapidly disappearing, and in two or three years' time they may be entirely destroyed. Will the Minister have a careful look at this matter and perhaps consider, when the weather is better, coming to Wiltshire and looking at some of these places on the spot?

Lord John Hope

I have been to Wiltshire and looked at similar monuments, but I shall be very pleased to take advantage of the hon. Member's invitation.