Saved! Furness ancient monuments removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register

Tue, 2017-10-24 11:01
This year’s ‘At Risk’ register reveals good news for Morecambe Bay’s iconic stone circle.

Three local scheduled ancient monuments, on Birkrigg Common, Ulverston, which had previously been deemed to have been ‘at risk’ by Historic England, have been saved, thanks to the work of dedicated Morecambe Bay Partnership volunteers and volunteers from Ulverston’s Branch of Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

Birkrigg’s Prehistoric stone circle, a group of features including Prehistoric enclosures and a nearby bowl barrow, together with round cairn, have been removed from Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, an annual snapshot of the health of England’s historic environment, which identifies listed buildings and scheduled monuments that are most at risk of being lost to the nation.   

Removal from the register is a significant achievement and represents the strength of feeling that local people have for protecting Morecambe Bay’s cultural heritage. 

The sites on Birkrigg Common have been saved, thanks to the heritage conservation efforts of Morecambe Bay Partnership and their team of hard-working volunteers, who have undertaken targeted vegetation clearance over the last three years. Ulverston based GlaxoSmithKilne and the National Trust have also provided invaluable support to this project, through volunteer action days and working parties.  Bracken has a destructive underground network of roots that can damage important remains, so reducing bracken growth at this important and much loved Furness site, has helped to increase the visibility of, and reduced the risk to, the important archaeological remains.

Louise Martin, Morecambe Bay Partnership’s Cultural Heritage Officer commented

“We are delighted that the work of our dedicated volunteers has made this possible and to have such a direct and important impact upon Birkrigg’s precious prehistoric sites. This has been made possible with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and this wonderful outcome could not have been achieved without the support of Historic England and the dedication of our volunteers, who have turned out in all weather to tackle the bracken that has encroached on the site for years. And it shows how, through hard work, we can protect the historic environment”

The perseverance and dedication of Morecambe Bay Partnership and their team of volunteers has been praised for helping to save the heritage gems.

Sarah Howard, Heritage at Risk Project Officer for Historic England, who has worked closely with the Partnership to guide and advise on the conservation efforts said

“Without the dedication of the Morecambe Bay Partnership team and volunteers to clear bracken on Birkrigg Common, the double ring ‘concentric’ stone circle, one of only 15 in Britain, would be almost invisible. The removal of the Birkrigg monuments from the register marks a milestone for addressing prehistoric Heritage at Risk sites in the Bay area, and the challenge now is to find a sustainable solution to keep the bracken under control.”

Councillor Graham Vincent, South Lakeland District Council’s portfolio holder for Economy and Assets, said:

“We are delighted to see that the three ancient monuments at Birkrigg Common have been removed from the ‘at risk’ register.

“This is testimony to the effective work of the Partnership and the dedication of the volunteers that have worked so hard on this project. Their efforts will ensure that these important sites can continue to be preserved and enjoyed by visitors to this wonderful part of our district.’’

Conservation work will continue on the sites in 2018, to ensure that the bracken growth is kept under control. Morecambe Bay Partnership is seeking local enthusiasts of the cherished heritage site, to form a group that will ‘Adopt’ the monument, and act as its guardians, securing its long-term future and ensuring the sites can be enjoyed by future generations.

Find out more about our project to save Birkrigg Stone Circle

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