Kent Archaeological Review extract

Field Monuments Act 1972.
by J Ashley Ailes.
(University of Kent Group.)

Much concern is currently being felt about the damage caused to sites of archaeological interest by deep ploughing. In many areas land has been put under the plough in the past two or three years which has not previously been ploughed this century. Obviously deep ploughing will expose new sites: for example, locally new ploughing revealed and partially damaged the tile kiln site at Tyler Hill, excavated by Duncan Harrington and the University Archaeology Society in 1971 (KAR Number 26). Perhaps more importantly, however, it is also certain to severely damage many known sites. A pilot study carried out by the Department of the Environment in Wiltshire showed that of 640 small "field monuments" (burial mounds, etc.) well over half have been damaged during the past ten years (Hansard, House of Lords Debate November 16th, 1971).

Following a recommendation of the Field Monuments Committee, chaired by Sir David Walsh, a Bill was introduced into the House of Lords to enable the Department to make payments to occupiers of land on which field monuments are situated, in consideration of the occupier making an agreement about the maintenance or preservation of the site. The Bill was granted Royal Assent on July 27th, 1972 and became the Field Monuments Act 1972.

It is to be hoped that many farmers will take the opportunity to make these "acknowledgement payment agreements" in the cases where this Act applies. If the payments are reasonably generous it may at last cease to be an awkward liability for a farmer to have a listed field monument on his land. A figure of 150,000 per annum has been proposed for these payments.

The payments can only be made in respect of field monuments listed by the Department of the Environment under Section 12 of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913, or those under notice of an intention to be included on the list, and which are in the opinion of the Minister liable to be injured in the course of agriculture or forestry. This means that only about 8,000 of the 100,000 field monuments known will be covered by this Act at all. See Footnote [1]

In view of the amount of damage likely to occur to hill forts, field systems, deserted villages and burial mounds from modern ploughing, this Act, although welcome, seems sadly inadequate, unless the number of listed monuments is greatly increased to include many sites at present without protection.

Footnote 1.

Hansard November 16th 1971. House of Lords debate on second reading Return to the paragraph.
Close Window
Accessed this page via search engine or bookmark? Full K A R Index here.