The Countryside's Hidden Past

A new report on how to conserve existing ancient sites in Britain

The interests of the archaeologist and the farmer or property developer whose land may cover ancient monuments or artefacts have often been represented as at odds. Growing awareness of the importance and kudos to be gained by preservation of the latter has led to a merciful diminishing in recent years of deliberate destruction or vandalism.

But with knowledge about and care of ancient sites dispersed in England and Wales among a variety of different councils, heritage groups, archaeological trusts and voluntary bodies, the greater dangers lie still in damage or erosion through ignorance or lack of coordinated activity. 'Rescue archaeology' – the race against time to record and excavate sites threatened by road or building development – has caught most of the headlines of late, but the need to conserve existing areas threatened by less dramatic erosion is great also.

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