Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.....

Undisturbed since the Bronze Age, the Brownslade burial barrow in South Pembrokeshire is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Until exhumations by badgers threatened its sanctity - and its contents.
In 2001 range staff noticed human bones on the ground close to the designated area and that Badgers living in the area were disturbing the bones. Action was required to prevent further disturbance and stop the badgers reaching the protected area. The project involved arranging for licences to resettle the badgers, constructing a new sett, working with specialist ecologists to ensure that all the badgers had moved and then arranging for archaeologists to carry out excavation.

The project to protect the site, which happens to be on MOD land, from further damage by badgers, has won the MOD's annual Sanctuary Awards. The Awards are held to recognise both groups and individual efforts towards conservation of MOD land in the UK or overseas. They are run by MOD's Defence Estates. The story is covered by Defence News who comment:
At the Awards ceremony held today 17 October 2007, at London's Imperial War Museum, the Sanctuary Award and Silver Otter trophy was presented to the South Pembrokeshire Ranges Recording Advisory Group (SPRRAG) for their work in preserving the Brownslade Barrow archaeological monument at Castlemartin Range and resettling a large badger population in the area.
This is not the first time we have reported considerable damage to life and limb - both current, or, as in the case of this Bronze Age burial site and the Salisbury Plain excavations which saw ancient bones turfed out, past. Badgers dig. And they are not too fussy where, particularly if their traditional setts get a tad overcrowded. We wonder how long the burial mound at Brownslade will remain out of (badger) bounds? If the road into Dargate is any guide, the badger conservationists and the MOD will have a job next year, and the next year, and ......

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