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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Medieval find may delay new housing estate in west Cumbria

A medieval crosshead and ancient railways could delay plans for a major housing development at Workington.

Thomas Armstrong (Construction) Ltd want to build up to 80 homes on land to the north of Main Road, High Harrington.

But Jeremy Parsons, the county council’s historic environment officer, has recommended that an archaeological evaluation is carried out “prior to the determination of the application” after a host of ancient finds were discovered nearby.

According to a report submitted to Allerdale, discoveries within a 1km radius include:

  • The foundations of a 12th century tower,
  • A stretch of the Cleator and Workington railway,
  • The remains of Harrington rope factory,
  • Roman coins,
  • A former gasworks,
  • Iron Age ditches.

The site is not far from a legally protected Iron Hill fort and a number of important finds, including Roman coins and Viking Age cross fragments, have been discovered nearby.

Mr Parsons said: “Our records and the archaeological desk-based assessment commissioned by the applicant indicate that the proposed development lies within an area of high archaeological importance.

“It is located 200m from a legally protected Scheduled Monument of an Iron Age settlement and the desk-based assessment notes that the site is on similar high ground to that of the Iron Age remains.

“It is therefore considered that archaeological remains similar to those of the nearby Scheduled Monument may be on the site and so possibly be of such significance as to warrant preservation.

“Any such remains are likely to be damaged by the proposed development.

Wardell Armstrong Archaeology Ltd has also recommended that a “programme of archaeological work in the form of a geophysical survey.”

The surrounding area has also proved to be particularly rich in archaeological finds.

A fragment of a Roman altar was found in 1885 during restoration work at St Mary’s Church.

The upper part of a Viking Age cross has also been discovered at nearby Ellerbank.

Experts also believe that the earliest settlement in High Harrington may have been here.

Fiona Wooler, of Wardell Armstrong, who wrote the archaeological assessment, suggested that any archaeological features revealed by the survey would be investigated by digging of “targeted trenches.”

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