Eston Nab – A Response to Craig Hornby

The background to this post is a proposal by Craig Hornby to build a new monument on Eston Nab. Craig had posted his plan on the Friends of the Eston Hills (FOEH) Facebook page and invited comments. I recently posted a link to a blog on the page which prompted Craig to directly address me on the FOEH facebook page. My response to him is rather long-winded so I thought a blog post would be an appropriate reply.

Craig’s proposal can be see here 

Hi Craig,

the linked blog isn’t mine, it belongs to Mick Garratt. I posted it as I thought it would be of interest to the group.

Regarding your comments

As the proposed developer I’m sure you have read the schedule for this area and understand the level of protection that has been placed on this National Monument, but for those who haven’t, here’s an excerpt

Eston Nab is the only surviving hillfort of any date in the county of Cleveland; it is very well preserved and, although it has been subject to partial excavation, the extent of disturbance is limited and its archaeological deposits remain largely intact. Evidence relating to its construction and to the complex history of the entire hilltop as well as the nature and duration of its use will be preserved within the archaeological deposits. Evidence relating to the Bronze Age environment around the monument and of the wider landscape will also survive. The importance of this monument is enhanced by the survival of contemporary settlements and funerary monuments in the vicinity; such evidence provides a clear indication of the extent of Bronze Age settlement and activity in the area and has the potential to increase greatly our knowledge of Bronze Age society. 

NATIONAL MONUMENT NUMBER: 20870

NAME: Eston Nab hill fort, palisaded settlement and beacon

SCHEDULING REVISED ON 16th February 1993

You are proposing the construction of a structure with a footprint , I’m guessing here because it is not fully detailed on your plans, of approximately 4 x 11m. The structure, railings and footpaths will all require foundations, that is an area of destruction covering approximately 44+ square meters on a regionally important, archaeologically sensitive, National Monument. That to me is a far worse case of vandalism than anything that currently happens on the moor. Litter & burned-out cars can be removed, the moor regenerates after a fire but the deliberate and irreversible destruction of our archaeological heritage is unforgivable.

Previous excavation has shown that the land below your proposed development was occupied by people in the Bronze Age, the first Teessiders. They lived, farmed and buried their dead on this land. These were our ancestors and the moor not only carries archaeological value, it carries spiritual value, your plan you will be deliberately desecrating this ground for what? Their monument is the moor.

You’ve stated that a ‘new dig’ will be undertaken, will this dig cover the whole site? who has agreed to undertake it?

Any excavation may well reveal new findings but the process of excavation involves the destruction of the materials you are excavating, what will be left for future generations? some old dig reports and a box of finds? Over Five thousand years of intact archaeological deposits will be lost for the sake of a monument that commemorates a period of a hundred years. You talk about legacy, if your development were to go ahead, I believe it will be viewed by future generations as an act of vanity at best, ignorant and wilful vandalism at worse.

So what else can be done?

  • Situate the monument in a more appropriate place, i.e. amongst the community whose dead it commemorates.
  • A monument already exists on the site, unlike the proposed monument, this one is built of local stone by local people and is already a well-loved Teesside landmark. The existing monument is not included in the schedule and could therefore be altered, plaques erected and the whole thing rededicated to the miners. A flagpole could also be included on the existing monument.
  • Use the monies raised to create an FOEH Endowment fund to train one or two full time local wardens. As well as keeping an eye on the moor they could work with local groups and landowners on the history, ecology and archaeology of the moor much in the same way National Park wardens do.
  • Create a volunteer group to support the wardens and engage with other local groups, schools, young offenders etc.
  • Plant trees in a commemorative woodland on a less-sensitive section of the moor. One tree for each miner, each one sponsored.
  • Your film, A Century of Stone, successfully told the story of the mines and is a fitting legacy to the community of mining families who lived in Eston, it has massively raised awareness of our local mining legacy. What about the FOEH fundraising to commission a similar film to tell the full story of the hills? This will reach far more people than some words and pictures on a foreign, black granite monolith ever could. Any profits from the film can be ploughed back into FOEH.

Ultimately Craig, this is all talk, the decision whether this development should go ahead does not lie with you, me or FOEH, it lies with the people who are charged with protecting our finite, irreplaceable, fragile national monuments.

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