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The Archaeology of Greenwich Park: NOGOE's case
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The Archaeology of Greenwich Park: NOGOE's case

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  • 1. The extent of the Roman presence on the eastern side of Greenwich Park is unknown. Excavation has shown that there was a building on the temple mound and other buildings a short distance away but it is not known how far the complex extended. Antiquarian and OS map evidence suggests however that occupation may have stretched beyond the park walls to the east and at least as far as the flower gardens to the south. PROTECTION OF THE ROMAN ARCHAEOLOGY of GREENWICH PARK NOGOE are concerned that proposals contained in the latest planning appliction put before Greenwich Council by LOCOG do not adequately protect the Roman archaeology of the Park. Our reasons are as follows:
  • 2. TempleMound Results for these trenches were not properly recorded but the Kentish Mercury reported that Roman material had been found here in March 1906 Coin of Constantine found here (SMR No) Italo/Roman bronze bowl found here (SMR No.) Coin of Mark Antony found approx here in 1902 (Webster) 2 coins of the ICENI found approx here (SMR No.) Roman stone coffin found someewhere in Flower Gardens, possibly here (GAS Trans) Roman remains found prior to 1867 behind houses in Vanbrugh Park. (OS map of 1894) Roman pottery found when houses built in Westcombe Park Road John Roan School There is evidence that buildings on the temple site had some kind of official function. If so then they are likely to have been approached by a road which will have crossed this corner in some as yet unknown direction. Flower Gardens :Source of map: LOCOG
  • 3. Archaeological excavations carried out in recent years (1978 and 1999) were of limited extent and duration, the latter lasting only 3 days. The position of the trenches was somewhat arbitrary, determined largely by guesswork, yet most contained Roman artefacts of one kind or another. The supposition must be that further trenches would have revealed further Roman material. Small valley beside the temple mound Temple Mound Plan of trenches dug in 1978 and 1999 Source: B. Wallower, The London Archaeologist, 2002
  • 4. The area that was partially excavated in 1978 and 1999 has recently been Scheduled and in this planning application is referred to as ‘the monument’ Its boundary is shown here by the red line. Since its boundary represents nothing more than the fact that the ground within it has been excavated and found to contain important Roman material the monument is, ironically, less archaeologically sensitive than the area adjacent. Within it some of the portable artefacts have been removed whereas outside is still unexplored and intact. It would be illogical to suppose that the monument represents the limits of the archaeology. On the contrary, its boundary is determined solely by the somewhat arbitary decisions made by archaeologists on the positioning of the trenches. To the north archaeological material will have fallen into the small valley small valley
  • 5. The application contains a proposal to place this temporary spectator stand in the vicinity of the Temple Mound. It appears to hold 230 people and must therefore weigh something approaching 20 tons. The specification describes it as ‘ground bearing’ although the meaning of this term is unclear. We are concerned primarily about its weight but also any fixings that may be needed to secure it to the ground. Source: LOCOG
  • 6. In their application for Scheduled Monument Consent LOCOG placed the spectator stand in the middle of the monument on a piece of ground which has not been excavated. In the current application English Heritage are stipulating that the spectator stand should be relocated adjacent to the monument. If this is taken to mean immediately adjacent it will be as potentially damaging to the archaeology as it would have been within the monument for the reasons given in Frame 4 Spectator stand Spectator stand Source: LOCOG
  • 7. This arm was found in 1902. It is two thirds life size and thought to be from a statue of Diana. Statues of Diana from the Roman period are very rare in this country. The rest of this one may well be lying still buried in the vicinity of the Temple Mound Objects likely to be at risk from the weight of the spectator stand include statuary. Source: Webster, 1902
  • 8. We would therefore ask the Council to ensure that the temporary spectator stand is not placed on the Roman monument or anywhere in its vicinity.
  • 9. We are also concerned about proposals for the small valley to the north of the Temple Mound.
  • 10. As the temple became ruined it collapsed onto the mound which in turn collapsed and spread, releasing some of the temple remains into this small but steep-sided valley lying adjacent This valley has not been excavated. The temple was elevated by being built on an artifical mound. Source: Information board in Greenwich Park. Photo: R. Hayles
  • 11. This small mound on the floor of the valley may or may not contain archaeological remains but its presence is an example of why investigation is needed. The application contains proposals to line this valley with two temporary steel retaining walls each 5m long and 1m high and backfill them with stone, but no plans for any archaeological investigation. Photo: R. Hayles
  • 12. We are concerned about the damage that might be sustained to submerged features under the weight of the quantity of stone that would be required for backfilling We are also concerned about the use of Spirafix to secure the retaining walls Source: LOCOG
  • 13. LOCOG have suggested verbally that these fixings would need to be at least a foot long (30cm) and that the danger of encountering archaeological material when they are screwed into the ground would be offset by the care that would be taken over this process, undertaken in the presence of an archaeologist. Appendix 17 describes the system for securing fences and, apparently, the retaining walls in the valley. No information is provided on the length of the Spirafix fixings however nor the number that would be needed to keep the retaining walls secure Source: LOCOG
  • 14. We do not believe that this is an adequate safeguard. In our view too much faith would be placed in the ability of the operator to determine whether resistance encountered by the Spirofix was coming from the pebbles of the underlying Blackheath Beds or from archaeological objects. If from archaeological objects we feel that they are likely to be damaged by this process. It must be particularly doubtful whether coins, brooches, small pieces of carved ivory and so on (all of which have been found here) would register any resistance at all yet they could well sustain damage from the Spirofix.
  • 15. It is an exceptionally rare occurrence for an archaeologist to find even one inscription in southern England (apart from in London) and the fact that four of legible size have been found at Greenwich is extraordinary. It indicates that Greenwich had some special importance in Roman times which has yet to be discovered. To risk damage to artefacts such as these must be regarded as unacceptable. Source: Channel 4, Time Team Source: Webster 1902 Source; de la Bedoyere, 2002
  • 16. We would therefore ask the Council to ensure that mo work is carried out in the valley beside the Temple Mound unless it can be demonstrated through proper archaeological examination prior to the commencement of work that no Roman or other archaeological material is at risk.
  • 17. Lastly, we are concerned that the current proposals for turf management and fencing to the south of the Temple Mound are too intrusive.
  • 18. LOCOG proposals wind the cross country course between and around the Roman sites ignoring all antiquarian evidence and the likely presence of a Roman road. Source: LOCOG map with additions by R. Hayles
  • 19. When the fragments of antiquarian evidence from frame 2 are placed beside the proposed course of the cross country it becomes clear that the site of the Italo-Roman bronze bowl and the stretch down the side of the park are particularly at risk. Bronze bowl found here
  • 20. It is clear from studies published in the London Archaeologist (Sheldon and Yule, Autumn 1979 and Wallower, 2002) that Roman remains are less than 75mm below the surface in a number of places. It should therefore be presumed that Roman material yet to be discovered is also lying close beneath the turf.
  • 21. We would therefore ask the Council to ensure that Programme 1 turf management is stipulated for the south eastern corner of the park over the area shown in this section and that fencing does not involve ground penetration. We note that a small spectator exclusion zone was included in the application for Scheduled Monument Consent and would ask that this be significantly extended. Programme 1: To be utilised in the most sensitive and significant areas of the park only. No penetrative turf management works will be implemented throughout the life of The Project. The subterranean features will be completely protected from damage via horses during the 2011 test event and the 2012 Olympic Event. A temporary surface covering will be used to protect the area (specification in 4.6.1, Appendix 12 and in line with the detailed methodology (4.6.1, section 5.2.1) Cultural Heritage Mitigation and Management Plan, Volume 2
  • 22.
    • Summary:
    • We would ask the Council to ensure that
    • The temporary spectator stand is not placed anywhere in the vicinity of the Temple Mound
    • No work is undertaken in the valley beside the Temple Mound until there has been sufficient archaeological excavation to establish whether or not the valley contains Roman or other archaeological features which could be affected by the works proposed.
    • A non-invasive programme of turf management such as that described in LOCOG’s Programme 1 is employed over that part of the Park’s south eastern corner shown in the previous frame and that concommitment care is taken with fencing and the management of spectators.
    Prepared by R. Hayles Copyright:: NOGOE 2010