A residential development company plans to develop a piece of land here in Newcastle. As part of the planning process, the development company have been advised by an archaeologist from the city council, to investigate and produce a report of the area to reassure that the development would not harm any archaeological sites. Future developers would not be able to develop in this site if there is an archaeological significance to it. The results of the investigation shows that there is an archaeological significance in and around this site.
As part of the planning procedure, an archaeologist from the Newcastle city council has advised ABC Developments Ltd to conduct an archaeological evaluation of the chosen site and its surroundings. By doing this, it prevents the destruction of any archaeological significance that the site may possess. Archaeological work that has previously been carried out in this area shows that this area is rich in archaeology and the landscapes are of national importance.
The proposed area itself is the Westgate Hill Cemetery in Westgate Road (see figure 1 and 2). It is a triangular shaped area in Newcastle and it covers an area of 2.96526 acres (1.2ha) on the national grid. The aim of this assessment is to evaluate the potential archaeology in and around the site and see the impact of the particular significant archaeology have on the site. Advising ABC Development Ltd about the necessary steps that they should take to preserve the archaeology, overseeing mandatory amendments and considering going ahead with the procedure, is the objective of this assessment.
Known Archaeology: According to cartographic evidence, there are scheduled monuments in close proximity to the immediate surrounding area of the development site. The sites include Hadrian’s Wall, St. Paul’s church and its burial grounds and a Quarry. Hadrian’s Wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. This zone represents potential and known archaeology.
Aerial Photography: According to Historic England’s Past Scape website, there are four archaeological records of known archaeology within 100 miles of the site (see appendix). There are several listed buildings and scheduled monuments in and around the area (see figure 1) which includes Churches, chapels, quarries, tramways, barracks, air raid shelter, influential family graves, commonwealth war graves and a burial ground.
Previous Investigations: The initial discovery of the Victoria Tunnel was made in 1939. This underground tunnel was closed for sixty-nine years. During the industrial revolution when the coal trade was flourishing, the Victoria tunnel was originally opened on the 7th of April 1842, to transport coal from the Colliery for loading ships. It runs beneath the city from Spital Tongues to the Tyne. The Victoria tunnel was two miles long with a single railway track and several wagons. The tunnel was not used since it closed down in the 1870s – when the Spital Tongues pit closed. Almost a century after the tunnel’s opening it was used as an air-raid shelter in 1939, for the citizens of Newcastle during the Second World War. The city engineer, Percy Parr, designed the plans that made the tunnel convert into a communal air-raid shelter for Eight-Thousand people. The curator of the museum was forced to move some of his collections underground, as the air raids posed a threat to them. The tunnel reached the Royal Victoria Infirmary in 1940. The tunnel was cleaned of coal dust and imbued with lights, bunk beds, toiletries, toilets, food and water – with all the basic needs (see fig.3). This photo (see fig.3) was taken in the 1980s, this shows the remnants of the seats. Other previous excavations included the Hadrian’s Wall. It is located in front of the cemetery’s entrance. There was also a tramway near the cemetery which was used during the 1890s to 1940s. There are not many records on these, except in maps – now that the tramways have converted into roads.
Potential Archaeology: The table below (see table 1) shows us the probability of any future discoveries of potential archaeology within the area of the development site. Each period is summarised as follows;
Prehistoric: It is unlikely that there will be potential archaeology around this period as there is very little evidence found.
Roman: There are several monuments in and around the area that will be found of this period. There are a lot of sites in the North East. These monuments are important to understand this period. Therefore, there is a moderate to high chance of finding new discoveries.
Medieval: Since there are a lot of medieval buildings around Newcastle, there is a moderate chance of finding new discoveries dating to this period.
Post Medieval: Railways, museums and the castle of the post medieval period are still visible. The castle and the museum are still in use. Therefore there is a high chance of finding new discoveries of this era.
Early Modern: The results show a number of 20th Century buildings and monuments. There are quite a lot of these found in and around the area. Therefore there will be a high chance of discovering potential archaeology. Hadrian’s Wall is of national significance and has an international status. It has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. All the Roman sites are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979.
The Post Medieval world as we know it – represents a world that is quite like present. There are many buildings all over Newcastle that can be dated to this period – for example: railways, offices, cafes, shops and the museum. Some of these buildings are still in use.
Early Modern sites have a lot more significance as they are of recent history. There are people who still live to this day – they belong to the older generation. There are several war veterans and Holocaust survivors that are alive to this date. Archaeologically speaking, sites such as the barracks and the air raid shelter help us understand our recent history with two World Wars. The proposed development itself destroys the whole graveyard – it digs up
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