'Bitter regret' over HS2 and ancient earthwork

Consent has with ‘bitter regret’ been given to HS2 Ltd’s proposals for ancient earthwork Grim’s Ditch.

The Scheduled Monument, near Leather Lane, Great Missenden, will be affected as part of the HS2 project passes through the pre-historic asset of national importance.

The earthwork stretches in sections across the Chilterns for a total of 18km.

Councillor Peter Martin (pictured), Deputy Cabinet Member for HS2 at Buckinghamshire Council, said: ‘Whilst we are pleased that less of Grim’s Ditch will be impacted by the HS2 line passing through the area and that valuable archaeological information can be retrieved during the works, we bitterly regret that damage will be done to any part of this ancient monument.

‘Any potential adverse effects on the landscape character of the area would at least secure benefits to the Scheduled Monument and, on balance, the council had to give consent for the proposed works.’

It is believed to date from the Bronze or Iron Age but this is uncertain, as it has never been seriously excavated.

Archaeologists agree, though, that it is an important earthwork – which is why it is scheduled as an Ancient Monument. ‘Scheduling’ gives an archaeological site the highest level of protection that the state can give.

Grim’s Ditch stretches from Bradenham to Berkhamsted.

HS2 Ltd has been working closely with Historic England on the details of the proposal to keep as much as reasonably practical of the Scheduled Monument.

The then Secretary of State also granted approval for the proposed works and associated archaeological excavation method, on the advice of Historic England.

The HS2 Environmental Statement expected about 150m of the monument to be removed by the HS2 railway but approved proposals have reduced the amount to be excavated to about 75m.

Find out more:
Details of the proposed works can be found on the council’s website: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/view-and-comment-on-a-planning-application/ using application reference PL/24/1492/HS2.

Councillor Peter Martin, who said: ‘On balance, the council had to give consent for the proposed works.’