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TV archaeologist slams homes plan for ancient Wenny Meadow in Chatteris as 'vandalism'

The campaign to Save Wenny Road Meadow in Chatteris has received a boost this week from prominent archaeologist Francis Pryor.

Dr Pryor, who is famed for discovering Bronze Age Flag Fen at Peterborough and making more than 50 appearances as lead archaeologist on Channel 4’s “Time Team” has described plans to build on the agent site as "vandalism".

The archaeologist who, has written books including 'The Making of the British Landscape' and 'The Fens: Discovering England's Ancient Depths', took to twitter to express his views, describing plans to build about 80 homes on the historic former Manor Park as “a disgrace”.

Archaeologist Dr Francis Pryor has spoken in favour of protecting Wenny Meadow in Chatteris. (28420364)
Archaeologist Dr Francis Pryor has spoken in favour of protecting Wenny Meadow in Chatteris. (28420364)

He added that the inclusion of the tranquil landscape park in the planned development was “noting short of landscape vandalism” and that it “must not happen”.

Wenny Meadow was originally created by the Dunn-Gardner family, who owned the Manor House in Chatteris, as the “Manor Park”. News reports show that it was regularly used for county shows, sports days and local galas throughout the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s, but its hidden history extends far earlier than that.

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) imagery shows medieval “ridge and furrow” earthworks spreading across the meadow and adjoining land; an ancient ploughing technique dating from before the 16th Century.

Dr Sarah Spooner, Senior lecturer in landscape history at the University of East Anglia, previously described the meadow as “special”.

Dr Spooner said that it is “an important 18th and 19th Century designed landscape; not only has it not really changed since the 1820s when it was first created, but like the ridge and furrow earthworks there just are not that many parks like that in the Fens. It’s also really significant because it preserves that medieval origin. Here you have got not just the 18th Century Georgian and Regency period, but medieval Chatteris as well.”

Meanwhile, the Save Wenny Road Meadow campaign has been working to have the site designated as a local green space in Fenland District Council’s new Local Plan.

This week, Fenland District Council revealed that 33 of the 46 public nominations for local green spaces to be added to the plan were nominations in favour of Wenny Meadow.

On Tuesday evening, the campaign group informed Chatteris Town Council that a paper-based petition supporting the retention of the meadow had gathered over 1,050 signatures from local residents, approximately 10 per cent of the town’s estimated population.

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