Wednesday 25 April 2012

King's Yard archaeology 'insufficient' evidence for statutory protection

Efforts made to extend the statutory protection to the docks and other underground structures remaining at Deptford's former Royal Dockyard have been dismissed by English Heritage, despite the fact that archaeological investigations at the site are not yet complete.

Excavations are due to continue until May

The body responsible for deciding whether to schedule or list heritage structures and ancient monuments has concluded that the four elements of the site that were submitted for consideration – the Great Dock, the Great Basin, the 17th Century Mast Pond and the Officer's Terrace – are not worthy of protection because 'insufficient evidence of the survival of nationally important archaeological remains'.

Deptford Is… in receipt of the EH report, released last month, which was furnished by the Heritage Protection Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The deadline for a formal request for it to be reviewed – with grounds – is 16 May 2012.

Deptford Is… disappointed and puzzled that EH has decided there is insufficient evidence of survival of national importance. The report does not take account of currently available data and admits "we are aware of on-going archaeological excavation…but the results of these investigations have not yet been collated."

English Heritage was asked to review its previous decision made in 2010 not to schedule the site, in the light of new archaeological information and because the decision was believed to based on erroneous assumptions and incomplete information. And although this review has concluded once again that the main elements of the site do not qualify for statutory protection, it does acknowledge that the river wall, which had previously been dismissed, is in fact worthy of assessment for listing after all.

Part of the river wall which is to be assessed for protection

EH also admits that some of the information on which it based its previous decision not to schedule was incorrect. It is our belief this 2012 review of the 2010 decision contains yet more errors.

The report conclusion states: "Based on present evidence we do not believe that the site meets the criteria for scheduling. However, further attention ought to be given to the river wall as mentioned above."
Reasons for Designation Decision:
Four elements of Convoys Wharf – the Great Dock, the Great Basin, the C17 mast pond and the site of the Officer’s Terrace – are not recommended for scheduling for the following principal reasons:
• Survival: insufficient evidence of the survival of nationally important archaeological remains;
• Potential: because of insufficient archaeological evidence of survival at present it is not possible to assign firm archaeological potential to these elements at Convoys Wharf.
• Documentation (archaeological): existing investigations are keyhole in nature and inconclusive. Good below ground survival cannot be assumed, nor can the extent of these elements of the dockyard be defined without much better archaeological evidence.
You can download the 10-page document here.

Deptford Is… intending to discuss the report with all interested groups in order to make a joint response, but in the meantime, readers and supporters can do their bit in the coming week or so by writing to MP Dame Joan Ruddock to request that she herself makes representation (by 16 May 2012) to the DCMS to get this decision reviewed yet again. We will endeavour to apprise Ms Ruddock of the relevant details with which to provide sufficient grounds.


  1. What a bunch of spineless self-serving maggots

  2. Sounds like you need to talk with the archaeologists who actually excavated the site. They're the ones who have the information you need.

  3. Actually, more is now emerging about the scheduling and the process that lead to the recommendation not to give statutory protection. The main fact is that EH have not been on site to see the evidence and, therefore, could not factor-in the recent fieldwork exposure. It may seem curious to many that site visits did not take place and the reason for not listing or scheduling the heritage assets is described as there being insufficient evidence of survival of the structures but infact this means that a new application to list or schedule will be made so that EH will have the opportunity to take on board the new physical evidence.
    Certainly, as some archaeologist on the site have indicated, the survival is much higher than expected from the trial trenches some years ago. In the case of the basin, where 75-80% of the final manifestation survives in good condition, it is described by an expert on the site as being a restorable heritage asset that would give context to the already listed Olympia building adjoining it.
    So all is not lost here by any means and conversations with EH and the DCMS are on going and they are expecting to be asked to review the case or accept a new application taking into account the compelling new evidence as soon as the summary reports are filed from the archaeologists, if not before!
    We must keep the pressure on however.

  4. This is Throughly Disgusting and Out of Touch

    English Heritage can be doing a lot More to
    Preserve England's Heritage which is more than
    just Mansion Houses

    Deptford Royal Dockyard Site HMS Deptford Now and