Saturday, 8 March 2008

MP calls for Flag Fen funding

From Peterborough Today.

CITY MP Stewart Jackson has urged the Government to cough up money to help a cash-strapped archaeological site near Peterborough.
Flag Fen to the east of the city, is described by Mr Jackson as "one of Western Europe's finest Bronze Age sites".

But the attraction – which needs about £300,000 a year to cover its bills – receives no funding from Whitehall.

Mr Jackson has tabled a Parliamentary question to ask if the Government plans to dip into its coffers to support the expansion of the exhibition at the site and further excavations to unearth more of its secrets.

He said: "We should be proud we have one of western Europe's finest Bronze Age sites and I think it will be very much part of a tourism strategy which includes the cathedral, Ferry Meadows and Central Park.
"But because it's so near the urban area I think it's kind of overshadowed, and there's a lack of transport to it and publicity about it.

"There's a lot more excavation work to be done there and it has massive potential for education and tourism.

"It would be a tragedy if it had to close, or further excavation could not be done before the site deteriorates."

The remains at Flag Fen were discovered in 1982 by Professor Francis Pryor, who now appears on Channel 4's archaeological programme, Time Team.

He literally stumbled on a piece of wood protruding from the ground while carrying out a dyke survey for English Heritage.

Further delvings exposed a Bronze Age ceremonial platform the size of Wembley Stadium and a causeway leading from Northey Road to where the power station sits today, thought to date from around 3,500 years ago.

The site now boasts a visitors' centre, museum and a reconstructed roundhouse based on a layout found during excavations.

But Flag Fen's general manager, Georgia Butters, said it received no help towards meeting its £300,000 annual running and research bills from the Government or city council.

Instead, Flag Fen depends on grants from English Heritage and other bodies limited to specific projects rather than for ongoing costs, plus admission fees and donations.

Ms Butters said only 10 per cent of the site has been excavated so far, sparking fears that hidden archaeological treasures may be lost as the ground dries out due to climate change, drainage work on the Fens, and new developments.

She welcomed Mr Jackson's call for more funding.

Ms Butters said: "Anything the local MP or others can do to raise awareness or our plight is much appreciated."

The full article contains 431 words and appears in Peterborough ET newspaper.
Last Updated: 08 March 2008 12:15 PM

Full story here.

No comments: