Threats to heritage
Many of the Scheduled Ancient Monuments within Northumberland National Park survive as upstanding remains. However, they potentially face many different threats, which, if not managed effectively, can cause damage to the monuments and the archaeological deposits and remains that they contain. Threats that SAMs within Northumberland National Park face include:
- Lack of awareness – ignorance is the greatest threat to archaeological heritage. When sites are damaged or neglected it is often not deliberate, but because people don’t know that sites are there, how important they are, or what actions or activities can cause damage.
- Burrowing animals – burrowing destroys archaeological evidence and information, and it disfigures and destabilizes earthworks.
Rabbit burrows on the rampart at Harehaugh Iron Age Hillfort, SAM 20953
- Erosion from livestock –livestock can damage archaeological remains by creating large scrapes or shelters in the earthworks and through trampling and poaching.
Livestock scrape on the rampart of Harehaugh Iron Age Hillfort, SAM 20953
- Tree, scrub and bracken growth – vegetation obscures archaeological remains and makes them less visible and less accessible, and the roots from trees, scrub and bracken damage archaeological remains.
Bracken growth obscuring SAM 31745 a Bronze Age Round Cairn
- Visitor erosion – visitors may damage a site simply due to the erosive force of the number of people, or sometimes they may cause damage to a site moving or removing part of the site’s structure. For example, removing stones from a stone cairn or rampart to create a walker’s cairn or waymarking cairn.
Walker’s cairns formed at SAM 24586 Bronze Age Burial Cairn
- Natural erosion and weathering –when the protective turf cover of a site has been broken the action of natural weathering can erode into earthworks and destroy archaeological deposits.