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Ancient remains cause landfill dilemma

The possible remains of an ancient civilisation has created a new problem for a north east- based waste management company.

With SITA UK looking to extend the boundaries of its Seghill landfill site up until 2023, it has called in experts from Durham University to undertake an archaeological evaluation of the site.

As part of the survey, the company will look to establish the origin date of the Backworth/Holywell township boundary and discover if there are any medieval remains surviving from the Wolf Hill farmstead, thought to date back to the 14th century.

The scope of the evaluation has been agreed with Northumberland and North Tyneside councils and the findings will be submitted to the two authorities along with the planning application.

SITA UK archaeological project manager Andy Josephs said: “This is a highly specialist process and an important one to ensure that officers and members at the two councils are fully informed of the archaeological history of the proposed extension.

“This work will have no lasting impact on the land but will help identify any historic features that might exist beneath the surface that should be recorded and considered as part of the planning decision-making process.”

The proposed extension would cover 19 hectares of land to the east of the existing site and would be surrounded by a specially created landscaping area of 49 hectares designed to provide a shield from local residential areas.

Durham University archaeological services team project manager Duncan Hale said: “This is an interesting project for us to be involved with and we are pleased to see that this process is being undertaken at this early stage to ensure that archaeological features are located and recorded.”

The investigation will comprise of two key phases. Firstly, a geophysical survey will take place to identify sub-surface features and which areas should be tested further.

This will then be followed by ‘trial trenching’, where shallow trenches will be dug in selected areas to locate and record any archaeological remains.

SITA UK area manager John Grainger said: “This is an important part of our comprehensive planning process for ensuring that our proposals will have minimal impact on local surroundings.”

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