Last week’s field trip involved the reconnoitre of the Severn foreshore between Sharpness and Gloucester on the eastern side, and then down to Lydney on the west bank. This means we largely looked at maritime and industrial sites, and of those we saw, the most spectacular was the “Purton Hulks”. Also the most interesting in retrospect, because uploading my photos to facebook and putting a few preliminary comments on them attracted quite a polemic litle piece from one of the other students.
He had been disturbed by some of the narratives about archaeological preservation we have been exposed to in general terms I think, but specifically at Purton had been irritated by some trritorial claims made by one of the people showing us around the site. Our guide suggested that in the past he had used his former military training to scare off someone vandalizing one of the wrecks. He was in full storytelling mode, and I took it with a pinch of salt, but this is an interesting place and it does not surprise me that it attracts some passionate support.He also made it clear that he thinks it almost criminal that this place is not a scheduled ancient monument and he and others expressed a hope that it will become one.
Sites like this pose a dilemma, it is tempting to hope they can be protected, but protection here is an ongoing obligation to a site that is difficult to manage, has little potential for visitor development of any numeric significance becasue of location, and is under continual attack by the natural elements in a river bank with significant tidal and flood action on a regular basis.
It seems to me that this is one to interpret using more boards locally, vodcasts and perhaps cell phone tour technology. Getting money to do anything beyond a vodcast would be expensive, but might be dooable crusade.