12th November 2015
Mick Spreader writes poems for Hounds Off but on occasions composing verse takes too long. Here is Mick’s personal view of the damage done by the Portman Hunt to the archaeological site prominent in North Dorset called Hambledon Hill.
(Just imagine! A group of errant off-roaders, landys, quads, motor bikes get on to the Stone Henge site and drive round and round, backwards and forwards, wheelies and hand-brake turns, in and out of the great World Heritage stones. There’d be all hell to pay. Squad cars by the dozen, coppers by the score, even the Wiltshire police helicopter. I’m sure the National Trust would not be issuing a statement to the effect that the off-roaders had lost their way.)
A few weeks ago the Portman Hunt were on Hambledon Hill – we shall call it National Trust land for the present – and did “extensive damage” to a scheduled archaeological area when hounds were “out of control.” And it’s not the first time.
So what is the response from the NT? They wrote to the Portman and, according to the general manager for West and North Dorset the “hunt left the track to round up some dogs.”
Hambledon Hill does not belong to the National Trust, they are not the landowners. They hold the land in trust for the nation, that is, for you and me. And yet they allow the Portman Hunt to carry out their activities on this ancient monument.
Remember, it does not belong to the Portman Hunt or to the National Trust; it belongs to you and me, 80% of us would not have the Portman hunting there at all. And then, in violation of the of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, the perpetrators being known and photographic evidence obtained, the NT area manager writes to the Portman and gets a lame excuse that the damage was done when dogs running loose had to be rounded up.
For God’s Sake, these vandals have destroyed the Dorset’s heritage for us and for our children and their children. Instead of their spineless response;
1/ the NT should have told the Portman Hunt to stay off Hambledon Hill immediately and always.
2/ the NT should have informed Dorset Police that they believed that an offence had been committed and asked them to investigate.
3/ the NT should examine other protected sites for damage caused by the Portman Hunt.
And while we are on the matter, the wildlife in these islands belongs to the inhabitants of these islands; they are the wildlife heritage of its citizens. The landowner might have put his cows on his land, but not the flowers and the insects, the hen harrier, the badger, the deer, the hare and the fox. They belong to all of us to enjoy, to be to be enlivened and enriched by. But that’s another matter for another time.
© Mick Spreader
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