LETTER: Threat to Louth’s heritage

I am appalled to learn of the potential loss to the world of archaeology of the site of one of a tiny number of labyrinths known to exist in this country; this one being situated at the crown of the hill at Julian Bower.

The Louth Blue Stone, which now stands outside Louth Museum was the centrepiece of the labyrinth at Julian Bower, dating as far back as to the Druidic period, through Roman to a Medieval connection when the centrepiece had become a Christian cross. It was at this cross on Julian Bower that thousands of people mustered at the start of the Lincolnshire Rising in 1536. An ancient track with certain pre-Roman, Roman and Medieval connections, leading from known settlements of all these eras, stops dead at the large platform earthwork on the crown of the hill at Julian Bower.

Lincolnshire County Council archaeological advisors to ELDC planners are supporting the development of this site for building 12 houses, ignoring, or refusing to accept the existence of associated ancient features (ridge and furrow fields to either side of the platform, the ancient track that stops dead at the platform and the large quarry, long since filled in, immediately to the North of the platform). They claim Julian Bower was sited on the other side of the A16, halfway down the hill in an ancient quarry that is not and never was the crown of the hill (they base this postulation on the 1818 and 1834 maps that happen to place the words Julian Bower, which have, for 2-300 years colloquially stood for the whole of the south hill area and do not specifically refer to the site of the labyrinth where the quarry is). They also claim that the platform earthwork is modern, dating from when the grammar school acquired the land in 1925 and used it as a hockey field with tennis courts below the platform. It has been conclusively evidenced to them that the platform is not modern, being shown on a postcard, predating 1918, with the platform, the terrace below and the open quarry beyond. There is a hint that the labyrinth outline may still be discernible just below the surface. If the site is saved it could be maintained at very little cost as a natural area common ground for Louth.

Surely Ludensians would rally to the cause and Lottery funding or Historic England funding could be applied to buy the land from the grammar school to conserve Julian Bower as a national site for locals and tourists to appreciate - perhaps the turf labyrinth could be revived or a mown one cut into the grass so that the site could be used for spiritual meditation again. I understand you are running an article tomorrow and I write at this time in strong support of the preservation of this important site.

I remain your obedient servant,

Penny Harrison