New bypass will ‘desecrate’ the site of one of Britain’s deadliest battles, campaigners warn
Plans to build a road across the site of one of Britain’s most deadly battles will desecrate the battlefield and unearth the bodies of long-dead soldiers, campaigners have warned
Almost 20,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Neville’s Cross to the west of Durham city, which saw the Scottish heavily defeated by the English army led by Lord Ralph Neville.
Durham County Council has tabled plans for a bypass to the west of the city which will link the B6302 near Stonebridge to the A691 at Sniperley and run close to the historic battlefield of 1346.
Historic England is investigating the situation and readying a response to the council after campaigners complained the plans would destroy the historic site.
Campaigners fear the road will lead to the undiscovered remains of thousands of soldiers who fought in the battle being unearthed.
Amanda Taylor-Saunders, executive secretary of the Durham Western Relief Road Action Group (WRRAG), said: “It is terrible. No one knows where the bodies are – imagine if that was someone’s distant relative.
“They are still untouched and could be unearthed.
“Is it acceptable to the Scottish and English nations that the graves of casualties of the Battle of Neville’s Cross would be desecrated as the council decimates a historic and settled battlefield to develop an unnecessary and unsustainable road – I think not?”
Members of the campaign group the Friends of Durham Green Belt have condemned the proposals, saying the plan is “unsound and would cause permanent damage to the area”.
Mike Allum, spatial policy manager at Durham County Council, said a battlefield expert was consulted over the planned relief road.
He added: “When considering the proposed relief road for inclusion in the County Durham Plan, we took into account the advice of an independent battlefield expert and a geophysical survey of the Neville’s Cross site.
“Should the road be progressed, a further survey and sampling excavation along the entire route would be undertaken to ensure that we do not damage any important historical features, with an independent archaeologist on site supervising this work.”