The plaque reads: In memory of NICK WHITE. From your Aussie mates. August 2010 and has been fixed to the almost 2000-year-old monument using a strong resin.
Helen was writing yesterday about Bolton’s plans to limit or better-organise the placing of roadside tributes to accident victims. Today we have the curious case of the plaque glued to Hadrian’s Wall.
It has been found by National Trust staff at Sycamore Gap, a particularly dramatic part of the great monument which had an international airing not long ago as one of the settings in the film starring Kevin Costner, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. The solitary sycamore in the ravine is known as Robin Hood’s Tree. You can check the sequence out on YouTube.
The plaque reads: In memory of NICK WHITE. From your Aussie mates. August 2010 and has been fixed to the almost 2000-year-old monument using a strong resin. Archaeologists are pondering the best way to ease it off, without damaging stones which are so intensively-studied that in sections they have been individually copied and numbered on detailed drawings.
The trust and English Heritage are approaching the issue carefully, in the spirit of past debates about similar home-made monuments in national parks such as the Lake District. Fellwalkers have long accepted older memorials as part as of the landcape, including a crop on Striding Edge and the Brothers’ Parting stone where Wordsworth allegedly last saw his sea captain brother John before the tragic foundering of the latter’s command, the Earl of Abergavenny in 1805.
But the potential for serious damage today is too great, both to the landscape and in the case of the Wall, to an outstanding national monument. Andrew Poad, property manager for the National Trust, says:
We all have different cultural values, and it is possible the true significance of the wall was not fully understood by whoever did this. I’m sure they had good intentions, and if they want to get in touch we will be happy to return the plaque to them and talk about a different way in which to create a memorial.
The resin used was strong and weather-resistant and parts of it have spilt elsewhere on the stonework. Experts from both the trust and English Heritage are testing different ways of removing it with as little damage to the stones’ surface as possible.
Defacing an ancient monument is a criminal offence and the Wall suffers little damage, although graffiti occasionally has to be wiped off. Sections which remain incongruously among housing estates on the western edge of Newcastle upon Tyne are a matter of pride locally, and well cared-for.
A trust spokesman says:
the people who did this may not wish to come forward. They may be worried about the consequences. It has caused some upset but we are aware that the plaque was placed there in memory of somebody who has died, so we are treating the situation as sensitively as possible.
If anybody is thinking of doing a similar thing we ask them to come to us so we can find of commemorating a loved one without damaging the wall.
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