On Monday afternoon the 2nd July the Friends of Wincobank Hill attended the The City Centre, South & East Planning and Highways Committee to campaign against the 24 dwellings proposed by Investates Development Ltd. on Sandstone on land at the end of Sandstone Road, Wincobank. The site of this planning application we believe to be part of the Roman Ridge earthwork which stretches across South Yorkshire from the River Dearne, near Wath upon Dearne to near Millsands in Sheffield. At Sandstone Road this Monument passes within 200 metres of the British Hill Fort on the crown of Wincobank Hill.
Over the two thousand or so years of its life, parts of this Historic Monument have been lost under housing development and other building where it passes through urban areas and due to so-called agricultural improvements in the rural areas. However, enough of it has survived intact in many places to be Scheduled as an Ancient Monument by English Heritage and in others to be clearly identified on the ground by its passage. Sadly, along Sandstone Road, we believe houses were constructed over it in the 1960s, leaving one short section where the Ridge enters the open land around the Hill Fort and joins up with a part where the bank is more obvious and which has legal protection by English Heritage. Attempts by our group to achieve legal protection for the site failed as there is no evidence of the earthwork on the surface due to tipping material after the houses were built forty years ago, and some carried out very recently.
We are convinced this is the site of the Ridge because of the clear historical evidence from reliable historians and old Ordnance Survey maps on which it is clearly marked. In more recent times aerial photographs show the route with the characteristic footpath present over many centuries. Historically the Ridge was a route across the County and much of it today is still accessible on foot, or at least visible where it is not from a highway adjoining it.
The Ridge has been under threat in many places from development, vandalism and ignorance. However, we feel this changing. The Committee’s decision to refuse the planning application and preserve the open space after hearing the evidence from our campaign, the pleas of local residents and over a thousand signatories to petitions, is an indication of this.
The origin of the Ridge is uncertain and its name is no indication. It could date from before or just after the Roman occupation, certainly not during it. However, its future could be clearer if more about it is known and appreciated by people. Support for our campaign came from many people, from immediate residents to supporters in the USA and Australia and from historians and archaeologists. The Ridge is nationally important and like Wincobank Fort, it is almost unique in a large urban area.
Long may it remain so.