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Silbury Conservation Project and Skanska
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Silbury Conservation Project and Skanska
Dec 31, 2020, 15:03
As promised in an earlier post – I am writing this to ‘put on record’ the, at best, bad faith’ displayed by the intentions and actions of the engineering firm Skanska during the Silbury Hill Conservation Project in 2007. Silbury Hill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and any works there require Scheduled Monument Consent from the Secretary of State (issued on his/her behalf by what was then English Heritage).

This consent was granted by the English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments based in it’s Bristol office on 25/05/07 (SMC no 1611) with the condition that ‘the project design as set out in the Documentation List shall be executed in full’. It should be noted that where Scheduled Monument Consent has been granted subject to conditions, it is an offence to fail to comply with those conditions when implementing that consent.

Method Statement MS06.04.06 was one of the documents in the Documentation list. It included a detailed daily work programme for Skanska and my archaeological team. The first part of each days work within the Atkinson tunnel (08.30 -12.30) was for the Skanska team engaged in tunnel emptying and support with the remainder of day given to archaeological recording and examination. This mutually agreed daily work programme was the basis for all of the planning and the allocation of people and resources which I designed for the archaeological aspect of the Conservation Project.

I was dismayed to find that from the very beginning of the project Skanska introduced an additional work shift in the evenings from 17.00 until 19.00. This immediately increased the pressure on me and on the archaeological team. To my eternal regret, I did not challenge this breach of Scheduled Monument Consent but instead sought to ameliorate it’s effects by taking on extra work myself. There was quite an intimidating atmosphere on site, even at this early stage in the project, with for example, Skanska staff mentioning that they were on a ‘bonus scheme’ for completing the tunnel emptying.

Skanska continued with this additional shift up to and after I was dismissed from Silbury on the 11th June 2007. At a site meeting at Silbury on the 21st June Skanska asked for permission to work ‘daily 5-7pm’ and when questioned about this at a further site meeting on the 28th June Skanska stated that the extra work had come about in response to delays caused by recording the ‘buried ditch’.

This was a blatant misrepresentation as recording the ‘buried ditch’ was took 1 week and was finished by the 8th June and, in any case, the extra work shift had been in place from the outset of the project.

After accepting Skanska’s ‘request’ for an extra work shift without further questioning English Heritage added more people and resources to the archaeological team under the direction of Jim Leary.
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