The shifting of an ancient monument dating back thousands of years to make way for affordable housing has been condemned as a “desecration.”
The Tristan Stone on the road to Fowey is said to mark the grave of a Cornish King’s nephew whose forbidden love became one of the world’s great romances.
However, now the seven-foot high obelisk which is believed to date back to before the fifth century is to be moved after Cornwall Council gave permission for an estate of 80 houses to be built on an adjacent site.
Bert Biscoe, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for transportation, highways and environment condemned the decision as an “infringement of the cultural integrity of Cornwall”.
He said it was among some of the worst attacks on heritage in the world.
“Such desecration is the equivalent of the Taliban bombing ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, or Napoleon shooting at the Sphinx for target practice – it is cultural violence.”
The Tristan Stone is reputed to mark the grave of Tristan, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall and a young nobleman whose forbidden love for the fair Iseult, or Isolde, has inspired poets for centuries.
On Monday, Cornwall Council’s Central Sub-Area Planning Committee gave permission for a park and ride for Fowey and 80 houses to be built by Wainhomes, half of which are to be affordable, on the site at Hill Hay Close.
Concerns had been raised about the impact of the development on the setting of the ancient monument and as a result the committee narrowly voted to move it for what is thought to be the fourth time in two centuries. The move to a nearby location was supported by English Heritage.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “We did object to the proposed ‘park and ride’ scheme initially because it would affect the setting of this significant scheduled monument. However as it has already been moved three times in the past two centuries, we feel that it could be moved again to a nearby setting which would continue to preserve its character.”
A spokesman for Wainhomes said moving the stone was a condition imposed on the company: “From our point of view we would be quite happy for it to remain where it is and we are simply responding to concerns raised during the planning process. We also understand that the stone has been moved a number of times in the past. We will of course work closely with English Heritage and the Conservation officer during any relocation.”
A Cornwall Council spokesman confirmed that permission for the development had been granted subject to agreement on a number of issues, including the relocation of the Tristan Stone.
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