Iron Age roundhouse remains could stop Mirfield development in tracks

Balderstone Hall Fields, Mirfield
Balderstone Hall Fields, Mirfield

The remains of an Iron Age roundhouse could be the latest weapon used by the people of Mirfield in a 20-year battle to stop developers building on a popular greenfield site.

Aerial photographs of trenches dug by archaeologists on Balderstone Hall Fields, off Wellhouse Lane, appear to show iron age roads and a circular anomaly that could be evidence of an ancient roundhouse dating back 2,000 years.

Balderstone Hall Fields

Balderstone Hall Fields

Campaigners have described the finds as “huge” and believe they could have implications for the ongoing stand-off with Newcastle-based developer Bellway Homes.

It wants to build 61 homes, with access through Woodward Court, a cul-de-sac adjacent to Crossley Fields Junior and Infant School.

Mirfield town councillor Steve Benson said the finds could have international implications.

“It is of huge historical significance for Mirfield,” he said. “But more than that the teams of archaeologists on site have possibly uncovered evidence that could link Mirfield with the Calder Valley.

“The nearest other roundhouse to this one in Mirfield is in the Calder Valley. If we have indeed found an Iron Age road it may be a link to another ancient community.”

Clr Benson said he and fellow members of Project Mirfield have no knowledge of any previous buildings on the 11.4 acre site, which makes the remnants of the 16m diameter roundhouse all the more exciting.

In addition, there is evidence of shallow coal workings and narrow seams of coal just below the surface. Moreover, the roundhouse appears to have had a fortified entrance.

The current plan represents the latest attempt by the housing firm to build on the site which is close to grade II listed Balderstone Hall. In 2015, minutes before councillors were due to consider a plan to build 130 homes but Bellway withdrew its application.

And it was defeated in 1999 when campaigners with action group Save Mirfield won a public inquiry to stop development. Prior to the start of the inquiry at Dewsbury Town Hall more than 800 people met on the fields to spell out the slogan ‘No Way Bellway’.

The latest application is expected to be heard by Kirklees Council on July 5.

Clr Benson added: “Bellway have been given a ridiculous extension for this application at a cost to the taxpayer. It should have gone in front of a committee in April and then May. It has been extended into July.

“This site should not be developed. It should be preserved for the future of the community. So far, the archaeological teams have dug an initial strip. There could be much more to be found.

“It could re-write history for Mirfield.”