SEVENTY-ONE historic sites in the South West have been identified as being at risk of being lost forever, as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development - including a number in Somerset.

The 'Heritage at Risk Register', published by Historic England, also reveals that 53 historic buildings and sites in the South West have been saved in the last year.

This is thanks to the hard work and determination of local communities, charities, owners, local councils and Historic England itself.

Over the past year, Historic England has offered £1.58 million in grants to help some of the region’s best loved and most important sites.

The sites in the South West that have been rescued and removed from the Register in 2020 include Cadbury Castle in Somerset, an ancient fort linked with Arthurian legend that was at risk from invasive vegetation and heavy erosion, and Winsford Hospital, which faced an insurmountable maintenance burden until recently.

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Clovelly Dykes, in Devon, and Bristol's heavy anti-aircraft battery at Rockingham Park have also been saved.

Many sites are still at risk, however, with 71 in the South West being added to the Register because of concerns about their condition.

This year has seen 18 places of worship added in the South West - 11 of these are in Somerset, having had lead from their roofs stolen.

At St Edward King & Martyr in Goathurst, near Bridgwater, lead was stolen from a 16th century chapel on the north side of which has very fine tombs inside.

It is to be re-roofed in stainless steel.

Historic England has funded a heritage and cultural property crime researcher in the Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime Unit.

This role will work with national police leads to help prevent and investigate criminal and anti-social behaviour which damages historic places.

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SAVED: The heavy anti-aircraft battery at Rockingham Park

Rebecca Barrett, Historic England’s regional director in the South West, said: “In challenging times such as these, heritage can provide a sense of continuity and bring us solace.

"We also know that investing in historic places can help boost our economic recovery.

"The 53 places rescued from the register this year show us that real progress is being made - sites lovingly rescued and brought back into use as new homes, businesses and community spaces.

"But there is still a long way to go and many more historic buildings and places which need the right care and attention, funding, partnerships and community support to give them a brighter future.”