Bronze Age rock carving at Cape Collinson could be declared monument, according to HK government proposal

08-Jun-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

An ancient rock carving at Cape Collinson on the east of Hong Kong Island that probably dates back to 3,000 years ago could become a declared monument, according to a government proposal.

The carving, about 160cm tall and 260cm wide, features a geometric pattern and design that resembles those stamped on Bronze Age artefacts unearthed elsewhere in the territory, according to an appraisal by the Antiquities and Monument Office released on Thursday.

The rock, located on a relatively inaccessible cliff 11 metres above sea level, was the ninth rock carving discovered in the city, and the first found since 1983.

The other eight, which are scattered along the city’s shorelines, were declared monuments in the 1970s and 80s.

“The rock carving at Cape Collinson forms part of a rare archaeological resource in Hong Kong,” the document read.

Heritage officials said it was difficult to establish precisely when the carvings had been made or who had made them as there were no written records available.

However, it said they were similar to patterns on stamped pottery and bronze objects from Hong Kong’s Bronze Age, about 3,000 years ago.

“The strategic setting of this rock carving, overlooking the Fat Tong Mun passage, and the study of its spatial relationship with the other rock carvings may help shed light on maritime people whose society once flourished in the early days of Hong Kong,” it said.

The Antiquities Advisory Board, which advises the government on historic buildings and relics, will discuss the proposal next Thursday.

Officials said the carving was in good condition and that suitable warning signs to visitors had been put up near the site.

Lee Ho-yin, head of the University of Hong Kong’s division of architectural conservation programmes, said railings and warning signs should be set up on nearby pathways to prevent visitors from accessing the site.

“The best protection is to do as much as necessary, but as little as possible,” Lee said, citing a principle set by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world.

Protective measures such as covering the artefact with a plastic or a glass box, or affixing barriers around the rock itself were unnecessary, as they could do more harm than good, Lee said.

“The carvings have weathered all kinds of storms for thousands of years; it’s important that a natural resource is left as it is,” he said.

Lee cited an example of how the British government has proposed to build a 2.9km tunnel to replace a highway that runs along Stonehenge, a 5,000-year-old Neolithic monument in south-western England.

This would remove the noise and visual impact and restore the archaeological remains to its natural chalk downland setting.

“If you damage the environmental context, you will undermine the understanding of the origins of this monument,” he said.

There are 120 declared monuments in Hong Kong. Once a building, site or structure is declared a monument, the Antiquities Authority has the power to prevent alterations or impose conditions on proposed alterations to protect the monument.

Aside from the rock carving, the government has proposed two other historic buildings to be declared monuments the 126-year-old Yuk Hui Temple in Wan Chai, and the 18th-century Hau Mei Fung Ancestral Hall in Sheung Shui.

Heritage officials also proposed that HKU’s University Lodge where the university’s president and vice chancellor Zhang Xiang lives be listed as a grade one building, the highest in a three-tier scale that is not legally binding. The privately owned residence was built in 1950 and will be added to a list of several monuments and historic buildings on campus.

According to the proposal, two other properties a former Portuguese community school in Tsim Sha Tsui built between 1902 and 1903, and a tenement building on Graham Street in Central from the 1920s could be given grade two and grade three status respectively.


Category: Hong Kong

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