CONTROVERSIAL plans by Tranmere Rovers FC to build houses on a memorial field and take over a leisure centre for training could yet face another stumbling block – Vikings.
Opponents to the club’s proposal to redevelop Ingleborough Field in Prenton for up to 90 new homes said archaeological work needs to be carried out before Woodchurch leisure centre is transformed into a new training centre.
Peter France, chairman of Wirral History and Heritage Association, said the Woodchurch site was thought to be the location of an ancient Viking settlement known as Kiln Walby.
Mr France said if that was true it could be one of the most important archaeological sites in the borough, containing valuable information about early Viking settlers in Wirral.
He said: “This field is on old maps, and the ‘by’ element in the name suggests it is Viking.
“But there has been no proper investigation and to have it built on would be awful.
“It is presumably some sort of farming settlement, possibly just the one farm. Those are very rare in Wirral but we know they existed from the documentary evidence. It could be very significant.”
He said the association had passed its information to the council’s conservation officer to follow up and it is understood the council will be seeking further archaeological investigation.
It follows a lengthy campaign by Dean Johnson, former Birkenhead Institute pupil and curator of the Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, against Rovers’ plans to build at Ingleborough Field, which was set up as a memorial to former students at the school who died in World War One.
Among them was Wilfred Owen, the great war poet.
Mr Johnson said the planning application “points to the ignorance of heritage issues at both sites”.
But in documents supporting its planning application Tranmere said the club “fully recognised the importance of preserving the memory of those fallen pupils of Birkenhead Institute in both World Wars and therefore propose to clean the Foundation Stone and relocate it to a position of suitable, and respectful, prominence”.