AN HISTORIC piece of Sunderland is going under the hammer.
Humbledon Hill is a five-acre site and home to the remains of a Bronze Age defended settlement. Last December it was added to the list of schedule ancient monuments by English Heritage, which means it is safeguarded from future development.
In 2003 the plot was the focus of a controversial planning bid from Bowey Homes, who wanted to build a housing development there.
Now the plot will be auctioned off next month after the latest owner died.
Glass merchant Douglas Hedgley had owned the land for 35 years before dying in January 2011. The site is being sold by his beneficeries.
Estate agent Paul Airey, who is acting as land agent on behalf of the owners, said: “It’s like buying your own hill.
He added: “This is arguably the best view in Sunderland.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone to buy a part of city’s history. Land is at a premium, so to get five acres in the city is unprecedented.
An adjoining three-bedroom bungalow with double garage, in Tudor Grove, is also included in the deal – with the bidding set to open at £175,000.
The site, which is designated white land, is unlikely to be granted planning permission but may still be of commercial value.
“We’ve had interest from local business people,” added Mr Airey.
“I honestly think there’s potential for some other quasi-agricultural use. An urban farm would be a superb option for it, or possibly a nursery.”
Details of its ancient past first came to light in 1873, when three Bronze Age burial urns were unearthed during the construction of a waterworks at the site.
The unique lot will go under the hammer at the Great North East Propery Auction on Tuesday December 4, at the Ramside Hall Hotel.
Fossils and Bronze Age finds
IN the Late Permian period, 250million years ago, Humbledon Hill was covered by the warm, very salty Zechstein Sea, stretching from North East England to Poland.
These fossils, collected on the hill, are on display at the Museum and Winter Gardens.
Top, a bryozoan, Thamniscus dubius; below left, a fossil brachiopod (lamp shell), Pterospirifer alatus; below right, a fossil bryozoan (sea mat or moss animal), Fenestella retiformis.
These fossils look like white nets on the surface of the rock. They are very common around Tunstall Hills, which once formed part of a huge tropical barrier reef.