A COUNCIL has been accused of vandalism after allowing a 2000-year-old stretch of Roman road to be dug up in error.
The criticism was levelled at Perth and Kinross Council after planners approved an application to improve drainage and build a shed next to Kaims Cottage, near Braco, without an archaeological survey.
The go-ahead resulted in the destruction of one of the few surviving undamaged sections of the road, which was constructed by the Romans in 70AD.
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust had recommended that an archaeological survey be carried out to review the dangers in excavating land surrounding the Roman fort and road.
Its proposal was put to the planning department. But when the consent was issued the essential condition of an archaeological survey was forgotten.
Dr John Woolliscroft, a leading expert on the Roman occupation of Scotland, criticised the council's "carelessness''.
Dr Woolliscroft, of Liverpool University, said: "This was one of the surviving sections that seems to have been still in something like its original state, without modern rebuild-ing/resurfacing, so this bit of vandalism seems to be a sad loss of opportunity.
"It does sound as though the trouble at Kaims is the council's fault. I spoke to the trust, which advises the council on potential clashes between heritage and development, and they tell me that they strongly advised that if planning consent was granted it should be only on condition that an archaeological study should be undertaken before the work was started. They were ignored.
"Sadly, although the little Roman fort is a scheduled ancient monument, and so can't be touched without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the Roman road is not, despite being well preserved."
The council admitted the mistake. A spokeswoman said: "Historic Scotland had no objections or comments to offer and the trust recommended that a condition be attached to require that an archaeological watching brief be carried out during all ground-breaking works.
"Unfortunately, a condition to this effect in the planning consent for this historic site was omitted, which is entirely regrettable."