Date
20 June 2018
Foundations of ancient watchtowers and walls were uncovered, along with some artifacts, after some excavation work at the Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen Walled Village. Photo: HKEJ
Foundations of ancient watchtowers and walls were uncovered, along with some artifacts, after some excavation work at the Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen Walled Village. Photo: HKEJ

Expanded excavation may delay Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen redevelopment

Important artifacts have been discovered in the 600-year-old Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen in Kowloon City, the last Walled Village in Hong Kong urban area, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced Thursday.

Archaeologists uncovered the stone foundations of ancient Chinese watchtowers and walls on the north-east and south-west corners of the village one-and-a-half meters under the ground, the URA  said.

The remains of a somewhat small watchtower on the south-west corner were deemed to be relatively good condition. The structure was estimated to measure 4.5 meters by 4.5 meters.

Among other items, porcelain tiles and ceramic fragments were found in a site of a supposed moat of the village. But digging work was stopped at 2.65 meters due to the influx of groundwater.

All relics can be dated back to as early as the Ming or Qing period. Some bricks from the late Qing period were found in the foundations used to maintain their original buildings, experts suggested.

In 2016, after rehousing and compensation procedures for locals were completed, the site had been assessed under a survey commissioned by the URA as a follow-up after an initial heritage study by a UNESCO expert, Lawrence Loh.

Independent archaeologist Julie Van Den Bergh, who previously conducted excavation works in Sha Po Tsuen, Lamma Island, conducted the survey. She filed a preliminary report on the findings in December 2016.

Due to discussions with the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) to expand the excavation project, the announcement of the discovery has been held back for one-and-a-half years.

Before the excavation in 2016, most of the old buildings were demolished, except for the Tin Hau temple, the gatehouse, the embedded “Hing Yau Yu” stone tablet, and eight village structures that formed the central axis that linked all elements.

The AMO has granted a new excavation permit to the URA to expand the excavation area by four times the original size of 390 square meters.

A new report for the findings will be submitted to the AMO by the end of the year, according to Michael Ma Chi-tse, Executive Director (Commercial) of the URA.

As the Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) work is still in progress, the URA has not concluded the preservation plan yet, and no development will be commenced until the completion of the preservation plan and receipt of the government’s consent, Ma noted.

The redevelopment project was previously scheduled to be completed by 2023-24, providing 750 residential units.

The URA has not made any estimation about the economic loss from the delay. The agency believes co-developer CK Asset would be willing to postpone the construction work.

KN/RC

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