Antiquities Advisory Board and Antiquities and Monuments Office

The Antiquities Advisory Board has 19 appointed members. They include archaeologists, architects, historians, lawyers, a planner and a teacher. It advises the Government on sites and structures that merit protection through declaration as monuments. In 1999, two historical buildings — Fan Sin Kung in Tai Po and Cheung Ancestral Hall in Yuen Long — were declared monuments.

    Fan Sin Kung (Fan Sin Temple) in Wun Yiu, Tai Po, was probably built by the Ma clan about 200 years ago to worship the three brothers surnamed Fan who were revered collectively as Fan Tai Sin Sze, the patron saint of potters. Wun Yiu consists of Sheung Wun Yiu and Ha Wun Yiu which were established in the early 16th century and 19th century respectively to produce traditional blue-and-white ceramic ware for daily use. As most of the villagers in the old days worked in the pottery industry, the worship of the Fan Tai Sin Sze in the temple was very popular in the past. The temple is a simple but functional rammed earth two-hall structure. It was gazetted as a monument on December 30.

    The Cheung Ancestral Hall in Shan Ha Tsuen, Yuen Long, was built in 1815 by the Cheung clan, whose ancestors migrated from Dongguan in Guangdong Province to Xian County during the Ming Dynasty and later moved to Shan Ha Tsuen during the Shunzhi reign (1644-1661) of the Qing Dynasty. The building is a two-hall green brick structure with an open courtyard in between and covered aisles on both sides. The ancestral hall has been used as a centre for communal gatherings and a place for ancestral worship, although it was also used as the premises for a primary school from the 1930s to 1950s. The ancestral hall was declared a monument on December 30.

    During 1999, restoration and repairs were undertaken at various historical buildings including the Cheung Ancestral Hall, the former Kowloon British School, King Law Ka Suk (King Law Study Hall), the Old Pathological Institute, Tsui Shing Lau Pagoda, Yi Tai Study Hall, Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall and Cheung Chun Yuen.

    Cartographic survey and measured drawing projects in respect of King Law Ka Shuk and Fan Sin Kung in Tai Po, Lik Wing Tong Study Hall in Kam Tin, Tin Hau Temple in Aberdeen and Hung Shing Temple in Kau Sai Chau, Sai Kung were carried out with the assistance of the Guangdong Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and consultant service. The drawings and findings of the survey provided useful information to facilitate the restoration and reconstruction of these historical buildings.

    The regional historical building and structure survey was completed. About 7 000 pre-1950 buildings and structures of historical interest were recorded. The data collected are being compiled and computerised to facilitate future research.

    Following the enforcement of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance on April 1, 1998, the AMO continued to be heavily involved in heritage impact assessments associated with EIA studies. Related archaeological investigations were undertaken at Kau Hui and Ha Pak Nai in Yuen Long and Yick Yuen in Tuen Mun as well as the project areas of the following development projects: drainage improvement at Kam Tin and Yuen Long, widening of Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway, main drainage works at Ngau Tam Mei in Yuen Long, roads and drains for Area 56 in Tuen Mun. The office also conducted marine archaeological investigations in connection with the Cheung Chau Sewage Outfall at Kellett Bay project and at the Penny's Bay Reclamation area. These surveys and investigations have yielded valuable data on the archaeological potential of the various project areas. Appropriate mitigation measures would be arranged to safeguard the archaeological remains.

    In 1999, the AMO also conducted surveys of Areas 13 and 14 in Yuen Long and the project areas of the following development or works projects: drainage improvement work in Kam Tin, Yuen Long, the extension of Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway, the Tuen Mun Sewerage Phase IV of Stage I, the Western Coast Road in Tseung Kwan O, the engineering work in Yuen Long Kau Hui (Yuen Long Old Market) and Kam Tin Road Stage II. The field surveys yielded valuable data on the cultural heritage sites within the various project areas and appropriate mitigation measures were subsequently arranged to address the impact of the development on the affected sites.

    The most rewarding archaeological operation was the rescue excavation at Ho Chung, Sai Kung, from April to July. This excavation was assisted by three archaeological institutions in the Mainland — the Anthropology Department of Zhongshan University, the Guangxi Provincial Archaeological Team and the Hunan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology — with a total of nearly 50 archaeologists participating. The excavation, which covered an area of more than 1 400 square metres, yielded remains of three cultural phases — the Late Neolithic (circa 2000 BC), Tang and Song dynasties (AD 618-1127), and Ming and Qing dynasties (AD 1368-1911). The most spectacular discovery was a Neolithic workshop of about 200 square metres for manufacturing stone tools in which large quantity of stone cores, flakes and tools such as adzes, picks and polishing stones were found. This workshop is the first of its kind found in Hong Kong, thus providing valuable data for the study of stone-working methods in prehistoric times here. Another significant finding was the presence of some 200 post-holes within the Tang and Song cultural layer, suggesting the presence of a large settlement at Ho Chung during the Song Dynasty.

    The AMO also conducted rescue excavations at Lung Kwu Tan, Tuen Mun from January to March, at Lo So Shing in May and at Man Kok Tsui in July and August. A series of eight kiln structures of the Tang Dynasty was found in Lung Kwu Tan and a large quantity of Bronze Age artefacts was unearthed in Man Kok Tsui, thus providing more research materials to facilitate the study of Hong Kong's past.

    The ancient kiln site at Wun Yiu, Tai Po, is one of the earliest industrial site in Hong Kong which can be traced back to the middle of the Ming Dynasty about 500 years ago. Remains of various stages of porcelain production were found scattered over the site. The AMO secured funds from the Government to convert one of the vacant Wun Yiu School buildings into a visitor centre for storage and display of excavated finds from the kiln site.

    Upon completion of the reroofing works of the Heritage Resource Centre at 136 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, an exhibition entitled The Heritage of Hong Kong and South China — The Cultural Link was staged from September 24 to the end of December. This exhibition was organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. To complement the exhibition, a seminar on the cultural affinity of Hong Kong's heritage with the Mainland was held on September 25. A delegation from the National Administration for Cultural Heritage and representatives from museums, archaeological and cultural institutions in the Mainland participated in the seminar and exchanged views with local scholars and experts in heritage conservation and related fields. A travelling exhibition entitled Profiles of the History of Yau Tsim Mong was jointly organised with the Yau Tsim Mong Provisional District Board from September 16 to October 6 to introduce the heritage of the district.

    Under the sponsorship of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Central and Western Heritage Trail is being established in phases to show the early urban development of Hong Kong. The first phase, covering the Central district, was well received by the public. The second phase, covering the Sheung Wan district, was successfully launched on July 31.

    Covering 10 historical buildings, structures and sites of various types, the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail in Fanling was opened on December 4.

    The AMO organised study tours for primary and secondary school teachers, and it also promoted the participation of young people in archaeological workshops, field studies and lectures. Heritage tours and lectures were regularly arranged by the AMO so that members of the public could appreciate historical architecture and recent archaeological discoveries.

    To increase the community's commitment in heritage conservation work, the AMO launched a Friends of Heritage scheme to recruit interested people to undertake voluntary work for the office. In view of the encouraging support from founding members, a second batch of volunteers was enrolled in mid-1999.

    An international conference on heritage and tourism, jointly organised by the Antiquities Advisory Board, the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust and the AMO, was held from December 13 to 15. The conference, entitled Heritage and Tourism, provided a forum for international experts to exchange views and share their experience in heritage tourism. It also served to highlight the close relationship between heritage and tourism.