The Kampong Speu Department of Culture and Fine Arts is in the process of registering land titles and demarcating boundaries at the 464 cultural heritage sites in the province that have been discovered since 2021. Only 16 of the 464 sites have been demarcated with boundary poles to date.
Department director Sun Meanchey said on January 5 that the designated sites include temples, burial mounds, shrines, crematoriums, graveyards, reservoirs, resort areas, bridges and more. A total of 285 pagodas also had their locations and descriptions noted for the official records.
He said none of the sites have official land titles, so the culture ministry has requested that the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction facilitate the process of registering the sites and issuing land titles in order to help protect these cultural heritage sites throughout the province.
“From 2022 onward, we will make an effort to speed up the process of issuing the land titles. The work will first begin at all conflict-prone or high-risk areas in order to get ahead of problems like land grabs because development in the province is growing remarkably quickly even amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Meanchey said.
He noted that some land titles had already been issued in places where communal halls had been located on some portion of certain of the ancient sites, but after experts from the department and commune authorities determined that they were cultural heritage sites, the communes had returned the land to the department for preservation.
The 464 cultural heritage sites are located across all seven districts of the province and in Chbar Mon town. As many as 151 are located in Samrong Tong district, while another 78 are in Kong Pisei district, according to the department’s report.
Baset district’s Chachib commune chief Kol Ra said on January 6 that 11 cultural heritage sites are located in his commune and it is where they found the ancient stone with the “Sovannaphum” inscription, which was handed over to the National Museum in Phnom Penh in December, 2018.
“The culture department has already demarcated all of our cultural heritage sites,” he noted.
There is only one known temple in the province – Kaek Poong – a structure made from clay bricks at the foot of Kaek Poong Mountain in Phnom Sruoch district, though only 40 per cent of the original construction currently remains. A lingam was also seen there in earlier decades but is no longer present, according to Meanchey.
An important inscription sized 25 x 15 x 5 cm remains at the temple site in addition to clay and sandstone bricks, according to the report.
Based on its architecture and construction techniques, the temple may have been built in the Sambor Prei Kuk style in the 7th Century by King Ey San Varman I during the pre-Angkorean era. It is approximately 70km from Phnom Penh off National Road 4.