Mike Pitts has been discussing the Ministry of Justice’s application form for removal and retention of human remains. As he says, it may be good news for archaeologists but that’s not yet certain – for the application process is said to be for “balancing” the case for the removal, examination and retention against countervailing factors such as public concerns. In other words, it’s down to Sir Humphrey and no-one yet knows in which way he’ll tend to lean.

Knowing Sir Humphrey as we all do it’s hard to avoid suspecting that having retained absolute control of the issue he will mostly decide in favour of archaeologists (and most of the public, who have been shown to support them) while giving the opponents of removal the impression the decisions will be a product of “balance” in which their concerns had a half-decent chance of winning the day but failed by a whisker. Or is that a bit cynical? Is Sir Humphrey actually as straight as a die and his decisions will be 50-50 on each side? We’ll know soon enough!

It’s no secret we’re with the archaeologists on this, providing there are safeguards ensuring remains are treated with respect, which there are. So we hope Sir Humphrey is about as straight as he seems on the telly!