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Submitted by a Correspondent:
THE SELFIE – A SHORT HISTORY
When in 1651, exactly 363 years ago yesterday, Charles II visited Stonehenge he didn’t do it to cross it off his “Bucket List”. Charles didn’t take advantage of any “photo opportunity” moment, indeed he would have shunned recognition. Nor did he arrive with a massive entourage, his servants preferred Salisbury Fair.
What changed between the visit of Charles and the visit of Barack Obama in 2014, is the selfie – everyone increasingly wanting to write themselves into the story. To borrow from one of the American President’s predecessors: it is not what the present can do for Stonehenge, but what the monument can do for the present. As well as the long past, it is surely time for visitors to be reminded to spare the monument’s future a thought…
If you’re in a Planning Department and you’re going to let a utility company dig up a probable archaeological site without making provision for an archaeological watching brief, it’s best not to do it at the end of the street in which the Director of the Council for British Archaeology lives. The danger being, he might trudge home after a long, hot day in the office and spot some pottery and the fragments of a Roman era leg bone and a jawbone with teeth in it lying on a pile of soil… Which is exactly the nightmare that happened recently up in in York !
Dr Heyworth said the incident shows up the “black holes” that are appearing in local authority archaeology services, with planners taking decisions without any specialist advice. He notified both the police to inform them that human remains had been discovered and the local authority, and work has now been suspended while an archaeologist investigates the site.
The worrying aspect is that not every street has a Dr Heyworth living in it so it’s a moot point how many similar issues go unnoticed up and down the country. Coincidentally, EH has just revealed that the number of archaeological specialists in local authorities has declined by 9.5% in the past year. The full report is HERE.
PRESS RELEASE 8th July 2014
The Sustainable Trust at Stithians Show
For anyone who missed our fabulous Solstice ‘Rock on at Carwynnen Quoit’, we are holding the last exhibition in this phase of the project next Monday.
To celebrate the Festival of Archaeology, the Council of Archaeology’s annual event, we will be showing new footage of the restoration along with a photographic exhibition of the project. Stithians Agricultural Association have kindly accepted us as one of their featured charities this year and we relish the opportunity to bring this project to a wider appreciative audience.
Visiting children will be able to make a pop up quoit card, a thaumotrope and a pocket book about the history of this 5000 year old monument, written in both Cornish and English. It will be a chance to talk about your memories of ‘The Frying Pan Field’ and the ‘Devil’s Quoit’ and hear about our re-creation of the famous 1925 picnic and future plans.
Pip Richards, director of sustrust said ‘We have been astounded at the amount of people who have shown appreciation for our work at Carwynnen. This field has now become a focal point for the community with its iconic megalithic structure. It feels symbolic that we have managed to restore one of the first man made landmarks during this time of recognition of Cornish identity. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible’.
Not its funding, you understand, its visitor numbers. Thanks to a long, hot summer, favourable exchange rates and a post-Olympic “bounce”, the tourism industry enjoyed a record-breaking 32 million visits to Britain in 2013, the highest number since records began.
As a result, tourism earnings soared 12.7 per cent to an unprecedented £21 billion. London overtook Paris as the world’s most popular tourism destination with 16.8 million visits, thanks to a “post-Olympic boom” and a surge in the popularity of the British Royal Family coinciding with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the birth of Prince George. Visitor numbers in the rest of England, Scotland and Wales grew by as much as 10 per cent.
At Stonehenge English Heritage reported an 18.9 per cent rise in visitors last year with their spokesman reporting “We had a fantastic year, with more than half of all visitors to Stonehenge coming from abroad…”.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions are even more bullish: “The rest of the country outside of the capital is set to get an even bigger slice of the tourism cake in future. On their first visit to the UK tourists pretty much exclusively head to London, but our research shows that on their second and third visits, they are actually more likely to visit the rest of the country, to explore its heritage history and countryside.”
A couple of things are worth considering: First, isn’t it irrational that while heritage tourism income is soaring, heritage funding is plummeting? Second, isn’t it puzzling how, when Stonehenge visitor numbers are soaring, there are still calls for Free and Open access to the place? How will that work then?
We’ve just had a message from WordPress saying Congratulations, English Heritage has started following The Journal and from now on they’ll get an email every time a new post is published.
It could be all part of the fact English Heritage are currently advertising for a new “Stonehenge Social Media Content Executive” part of the job description for which is to: “Work closely with Corporate Communications to manage the reputation of the English Heritage brand through Stonehenge social media channels” and “Track and report on relevant website and social media activity using a variety of reporting systems including Google Analytics“.
We think EH are wonderful!
Well, well well!
We’ve banged on about how the Staffordshire Hoard site has been nighthawked and how more security is needed so we were interested to find that the far less well-known Corbridge site has been nighthawked a shocking number of times.
The staff thought it was down to the fact it was monitored so much rather than that there was necessarily more nighthawking there than at other sites elsewhere but in one year there were seven instances of nighthawking and 122 ‘individual intrusions’ into the ground. At the Staffordshire Hoard site, over 4 years, that would equate with 28 possible instances of nighthawking and 488 ‘individual intrusions’ into the ground – were it not for the fact the latter is infinitely better known and infinitely more attractive to nighthawks.
We were also interested to read that since the research at Corbridge in 2005 “English Heritage have consistently employed a security firm on site. This seems to have greatly reduced the number of nighthawking incidents” ….
A study has indicated that Language and tool-making skills evolved at the same time.
Makes sense to us.
188 houses to be built next to Stonehenge
A Councillor said: “The latest proposal seeks to strike a balance between preserving and improving this historic landmark, and meeting the local need for development”.
Not Stonehenge actually. Old Oswesty Hill Fort. Still….
Aliens being crowded out by humans in Wiltshire
According to the Crop Circle Information and Coordination Centre there have been only 25 crop circles in the area so far this year – 15 fewer than usual. However, far from wishing there were more they want there to be less. Charles Mallet, from the centre, said he wished amateur crop circlers would quit because they were “clouding a genuine and real phenomenon”. Quite how many crop circles would be left in Wiltshire if the ones made by humans were eliminated hasn’t been made clear..
Stonehenge subjected to sensibleness!
Visitors wishing to celebrate the Autumn Equinox at Stonehenge this year (on Monday 23 September) will be given access into the monument “when it is considered sufficiently light and therefore safe to do so”. This is likely to be from approximately 6.15am, about three quarters of an hour before sunrise. http://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co. … inox-2013/ It naturally prompts the question: should the same approach be adopted at the Summer event as well where the safety issues are far greater? What is the point of tens of thousands gathering there for hours in the pitch dark?
Satan at Stonehenge
It is reported that a group that was let into Stonehenge to greet the sunrise a few Sundays back (on Midsummers Day, not at the main solstice gathering) was heard from some distance away loudly chanting “Hail Satan”. If so, should it be welcomed as an excellent manifestation of “inclusivity and multivocality”? Or is it just bonkers? Not the fact the Dark Lord was being greeted (or called to appear, who knows?) but the fact that they were let in for free. Does it mean anything at all gets you in gratis? Will they get a free land train ride as well next year? What about followers of the Great Biscuit in the Sky? Pass the bourbons, I’ve always fancied an out-of-hours visit at someone else’s expense…
It was a “landmark ruling” http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/abou … tagecrime/ when a Northamptonshire nighthawk was given a metal detecting ASBO – the first of its type – but it has now been reduced to a 5 year period http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/ … 24#mdnesds because the original one was ruled “disproportionate”. Presumably the Judge felt that if you keep a fox out of the chicken coop for 5 years he’ll be safe to be let in after that. Bet he doesn’t keep chickens.
A partner for Northumberlandia?
Banks Mining who brought us the the world’s largest human figure, Northumberlandia, are talking of starting another massive opencast mine and are in talks with Northumberland Tourism and Northumberland Wildlife Trust about opportunities to enhance the area.
Reports that they’re planning to construct a companion for Northumberlandia, an even larger figure of a naked man, are nonsense but it is thought that he will be named Cock o’ the North.
Ten years ago today, at the suggestion of our much-missed friend Rebecca van der Putt, a diverse group of ordinary people interested in prehistoric sites met at an extraordinary place for a picnic.
From that first meeting grew Heritage Action which subsequently morphed into The Heritage Journal which aims to promote awareness and therefore the welfare of ancient sites. It has perhaps filled a gap as it seems to have struck a chord with many people, both professional and amateur. 140 archaeologists have contributed articles to it and it is currently followed by more than 4,500 people on Twitter (including Nelson Mandela!).
We can’t claim the Journal always says things that everyone agrees with – that would be impossible bearing in mind how many individuals contribute content to it but we can claim two things – first, that everyone that puts it together or writes anything in it has their heart in the right place when it comes to ancient sites and second that anyone with an interest in prehistory who reads it regularly is likely to find at least something to pique their interest. At least, that’s the aim. The guiding principle is to try to make it like a magazine, updated nearly every day and with articles that are as diverse as possible. If you don’t like Stonehenge you could scroll down or use the search box to read about the last black bear on Salisbury Plain, the Hillfort Glow experiment, the stony raindrops of Ketley Crag, the policeman who spotted three aliens in Avebury or indeed that the Uffington Horse may be a dog!
Now that we’ve reached this milestone (which coincides with this year’s Day of Archaeology - do please join in there too, if you can!) the question arises – where does the Journal go from here, and for how long? It’s a matter for conjecture for it depends entirely on the efforts of contributors and the wishes of readers. A number of veterans from the original picnic are still involved and we’ve also been joined by a number of excellent new contributors but we’re always on the look out for still more. Please consider helping (an article, many articles or a simple news tip-offs and a photograph – whatever you like) as it’s a worthy cause that is only truly valid if it’s a communal entity with multiple public voices. In addition, any suggestions for future innovations or improvements will be gratefully received (brief ones in the Comments or longer ones at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Better still, we’ll shortly be holding a pow-wow and lunch (details to be announced) to discuss how the Journal should progress from now on. You’re more than welcome to come.
Woodland Trust fails to mince words…
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has just approved a planning application for a controversial quarry extension into ancient Oaken Wood near Maidstone. This is the first real test of whether the Government’s recent planning reforms would offer sufficient protection to ancient woodland and by extension, heritage sites. It’s looking like a “no” then.
Woodland Trust Chief Executive, Sue Holden, said: “This is a landmark decision, but for all the wrong reasons. This so-called ‘greenest Government ever’ stated that the new National Planning Policy Framework1 would give sufficient protection to irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland. It clearly does not. We are extremely concerned now that this outcome could define the level of protection given to ancient woods in all future planning decisions across England”. http://www.woodlandtrust.presscentre.co … s-ed1.aspx
Heritage Crime – Expand the definition!
“Last week the (Welwyn and Hatfield) borough council, with a number of other authorities, signed a memorandum to help protect listed buildings. This comes as part of the national Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH). Councillor Mandy Perkins, executive member for business and planning, said:
“Heritage crime, by which I mean things like lead theft from church roofs and damage caused to listed buildings, is a serious problem nationwide. Heritage assets are not only irreplaceable but places like Hatfield House promote tourism and jobs in the borough.”
Yes, but it’s not just church lead and listed buildings, is it? Welwyn has a large concentration of Roman and Iron Age sites. What about those?
This ancient monument to the dead has intrigued people for centuries. Learn about its secrets and how it fits into the wider landscape. Details: http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/events/381