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“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope”.
Happy New Year to all our supporters and readers.
From the Wairarapa Daily Times, New Zealand, 9 November 1915 :
“It appears that it was a local landowner, Mr C H E Chubb of Bemerton Lodge, Salisbury, who purchased Stonehenge for £6,600…..After the sale Mr Chubb said that when he went into the saleroom he had no intention whatsoever of buying the monument. “While I was there,” he added “I thought a Salisbury man ought to buy it, and that is how it was done”.
Asked if he had any plans for the future of Stonehenge Mr Chubb said that while he intended to preserve the monument, he would do nothing for some little time, as he had to consider the position.”
[Whether Mr Chubb had in mind that it was necessary to “consider the position” for almost a century is not recorded.]
“English Heritage should appoint a local society as its point of liaison for all the monuments in its care. There are constantly minor works that need to be done, such as new pathways, the foundation for a new seat, or a need for an extension to the toilets or plumbing. Such minor works could perfectly well be investigated by the local society. Major works will need to be done professionally, but the local people should be consulted and made to feel that the local monument belongs to them – not to English Heritage in London.”
Andrew Selkirk, Editor-in-Chief, Current Archaeology.
More (some of which we agree with rather less!) here.
“As in any hobby or organization you have a small rouge (sic) element this includes detector users, archeologists, and no doubt some Heritage Action employees”
We were amused by the above slip of a detectorist’s pen in a Comment to our piece on detecting on ridge and furrow (we haven’t published it there as the discussion seems to be sterile). But perhaps we’re entitled to react to the much cited claim by detectorists that there are rogue elements everywhere.
For the avoidance of doubt it should be clearly understood that neither archaeologists nor Heritage Action members have a nighthawking wing. Nor do they favour grabbing things for themselves. Nor not reporting them. Nor selling them.
Since all detectorists are guilty of between 1 and 4 of those things (and most of them are guilty of at least 2 according to PAS), attempting to say there’s a comparison between the behaviour of detectorists and that of archaeologists and Heritage Action members is a bit silly.
The difference is clear. Detectorists exploit and remove for their personal benefit. All of them. Very very very few other people involved with heritage matters do that. Only one group that is interested in heritage needs to blush, and it’s not archaeologists or Heritage Action members.
Across the UK and Ireland, excavation funding is falling; archaeologists are losing their jobs. But the unrecorded past is still there, and building, farming, roadworks and many other forces relentlessly wipe the record. Only now, after decades of astonishingly productive work, do we realise how much must have been lost before, We are losing things now. And in the present state of the economy it is no surprise to hear calls to relax protection legislation… [British Archaeology http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ ]
Powerful words. And there is great significance in what he adds:
We feature six typical sites that are being or may soon be destroyed. They range from traces of 8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers to a world war two bomb shelter, and none can be saved by professional archaeologists on their own.
“STONEHENGE, the grandest prehistoric monument in the British Isles, is at last in sight of the end of its troubles.
“Preservation was assured some years ago, but its essential setting, the vast solitude of Salisbury Plain, was lost during the war and has never been recovered. First the war, then tourists, broke in upon the silence and spacious emptiness of Salisbury Plain, but plans for protection are afoot.”
The New York Times, October 16, 1927.
“You are an archaeologist, I am a naturalist…Go thy way to Abury…thou man of stone, of bronze, of iron. I, being of flesh and blood, with warm heart and warm sympathies, seek my companions amid the living and the beautiful, and not among the dead.”
John Tyndall, the physicist, writing to his friend John Lubbock in 1863.
This article from The Independent - November 2008 underlines just how environmentally vulnerable landscapes get destroyed when American ‘tycoons’ spy big pickings to be had in their never ending need for more coppers, or in this case dollars, to fill their bank accounts! Just a few choice quotes from Golf Madness is Killing the Countryside by Terence Blacker.
“For all the hot air about energy, the Scottish Government has encouraged a development which will depend upon rich businessman flying from around the world to enjoy Trumpland,
For all the talk of sensible investment, it has granted planning permission for 500 “luxury homes” at the precise moment when the market for such properties has collapsed. The market for such homes in London, for example, reached a 32-year low last month.
For all the commitment to social benefits, it is to allow the rape of a much-loved, environmentally valuable landscape in order to provide facilities for one of the most exclusive and class-ridden sports in the world.
For all the warm words about local activism, it has ridden roughshod over the will of the local council. Those who have dared to speak against the development have been subjected to pressure, harassment and bullying.
There will be jobs, particularly in the short term while the development is being built, but it is ludicrous to argue that Scottish tourism will benefit. The majority of people do not visit the country in order to see a string of dreary, identical, environmentally dead golf courses, but to enjoy one of the most interesting and beautiful landscapes in Europe.
But in the end it has been another triumph for developers, another part of unspoilt countryside lost forever.
A thousand new golf courses are built around the world and most of them look – are designed to look – remarkably similar to one another.
By contrast, the scenery, wildlife habitat and ecosystems that are about to be destroyed are increasingly rare and under pressure.
Trumpland, and the many golf courses of Aberdeenshire will, according to Rita Stephen, “secure our long-term vision”. But what a sad, sterile, money-led vision that is.”