Two of England’s most important early medieval archaeological discoveries have been reunited for a new exhibition, Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo.

“Every object tells a story,” says Laura Howarth, Sutton Hoo’s Archaeology and Engagement Manager. “Whilst you can immerse yourself marvelling at the stories and skills behind each of the objects on display, Swords of Kingdoms is also a special opportunity to unite objects from different collections and weave a shimmering web of connecting threads which together speak of the 7th-century warrior elite and a period of great change. Some chapters of each story may be lost to us today, but it is fascinating to wonder and imagine this gold and garnet adorned age.”

Some chapters may be lost to us, yes, but some of those chapters still lie in that Staffordshire field and could be easily recovered. Here’s all the evidence (there’s a lot of it!)

We agree with Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy Historic England, who has just said that he does not like the term nighthawking: “It almost romanticises it, but they’re stealing artefacts that belong to all of us.”

We agree (although we disagree with his other point that the majority of detectorists reported their finds – that’s just daft and defies both statistics and logic).

But our main objection to the term nighthawking is that it’s not inclusive. If not reporting is stealing from all of us then MOST detectorists are nighthawks. Ooh, how dare we say that? Well, we’ll desist if anyone can show it’s not true.

We thought that as members of the public and stakeholders we’d tell PAS the same thing but on the PAS Twitter Account, Portable Antiquities @findsorguk, it says …

Still happening: Historicide, the erasure of History.

Our article from 2 years ago. It still rankles, daily, especially when the police have just re-mouthed PAS’s absolute falsehood that the great majority of detectorists are responsible …

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You can’t get much meaner than removing traces of a country’s history, obliterating its past. Yet, as the pandemic restrictions are eased, thousands are poised to pick up their metal detectors and do exactly that once again.

Yes, collectively they report many finds, and that’s a dividend. But how does that compensate a country for collectively failing to report the rest? To claim a small gain makes up for a large loss is the maths of a fool.

And yes, the PAS has insufficient staff to record everything, but is it so impossible for them to be at least SHOWN what is found? Of course not, a brief look at seven artefacts an hour by each Finds Liaison Officer to pick out anything significant is perfectly possible – and indisputably desirable.

So British historicide is entirely avoidable. But instead we allow it and have coined a phrase to make up for the fact, “responsible detecting”, meaning “the minority who report”. If only we were honest and talked of “moral detecting”, meaning “they who don’t obliterate history”. Calling a spade a spade would surely have done more good than more than two decades of pretending? Maybe, one day …

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The Finds Liaison Officer who stood up and used the phrase “moral detecting”

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THE team behind the Stonehenge tunnel will be taking a “chatty van” around the local villages next week to talk about the scheme.

The implication is that it is something that will simply be of local interest, something that is being reinforced by a small group of tunnel supporters, the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group who say the Stonehenge Alliance is coming up with “obnoxious” counter-arguments and “sending it to all their “followers around the world who are not in the least affected by the A303 at Stonehenge and don’t have a clue where it is.”

Not true. Huge numbers of people worldwide see the scheme as THEIR concern – and why not, Stonehenge and its landscape belongs to the whole of humanity, not just the locals. That being so it would surely be more appropriate if National Highways sent their ridiculous “chatty van” far beyond a small corner of Wiltshire to explain why they are damaging a world heritage site against the express wishes of UNESCO.


Dear Fellow Landowners,

Here’s the latest from a detecting forum: “Some want to see everything & take their pick of the goodies, others just aren’t interested and are happy for you to take everything.”

Seriously? Are we farmers so uncultured that we don’t care or so rich we don’t mind giving a scruff the complete run of our wallets?

I, for one, don’t believe it.

Silas Brown,

Grunter’s Hollow, Worfield, Salop

We were very pleased to see this on the Stonehenge Alliance Facebook page …

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Why? Because that same message is already circling around a dwarf planet three billion miles away! See our article last year …

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Forever Written in the sky: an immortal Stonehenge rebuke

Spaceship Dawn is in the news just now. After a journey of 3 billion miles, it is now in permanent orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and has just reported back the discovery of an enormous lake of saltwater.

Back in 2007 we successfully applied to NASA to have Dawn carry the simple message below into space where it will stay forever.

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So it is to be hoped that those attempting to subvert the intentions of the World Heritage Convention and falsely spin a road project as a heritage enhancement exercise will sometimes glance upwards and reflect that what they are supporting is profoundly wrong. We suspect they all will.

The hapless National Highways Wriggling Department has come up with this beauty about the impact of their scheme at Stonehenge:

“Predicted overall CO2e emissions have decreased” due to an updated matrix which has an “updated fleet mix including the projected uptake of electric vehicles up to 2050”.

Trouble is one of the main reasons English Heritage et al support the scheme is that there is noise and fumes from the road which reduces the experience for visitors to the stones. There’s very little actually, but even if there was then for every additional electric car National Highways postulates there’s an equal weakening of reasons for English Heritage’s support!

According to Hampshire detectorist Pete Beasley delays in deciding the fate of rare finds has caused some people to stop handing their finds to the authorities. He said he had handed a pure gold Norman ring into the Finds Liaison Office in Winchester two years ago, which has yet to be returned. “This takes forever and it shouldn’t, these are experts. It should take weeks rather than two or three years.

So no mention of Covid nor that every detectorist bar none is “in it for the history not the money” nor that Treasure items are OURS, not theirs and rewards are merely ex gratia and it’s criminal not to report treasure. Nor that researching finds can be very complex and take a long time especially as the Portable Antiquities Scheme is starved of resources.

There’s a solution. Let 27,000 history-loving detectorists pay £5 a year to help PAS be speedier. That’s £1.3 million, which should be more than enough. (They could afford it. One detectorist recently said “the majority spend close to £1K on a detector, over £25 on a rally and expect to always find something”).

But here’s a funny thing: in 2015 the PAS asked for voluntary donations. So far (and nothing for 2 years) …

The inhabitants of Britain who dwell about the promontory known as Belerium (modern Cornwall) are especially hospitable to strangers and have adopted a civilized manner of life because of their intercourse with merchants of other peoples. They it is who work the tin, treating the bed which bears it in an ingenious manner. This bed, being like rock, contains earthy seams and in them the workers quarry the ore, which they then melt down and cleanse of its impurities. Then they work the tin into pieces the size of knuckle-bones and convey it to an island which lies off Britain and is called Ictis (St. Michael’s Mount): for at the time of ebb-tide the space between this island and the mainland becomes dry and they can take the tin in large quantities over to the island on their wagons.

Diodorus Siculus 90 B.C. – A.D. 30; Library of History, Book V, 22

Restormel takes its name from the Cornish words ‘ros tor moyl’ translating as ‘bare hilltop spur’.

The earliest known occupation at Restormel, just outside Lostwithiel in Cornwall, was a Roman fort, the banks and ditches of which can still be seen on the hill to the south west of the later castle.

The Roman fort at Restormel surviving as a rectangular earthwork. Photo courtesy of Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service.

The Roman fort was occupied between the first and fourth centuries AD housing around 160 individuals. The structure was rectangular in plan, measuring around 60 metres by 70 metres, with opposed entrances on its sides. Surrounding the enclosure were two banks and ditches whereas a similar fort at Nanstallon, west of Bodmin, had only one.

A geophysical survey at Restormel has revealed only traces of internal buildings and their layout is not yet known. Other Roman forts in Cornwall have been investigated at nearby Nanstallon overlooking the River Camel and at Calstock above the Tamar valley. All three forts were sited at the tidal limits of their rivers and were probably intended to secure trade routes into Cornwall and access its valuable mineral resources.

Roman remains are uncommon west of Exeter, in what is currently Devon, and it is believed that the Romans never had a substantial presence in the region.

With thanks as ever to Myghal Map Serpren.

A message from John Adams OBE, Chair of the Stonehenge Alliance:

An impressive 1,200+ responses to the redetermination consultation were forwarded to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and published by the Planning Inspectorate last week, including responses of those not registered as Interested Parties.  A huge thank you to all who managed to send in their comments.  These are being analysed by one of our volunteers but it looks as if objectors, NGOs and Stonehenge specialists have stood firm with their resolve strengthened.  

The Stonehenge Alliance submitted a raft of new documents which shows that the case for the scheme is even weaker than it was at the Public Examination in 2019.  We highlighted that the economic case for the tunnel, already in the red, is now far worse with rising construction costs and a heritage valuation survey that is no longer valid.  We also rebut National Highways’ assessment of alternatives, which is not fit for purpose as it failed to acknowledge the Examining Authority’s and Grant Shapps’ opinion that the road scheme would cause significant harm to the World Heritage Site.

Tom Holland, our President, said: “There is only one sane outcome to this process and that is for Grant Shapps to refuse permission for this highly damaging road scheme. Even though UNESCO has threatened to place the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the road goes ahead as planned, National Highways remains in complete denial about the impact of its plans for the Stonehenge landscape.  This Government-owned company is increasingly clutching at straws in its attempts to justify the desecration of our most iconic World Heritage Site.  

“If Grant Shapps refuses to take the sensible course and tell National Highways to go away and come back with something better, then at the very least he should hold a new public examination. The amount of technical information involved is far too great for the Secretary of State to make a new decision without first obtaining the expert advice of a team of independent planning inspectors.”

Updated response to the Statement of Matters on carbon 

Some of you might have received a further invitation to comment on National Highways’ updated response on carbon by 10 June.  This is a technical paper which the Alliance plans to comment on.  We will endeavour to circulate some key points in due course. 

ABOUT THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.  More about us 

The petition against the road is at almost 220,000 signatures.  You can sign and share here.

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