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The National Trust is getting loads of publicity on TV this morning because it has been given £800,000 to improve Hambleton Hill and other Dorset and Wiltshire hill forts by removing scrub. Naturally we thought of Stonehenge, not far away, where it is campaigning for all it’s worth to cause massive, immortal damage.

But we also thought of this from 2015…..


The National Trust has written to the Portman Hunt amid claims made locally that its horses and hounds damaged Hambledon Hill, one of the finest examples of an iron age hill fort in Dorset.

Local resident Jerry Broadway, believes this is the second time the hunt has damaged the hill fort. He said: “After leaving the bridleway the hunt scattered livestock which were panicked by the hounds who were completely out of control.

“On this occasion extensive damage was done by the horses to the hill generally, and most worryingly the Neolithic Longbarrow which is over 3,000 years old.

They have now twice been guilty of damage to a scheduled ancient monument. What, I wonder will it take to make them actually take real notice?


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What indeed?

Prosecution? Hardly. Not really what the Trust does to its friends in hunts, is it?

 

According to a report in the Telegraph :


“Ministers are now “actively considering” scrapping High Speed 2, amid growing concern that its budget could spiral out of control, according to a new documentary.

Senior government sources have claimed that ministers were “increasingly minded to kill off” plans for the £56 billion rail line and divert its budget to existing commuter routes.

The claims, which contrast sharply with Theresa May’s public defence of the project, come in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme which also reports that annual spending on the scheme is due to rise by 40 per cent to £6 billion.”


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This could well fit with fears that Brexit will impose financial austerity.

On the other hand, we have it on very poor authority it is untrue ….

However, if it is true then a fascinating situation arises. Would the Stonehenge tunnel be cancelled too? And if so: would English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust issue a joint statement saying how terribly disappointed they were?!

 

Unthinking or what? Historic England has launched a totally ill-timed campaign:

As Valentine’s Day approaches we want you to share the buildings and places close to your heart. They are the backdrop to our lives, the setting of treasured memories and the familiar sight that says you’re almost home; the unique buildings we live and work among have a special place in our hearts. So tell us: what building can’t you live without? Where is it that makes your heart sing, or stops you in your tracks, every time?

Didn’t it occur to them that for millions of people the answer would be the timeless view of Stonehenge, the one they want to hide forever?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Historic England is half way to getting its wish, so why taunt people by asking what is their most loved view?

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It will be its custodians, surely, for giving up too soon? For example, see English Heritage archaeologist Heather Sebire’s recent words in The Guardian: “Everyone knows the scheme’s not perfect. But it is the best we’re going to get at this point in time.” Really? Is it? Is there a rule that no more can be spent?

No there isn’t and if EH and the others had said no, the tunnel must be longer before we can support it, the Government would not, could not have gone ahead with the short one. And, whatever the politicians say, more money IS available:

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A FLO recently told us: “You & your ilk would have us back in the bad old days 1970s Archaeology. The rest of us have moved on. Catch up.” A tad rude maybe, about amateurs who help pay his wages and who’ve been studying this issue since he was at school?

Plus, he’s totally wrong: we don’t want the 1970s, we want the reverse, detecting regulated by law like nearly everywhere else. And why is it different here? It has to be PAS, a fine idea on paper but doing what its founders never dreamt it would: seeing its own interest in constantly telling Parliament and the public it has knowledge theft under control! It doesn’t. The vast majority of finds are NOT reported and it’s getting worse as the number of detectorists has ballooned. So we’re the only country with a band of archaeologists acting as cheerleaders for metal detecting despite the massive net damage it does.


PAS Conference 2018: “The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has recorded over 1.3 million finds – each one a unique discovery made by a member of the public. This conference celebrates 15 years of the Scheme


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But the unreported finds are vastly greater, why not mention it? If each was an inch wide they’d now stretch from the British Museum almost to Bristol. You won’t hear that said or even denied at the PAS Conference or anywhere else. Still, the pending changes to the Treasure Act suggest there are many who now DO know the scale of the knowledge theft. Our ilk are happy to take a bit of the credit for that.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Here’s an image of the contentious borehole at Blick Mead, beyond it the upper level of the westbound car transporter on the A303 is roughly the height the proposed flyover will be. Four raised lanes of traffic plus slip roads with breakdown bays will loom over this important Mesolithic site, so in addition to water run-off this flyover will inject noise and fumes that will overwrite the atmosphere of this special place.
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How then can Highways England or Historic England, claim that the proposed scheme does not damage Blick Mead?

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Perhaps when you are paid by the government that is the developer of this A303 tunnel scheme, it encourages a different definition of the term ‘damage’ to that understood by the rest of the public.

 

Yesterday we pointed out the embarrassing gulf between The National Trust’s words and the reality. Today, in the space of an hour came two headlines delivering further proof ….

Great! But will some of it go on paying someone to tell the public the short tunnel isn’t horrendously damaging!

That’s also great, but will he be fox-friendly too?.

All canines welcome on National Trust land?

The latest National Trust Magazine quotes Chair Tim Parker. Could there be a clearer illustration of how untenable is their position?

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For the benefit of Tim and The Trust:
Protect /prəˈtɛkt/ verb:  Keep safe from harm or injury, guard, preserve, conserve, defend (forever, for everyone).

 

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And when we are old we can tell people we remember all this when it was fields….
[ Image Credit: Huw Davies ]

He wouldn’t be the first to suffer from that! (Ask a succession of Culture Ministers!)

Now he’s used awkward verbal gymnastics to justify keeping the Parthenon marbles: When you move cultural heritage into a [collection], you move it out of context. Yet that displacement is also a creative act“. But surely creating a colonial narrative at the expense of the Greek one is damage not creativity?

Worse (given his position): does he think “displacement” of 12 million recordable finds from Britain’s fields without reporting them to PAS or anyone else is creative? Last week we complained MPs are underinformed about that scandal. Is Mr Fischer equally unaware else why say something so at odds with the domestic experience of his organisation?

It’s not a good look: the Head of the BM saying “the marbles will never be returned” while tens of thousands of detectorists are signalling to him “You will never be told what I’ve found.” Perhaps there’s a conversation to be had between Mr Fischer and PAS about the reality of most “displacement” in Britain?

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“Displacement is good. (It’s creative, innit?)”

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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