Dozens of new sites have appeared in the heatwave, prompting this excited response by The Searcher detecting magazine: “Time to dust off that drone!” But by their nature, newly discovered sites are yet to be scheduled so when The Searcher encourages readers to detect on them surely it is voicing a new variant of the oikish mantra “hurry, it might be damaging, but for now it’s legal, innit!”

Maybe that’s all that can be expected of The Searcher but shouldn’t Historic England et al be shocked at this protection gap? And shouldn’t PAS (which has an article every month in The Searcher despite the fact the front of the magazine carries a clarion call for oikism) now consider whether it has been persistent enough in stressing to the Government that the current laissez faire detecting law all too often means laissez faire la destruction?

., given its readership.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Last weekend one of us was in Avebury and was sad to see lots of people climbing Silbury and standing on standing stones despite umpteen notices asking them not to. So we think it’s worth re-running an article titled “A word to the Monument Climbers” contributed by one of our founder members, Goffik, on this day exactly 8 years ago….


 

So – where are we? Are we now allowed to go climbing up Silbury and clamber all over Stonehenge? Excellent! Now I can sate my desire to sit and/or stand on things!

Not really. I don’t understand the mentality of the desire to climb things. Is it because you’re not supposed to? Is it like sticking 2 fingers up at the guardians of the site that request that you don’t do it? A sort of “Hey, man – these things belong to *all* of us, therefore I’m going to help myself!”?

“Hey, the stones are everyone’s maaan so I’m entitled!”

If it *were* only one person doing it, once, then the damage would probably be non-existent. But if you multiply that by the amount of visitors to these places each year, then of course “wear and tear” will occur! I use that phrase lightly, but if you look at the visitor numbers for Stonehenge and Silbury, and imagine every single one of those people wanting to climb, I don’t think you need to be *that* clever to work out that it’ll cause damage!

St Catherine’s Hill, in Winchester – a gorgeous hillfort with a mizmaze at the top (and, sadly, the M3 motorway gouged through the adjoining hill, but that’s another thread, I guess!) – has so many visitors that, after decades/centuries, a path was formed by god knows how many people using the same route. The corrosion became so bad that a wooden stairway was constructed up the side! It has the benefit of conserving the rest of the hill, but it’s not really that attractive.

Silbury, with a million (is that a fair estimate? Totally plucked from nowhere so may be well off!) visitors a year, would soon become criss-crossed with paths and worn areas if everyone decided they wanted to climb up! And Stonehenge – although the stones are, as is the nature of stone, quite hard, surely you’ve seen the effect of decades/centuries of wear and tear on stone? Go visit a castle or summat and have a look at any original stairway or other much-used surface area.

So *well done* and a pat on the head to those that *have* climbed the hill/stones. Have a biscuit.

We are now 1/3 through our Tarot Tuesday journey, and the drawn card this week is card V of the Major Arcana, The Hierophant.

The Hierophant: “Approval, Conformity, Consent, Good advice, Marriage or Union

Interpreting the Tarot can be a very conflicting process. An initial response to the drawing of any card can often be the correct one, but then again meditation upon a card may find other, more subtle meanings.

For this card, we are sticking with our initial reaction and taking the Marriage or Union aspect as the one to follow. In Somerset, the village of Stanton Drew is home to a complex of megalithic sites known collectively as The Weddings, which seems an appropriate match for this card.

Aerial photo copyright JJ Evendon (from the Megalithic Portal)

The complex includes the second largest stone circle in England (after Avebury), two further stone circles, an avenue, a cove and the remains of a nearby quoit. We have previously covered many of the folklore stories associated with the Stanton Drew sites here on the Heritage Journal.

Geophysics work in 2004 and 2009 (PDF link) evidenced much more complexity to the site than can be seen at face value. The results demonstrated that the site is a ruin of a much more elaborate and important site than had previously been dreamed of, with a series of nine concentric circles of pits being discovered. Could the concentricity of the circles of pits be considered as the Conformity aspect of the card?

Do you agree with our interpretations so far? Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a message in the comments

Previous articles in this series are listed here.

Two organisations and four foreign universities, all linked through a single project, have published a paper attacking Dr Sam Hardy‘s recent study. Three things they say might make you suspicious there’s an agenda involved:

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  • First they say “it is wrong to simply conflate hobby detectorists [sic] with commercial entrepreneurs as Hardy does” But if that’s true how come that on every detecting forum the dominant concern is “what’s it worth”?
  • Second they say they use terms like amateur detectorist to distinguish the hobby “from illicit detector users driven primarily by financial motivations.” But nighthawks ARE ordinary detectorists most of their time and couldn’t operate if they weren’t, as we’ve pointed out ad nauseam.
  • Third they state that Hardy is “fundamentally wrong” to say detecting is far more destructive than archaeological excavation. But anyone who takes the briefest look at an archaeological dig and then at a mass detecting rally will see it’s scientific chalk versus destructive cheese.

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Quite a set of claims: detectorists shouldn’t be accused of being interested in money, shouldn’t ever be thought of as part time nighthawks and are less destructive than archaeologists! The phrase “leaning over backwards” springs to mind and a couple of questions arise: why? and who organised it?As to why we can’t say for sure but could it be because after 20 years of funded “outreach” by PAS Hardy is saying only 4% of recordable objects may be being reported – and that someone doesn’t want that message echoing along the corridors of power?

As for “who?” we have no idea!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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From a correspondent

Last year, Highways England  sought advisors on  private finance for ‘project delivery’ of the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel and the Lower Thames Crossing projects.  Project Manager Derek Parody has claimed that potential contractors are nervous about the risk of tunnelling at Stonehenge.

Hardly surprising, perhaps, there has been no news of private finance offers so far.

Now the Government’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has called for a moratorium on new private finance schemes and a Treasury review of the financing arrangements for these two roadbuilding schemes, “to ensure private finance represents best value for money in these cases.”  Really? So where else is the money coming from?

The US has just pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council saying it’s “hypocritical, self-serving and a cesspool of political bias“. But condemnations of convenience like that are old hat in Britain. Ex English Heritage chief Simon Thurley recently said:

the government and local authorities have questioned the right of unelected international ‘experts’ to challenge what has been decided under UK law. Indeed, some believe that UNESCO should concentrate on making lists of pizza-makers and endangered sports rather than involving itself in the complex issues of national planning policy.”

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See, THAT’S how to do it Donald. More venom – “UNESCO should concentrate on making lists of pizza-makers”! If you pop in to Stonehenge be sure to talk like that, mentioning lyin’ UNESCO and how Highways England, English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust are the only ones to believe.

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Our Tarot Tuesday card this week is card XVII of the Major Arcana, The Star.

The Star: “Calm and serenity, Destiny, Hope, Opportunity, Renewal

Many Tarot deck designs show a Star with either 7 or 8 points, above a woman pouring water from two pitchers. Our site for this card is certainly star-shaped, though with only 5 points, and lies between two branches of a stream which converge some 3-400m to the north, to empty into Newport Bay on the Pembrokeshire coast a further .5km away.

Aerial view of Cerrig y Gof, Newport, taken by C.R. Musson, 1993

Cerrig Y Gof is a megalithic tomb some 2km west of Newport. It consists of a badly damaged central mound with five rectangular cists or chambers placed around its edge, giving the star-shape.

At the western end of the Cerrig y Gof field is a stream, and the road bridge over it has an interesting name: Pont Heb Wybod (“bridge without knowledge”). Dyfed HER pages mention that it was recorded earlier as Pont y Wibod (“bridge of knowledge”).

Four of the five chambered tombs are aligned on local landmarks – Carningli, Dinas Head, Mynydd Dinas and Mynydd Melyn.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

See our other subjective Tarot associations here.

Mark Harrison (Historic England’s Head of Heritage Crime and Policing Advice) pulled no punches about recent nighthawking at Hadrian’s Wall:

“We may never see or fully understand the objects taken or damaged because they have been removed from their original sites with no care or record as to their history or context.”

What a crying shame that exactly the same can be said of the great bulk of “legal” detecting yet isn’t.

“We may never see or fully understand the objects taken or damaged because they have been removed from their original sites with no care or record as to their history or context.”

Now the shame is being compounded by a concerted attempt to discredit the academic work of Dr Sam Hardy which effectively illustrates exactly that. What have we come to in this country?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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A few weeks ago UNESCO sent the Government a clear message: the short tunnel at Stonehenge should be scrapped. It put them in a very difficult position so we asked how would they react – accept it, ignore it or carry on regardless?

But we confess no-one expected that (perhaps) they’d attempt to solve it by choosing a rock over a hard place…..

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[Read more here.]

Another Tarot Tuesday, and another card. This week, we look at The High Priestess, card II of the Major Arcana.

The High Priestess: “Feminine influences, Insightful, Mystery, Understanding, Wisdom

This week we turn our attention to landscape mysteries, and a beauty sleeping in the landscape of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland; “Cailleach na Mointeach”, or the Old Woman of the Moors.

Visible from the stones at the Callanish III stone circle, every 18.5 years, the moon rises between the two stones of the circle which frame the ‘face’ of the Old Woman of the Moors. This surely displays the wisdom of the ancients in siting the circle so precisely aligned to the Lunar movements. Much more can be read about the monument and its alignments here.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card?

See our other subjective Tarot associations here.

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