This, by Mike Birkin in December 2014, remains true:

“I was no great fan of the new labour way of doing things. But the current disregard for evidence or rational analysis makes me feel positively nostalgic for it. Politicians and motorist lobbies at Stonehenge this month talked as though none of the debates and learning of the last 30 years had ever happened. It was transport planning through the eyes of a Top Gear presenter. To call it a throwback (which I did) is actually an insult to the 20th century.

Doubly distressing was to see how the leading lights of our Heritage bodies lined up to support the plan for a Stonehenge tunnel. In 2006 the National Trust signed up to a joint statement, along with Friends of the Earth and other members of the Stonehenge Alliance. We were united that any future road plan should avoid impacting on the World Heritage Site (WHS).

We don’t know why they’ve changed their mind, since they didn’t consult the Alliance, but change it they have. The Trust now supports a short tunnel despite the inevitable damage this would inflict on the WHS. There would have to be a mile or so of above-ground big scale road engineering. The Trust seems to believe that some parts of the WHS are expendable and their loss can be offset against the gains in the immediate vicinity of the stones.

It’s an odd position for them to take given that their own archaeologist enthuses over how much wonder and hidden knowledge still resides within the WHS landscape. “The Hidden Landscapes project has reminded us once again that the Stonehenge Landscape is among the most precious places on the planet” he writes. But not so precious, it seems, that bits of it can’t be sacrificed for a political stunt.”

 

That headline (in the Daily Telegraph) has presumably been planted by the National Trust, some officials of which are so keen to protect the interests of trail hunting they’ll go to any lengths, including breaching the bounds of truth. The additional claim that the opposition to trail hunting is merely a “conjured up social media campaign” is quite outrageous. Did the Trust say that to the journalist? How else would he have got that idea?

A ban would not destroy its relations with the countryside. The great majority of people in the countryside support the ban and don’t support the Trust aiding and abetting those who wish to circumvent it.

It is the Trust’s attitude which is wrecking its relations with the countryside, nothing else – ask anyone in the countryside who has dealings with it. Let’s hope the Members vote to save it from the reactionary forces which have dominated it for far too long.

“Can you ID this male?” (asks PC Andy Long the Essex Heritage Crime Officer). “Nighthawking is theft! They steal property & our history.”
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But why bother about that fellow when every detectorist, policeman and PAS official constantly stresses nighthawks are a tiny, tiny minority of detectorists?  Why worry about the damage he causes when it’s easily demonstrable that MOST “legal” detectorists fail to give all their finds to the owner or report them to PAS and therefore “steal property & our history”?
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Dr Sam Hardy has calculated there are 24K active detectorists. Here are just one percent of them. It’s blatantly clear that mostly they do vastly more stealing of property and history and knowledge than nighthawks. But no-one is tweeting “can you ID these people?” Britain is totally insane!
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At a conference at Yorkshire Museum this week the methods used by archaeologists were contrasted with the chaos at mass detecting rallies. It was also proposed that Treasure payments should be reduced to make them more affordable for hard pressed museums.
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Detectorists have objected en masse, one saying “Such a policy would probably see the declaration of Treasure items stopping overnight” (i.e. if they were paid less they’d all revert to criminality!) At one point a photo of a little girl with her piggy bank was displayed and a detectorist opposed that too on the grounds it might be implying that kids are funding reward fees paid to detectorists …… well below the belt in my book.”
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Something like this!

We don’t think it’s a low blow. Museums often make public appeals to raise money to pay rewards to those who insist on them and they often cite cases of children and pensioners donating money. There’s nothing low about pointing that reality out. The only low thing is not wanting it pointing out.
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Please vote NOW to ban all hunting on National Trust land forever.

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Please vote NOW to reverse the National Trust’s support for damaging the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape forever.

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Your online voting form for the National Trust AGM must be in by 23.59pm tonight.

Please use it. The effect will be forever, for everyone.

At its AGM on Saturday 21st October the National Trust’s officials will tell Members that damaging the Stonehenge World Heritage Site is justified on the grounds that the benefits outweigh the harm. However:

  1. World Heritage Sites are places of Outstanding Universal Value, as set out in the World Heritage Convention. Britain is committed to protect, conserve, present and transmit to future generations its World Heritage Sites.
  2. The Government wishes to improve the A303 road but only at minimal cost so it is planning a short tunnel at Stonehenge which necessitates constructing massive new approach roads across large swathes of the World Heritage Landscape that it is has undertaken to protect.
  3. UNESCO says no, that will harm the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site and the Government must think again.

Thus the Trust’s core stance (that the benefits would outweigh the damage) is a non-starter. The Stonehenge Landscape is sacrosanct, Britain has signed a Convention effectively saying so and the Government must find another way to improve the A303. Please vote to commit the Trust to that stance. (The last day to exercise your proxy vote is this Friday, 13th October. Please ask the Chair to vote FOR the Members’ resolutions).

(PS, whatever the Trust spokesmen may say at the AGM, it does facilitate uncivilised animal cruelty on its land. Please vote to put an unequivocal end to that too).

If you’re a National Trust Member you can use a proxy vote at the upcoming AGM but the deadline is this Friday, 13th October. The online form is here.

We hope you’ll support the two Members’ Resolutions to (a.) ban all hunting on Trust land (there’s inarguable evidence awful cruelty still happens “by mistake”) and (b.) to reverse the Trust’s support for building a damaging short tunnel in the Stonehenge landscape in defiance of UNESCO’s wishes. These are the 3 boxes you need to tick:

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PS – the Trust is an admirable institution and it’s watchword, “forever, for everyone”, is beyond reproach. However in two ways, for reasons its officials have never successfully explained, it has betrayed its founding principles and brought wide national and international criticism and ridicule on itself. Please help restore its reputation by instructing the Chair to vote FOR the two Members’ resolutions.

Dear Fellow Landowners,

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Yesterday the Journal highlighted “The Surrey Council Premise” (i.e. any detecting rally should be run as a Council archaeological survey with participants having proven records of reporting and all finds being Council property).  

But back in 2015 I asked a question about it that no-one has yet answered: “If that’s the premise on which they work to protect their own and the public’s interest as owners and stakeholders, how come we landowners aren’t advised to adopt it too?”

It’s a fair question, isn’t it? If you have a moment please email anyone involved in British portable antiquities policy (such as PAS) and ask them:

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If you get no reply ask again. And again. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is there to serve the Public. It is obliged to give you a straight answer.

Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow Farm
Worfield
Salop

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Detectorists from 11 European countries have just had two treats in Norfolk (courtesy of the unfragrant “European Council for Metal Detecting”): a huge rally where they helped themselves to Britain’s history and a conference where they discussed how to persuade their own countries to allow the same. So possibly Britain’s most humiliating detecting weekend ever! 

Compare and contrast Farmer Silas Brown’s (notional) rally in 2015. He copied “the Surrey Council Premise”: Applicants will be considered to be part of an ongoing archaeological survey and will in particular be expected to have a proven track record in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of the County Council”.

Great idea, holding a metal detecting event in the national interest, but shock horror, he reckoned no-one turned up! “I was left with scores of prawn sandwiches and not a history lover in sight.” A real mystery, Or is it? It seems that until Britain decides to regulate detecting rallies it will continue to be damaged and humiliated.

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It has just been announced that the famous pigs of the Wiltshire town of Calne have been stolen….

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But in fact it’s now clear they went under their own steam for one of them has been sighted not far away at Stonehenge murmuring “I feel at home here, there are loads of porkies flying about”.

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