Ed Vaizey is mostly a good guy and we wish him well. But sadly he isn’t always well briefed – witness his 2013 assertion that metal detectorists are true heritage heroes which prompted a furious reaction from heritage professionals. Now he has made another ill-informed and ill-timed assertion: “Stonehenge should not be a drive by attraction”.  However:

1.) That couldn’t be more factually incorrect. Stonehenge has probably been visible to passers-by continuously for 4 millennia so claiming that shouldn’t be the case is pretty strange.
2.) His statement also couldn’t have been more ill-timed for on the same day the Highways Agency announced: “In a bid to prevent motorists from falling asleep at the wheel on a dull, grey motorway, Highways England has announced plans to design roads with ‘eye-catching vistas’. It’s claimed that making roads more interesting to drive on could combat driver fatigue, and therefore increase safety.

Did Ed’s people talk to their people? Or archaeologists?

Of the Brexit vote Mr Vaizey said “We sort of stuffed the country up by accident.” It’s to be hoped he doesn’t help do the same to Stonehenge.


“National Trust New Forest Toile Fox Tankard Mug Ref: 5175956
An adorable tankard mug featuring a single fox, part of the stunning New Forest Toile collection inspired by Dockens Water in the New Forest. Featuring hand painted creatures in watercolour beautifully displayed on fine china. The New Forest Toile collection is a beautiful gift as an individual piece or as a set and will look stunning on a table together.
Suitable for any occasion this delicate design will bring the countryside into your home.”

{Product no longer available – but the hypocrisy remains!]

Ok, so here we are, a week or so into the New Year of the standard calendar. Resolutions have been made, and doubtless broken. You’ve already bowed to the nicotine cravings, been to the pub (more than once!) and given up on the gym (after just two visits!). You’ve lost a pound or so since the Christmas binge, but fully expect the weight to rise (or at least stabilise) again before the end of the month. So here are some suggestions for 2018 that should be relatively easy to achieve:

Visit new sites

Resolve to visit at least one new archaeology/heritage site every month through the year. This will have the benefits, if you select the right sites, of a bit of exercise, fresh air, education and helping to conserve our heritage, either by paying entrance fees to visit a site (English Heritage, National Trust etc) or by generally clearing up, taking litter away etc when you’re there.

Join an Archaeological Society

Last year we highlighted, on a regional basis, many societies throughout England. Many of these are relatively inexpensive to join, and can provide a social atmosphere whilst learning about archaeology, whether as part of a Community Group doing excavations, surveys etc. or as part of a regular meet attending lectures and talks.

Take a course

Universities and Evening Classes are no longer the only way to extend the educational experience beyond your schooldays. A couple of us here at Heritage Action have signed up to Coursera  who are providing an online learning course entitled “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets” starting in June, which asks and answers a series of questions about the role and practice of archaeology in the world today. The course is free, and the range of online learning is expanding on an almost daily basis.

Attend a Conference

Whilst many Archaeological Conferences are aimed squarely at the professional or academia markets (and priced accordingly!), there are still a selection to choose from aimed more at the ‘common man’ with little/no qualifications, but with an interest in the subject. Personally, I’ll be attending the two day Current Archaeology Live conference in London in March.

Involve the family

The CBA’s Festival of Archaeology this year is scheduled for the second two weeks of July (13th-28th) and includes hundreds of events around the country, for all ages. Immerse the kids in living like a Roman, take them round a museum, visit a Bronze Age roundhouse, and more!

Contribute to the Heritage Journal

We’re always looking for articles for the Journal, so why not resolve to submit a story or two throughout the year? You can write about your experience at a particular site or event that you’ve visited, an aspect of archaeology/heritage protection that inspires/annoys you, local efforts in your community to boost awareness of our heritage… As Arthur Daley would say, “The world’s your lobster, my son!”

Those are our ideas, why not let us know in the comments what your Heritage Resolutions are this year?

The National Trust’s core claim is that trail hunting is “properly regulated” and the hounds are always kept under control. Every week that’s shown to be untrue and here’s the latest example, the Oakley Hunt last Saturday, in a fenced off area of Ministry of Defence land.

Note the large yellow sign saying DANGER, KEEP OUT, POISON GAS AREA….


Last May we highlighted how farmers were being offered up to £1,000 to allow metal detecting on their land. 7 months later the offers have risen by 750% !

“We are looking for around 1000 acres of arable to hold a metal detecting rally on after harvest in September 2018 . This will be a 3 day event fully organised, managed and insured by ourselves. This will be for around 800+ people and we are willing to pay between £6,000 – £7,500 for the right land. Please PM your contact details if interested. Thanks.”

But how can they afford it? Well, it’s simple! The £45 entry fee x 800 people equals £36,000 – more than enough to provide a huge bribe to the farmer and a massive profit for the organisers. (Incidentally, next time you hear detectorists find very little of value remember that entry fee!).

The above shows 800 “citizen archaeologists” as PAS has called them scouring one farm for personal benefit for 3 days, paying £45 each – an event that would be considered crass and unlawful in other countries. Will the CBA or any archaeological body tell farmers so or will they be content to continue to leave it to the likes of us alone?

UPDATE 8/1/18:
Response from one of the “citizen archaeologists” (posted on the Rescue FB page):
“Who wrote this? Does he want to be a moving target for the rest of his life?”




[Superb recent image courtesy of Thelma June Jackson, Heritage Journal]

By Alan S.

Our next video visit is to a couple of sites close to both the Men an Tol and Bosiliack Barrow previously shown. Boskednan Downs is the site of a restored stone circle with outlier, and several cairns as well as being an area of intense tin mining since prehistoric times.

If there’s a specific site you’d like to see covered in this series, please leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Historic England’s December guidance document, The Setting of Heritage Assets, has so many “ifs” and “buts” that it provides no clear guidance at all. It says settings need preserving – or maybe not – but there’s no clear indication of which. But more to the point, it’s a fair bet they cast many a backward glance at their own uncomfortable support for depriving the world of the classic view of Stonehenge. Maybe they hoped the public wouldn’t read as far as Section 11, the words of which ensure they are hoisted very high with their own petard:


“Views which contribute more to understanding the significance of a heritage asset include:

  • those where the composition within the view was a fundamental aspect of the design or function of the heritage asset
  • those with historical associations, including viewing points and the topography of battlefields
  • those with cultural associations, including landscapes known historically for their picturesque and landscape beauty
  • those which became subjects for paintings of the English landscape tradition, and those views which have otherwise become historically cherished and protected.”


Stonehenge at Sunset, 1840, by William Turner of Oxford. Soon the only people that will see anything remotely like it will be Historic England from high above their own petard.


We’ve been saying it for years, officialdom leans over to please detectorists at the expense of the interests and rights of landowners. Well here’s a chance for us to be proved wrong, a document on several detecting groups, in black and white and red. Note, there’s not a single solitary word about the farmer ….


What say you PAS?  Do you agree with the red bits? No response? Ah, thanks for the proof!

We’re about to start a new year. Will this be the 21st that farmers have been consistently fibbed to – or will the official line finally change?





Meghan Markle, the woman who rescues beagles rather than chasing after foxhounds and who caused Prince Harry to duck out of a Boxing Day shoot.
Which will ultimately win at the Trust, Meghan’s massive and growing popular appeal or the discredited behind-the-scenes machinations of the Countryside Alliance?


January 2018
« Dec    

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