As we continue our series, the drawn card this week is card XV of the Major Arcana, The Devil.

The Devil: “Anger, Jealousy and resentment, Self-delusion, Selfishness, Violence

This week’s site certainly covers most of the interpretations of the Devil card. Investigated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930’s, Maiden Castle in Dorset was still in use at the time of the Roman conquest and was thought to have been the site of a major battle between the Romans and the inhabitants (the Durotriges).

Certainly, the site would have produced feelings of resentment and jealousy amongst any attackers, being the largest and most complex Iron Age hillfort in Britain.

Image Credit: © Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2015.

The site was actually begun in the Neolithic era as a simple enclosure, and over time was extended and expanded to the extent that we see today.

Wheeler’s findings have been revisited and further analysed over time, and it is now thought that many of the more than 52 bodies in the so-called ‘War Cemetery’ potentially pre-date the Roman conquest. But it is in no doubt is that many of the dead met violent deaths.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Tomorrow two amateur archaeology groups are holding a joint meeting at Avebury with plans to do no harm whatsoever (watchword: bring books and stories to swap“). At the same time 30 miles away near Burford a thousand detectorists from all over the world are paying £52.50 each to attend Detectival, “the ultimate Metal Detecting Rally”. Many would be jailed if they did it in their own countries.

Everyone knows commercial detecting causes massive damage but less understood is the sheer scale and immorality of some events. More than 40 organisations will be at Detectival and all but one will be hoping to profit from the destruction. The other one is lending stolen valour to the event when it should be lobbying Westminster about it instead.



An Oxfordshire County Council enthusiastic account of the event, presumably provided by PAS: “The two-day event is one of the biggest of its kind – with detectorists from the USA and from across Europe where detecting is mostly illegal.” Seriously, can any country be more barmy than that? PAS might think it’s OK to jubilate over and boost something that’s mostly illegal elsewhere but there are a lot of amateurs in Avebury who beg to differ.

PS  We’ve had just one comment from a detectorist: “Suck it up buttercup and learn to work together”. Noted and filed!



The Countryside Alliance’s has a risk assessment template for hunts. It says a vet must attend (presumably in case horses or hounds are hurt). The vets must abide by their own Code of Professional Conduct – to ensure animals have “minimum stress” and to prioritise animal welfare “whatever the circumstances“.

But foxes are animals. And fox hounds are bred to hurt them! So shouldn’t The National Trust insist any foxes “accidentally” hurt in trail hunts on its land will get full vetinary treatment in line with the vet’s own Code of Conduct?


So we’re writing to Amanda Boag, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Hilary McGrady, Director-General of The National Trust asking them that question. We’ll let you know what they say.

News comes from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) that they are working closely with other (unspecified) organisations to find out if archaeological sites and monuments in our towns, cities and countryside are being carefully managed within the planning process. They are looking for good and bad examples of cases where archaeology has been (or should have been) considered as part of a development. They are particularly keen to hear about developers that have ‘gone the extra mile’ in helping local communities understand their heritage through excavation or conservation and those developers who seem disinterested.

Dealing sensitively with archaeology through the planning process is a standard requirement of developers and the local planning authority. The National Planning Policy Framework (recently revised) sets out clear requirements for Local Planning Authorities to follow. As a rule, damage or destruction of archaeological sites should be avoided. Where this is not possible, there is usually a requirement to ensure that archaeology is recorded, and the results made publicly available.

The CBA is working with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) on a project that will collect information on how the current planning system is – or isn’t working – for archaeology, and they’d like to hear from you.

  • Have you ever felt frustrated or angry that your local heritage has been treated poorly?
  • Have you ever benefited from increased knowledge of your heritage because of development?
  • Have you ever felt that no one is listening, and your community’s views have been ignored?
  • Have you ever felt the opposite?

If you have any examples with a story to tell, then please get in touch with them with outline details and they’ll get back to you.

You can find more information on the CIfA website together with a link to a survey that you can use to submit detailed information if you have been or are closely involved with the planning system.

Alternatively, contact the CBA directly with your story by 21 September 2018.


The Tarot Tuesday card this week is card XIII of the Major Arcana, Death.

Death: “End, New beginning, Loss, Dramatic change, Destruction

Our associated site this week is one that lay hidden for thousands of years, returned to the public eye and was controversially ‘saved’ from eventual destruction and now resides in a museum.

Seahenge (Holme I) has connotations of death, both in its structure and suggested use as a mortuary enclosure for excarnation before it was eventually lost to the encroaching sea. For more than 4000 years the waves did their work in producing a dramatic change in the structure of the site before it emerged once again to start a new ‘life’ as a museum exhibit.

The monument contained an uprooted and inverted oak tree stump (possibly used for excarnation) surrounded by close fitting planed posts forming an enclosure. a forked trunk provided a narrow opening to the interior. Theories about the site have focused on the idea of inversion, as represented by the upside-down central tree stump and a single post turned 180 degrees from the others within the circle itself.

The site was rediscovered in 1998, with a trial excavation the following year. This was soon followed by a full rescue excavation, which was the subject of a Time Team Special:

The recovered timbers were transported fifty miles away to the Fenland Archaeology Trust’s field centre at Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire, where it immediately underwent conservation by being immersed in fresh water. After cleaning and scanning the timbers then underwent a process of conservation, being continually soaked in wax-emulsified water to slowly (over years) replace the moisture in the wood with wax.

This process was continued at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth until the work was complete. The timbers were then returned to Kings Lynn museum, close to the original location, where a reconstruction was built in 2008.

Seahenge recreated. © Tim Clark

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

As the archaeological digging season comes to a close, so the lecture season begins. We’ve received notice of an upcoming series of talks which will be of interest to those in the NE of England.

Robin Daniels of Tees Archaeology will be doing a short series of three talks on the Archaeology of the Area at Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees. Each talk will look in detail at one of the major excavated sites in the area and set it within its period.

The series of talks is headed ‘Meet the Neighbours’, and will cover three separate time periods: The Iron Age, The Romans, and the Saxons:

  • Tuesday 18 September 2018 – Noisy Neighbours (Horses, Dogs and Blacksmiths): The Iron Age settlement at Thorpe Thewles (Tomorrow! Free!)
  • Tuesday 16 October 2018 – Posh Neighbours (Central Heating, Baths and Wine): The Roman Villa at Ingleby Barwick
  • Tuesday 20 November 2018 – Quiet Neighbours (Bones, Bracelets and Burial Goods): The Saxon Cemetery at Norton

All talks take place from 10.00-11.00am in the Music Room. Please book in person or by ringing 01642 527375. £2.00, including refreshments (no charge for September talk).

Paul Barford has been wondering, tongue in cheek, why archaeologists and detectorists have been pretty quiet about recent suggestions for future much needed PAS funding. The reasons are actually clear. Take these funding suggestions:

  • Give PAS a percentage of Treasure rewards
  • Mandatory licensing of detectorists
  • FLOs charging for their services such as attendance at rallies.

They’ve all been proposed before – including by us. But invariably detectorists have reacted with fury and say they’ll go on recording strike or turn to nighthawking if anyone tries to make them pay. PAS seems to have little understanding of the nature of its “partners”. So far there have been sixteen threats to go on recording strike, mainly over perceived threats to their “freedom” to do what they do for free.

What on earth did PAS think most detectorists were in the fields for – for an unselfish love of history?

It’s that unshakeable opposition to paying that is surely behind detectorists’ current silence – and indeed the silence of archaeologists (including PAS in private) – they know detectorists won’t pay. If you doubt a word of this we suggest you go onto a metal detecting forum and suggest licensing, a reduction in Treasure rewards or payments to PAS. Let us know what happens.


PS – Paul has reacted to the suggestion people ask detectorists on their forums if they would pay by saying “I know six academics who I suspect would find it an eye-opener to do this, to test out the truth behind their cuddly-wuddly head patting fawning on these ‘non-professional metal seekers’. Do they have the intellectual courage to do that? Well, five actually. The PAS delegate knows already. The others – well, naive and ill-researched hardly covers it – quite an accusation to level at academics but how the hell else can you explain it all? But we’ve been pleading with archaeologists to do it for 2 decades. If they look on the metal detecting forums (especially the “dark” sub-forums you have to be “trusted” to get into) they’ll rapidly see their perceptions of heroes and partners are plain wrong.

Incidentally, “cuddly-wuddly head patting fawning” is just about the most accurate description we’ve heard – and remarkably it’s unique to Britain!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

Statistics don’t lie: most detectorists can’t be bothered to report their finds. Now, worse, PAS says not reporting isn’t damage. So now we have twin mantras applying to portable antiquities in Britain: can’t be bothered and doesn’t matter. No-one could deny that the result is even more knowledge theft.

Is knowledge theft a crime? Asked that, Matthew Bohrer (Special Projects Coordinator, Office of the Inspector General, Washington, D.C.) was clear: “Stealing anything is a crime, by definition: if you take something from someone else, without their consent, it’s theft. Theft is a crime“- to which we’d add: if the “something” is a country’s knowledge of its past the crime is severe.

Of course, we must be realistic, Parliament decrees that stealing Britain’s knowledge of its past isn’t something for which detectorists can usually be prosecuted. It’s a moral crime only. Still, we’re entitled to wish PAS had the sense not to minimise it and detectorists the decency not to do it. Aren’t we?


The Artefact Erosion Counter earlier today – see?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


I bet you’ve been wondering why we’ve not been talking about the Megameet this year. ;)

We’ve all been a bit busy, but it would be criminal to not all meet up!

As I’m sure you’re aware, those lovely chaps, Michael and Rupert, over at the Standing With Stones Community on Facebook will actually be in the same place at the same time, and have organised a get-together in Avebury on Sunday 16th September 2018 starting in the Red Lion pub around midday.

As Rupert lives in France it’s not very often this will happen, so with their permission we have suggested that we also tag our annual get together onto this as it would be amazing to meet up with Michael and Rupert (and, of course, their multitude of followers!).

So why not join us all then!

We are now 2/3 through our Tarot Tuesday series, and entering the home straight. The drawn card this week is card III of the Major Arcana, The Empress.

The Empress: “Abundant creativity, Fertility, Fulfillment, Mother figure, Productivity

For today’s card, we visit a site in Cumbria, one of the largest stone circles in England. Imbued with the standard legend of dancers turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. In this case the people involved were a mother witch, Long Meg, and her daughters.

Long Meg is of course the Mother figure of the monument, Fertility is displayed by the number of daughters – 59 stones at present, but possibly as many as 77 in the past – and the Abundant creativity aspect is apparent by the mysterious symbols, including cup and ring marks, a spiral, and rings of concentric circles carved into Long Meg herself.

Image © Moth Clark

The monument consists of 59 megalithic stones arranged in an oval shape measuring 100 meters on its long axis.

Long Meg is the tallest and most famous stone in the monument, measuring 12.5 feet (3.8) meters in height and situated 109 yards (25 meters) outside the circle positioned towards the southwest, where (when standing in the center of the circle) the midwinter sun would have set.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.


September 2018
« Aug    

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,953 other followers

%d bloggers like this: