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.

So Tom Holland tweeted:

“One has to wonder which government could conceivably have put Spain up to doing this. Or perhaps Spain just has a particular interest in UK transport, who knows?”

Beats us.

Unless ….
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-spain-gibraltar/eu-leaders-to-urge-british-spanish-gibraltar-status-settlement-idUSKBN1JO0XS

A beautiful Tweet from Ireland: “Just out of frame: the sun beaten youthful wrists that once went through them; followed perhaps by the final hands that deposited them into wetlands under a cold, cloudy, deterirating winter sky”. (@VoxHib)

And a response: “Y’see, despite fierce intellect, Voxy gets the heart of this gig. It makes him a fine archaeo. It’s the story, and memories woven into these things. They’re not made by bloody elves, they’re made by people, and sometimes, we catch glimpses of their shadows in the other room”.(@justrena)

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So a focus on the wonder of the objects and no distracting pro-detecting blather. Welcome to Ireland! Vox even feels free to add that the findspot can’t be revealed because of Looters with Metal Penis Extensions”! Imagine that being said in Britain (in public, anyway!).

In fact just this week in UK there’s a collective effort (via an academic paper) to dismiss Dr Sam Hardy’s damning conclusions about detecting . One author, Dr Michael Lewis of PAS, says their issue is in relation to “poor methodology and some basic factual errors. I am sure there will be people (ignorant in these issues), which we know to be complex, taking what is presented at face value. We thought we should highlight what we see to be incorrect.”

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Ignorant? Does he mean the public, who put up the money? Or farmers who are told it’s fine to throw open their gates to groups of random, nameless artefact gatherers? Or us, who’ve been studying the subject since before many of his Finds Liaison Officer left primary school? Or Prof David Gill who has asked in vain for PAS’s view of how much non-reporting is acceptable? Or EBay, which is full of metal detecting finds almost all devoid of a PAS reference showing they’ve been reported? Or the National Museum of Ireland and all the archaeologists in that country who consistently refuse to have anything to do with Britain’s approach?


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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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By Alan S.

Another stop on our video tour of Cornish antiquities sees us climb up onto Chun Downs to visit the Neolithic burial cairn of Chun Quoit.

Wath this space for more videos to come. Previous videos in the series can be found here.

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