Welcome to a new series, ‘Tarot Tuesday’.

Most people know of the Tarot as a system of divination using a special deck of cards. What is less well known is that the Tarot is based on a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. In the late 18th century, it began to be used for divination in the form of tarotology and cartomancy – see Wikipedia for more details.

There are two main sections to the Tarot as used in divination, known the Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, with which we shall concern ourselves in this brief series.

Many interpretations have been placed upon the cards, dependent upon which divination system you follow, and many designs have been created over the years, covering just about any subject you care to name. Possibly the most well known of the decks available today is the Rider-Waite Tarot, the Major Arcana designs of which are based on the Tarot de Marseilles.


What we shall be doing in this series of posts over the coming weeks is attempting to link the Major Arcana cards to archaeological heritage sites in our own inimitable way, using the generally accepted divinatory meanings for each card as our guide. Hopefully, this will become self-explanatory as the series continues. Whilst illustrations will largely be taken from Rider-Waite, other deck images may be used from time to time, and will be acknowledged as required.

The cards will not be drawn in sequence, but on a random basis, so that no-one, not even me, will know in advance what the subject of the next card in the series will be. Of course, all interpretations are subjective, so please feel free to comment as to which monument comes to mind for you as we explore each card. Those familiar with the Tarot may draw their own conclusions as to the order in which the cards appear.

By Nigel Swift, Chairman, Heritage Action

A well known metal detectorist has produced a Glossary of Detecting Terms, two of which I’d like to take issue with.

First, under “B” there’s this:

I feel he has made a simple mistake – confusing agreement with sycophancy. For me, metal detecting without reporting all of your recordable finds, which is demonstrably what the vast majority of detectorists do, is the action of a selfish ignoramus. If Paul shares that view and is determined not to pretend otherwise what can I do but agree with him?

Then, under “H” there’s this:

But “Hedge Fodder” is not a phrase used by archaeologists, whether professional or amateur. Archaeology is about digging in the pursuit of all knowledge not selective acquisition of objects. So I see the very use of the phrase  as revealing selfishness and ignorance – and what sustains me against 20 years of attacks and personal insults is that I’m confident that virtually every archaeologist, every amateur archaeologist, every Finds Liaison Officer and every thinking person agrees. Historical knowledge is a communal resource and is not something which should be selectively discarded in a hedge by uncaring people.

So there we are Mr Detectorist, you got it wrong. I’m no sycophant, I’m someone who shares Paul’s distaste for knowlege theft – and in that I’m fully supported by all who see cultural knowledge of our past, all of it, as belonging to all of us.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

What do you do when the world’s leading heritage body opposes your ambitions? Demonise it? Is Simon Thurley, ex English Heritage leader, doing exactly that for the British Government?

This NGO (ICOMOS UK, the national advisory body to UNESCO) it is widely felt, adds another layer of complexity and (often) confusion to an already complex landscape of heritage protection and planning.” It “limps on as a membership organisation producing reports on UK World Heritage Sites and other conservation matters. It rarely sees eye to eye with Historic England and its views are more or less ignored within government – but it guides and advises UNESCO on UK World Heritage Sites, and thus has some influence.”

“The UK has a sophisticated and democratic planning system, and 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.”

Oh Simon! Who asked you to write that?

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England – listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and battlefields.

Sounds good, no? And in even better news, as recently reported by the BBC, the NHLE has recently had an update, with 17 new sites being added – including an industrial estate, a business park that “features circular forecourts following the turning circle of a car” and a Crown Court building which first opened in 1988.

Whilst we’re sure that these are all worthy in their own way of their place on the list, we can’t help but wonder about the omission of some much older sites, many of national importance.

Elizabeth Dale, a friend of the Heritage Journal, recently highlighted some of the very important omissions which are in danger of being lost to development on her blog: see “Our Defenceless Monuments.”.

And World Heritage Site status doesn’t afford any more protection to unlisted sites within the boundaries than to those outside of it. Blick Mead is a case in point within the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS area, it remains unprotected by scheduling and in danger of being damaged (if not totally obliterated) by the groundworks for the planned tunnel at Stonehenge..

Whilst, in theory, anyone can nominate a site to be scheduled, there does not seem to be an easy way for a member of the public to find how to actually go about this. For instance, searching on Google for Scheduled Monument Application brings up many links, most of which refer to Scheduled Monument Consent – which is something entirely different and is a way for Developers to apply for permission to work within and around scheduled monuments. But if an application is put in, to suggest scheduling and protecting an unlisted site, even nationally important sites are scheduled only if it is felt that this is the best means of protecting them!

And yet a “car turning circle” merits inclusion in the list! We sometimes despair…

Protected: Aztec West Business Centre, South Glocs.

Unprotected: Trevean Courtyard Settlement, Cornwall

An MP has just asked whether the British Government will comply with what it has promised the world:

“Article 4: Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 and situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State.  It will do all it can to this end,to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain.”

But no, the answer was not “Yes, we’ll comply as we’ve promised” it was that they’d merely “have regard” to it. Which everyone knows means they won’t comply – else why use those words?

But that’s not news. The simple fact they are proposing a short tunnel means they intend to break their promise. Only a long tunnel would involve not damaging the World Heritage landscape and that is well within our resources. The bribe to the DUP would cover it – or a two hundred and fiftieth of Trident. The truth is, we could easily afford to protect Stonehenge and no amount of tricky words by Ministers, Highways England or their heritage yes-bodies can cover that up.


A detectorist called “Oxgirl” has just revealed one of the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s greatest failures:
“I have a permission where they stipulated all items, unless they fall under the treasure act, must not be reported to PAS.”

To be clear: historic artefacts that don’t fit the definition of “Treasure” – and that’s 99.99% of detecting finds, ranging from single coins right up to the Crosby Garrett Helmet, would be kept secret and lost to science forever.

PAS have told detectorists that if the farmer won’t let them report finds they shouldn’t detect on that land – but of course, a lot of detectorists aren’t exactly blessed in the morality department and openly reject that plea. But far more importantly, PAS haven’t given the same advice to farmers. It wouldn’t take much doing: an article in the farming press simply saying “No reporting, no detecting”. But no, PAS is so shamefully keen not to upset their detecting partners, they say not a word.

It is, put simply, a scandal.


Paul Barford has tweeted: “The thread (which I’ve a feeling the forum moderators will soon be ‘disappearing’) is called “What would you do[?]” not one (allegedly) “responsible” artefact hunter responds with a simple “walk away”. Lots of wheedling whiny self-justification of “just carry on regardless”. Oiks”

They are indeed oiks Paul.
“Easylife” has spoken for the whole ignorant crew:
“I have no idea what your find was as you have not said, but quite simply just don’t report it then as it is purely a voluntary scheme though it is more ideal to have the landowner’s consent. I personally would have to respect my landowners wishes out of loyalty for being given the permission.”

Damaging the resource by detecting where you can’t report is one sort of oikism. Being an educated archaeologists and failing to tell farmers to ban such oiks from access is worse. Very sad. How much culture is being allowed to be lost to these people daily?


May 14 Heading to the to chair Best Practice working group and then on to meet colleagues to discuss advocacy for

13h13 hours ago Are we looking at potential changes to the Treasure Act? That would make a huge difference to losing too many artefacts that should be in museums, not in auction houses

By Alan S.

Our video tour continues with the remaining circle at Tregeseal, in the shadow of Carn Kenidjack, the ‘Hooting Carn’.

Look for more videos in this series in the coming weeks.

by Nigel Swift

You’d think, if Princess Anne’s policemen ask for your mother’s maiden name then the least they could do in return is talk to you about the Gatcombe Lodge Long Barrow but they won’t. It’s actually in full view, only a few tens of yards off the public right of way, so it seems unlikely their denials they’ve heard of it are sincere. It’s badly mashed up; maybe they’re ashamed of the state HRH has let it get into and the lack of an information board. Royal personages hijacking the common heritage. Who’d a thought it?

Technically it is a blind-entranced Severn-Cotswold type similar to Belas Knap but for all practical and Royal purposes it’s a bit of a mess. Once you get close up it’s pretty big and there are lots of stones still on it.

“You mean TheTinglestone” says one of the officers. “You can’t go to that either”.

“Either?” you wonder. Does that mean you can’t go on the other one that he says he has never heard of?”

Either way, he has made his point. You’ve been warned. You can get a distant view of The Tinglestone from a nearby lane but you’d better not approach it.

Looks interesting, but I guess most people will never know for sure.

Princess Anne obviously thinks it is as all her pedigree Clumber Spaniels, Bull Terriers and Shire Horses have the suffix “Tinglestone”.


See also Princess Anne’s neolithic heritage: Part 1

Peter Marsden,
Chair of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (Icomos-UK)

Dear Mr Marsden,

We hope you will agree with us that there’s a fundamental fallacy in the British Government’s case for a short tunnel at Stonehenge:.

Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) has just told Parliament:
“A principal aim of the scheme is to remove the roads and heavy traffic, with their associated noise and disturbance from the vicinity of the stones and to reunite Stonehenge with its surrounding monuments in their natural chalk downland setting. This involves removing the road and its traffic completely from within sight of the stones”

Whereas Sir Simon Jenkins, ex National Trust chairman and no longer in thrall to the Government, has just said:
“Most people who enjoy the stones do so from vehicles on the A303. The stones look magnificent from this distance. They have no need of close inspection. They can be appreciated at a glimpse, without need of visitor centres, car parks, coaches and multimillion-pound tunnels. Why should the overwhelming majority of those who enjoy Stonehenge be deprived of this pleasure at vast public expense…. ?

So, despite accepting UNESCO’s designation of Stonehenge as of outstanding universal value the Government intends to “improve” the experience of it for a mere 1.5 million paying visitors a year by removing the road from sight of the stones while hiding them forever from many millions of travellers. We thank Icomos-UK for its common sense response to the scheme and hope it will continue to show that in this way and others it is fundamentally flawed.

Kind regards,

The Heritage Journal



May 2018
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