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“The most important part of the initiative is the engagement of communities across the country in establishing their own local networks to prevent and tackle heritage crime”.

So said Chief Inspector Mark Harrison who has been seconded to advise English Heritage about the work of Britain’s first ‘heritage police’ force aimed at protecting threatened landmarks. The initiative will focus broadly on a number of crimes such as vandalism, artefact theft and the theft of actual components of sites but as Chief Inspector Harrison says: “A real difference will only follow if this galvanises local action”.

The Big Stone Society that we discussed here  and which was supported here fits perfectly with that aspiration. We suspect that so far as prehistory enthusiasts are concerned English Heritage is pushing against an open door, although they do need to engage them specifically and directly, for although Inspector Harrison said “We’ve also got lots of stewardship and guardian schemes right across the country where people are being trained to assess sites for vulnerability” we haven’t heard that the megalithic community has been approached specifically as yet. They should be, as they are very willing guardians and megalithic sites are some of the most vulnerable sites of all. The one efficient and certain way to do it, in our estimation, would be to appeal to them directly and officially on their various internet forums.

All in all though, this initiative – which is outlined here – seems to us one of the most forward thinking projects English Heritage have undertaken, particularly bearing in mind the current difficult funding situation, and they are to be congratulated for organising it.


The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, Yorkshire, attacked by vandals in 2005

Image credit Heritage Action


February 2011

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