You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2012.

Heritage Action member Albert Resonox (aka “Arro” the Journal’s resident cartoonist) has just written a book, Too Many Bridges in the World. You can read about it (and order it if you wish!) on the Amazon site here.  Albert is donating any profits to a charity close to his heart.

In a further development yesterday Rescue, the British Archaeological Trust called for work on the wind farm to be stopped and for a survey of the whole mountain to be carried out.

Spokesman  Peter Alexander-Fitzgerald said “You have to remember that all is showing is the top of these stones – we don’t know what else is there. This could form a landscape of major importance.”

However, a spokesman for Cambrian Renewable Energy said that since Sandy Gerrard had discovered the stone row “construction works in the area were diverted while we worked with Carmarthenshire County Council and the Welsh Government’s heritage organization Cadw to fully survey the area and catalogue the finds. This work is now complete and Cadw and the council are satisfied that construction works in the area can proceed.”

Clearly someone is completely wrong about whether there may be further hidden features and someone is completely right. On that basis it is hard to see how Mr Alexander-Fitzgerald’s “You have to remember that all is showing is the top of these stones – we don’t know what else is there” isn’t a proper and reasonable statement and a good basis for further action or how Cambrian Renewable Energy, Cadw and the council can feel “satisfied” for work to proceed. Do they KNOW there is nothing else to be found? How?

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For previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box

See also this website and Facebook Group

(C) Sandy Gerrard

In a press report published this morning the discoverer of the Mynydd y Betws stone row, ex-English Heritage field officer and now freelance archaeologist Dr Sandy Gerrard is reported as saying the monument came within 20 minutes of being destroyed and a digger had to be halted in its tracks.

“In fairness to the developers they stopped work instantly – we have no criticism at all on that score,” he told the South Wales Guardian. “As it is, the row has been cut in two places by the windfarm access road. What does concern us is that at no time was anyone asked to carry out a basic survey of what’s visible on the ground”.

In a further development Dr Gerrard has told the Heritage Journal that the stone row is only one of a number of features that he has now found that should have been highlighted and he is now working on a map to show “all the features that appear to have been missed”. We hope to publish it shortly.

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For previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box

See also this website and Facebook Group

Image credit and © Chris Brooks, Heritage Action

Views from the majestic Callanish Stones are once again threatened by a proposed windfarm, this time in the form of two turbines each 67 metres high on the island of Great Bernera, nearly five miles away.

Despite the importance of the views you might think there was little hope that the megalithic card would carry much weight bearing in mind how far away from the stones the turbines are going to be. But no, Historic Scotland has said the turbines would break planning policy by having

“a significant adverse impact on Calanais’ setting which contributes considerably to its cultural significance

and

Calanais’ setting, extending out to the skyline, is central to its understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, and contributes to its cultural, aesthetic and spiritual values. It forms the centre of a wide prehistoric ritual landscape, incorporating a number of related and often intervisible stone circles, standing stones and natural features.”

Bravo!

Meanwhile, down in Wales work at Mynydd Y Betws  continues, without heed to such fancy talk. One of the Councillors supporting the Hebrides scheme hit out at conservationists’ intervention saying tourists to Callanish “should turn their backs to the turbines and observe the monoliths from a different angle if they really wanted an uninterrupted view.” There are those that might say that was outrageous philistinism. But then, the authorities seem to be prepared to tolerate the same solution at Mynydd Y Betws so obviously it can’t be!

A Statement by Professor Mick Aston. (13 Feb 2012)

As a result of my interview in British Archaeology there have been many comments and articles which misinterpret completely the points I was trying to make, which were about aspects of the television production side.

There is nothing that I have said in the interview with Mike Pitts that is in anyway to do with the archaeological side of Time Team.

Nobody should draw any conclusion from what I have been quoted as saying that I am at all unhappy with the standard of archaeological work that has been carried out over the last few series including last year.

I think the archaeology that was done this year, including the sites I was not on, was really, really good and this has been the case for several years now.

I have complete confidence in colleagues like Francis, John, Jacqui, and the digging team. People like Jim in development and Tim Taylor, as well as the post excavation work done by Wessex Archaeology, and these people will make sure that the archaeology is done properly, whatever happens on the TV production side.

Time Team Tv production

One year ago today English Heritage launched an excellent new initiative against Heritage Crime. However, accounts of the fight against Heritage Crime in Britain are like the curate’s egg,  good in parts. The crimes are escalating, which is bad but the initiatives are all very encouraging as they are obviously sincere and mean business, which is good. Then again, the very nature of such crimes means people are rarely caught red handed and once they’ve left the scene it’s hard to gather evidence – so the prosecution rate is low.

That sometimes even applies when things look pretty clear cut it seems. [We are still upset about Twinstead where a number of cherubs departed the scene with what they knew was patently State property and were told by the investigating Cop “The police are not looking to criminalise people needlessly. All I want is for the entire hoard to be declared, a decent article in the Searcher and the reputation of us detectorists to be restored. All I want is a sensible resolution to the whole situation. Please feel free to contact me. I am your friend not your enemy, I enjoy this hobby and do not want to see it needlessly tarnished!”]

So the British campaign against Heritage Crime really is a curate’s egg – good intentions, great plan, many successes but in each case not always. So anything that can help would be a help. Which is why we were pleased to come across ADIA , the website of an organisation in the States that provides training in “archaeological damage investigation and assessment”. We have no idea how much training British heritage policemen and heritage professionals are given in this field nor how realistic the AIDA training really is but we thought it worthwhile to highlight it in full, see below.

It seems unlikely the British training covers so many subjects or that expanding it to embrace some of them wouldn’t improve the overall  condition of the curate’s egg. [It would certainly help counteract the nasty taste in our mouths that Twinstead has left!]

ADIA training on archaeological resource protection issues

Archaeological Violation Investigation Class: Three-day class for law enforcement officers,
archaeologists, and prosecutors providing training on all aspects of the investigation and prosecution of archaeological crimes, involving either terrestrial or submerged resources. Topics covered in the class:

  • An Overview of Archaeological Resource Crime
  • The Looting, Collecting and Trafficking Network
  • ARPA and Other Federal Statutes
  • Archaeological Crime Scene Investigation (classroom session and field exercise)
  • Archaeological Damage Assessment
  • Archaeological Crime Investigative Methods
  • Archaeological Damage Assessment Methods
  • Archaeological Violation Case Studies

Archaeological Violation Litigation Class: Two-day class for archaeologists providing training on litigation and testimony in archaeological violation cases. Topics covered in the class:

  • An Overview of Archaeological Crime Investigation
  • An Overview of Archaeological Damage Assessment
  • The Role of the Archaeologist in Search Warrant Affidavit Preparation and Search Warrant Service
  • An Overview of Applicable Federal and State Statutes Used to Prosecute Archaeological Violation Cases
  • The Role of the Archaeologist in Litigation
  • An Overview of Applicable Rules of Evidence for Trials and Trial Testimony
  • Legal Issues in Archaeological Cases
  • Testimony in Archaeological Violation Cases (testimony exercise)

Archaeological Damage Assessment Methods Class: Five-day class for archaeologists providing training on all aspects of the damage assessment process for both terrestrial and submerged archaeological resources. Topics covered in the class:

  • Field Damage Assessment Procedures
  • Determination of Archaeological Value, Commercial Value, Cost of Restoration and Repair
  • Archaeological Damage Assessment Report Preparation
  • The Role of the Archaeologist in Litigation
  • Legal Issues in Archaeological Cases

ADIA also offers advanced training on archaeological crime scene investigation methods and equipment. Topics of the advanced training modules include:

  • Applications and Use of Outdoor Video Surveillance Systems
  • Applications and Use of Covert GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices
  • Applications and Use of Other Technical Investigative Equipment
  • Development and Management of Informants
  • Preparation of Search Warrants Specific to Archaeological Violations

A Guest article

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

I am rather concerned because I appear to have been forgotten, neglected, ignored and now find I am the victim of abuse and I wish to bring this to the attention of both those in authority whom I believe should be protecting my interests and to the wider public.

In my younger days everybody it seemed knew me. They knew where to find me they all wanted a piece of me and understood my role in society, but now I am considerably older I appear to have lost any of the respect I once enjoyed and I am no longer revered or worse I am completely misunderstood and overlooked. I know times and fashions change and although I was once known to all my new status in society or rather the complete lack of it is a little difficult for me to comprehend when once I was so important.

I have been here for a very long time and although I once was at the heart of every important social, cultural, economic, political and (dare one mention it) spiritual occasion gradually I seem to have lost out to newer ‘improved models’ and changes in emphasis over the years and have become neglected. This did not matter so much when I was being left alone in my retirement. To the best of my knowledge I caused no problems and made no demands but existed quietly. So imagine my horror to find myself suddenly being rudely disturbed, prodded, driven over, ignored and then worse to have had part of me completely amputated without my prior knowledge or consent by complete strangers who treated me as if I was of no significance or simply was not there. It was as if they denied my existence. When I think how important I once was it makes me shudder. Why despite my venerable age, my experience and because I once meant so much to everyone am I being so cruelly treated? What did I do to deserve this except witness your lives, the rites of passage and be part of your calendar and social world? Why did you forget me? You left me, yet I have been waiting patiently for you to return and for you to remember me and what I once meant to you. I am pleased to say a few still do seem to have recognised me and do care, but I am already damaged and will never be the same as I once was and I am shocked that the few who were left in charge of my welfare appear to have forsaken me completely.

To those who are trying to help me I must express my thanks because without you I would be nothing and to the rest please do not let them fight my cause alone, you are all getting older and one day like me perhaps you will be treated with disrespect and indifference, made to feel you have become a burden on the society you once served and are better ignored completely…heed my warning before it is too late.

Yours,

The forgotten Stone Alignment of Mynydd y Betws, Carmarthenshire

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For previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box

See also this website and Facebook Group

Skara Brae (from Wikimedia Commons)

Some items from the news that we’ve noticed recently.

The East Midlands region consists of most of the eastern half of the traditional region of the Midlands. It encompasses the combined area of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and most of Lincolnshire. The Peak District and part of The Fens are included in the area.

East Midlands region (Creative Commons)

Historically, the region roughly corresponds to the ‘Five Boroughs‘  of the Danelaw, and prior to that was a centre for the Romans, with Lincoln at the junction of the Fosse Way and Ermine Street.

Derbyshire Archaeological Society

The society was formed in 1878 as an archaeological and natural history society. There are now four sections: the Archaeological Research Group, the Architectural Section, the Industrial Archaeological Section, and the Local History Section. All run fieldwork or visits and lecture programmes in addition to the activities of the main Society.

The Society is one of the major county bodies consulted by planning authorities on matters concerning archaeological sites and historic buildings. Membership is £18, providing access to events and a copy of the society’s Journal, published in the summer.

Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society

The Society was founded in 1855 ‘to promote the study of history, archaeology, antiquities and architecture of the county’.  The activities  centre around a lecture programme, publications, historic buildings and research. An annual Transactions is published (Volumes 1-20 are fully downloadable), which includes a summary of all archaeological activity which has taken place in the city and county in the previous year. The Leicester Historian and two newsletters are also published each year.

Individual membership is £20 and this entitles the member to receive copies of all the annual publications, to attend lectures and to take part in any activities organised by the Society. There are different rates for additional family members, students and institutions.

Leicestershire Fieldworkers

Leicestershire Fieldworkers Group has, since 1976, undertaken an award-winning programme of active archaeological fieldwork throughout Leicestershire. The Group, in conjunction with Leicestershire County Council Museums Service archaeologists, holds regular lecture meetings, has its own Newsletter, “The Fieldworker” and provides training courses for beginners. Individual membership is £6.

Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

The society’s activities include:

  • arranging lectures, conferences, local history fairs and site visits on many topics related to Lincolnshire’s history, archaeology and industrial archaeology;
  • publishing quarterly and annual periodicals, and a series of more substantial and academic books as part of a longer term programme;
  • running a bookshop at Jews’ Court – operated by volunteers – which carries an extensive selection of new books on Lincolnshire, a thriving second-hand department, and both new and old postcards;
  • encouraging schools to promote Lincolnshire’s history and archaeology;
  • facilitating research and field investigation;
  • working with affiliated groups throughout the county.

Membership is £21, and in addition to the current offer for new members of a free book selected from a list, all members receive:

  • a quarterly Bulletin of News items and details of forthcoming Events
  • a quarterly magazine – Lincolnshire Past and Present
  • an annual Journal – Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
  • pre-publication information and a 20% discount on the Society’s wide range of publications
  • opportunities to buy selected and collectable second-hand books
  • an open invitation to all Events

Northamptonshire Archaeological Society

The society was formed in 1974 to promote the study and appreciation of the Archaeology and History of the county. It is a registered charity, with H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester as its Honorary President. Whether experienced archaeologist or pursuing a long held interest, new members are always welcome.

The Northamptonshire Archaeology journal is published annually, containing detailed excavation reports as well as notes and summaries describing current fieldwork. Newsletters provide details of local events and society meetings. Membership is £10 and a range of publications is available.

The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

The Thoroton Society is the county’s principal historical and archaeological society. It has a long pedigree, having been established in 1897. The Society’s aims are simple: to promote knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the history, archaeology and antiquities of Nottinghamshire, and to support local research and conservation.

Membership benefits include:

  • A lecture series on topics relating to the county.
  • Excursions to sites of historical and archaeological interest.
  • The Society’s prestigious annual publication, The Transactions, containing the latest historical research.
  • A regular newsletter.
  • Occasional publications in the Record Series (additional Subscription required).
  • An annual luncheon and other special events.
  • Meeting like-minded people and getting involved in exploring Nottinghamshire’s fascinating past.

Useful Links

Derbyshire Archaeological Society
Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society
Leicestershire Fieldworkers
Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
Northamptonshire Archaeological Society
The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

Boston Spa Archaeology and Heritage Group
North East Lincolnshire Arhaeological and Local History Society
The Sherwood Archaeological Society
Rutland Local History and Record Society

The new Stop Taking Our Past campaign (see here) couldn’t be more beneficial as it simply asks farmers to ensure all detecting finds get reported.

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Yet the only reaction we’ve had from detectorists is opposition. In fact, the owner of the premier detecting forum even wrote to the CBA, English Heritage and the Government trying to get them to distance themselves from it. Predictably he failed. The Chairman of CBA told him “I support the point they are making” and English Heritage told him “We advocate responsible detecting & reporting of all finds” (which of course is the precise aim of the nSTOP campaign!). The Government is yet to respond but it’s inconceivable they’ll say anything different as they spend millions providing a recording scheme.

So it’s now beyond argument, nSTOP is not at odds with official opinion, it equates with it so it can’t be belittled or ignored and we have every right to push ahead with it as it’s good for archaeology, archaeologists, landowners and the public. Unlike the original STOP campaign it’s not going away so hopefully every landowner in Britain will hear about it. We’d really appreciate some help though. So as we said before, if you’re a history lover, archaeologist or ethical detectorist please spread the message – “No reporting – No permission”. Why wouldn’t you?

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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