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Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site



Yakima Valley, Sunnyside, Washington, USA

Hi all,

I (Bob) was working in the UK in 2007 & 2008 and Danise was with me. We attended the Badminton horse trials in 2008, just before we left the UK to come back home. During the cross country event (at a particularly difficult jump) a horse came thundering past us and Danise really liked it. At that moment they announced its name, which was…Silbury Hill. Danise said that she really liked the name and suggested it as the name for our new farm. It should be noted here that we had never farmed a day in our lives before buying this farm. We are having a blast raising alpacas for the last two years and have some grand expansion plans. Keep watching our website or following us on Facebook.

Bob and Danise Cathel,


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.


As this series has shown, we like the idea of Stonehenge as a gathering place, but the form of such gatherings remains a matter for debate, particularly with regard to winter solstice gatherings as their nature has been changing. Until recently just a few hundred people would attend and they’d all be highly respectful, but numbers are rising – over five thousand attended this year – and significantly, for the first time, a number of people were seen blatantly climbing on the stones (see the video below). It suggests the obvious – that like in the summer, more people means less control of misbehaviour. Winter solstice used to be a refreshing contrast to the summer event, now it is starting to resemble it.

No-one is against fun but year after year in the summer people disrespect the stones, EH forget to mention it to the press and others deny it happens or say that if only they were in control it wouldn’t. But patently it does always happen, no amount of Round Table talking has ever stopped it and no-one will so long as too many people, some boozy and some far from spiritual, crowd into too small a space. In our view the rest of the population is entitled to expect that an embarrassing image of Britain’s treatment of the monument isn’t transmitted to the rest of the world every year – and now, it seems, twice a year. So here are 3 core questions that suggest how the winter celebration at least, despite growing in size, could be kept respectful and spared from being infected by the embarrassing summer behaviour:

• Since the overwhelming evidence is that Stonehenge was built for viewing the winter solstice sunset from The Avenue not the sunrise from inside the stones, shouldn’t English Heritage make that fact crystal clear and switch the access timing to sunset and the venue to the outside? At present aren’t they silently presiding over the gradual growth of a potentially damaging and expensive-to-regulate tradition, one for which the monument wasn’t even intended?

• Bearing in mind there is no realistic chance that ancient people would have known the precise scientific moment when the solstice occurs, should English Heritage take steps to ensure that letting people inside the stones for a second time at a time other than sunset to mark the precise solstice moment (as happened this year) doesn’t become an on-going (and faintly ridiculous) tradition or one claimed as a “right”? Who benefits from that – people who want to use the monument in the way they want rather than the way it’s builders intended?

• Shouldn’t the Lantern Procession, if focused on The Avenue and the winter solstice sunset, be recognised and promoted as the most valid use of the monument of all – and shouldn’t the whole Winter celebration be built around that, outside the stones and at sunset rather than inside the stones at sunrise? Shouldn’t those who revere the monument as their temple be firmly requested to use it in the way intended?

Here is the winter solstice sunrise viewed from inside the stones…..

sunrise or sunset

……. or is it the winter solstice sunset, viewed from the end of The Avenue? Few people will know the answer because the two spectacles are virtually identical and separated by only a few hours. Why then do people gather in the wrong place at the wrong time to view the wrong spectacle? Shouldn’t EH simply switch the event next Winter, secure in the knowledge no-one who respects Stonehenge could put up any realistic objections?

PS, 11th Feb 2013
Here’s a video in which Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage (we like her) makes it crystal clear the place was built for viewing from The Avenue.

(Shame about the people climbing on the stones. Anyone that has done that or not stopped them doing it and still calls for Free and Open access is walking proof they shouldn’t get it!)


(For more Stonehenge ideas put New Ways in the search box)

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site


I started drawing maps of places I love a couple of years ago. It began when an American friend came to visit. She wanted to navigate her way around the Oxfordshire village where I live and find out more about the history, sights and nature as she went. None of the printed maps of the village combined all the different elements. So I began doodling. What the resulting map lacked in scale and cartographic accuracy was more than made up for in quirky character, history, information, humour and love.

I have now drawn five maps of places I love, including one of the ancient and wonderful village of Avebury, a small portion of which is shown above. The extended map shows all the features you’d expect: the henge, the monuments, the roads – and some you wouldn’t expect: people, buildings, activities, animals, birds and historical figures. Everything shown is my personal response to the place and the things I love about it and think are important. But it is still accurate enough to be used to navigate your way around. You can buy one at the Henge Shop in Avebury or online here:

Best wishes,
Jane Tomlinson


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

We recently contrasted the big punishments given to people who steal lead from church roofs with the the leniency shown to people who plough out barrows, motorcycle on hillforts, nighthawk on scheduled sites and damage standing stones. But now in a “landmark ruling“, two men who metal detected on a protected site have been given ASBOs (the first time they’ve been used to tackle archaeological crime) as well as one year suspended custodial sentences, community service, curfews, compensation for damage and confiscation of equipment. So a heartening step towards consistency.

But there’s a long way to go. Mike Harlow (EH’s Legal Director) quite rightly said The history they are stealing belongs to all of us …. Once the artefacts are removed from the ground and sold the valuable knowledge they contain is lost for ever”. But you’d be mistaken to think that meant these two had been convicted of knowledge theft. There’s no such crime, which is why the wider reality beyond nighthawking is grim: 97% of archaeological sites are not scheduled – so if those two gents had legally removed identical objects from any of those and not reported them (as thousands freely admit they do) the self same knowledge would be lost forever and there’d be zero punishment. Hence, although Britain’s approach to heritage crime is improving (and four massive cheers for all the agencies – the police, EH, CPS and the BM – that are visibly bringing this about) our country’s approach to heritage loss remains as illogical and indefensible as ever…..

ass - Copy

Who can deny that the only proper approach (which is recognised and enacted abroad) is that no metal detecting whatsoever ought to be taking place without the law imposing what amounts to an antisocial behaviour order on those who do it. (Not a “voluntary” ASBO though. That would be silly, whoever heard of one of those working?!) Such a thing isn’t complicated or unfair – and every time the authorities condemn nighthawks because “The history they are stealing belongs to all of us” they are inadvertently agreeing.

PS…… and no longer said but seen! Yesterday, Simon Thurley, Chef Exec of EH, called for greater consistency by the Courts, which is our first point, with particular reference to Priddy (bravo! about time EH stopped saying they are “pleased” about that) but he also said, about nighthawks: that some of them “even trawled English Heritage’s own databases of protected sites looking for places likely to contain rich pickings….” Yes Dr Thurley, but it’s not just the courts that lack consistency for it’s not just nighthawks that do that and don’t report their finds is it? In fact nighthawks are a tiny, tiny proportion of those that do that so if you find such a thing so scandalous why not make it clear how widely it happens legally and how much you abhor it? You opine that “we’ve got perfectly good laws”. Hardly. On this particular issue the British law is a complete ass and it wouldn’t half help if you said so!


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site


Harold Wilson and others staying at Avebury


The steady stream of notable visitors staying with William Beveridge at the Green Street cottage at Avebury included the social reformers Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and the first Director of UNESCO, Julian Huxley. A future Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, stayed at the cottage whilst working for Beveridge throughout the summer of 1938. Wilson recalled of the swimming pool excavated by guests that it was the coldest water he had ever known. The pool nonetheless proved attractive to beetles, a young David Rockefeller on his way to collecting 90,000 specimens identified more than twenty species in the vicinity. Another visitor was the archaeologist Alexander Keiller, a distant relative of both William Beveridge and Jessy Mair, who owned the cottage. They had been in residence more than five years at Avebury, when Keiller began his purchase of land from which he would excavate and erect megaliths buried centuries before.
B. E.

Some reading: William Beveridge, The London School of Economics and its Problems 1919-1937 (London, Allen and Unwin, 1960) pp. 40-50. Janet Beveridge, Beveridge and his Plan (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1954) pp. 90-100. Philip Beveridge Mair, Shared Enthusiasms: the Story of Lord and Lady Beveridge (Windlesham, Ascent Books, 1982).


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site


We’d like to wish all our readers the Compliments of the Season, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Here are two postcards we’d like to share….

From the Clovis site, New Mexico


Seasons Greetings from Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark (a.k.a. the Clovis site, one of the most significant archaeological sites in North America.)


and from the Avebury World Heritage Site Officer….


Sarah Simmonds
Avebury World Heritage Site Officer


This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

from Sandy Gerrard.


For fun I thought it might be interesting to utilise the powerful search engine at The National Heritage List for England to see if there is a Christmas theme to any of the schedulings. Alas the search revealed no scheduled Christmas sites, but as always seems to be the way a little further digging revealed 61 listed buildings with a Christmas mention. Yet more discrimination on the part of English Heritage I hear you cry.  Actually this is a salutary lesson in how even the biggest of anomalies can have the most innocent explanations unless of course English Heritage are willing to admit to deliberately depriving the schedule of festive cheer!

Seriously though it was really interesting to see the distribution of “Christmassy” listed buildings – with none in the north of England. On the basis of the evidence it would also appear that national important archaeology and Christmas place names are mutually exclusive – which is a shame. Perhaps next year English Heritage will try and rectify this sorry state of affairs or explain why there is no Christmas in the Schedule of Ancient Monuments?


[For other articles  in the series put Scheduling in the search box]

In which we conclude our look back at the past twelve months and come up to date.


The month began with a round up of some heritage based events running throughout the month, and a trip through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

The ongoing story of the earlier desecration of Priddy Henges encountered more delays, whilst news reached us of the destruction of a possible henge and later settlement in Hertfordshire and we looked at three different approaches to museum closures.

We took a brief look at Roundhouse  Reconstructions  and Archaeology Courses.

In terms of new beginnings, we (re)launched our Public Forum which is slowly growing, and started a new series looking at the Scheduling system in the UK.


Our weekly series looking at Scheduling  continued throughout the month.

We briefly looked at human transport of the Stonehenge Bluestones and at yet another sponsored desecration of a well loved site, whilst the Duddo Stones earned a possible reprieve.

The sentencing for the Priddy desecration was finally passed, and we had our say on the matter.

Cornwall was again well represented (there’s so much archaeology down there!) with a story on Carwynnen Quoit,  and a short series of diary entries  from a recent trip.


Several of our recent series continued throughout the month: we got Inside the Minds of James Gossip and Tim Darvill, continued questioning the Scheduling System and had some further thoughts on Priddy.

Pip Richards gave a guest round-up of the summer dig at Carwynnen Quoit, and we reprinted what we think is a classic essay written for us by our member Tombo in 2004 soon after Heritage Action was formed.

On a more unsavoury front, we reported on recent threats made to our Chairman by members of the metal detecting fraternity.


On a more light-hearted note, we reported on sightings of  Witches at the Rollright Stones and a Dalek at Aldbourne!

The Scheduling System continues to come under scrutiny, while Lorna Richardson allowed us to peek ‘Inside the Mind’.

We also started a new series, ‘Postcards from a World Heritage Site‘ presenting short vignettes from and about the Stonehenge and Avebury areas.

Well, that brings us up to date in our look at the highlights from this year, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as we’ve enjoyed producing the Journal this year. Keep following us next year for more news, views and stories about our ancient heritage, and the threats to it. 

See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

We continue our look back at some of the stories that we’ve highlighted during 2012.


We kicked off the month with an article about the Young Archaeologists Club and their appeal for funds. Sadly, with the ongoing cuts more branches than ever are in danger (Southampton Archaeology Unit has recently been identified as a victim of government cuts) so please give them your support where you can!

We highlighted the Tangible Benefits of Time Team style community archaeology and raised a question about the possibilities for a ‘Heritage Crime’ app for smartphones.  Despite some useful comments, we’ve seen no tangible results of that discussion as yet. Has anyone got something they would like to tell us on that front?

We wrote about the newly restored Devil’s Quoits at Stanton Harcourt, looked at some often overlooked sites that are Hidden in Plain Sight and continued our Olympic Campaign to get the Torch to stop at Silbury Hill.

We held our first Competition and wrote about visits to Carwynnen Quoit, the Falmouth Log Boat construction and Bosiliack Settlement,  all in Cornwall.


Once again, Mynydd Y Betws  returned to the spotlight and we looked at further deterioration at Thornborough Henges.

Heritage Crime was covered with the announcement of a series of talks on the ARCH initiative, a hammer attack on the Lia Fail standing stone at Tara in Ireland and we advised on How to Report Dumped Rubbish or Damage.

The Courtyard Houses of West Penwith and the Harlow Temple were visited during the month.

Meanwhile, Stonehenge was in the news with the announcement of another new theory of its origins, and the start of work on the new Visitor  Centre there.


July is always a month of meetings and get togethers, many as part of the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology.  There was our very own Megameet, held every year in Avebury and well attended again this year, the Megalithic Portal event in the Peak District with one of our own leading a guided walk up to Gardom’s Edge, and a talk at the Thornborough Henges.

We also reported on the Welwyn Archaeological Society conference  and a potentially damaging  TV Series, Britain’s Secret Treasures.


We featured articles this month about Heritage Crime, developer damage and insensitivity.

In outings we visited Flag Fen and the Norton Henge.

Suggestions for new ways to use Stonehenge was a popular mini-series throughout the month, and we suggested Six Newsfeeds you shouldn’t miss.

In addition to the above highlights, as ever we also continued our usual coverage of news items about archaeological heritage and crime, metal detecting and planning inconsistencies.

…to be concluded in Part 3. See Part 1 here

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional to look back at what has been, and possibly to look forward at what’s to come. 2012 was a busy year for the Heritage Journal, so join me as we look back and recall some of the highlights, month by month…


Our series looking at Local Archaeological Societies, begun in December 2011 was now in full swing with 4 areas covered throughout the month. We also peeked ‘Inside the Mind of…’ Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology as part of an occasional series which has continued throughout the year.

We celebrated 25 years of Meyn Mamvro magazine and gave some advice on What Not to Do at Heritage Sites which proved a very popular article. We continued the write up of Scubi’s Scottish Adventure series, which had commenced some six months previously. But the big news story which was to continue throughout the year was the discovery of a threatened stone row at Mynydd Y Betws.


We continued with our in-depth look at the situation at Mynydd Y Betws, and finished off the Local Archaeological Societies series.

Nancy Wisser, owner of the Clonehenge website gave us an insight into it’s creation, and we suggested 6 ways to enhance your heritage monument visits.


A personal highlight for me was attendance at the Current Archaeology Live conference, having been lucky enough to win a ticket in a contest on Facebook!

We gave some advice on How to Best Preserve Ancient Sites and How to Become an Archaeologist, the latter as an introduction to the DigVentures team’s attempt at crowd-funding a dig at Flag Fen later in the year.

Richard Mortimer and Carenza Lewis played nicely for ‘Inside the Mind’, and we provided a brief insight into the history of Heritage Action.

The National Planning Policy Framework was released, and we gave our layman’s verdict: Must Try Harder!  Meanwhile, the funding cuts for the Wiltshire Heritage Museum were also highlighted.


This month, with the Olympics on the horizon we campaigned for the Olympic Torch to stop for a photo opportunity at Silbury Hill. Alas, our pleas fell on deaf ears, and a chance to highlight an iconic British monument was lost.

Raksha Dave and Rachel Pope featured on ‘Inside the Mind of…’, where Raksha’s responses turned out to be our most popular post of the year according to the WordPress statistics on the site!

RESCUE’s Fighting Back guidelines were updated, and we discussed whether it’s best to publicise site locations of the more obscure ancient heritage sites or not.

As usual, we also continued our campaign for responsible and ethical metal detecting throughout the year, as well as our regular news items, travelogues and opinion pieces.

…to be continued in Part 2.


December 2012

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