You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2013.

Eric Pickles may have just advised Local Authorities not to rule out developments through inflexible rules on buffer zones  but never fear, he’s about to impose millions more – see here. The guidance, to be published this week, will advise builders of new houses to provide space to hide away wheelie bins because “unsightly bins left lying around the neighbourhood can damage the visual amenity of an area”.

Mr Pickles said:

“For years, badly-placed wheelie bins and the proliferation of multiple bins have created a blot on the landscape.  By ensuring that developers create appropriate waste storage areas when designing new homes, we can tackle the ghastly gauntlet of bin blighted streets and driveways”

Hurrah! No more ghastly blots on the landscape then!

E Pickles: "ghastly"

Eric Pickles


Dear Colleagues,

Oh dear. My brother Jacob sent me some Guidelines that the Culture Minister has issued this week. It’s got me in a right old muddle as it says stuff no-one told me about. Things like ….

> “Archaeological objects must be excavated in a structured scientific manner”
> “Failure to expertly record the context from which an object has been removed results in an irreplaceable loss of knowledge of the past”
“Unregulated and inappropriate use of metal detectors causes serious damage to archaeological heritage.”

Jacob lives in Ireland but what’s true there must be true here mustn’t it? So why haven’t we been told? Or is the Irish culture minister lying? Or not? It’s a puzzle. We need to get to the bottom of this. I’m going to write to my cousin Simone who farms in France to see what advice her culture minister has given the public. I’ll let you know. Either unregulated metal detecting causes serious damage to archaeological heritage or it doesn’t. As the sole decision maker on my 500 acres I’m entitled to absolutely demand that the British authorities tell me which. Who knows, they could be knowingly making me an unwitting party to serious cultural damage.

Your friend,

Silas Brown

PS – you can see the new Guidelines here. Seems like the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland endorses them.  Confusing isn’t it? 

PPS, 18 August 2012:
Perhaps in response, 
a detectorist has just quoted the well-worn slogan: “The past belongs to everybody, not just to the members of a professional close shop.” But without meaning to the hapless chap is actually backing Ireland’s culture minister to the hilt for it is precisely because the past is everyone’s that it needs to be excavated in a structured, scientific manner by experts to avoid everyone suffering “an irreplaceable loss of knowledge of the past” ! Anyone that says otherwise is claiming a private right to damage the public interest aren’t they? Not in my back yard they won’t. If you want a moral philosopher don’t look at the top end of a metal detecting machine. But I’ll wait and see what the French culture minister says. Maybe he’ll say his Irish counterpart is wrong?


[For more from Farmer Brown put Silas in the search box]


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


The moorland of Walkhampton Common, Dartmoor contains many important archaeological sites including at least eight stone rows, many cairns, cists and hut circles dating to the Bronze Age. It is traversed by unsightly power lines…..

Power lines on Walkhampton Common (the small stones in the foreground are part of the Sharpitor West stone row)

Power lines on Walkhampton Common. (The small stones in the foreground are part of the Sharpitor West stone row)

…However, there’s good news – four kilometres of them are to be buried underground. Western Power Distribution has obtained consent for the work from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Open Spaces Society is enthusiastic about it because, in their words,

“undergrounding the cables will restore the natural beauty of the area, and enable people to enjoy it, on foot and horseback, without this manmade intrusion. We commend Western Power for this initiative, and look forward to seeing this breathtaking landscape free at last of ugly poles and cables.”

It depends on perspective though. If Dartmoor was just “open space” no-one could argue with what they say but of course it is more, it also contains just as much hidden space containing masses of buried archaeology, very little of which has been explored – and the bad news is that the excavations will involve destroying some of it. You could argue that it’s good news that some of it will at least be learned about but this will be no limited sampling exercise it will be the creation of a major scar, not where archaeologists would judge is best but where finance dictates is most efficient. (A road runs across the Common and burying the cables alongside it would be less disruptive but it is some distance away so presumably that has been judged as not a viable option).

Then again, a properly conducted programme of archaeological work is one thing, a less comprehensive exercise is another. Just how good (or bad) the curate’s egg turns out to be is yet to be revealed.

The current edition of The Big Issue (No 1064) contains a significant article by the new President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Sir Andrew Motion.

Big Issue

So what IS wrong with nimbyism? The Government and some developers often imply such people are misguided, selfish – unpatriotic even. Sir Andrew begs to differ. It’s about time someone did. As the Big Issue says: “What if they are the new radicals, those who are concerned enough to sit up and fight for what they believe in?” For the article Adam Forrest talks to the former poet laureate about his involvement in a campaign against new builds, and then goes into “a journey to the heart of nimbyism”.

Not demonising nimbies is perhaps of particularly importance when it comes to heritage matters. If a major development is proposed near to an ancient site, damaging it’s setting, who can be most relied upon to fight tooth and nail against it? Not always EH, sadly, now the Government has diminished it and effectively changed it’s role. Not always Councillors who may not see ancient sites as significant. Not always Planning Inspectors whose decisions are often shackled by government policy. Not those locals who are told they will benefit from a share in the profits. No, it will probably be nimbies – in the form of local history societies, amateur archaeologists and antiquarians!

Massive funding cuts, loss of Green Belt, community incentives, fewer buffer zones, settings breached, the list goes on. The government seems profoundly heritage-unfriendly. But at least we still have English Heritage which “champions our historic places” on our behalf. But noticeably less lately, why wouldn’t it? Less money, less people, less power, less intervention, less mandate. Plus a parallel philosophical change , “conservation creep” whereby conservation no longer means protecting from change and is now the process of managing change”. It all looks suspiciously like a watchdog being forced into the role of a lapdog by a developer-friendly government.

The latest evidence comes from EH’s Improvement Plan for Planning Services. EH is still said to be there to prevent substantial harm to the significance of designated heritage assets” yet staff must nowgive priority to projects and advice on managing change in the historic environment that deliver wider benefits, i.e. that achieve influence beyond the immediate matter or that inspire public confidence in the benefits obtained from the historic environment“. Not exactly championing or protecting then. In fact the key theme of the document is that EH must ensure “that its advice and decision-making is focussed on promoting sustainable development. The whole document is worth a read but these stand out:

Action 14 – English Heritage will continue to develop links with key developers whose interests affect the historic environment. We will undertake joint events and training with development interests as appropriate and as resources permit.
Action 15 – English Heritage will deliver a named relationship manager at Director level for the largest 25 developers.
Action 17 – EH will appoint an additional member of staff to provide further bespoke advice on the growth potential of heritage assets.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has authorised me to say: "Grr"

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has authorised me to say: “Grrr”

Last week the Government advised local authorities that the progress of wind farm developments should not be blocked by “inflexible rules on buffer zones“. However there’s no such reticence about buffer zones up on Betws Common where the progress of walkers on public land has just been blocked by a totally inflexible one.

Betws 122

Satan at Stonehenge
It is reported that a group that was let into Stonehenge to greet the sunrise a few Sundays back (on Midsummers Day, not at the main solstice gathering) was heard from some distance away loudly chanting “Hail Satan”. If so, should it be welcomed as an excellent manifestation of “inclusivity and multivocality”? Or is it just bonkers?  Not the fact the Dark Lord was being greeted (or called to appear, who knows?) but the fact that they were let in for free. Does it mean anything at all gets you in gratis? Will they get a free land train ride as well next year? What about followers of the Great Biscuit in the Sky? Pass the bourbons, I’ve always fancied an out-of-hours visit at someone else’s expense…

Fox forgiven
It was a “landmark ruling” … tagecrime/ when a Northamptonshire nighthawk was given a metal detecting ASBO – the first of its type – but it has now been reduced to a 5 year period … 24#mdnesds because the original one was ruled “disproportionate”. Presumably the Judge felt that if you keep a fox out of the chicken coop for 5 years he’ll be safe to be let in after that. Bet he doesn’t keep chickens.

A partner for Northumberlandia?
Banks Mining who brought us the the world’s largest human figure, Northumberlandia, are talking of starting another massive opencast mine and are in talks with Northumberland Tourism and Northumberland Wildlife Trust about opportunities to enhance the area.
Reports that they’re planning to construct a companion for Northumberlandia, an even larger figure of a naked man, are nonsense but it is thought that he will be named Cock o’ the North.

Last week’s Government advice to Local Authorities not to worry too much about buffer zones was unnecessary in Shropshire where the Council is already not worrying about them. Oswestry Hill Fort is one of the largest Iron Age Hill forts in Europe and is hugely impressive by any measure yet a plan to build houses right up to its base remains on course.


(A year ago we wrote: “There’s talk of housing estates being built within yards of it and a big protest is brewing.  Who knows if it will happen, but one thing’s a cert: if it doesn’t it won’t be out of respect for the “setting”. We don’t do setting when it comes to hill forts. Not an inch. Too big and ugly – and scary maybe? Who knows? We need a cultural-historical psychologist to explain it perhaps. Or a shrink. But it’s a definite fact. Some small Tudor houses have massive settings, whole hill forts can whistle for them. “)

One thing the Government said has been complied with: “The views of local communities likely to be affected should be listened to”. Trouble is, “listen to” has not been taken to mean “heed” and despite all the consultations and protests the plans are still in place. The bottom line is that although the surroundings of hill forts are part of their very essence they have no statutory protection. Add to that the general rule that if there’s money to be made someone will try to make it and you have the situation in a nutshell. We’re not talking “best solution for the community and the monument” here, we’re talking of massive potential profits and hence quite a dirty war. If only there was a buffer zone!


To quote Chris Cumberpatch again: if you loosen the safeguards “there can be no doubt that in the future those who profit from the destruction…. will seize on these omissions for their own rapacious ends …”




Anyway, if you want to take part in a dirty war you can sign an online petition against the proposals here: You can also join the current Facebook page to follow the campaign here: .

The final stage of public consultation on the SAMDev plan with full details of the proposed housing sites (OSW0002, OSW003 at the foot of the fort; OSW004 on the other side of the B5069) can be found here:$file/Oswestry-area-samdev-revised-preferred-options-report-2013.pdf The initial aim is to achieve a deferral of the decision date on these three specific sites. The campaigners would also be grateful if you would share these details with as many people as you can.

Compiled by Sue Brooke.

LONDON: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Life and death, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

28 March – 29 September 2013 . Advanced booking essential


English Heritage Event: Lindisfarne Gospels

Inscribed in Stone Exhibition: Date: From 1st May 2013 to 30th September 2013. Lindisfarne Priory from 10am to 6pm

Lindisfarne Priory is introducing a new display looking at the importance of the priory and its inhabitants around the time of the production of the gospels. The display will celebrate the loan of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East. By displaying intricately carved original and colourful replica ‘naming stones’, some dating back to the 8th century, the display will answer many questions for visitors who will be making the journey to the original and spiritual home of the sacred text.

EXETER: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter, Devon EX4 3RX

25TH September 2013. Lunchtime lecture – An introduction to Dartmoor National Park. Orlando Rutter, Senior Learning & Outreach Officer at Dartmoor National Park.

To explore some of the natural and human influences that have shaped the landscape of the National Park at Dartmoor. This lecture will also look at some of the work of Dartmoor National Park Authority.


Devon Archaeological Society – Members event

The Devon Archaeological Society, founded in 1928, is an active and friendly organisation with a membership of over 800. The archaeology of Devon is without equal in England: it includes the rich historic landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor and extends in time from the Palaeolithic axes of the East Devon river valleys to industrial remains from the extraction of tin and other minerals.

Sunday 1st September 2013 – Ham Hill Hillfort – Niall Sharples is currently excavating one of the largest hillforts in Southern Britain, at Ham Hill, Stoke sub Hamdon in Somerset. (ST 485 165) The site has produced a wide range of prehistoric and Roman finds when Ham Hill stone was quarried but only small scale excavation work has previously taken place. It’s siting and ramparts are clearly visible on the south side of the A303. Niall has kindly extended an invitation to visit to members of the DAS. Note that this is not a formal Society activity and will not be covered by DAS insurance: members should come prepared for visiting a site with an uneven surface and with footwear/clothing suitable for all eventualities. The site tour will last until lunchtime. Please check:



Plymouth & District Archaeological Society (PDAS) consists mainly of amateur members with an enthusiastic interest in a wide range of archaeological disciplines. Visitors are invited to attend any of our regular meetings

Monday 2nd September 2013 – Crownhill Fort, one of the “Palmerston Forts” built in the 19th century to defend Plymouth against the threat of French invasion, is now operated by the Landmark Trust. Ed Donohue, Manager of the Fort, or one of his colleagues, will lead a private tour taking in the ramparts, tunnels and casemates. The tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties; sturdy shoes are advised. If the weather is kind there will be a cannon firing at the end of the tour. Meet in the lower car park outside the Fort at 6.15 for a 6.30pm start, SX 487 591, PL6 5BX. Cost of £3/head to meet Landmark Trust charges, to be collected on the day


Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

‘A charitable partnership formed to look after the ancient sites and monuments of Cornwall. Currently working closely with local communities and official organisations to protect and promote our ancient heritage landscape through research, education and outreach activities’.

Volunteers are always very welcome at the monthly clear-ups. These events are always a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on, whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future

SEPTEMBER CLEAN-UP – The next clean-up will be held on Tuesday September 10th 2013 at 12.00 midday. Chynhalls Point cliff castle (SW785 175]) Park near Coverack School, to be collected.

*Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided*


Ingleborough Archaeology Group (IAG) is based in Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales and has as its core area of operations the Ingleborough massif and the surrounding valleys of Kingsdale, Chapel le Dale and Ribblesdale. The Group was founded in 1996 under the direction of Alan King, one of the most active archaeologists in the Yorkshire Dales. It has been described as one of the most active and successful local archaeology groups in the North of England and has been involved in a broad range of excavations, ranging from a nineteenth-century industrial building within the Ribblehead Construction Camps through to a Romano-British settlement near Ingleton to a Mesolithic site at Kingsdale Head.

Last summer walk – Saturday 21st September 2013 – Baildon Moor:

‘8000 years of landscape change with Gavin Edwards’

Meet 10.30am Baildon Top Car Park (SE1428 4069) or Ashfield Car Park – Settle 9.15am or Community Centre Car Park – Ingleton 9.00am for car sharing. Approx 4-5miles – moderate – mainly on paths and open fell. Please bring packed lunch. No dogs please.


Lancashire Archaeological Society – encouraging and promoting interest in archaeology and history, particularly of the County Palatine of Lancashire.

1st September 2013 – Visit to the landscape of Smithills Hall Estate, Bolton. Dr Alan Crosby.

Please see for more information.


In the early 1980s, English Heritage funded a series of small dyke surveys in the Peterborough region. It was during this survey that Flag Fen was discovered, home to a Bronze Age monument over 3300 years old.

Flag Fen is open daily from 10am-5pm (last entry at 4pm) from April to October and is a marvellous opportunity to see the reconstructions and the experimental archaeology.


MBArchaeology specialises in Community Archaeology, Education & Research. Based in Nottinghamshire / Derbyshire and offering educational talks, walks, workshops and courses on a whole variety of archaeological topics.

Derbyshire – full-day field visits that run throughout the summer to sites of historical and archaeological interest. Keep checking for events.


Archaeology in Marlow’s (AIM) aim is to investigate and discover the archaeology and pre-history of Marlow Town and its surrounding parishes. The Warren Wood site comprises a double enclosure earthwork believed to be medieval in date but neolithic artefacts and Iron Age pottery have also been found.

AIM would like to involve as many people as possible in practical archaeology and research and also to entertain them with talks on general and local subjects. Lists of activities to date are shown on the website pages covering projects and past events. Everyone is welcome to join and members enjoy research, fieldwork, training courses, talks and visits.

Event: Investigations at Warren Wood, Little Marlow, Bucks:

Dates and times: 1st September 2013 – 10:00

15th September 2013 – 10:00

29th. September 2013 – 10:00

For more information:



Groam House Museum. High Street, Rosemarkie, Ross-shire, Scotland IV10 8UF

An outstanding centre for Pictish and Celtic Art in Ross-shire. This unique display is focused on 15 carved Pictish stones which all originated in the village described as an important centre of early Christianity.

TALK: 5th September 2013 : The Nigg Old Trust Project, the re-display of the Nigg Cross-Slab and the Poor Loft. Dr Isabel Henderson, Caroline Vawdrey and David Alston

Museum opening times: From 29 March to 31 October 2013:

• Monday to Friday, 11am – 4.30pm

• Saturday, 2 pm – 4.30pm

Please note – space within the museum is limited so it is suggested that groups of over 12 people could contact the museum to arrange the visit

The museum can be visited via public transport using the Stagecoach 26A bus service from Inverness Bus Station.


The Newbarns Project – From 1st – 30th September 2013

Archaeological excavation of three prehistoric kerb cairns containing numerous cremation burials and deposits from the Early Bronze Age through to the Iron Age, also one Neolithic Passage grave on two of the cairns. With evidence of sporadic occupation, from prehistory through the Iron Age (Roman). Anglian and Medieval settlement evidence.

Open from 10:00 to 17:00 hours daily except Sunday.

Tours available: No charge but contributions towards running costs are welcome.

Finds on display.

Amateur diggers are welcome – 1 day or 1 month – with tools supplied. Please wear sensible clothing especially boots, as the cairns are in a bog. All welcome – children must be accompanied by a responsible adult if under 16. The site is off the A710 Colvend to Sandyhills Road MR Nx8812 5505.

All enquiries to – Tel: 01556 680478 or e-mail

Check out for further details.

NORTHERN IRELAND: North Down Museum – Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, BT20 4BT, United Kingdom

The story of the North Down area, from the Bronze Age to the present day.

Museum opening times:

• Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 4.30pm

• Sunday: 12.00pm – 4.30pm

(Closed on Mondays, except July and August and Bank Holidays)

Accessible for people with disabilities. Admission is free.


National Museum of Wales

Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP

A static exhibition in The Archaeology Gallery – Origins: In Search of Early Wales.

This traces life in Wales from the earliest humans 230,000 years ago. Who were our ancestors, and how different were they from us? What has changed and what has caused these changes? A stunning and thought provoking exhibition where you get the chance to see things really close up.

Visit the Origins – In Search of Early Wales webpages

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society was founded in 1905 and is one of the foremost County antiquarian societies in Wales. From its inception the founding members saw a need to record, publish and collect all things relating to the history, antiquities and natural history of ‘Carmarthenshire in particular, and West Wales in general’.

Monday, 9 September – 13 Friday, September – Field Excursion: Warwickshire

Wrexham County Borough Museum

Regent Street, Wrexham, LL11 1RB

Inside one of Wrexham’s landmark buildings, Wrexham County Borough Museum is the starting point for discovering the eventful history of this region on the English-Welsh border.

The museum’s displays and collections tell the stories of Wrexham County Borough and its people from prehistory up to the present day.

DUE TO RUN THROUGH SEPTEMBER – The Mold Cape – a unique ceremonial cape of gold, made during the Early Bronze Age, around 3,700 years ago. Probably one of the finest pieces of Bronze Age craftsmanship and gold-working technique in Europe, made with great skill from a single sheet of thin gold. It is unique in design with the embossed shapes copying strings of beads. Normally a highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the Mold Cape is on display at Wrexham Museum from 7th. August 2013.

Opening Times: Monday – Friday: 10.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday: 10.30am – 3.00pm

Closed Bank Holidays and Sundays

National Roman Legion Museum. Town Centre, Caerleon, Gwent.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire dominated the civilised world. Wales was its furthest outpost and, in AD 75, a fortress was founded at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. The National Roman Legion Museum displays a remarkable collection of finds from Roman Caerleon, the base of the second Augustan Legion.


Location: Follow the ‘brown helmet’ signs from the M4 (westbound junction 25, eastbound junction 26). For satellite navigation purposes use the post code NP18 1AE (recorded as ‘High Street’).

More information:

Our recent article has evoked massive abuse from some detectorists. In Britain we’re “idiots”; in the States we’re “ass hats” and “haemorrhoids”. No matter, far more significant is that only insults have been forthcoming. No-one has ventured to say any of the ten Pledges are invalid or why. With good reason: the Pledges say to the Public “is this how you think things should be done to ensure both landowners and you get what you’re entitled to?” and the Public will certainly say yes, because it is. That puts artefact hunters and others in the mother of all pickles:

For 15 years detectorists have described what they do using vague but virtuous platitudes whereas the Pledges are neither vague nor platitudinous and, since the Public will approve of them (ask them, don’t take our word) anyone who disputed them would be seen as flouting the public will. Further, the Pledges are no more than what the authorities privately agree with and know they should have published many years ago, so there’ll be not a molecule of criticism of them from that quarter either.

If you put forward a set of ethical standards, and one side keeps quiet because it daren’t  be seen to disagree and the other side keeps quiet because it daren’t be seen to agree you’ve probably got it right – especially if you know they would be approved by those who really matter: landowners (who are the owners,  stewards and gatekeepers of the resource) and the Public (who are the main stakeholders in the resource). Against all that, the insults really don’t matter.


Finally here’s a not-unexpected reaction to the above from American detectorist Dick Stout. It demonstrates elegantly how vital it is for a clear and unambiguous set of ethical standards to be laid out:

“their 10 point pledge a joke and insult to us all. I don’t really care what they think. They can piss and moan all they want…”

So, he rejects those 10 ethical standards entirely, whereas it’s clear the public would accept them entirely! So, Dear Reader, would you want someone who said those ten ethical pledges were a joke and that they didn’t care what you thought and you could piss and moan all you want – on your land ?!  Probably not. That’s the absolute beauty of published, well-publicised ethical standards, they invariably sort the ethical from the unethical whereas vague and virtuous platitudes do the opposite and have been doing so at farm gates for far too many years.



More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting



August 2013

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,381 other followers

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: