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Show anyone a picture of the British Archaeology Trust’s logo for RESCUE (seen below), and ask them to describe it, and 9 times out of ten the answer will be along the lines of “Stonehenge on a bulldozer”. And of course, that’s what the logo depicts, but being totally pedantic, it actually depicts just the stones of Stonehenge. The ‘henge‘ part tends to get forgotten. Why is that?

Probably because henges are among the least understood of the monuments left behind by our ancient ancestors, and are often not very visually stimulating, consisting of a circular bank, and inner ditch with one or more entrance causeways.

Logo: RESCUE, the British Archaeology Trust

Logo: RESCUE, the British Archaeology Trust

In fact, stone settings associated with henges are often very much in the minority. Stonehenge we’ve already mentioned of course, and Avebury (where the henge component of the monument is on a much larger scale) is similarly well known. A henge such as the Stripple Stones in Cornwall is much less well known and not nearly as accessible! Beyond that it becomes difficult to extend the list of henges with stones in the south. Knowlton Henge in Dorset is famous for its stones, but that’s because they are in the form of a Norman Church, set within the henge boundaries!

Knowlton Church and Henge © Alan S.

Knowlton Church and Henge © Alan S.

In the Midlands, the best known example of a henge with stones is probably Arbor Low in Derbyshire, where all of the stones are fallen, thus resembling a clock-face when viewed from above, as in the satellite image below, taken from Google Maps. Much further north, the Ring of Brodgar is well known, but again it is not considered a true henge by some, due to the complete lack of an external bank outside the rock-cut ditch. By comparison, the Thornborough Henges, a set of three large henges in Yorkshire, are completely stone free and meet the official definition well.


Arbor Low henge, as seen on Google maps satellite view. © Google inc.

There are many more, much smaller henges to be found the length and breadth of Britain, many investigated to a greater or lesser extent, many known only from cropmarks identified via aerial or satellite photography. Sadly, many of these lesser henges are often ploughed out, almost to oblivion, such at the Weston Hill henge, near Baldock in Hertfordshire.

Finally, as the QI page on henges reminds us:

Oddly enough, though, the word ‘henge’ is a back-formation from ‘Stonehenge’, coined by Thomas Kendrick, later Keeper of British Antiquities at the British Museum, in 1932. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘stone’ and ‘gallows’, implying that they thought it to be a place of execution (of course Stonehenge was already many centuries old in Anglo-Saxon times).

Oh, and the Mirror? Looking at the brief definition of a henge given above, it actually excludes Stonehenge from being defined as a true henge as there, the bank is on the inside, making it a ‘reversed-henge’! …and don’t get me started on how many of the examples on the Clonehenge web site omit the henge altogether!!

Further Links:


The difficulty with dubious policies is ensuring everyone on your team stays on-message. So it is with British law and policy on portable antiquities. Sometimes organisations are visibly embarrassed by the fact positions they feel are right to adopt conflict with the official one. The very existence of such inconsistencies is persuasive evidence that something’s wrong.


A star example is displayed in English Heritage’s official definitions. Heritage Assets are (inter alia): “Undesignated but acknowledged heritage buildings and sites” and Heritage Crime is “Any offence which harms the value of England’s heritage assets”. Who could disagree? Heritage Crime is an offence that harms the value of undesignated but acknowledged heritage buildings and sites. 

However, as they and everyone know, the target of desire of all legal metal detecting is undesignated but acknowledged heritage buildings and sites and not reporting finds from those assets harms their value. So the only thing that prevents legal metal detecting without reporting finds from fitting the definition of Heritage Crime is the fact it isn’t an offence!

That’s an inescapable and embarrassing inconsistency for our country for it means that for 15 years we have had a policy designed to avoid criminalising something which, in all respects other than being a crime, is considered a crime! And it’s not us that are saying so, it’s the Government’s own designated heritage champions. (Over to you, Houdini Department. Bon chance!)

r avoidance of doubt, our complaint is not against those who are conducting the fight against heritage crime – we are members of ARCH, the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage and we’ve always been fully supportive of everything they do and always will be. Our complaint is against the Government – for not regulating metal detecting and not legislating to designate “metal detecting and not-reporting” a crime.  The damage caused by the latter dwarfs that caused by nighthawking at a probable ratio of 7,000 : 300 so they really have no excuse.

[For more, put embarrassing inconsistencies into the search box.
A question: if someone can come up with a series of such inconsistencies 
and no-one denies they exist does it signal a fundamental defect in policy?]


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


It’s a delicate matter but we thought we’d better ask. A recent official document for Tour Operators outlining the new arrangements for visiting Stonehenge contains this “Top Tip” ….

top tip.

It has been announced elsewhere there’ll be just two “emergency toilets” close to the Stones, a standard one and one for disabled people. So keeping in mind up to 900 people an hour will be visiting the stones the question naturally arises, will the facilities be adequate?

We assume research will have been done but still, how many of those 900 people an hour will be very young or elderly or have relevant medical conditions? Two toilets only? What if three people need them? Or ten? What is a safe number? Your opinion would be welcome.

The worry of course is that no-one can be quite sure if the number of toilets are adequate until the new arrangements commence – and if it turns out they aren’t there might have to be a hurried provision of “emergency” emergency toilets. Clearly it would be better to build them into the plan than to have to add something later that is more intrusive than it needed to have been. We’re big fans of splendid isolation and avoiding unnecessary excavation but even those are surely outranked by the need for sufficient toilets, else why bother allowing visitors at all?

A guest article by campaigner Diana Baur.

With support from countless high-profile historical experts, including Professor Mary Beard and Professor George Nash, nearly 6,000 people from Oswestry, Shropshire, and another 1,000 global supporters have asked English Heritage to outlaw completely ANY BUILDING AT ALL on the land around this magnificent Ancient Hillfort and keep it safe from development. Aren’t they entitled to get the wholehearted support of EH?

There are plenty of alternative potential sites on which to build houses both in and around Oswestry, but with its spectacular views of the Hillfort a development on this farmland would of course ooze prestige and the intended executive houses would bring high profits for the developers and large council taxes for Shropshire Council as well as government support grants for the next six years. So, all in all, heritage vandalism apart, it’s win, win, win. It’s an established fact that as its value wanes, money is becoming ever more influential. Like a robber, it ties the hands of our consciences, values, principles, compassion and judgement behind our backs. As with any drug, the greater the dependence upon it, the greater it’s influence in this respect.

Thank goodness that the belief in the importance of their hill fort that the people of Oswestry are expressing so forcefully is shared by EH, who say: “Old Oswestry is a hugely significant archaeological resource. Its importance is derived not only from its prehistoric legacy, but also from its contribution to later periods of history. Its incorporation into Wat’s Dyke marks a chapter in the formation of early medieval Britain and it played an important role in the first of two world wars that so dramatically shaped the world in which we live. Old Oswestry is also important for the richness of its wildlife and is a key component in maintaining the biodiversity of the local area”.

BUT EH are suffering. They have been progressively deprived of funding. See the article by their Chief Executive Simon Thurley titled “We are stuffed”! That is perhaps a clue to how they behave. For instance, Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe is on the governing commission of EH, but has not replied to letters asking for support to save the Hillfort.

The party in government has its own short-term agenda –namely to be re-elected. Re-election strategies, namely meeting our housing shortfall abound. Developers are frequently at variance with preserving cultural heritage, as they choose prestige sites to command high house prices. In the circumstances it is unsurprising that EH is likely to choose to keep its teeth in a glass by the bed, its one good eye focused firmly on the pillow and, when asked, only dance to the tune that is played by its paymasters – or at least always make sure that the chorus line fits that requirement.

This is what nearly 6,000 good people of Oswestry very much hope is not happening, but appears to be in view of EH’s less than strong response to the plans to build around The Hillfort. They have recommended that plans for two of the three sites in question are not taken forward ( ie  Site OSW002 (Land off Gobowen Road) and Site OWS003 (Oldport Farm, Gobowen Road) – at least, not in their current form. But they  remain mealy mouthed on the third site. Site OSW004 (land off Whittington Road) – “Any development will need to take into account the local topography and integrate well with the existing built area together with creating a new, sympathetic urban edge for the town and its wider rural surroundings……  English Heritage would welcome continuing involvement in the detailed design and master planning of this site.” 

WHY ARE EH MEALY MOUTHED ABOUT THE THIRD SITE?   To repeat: With support from countless high-profile historical experts, including Professor Mary Beard and Professor George Nash, nearly 6,000 people from Oswestry and another 1,000 global supporters have asked English Heritage to outlaw completely ANY BUILDING AT ALL on the land around this magnificent Ancient Hillfort and keep it safe from development. Aren’t they entitled to get the wholehearted support of EH?


It has been announced that the exhibition at the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre will include human remains –  despite the fact some groups are totally opposed. See here, Stonehenge bone display endorsed by English Heritage governors. Irrespective of whether you find that offensive or not (and there are large numbers of sincere people in each camp) it is surely a tactical mistake, an unnecessary provocation that will prompt protests that are likely to divert attention from the opening and may then carry on indefinitely?

Displaying human remains at the Visitor Centre isn’t essential to its central purpose, the interpretation of the monument, so the planned display – which includes mounting an actual skeleton upright – is surely provocative, to say the least? Why bring a wider argument to such a prominent arena, one that receives international visitors many of whom wouldn’t encounter human remains on display in their own countries and would be deeply shocked? We think it’s a cert it will be abandoned sooner or later. So better sooner!

Dear Fellow Landowners,


The trouble with my lad Silas is he’s too trusting. Last night some metal detectorists came, asking to hold a “charity rally” on our top field. Why? says Silas. We’re history lovers they says. And saints? says Silas. Well, yes, that too they says. Well I wondered about that as when you see pictures of saints they never have pockets but this lot had loads. So I looked on Silas’s computer to see if there was a problem with them and now I know, the fawning, rough-hewn poverty-toothed grabmoles.

There’s a “charity rally” due at Cranfield, Bedfordshire. “In aid of Farmers Contribution To Homeless Children” it says. But it doesn’t say how much. Or if the event will comply with the official guidelines. Or if PAS will be there to record stuff. But it DOES say “dealers” will attend. That’s so people can convert finds into wonga in moments – and not for the benefit of the farmer or homeless children. Does that sound like history loving? Or charity? Or more like dissembling, brazen-faced, hedge-born scuts? I know what I think and what The Archaeological Establishment thinks. It’s pretty obvious to anyone that thinks about it, even Silas: 1.) if the finances aren’t clear, 2.) if it’s not guideline-compliant, 3.) if PAS aren’t there or 4.) dealers are there, it’s not a history event or a charity one, it’s a grabfest.

Oh, and if the detectorists at your door are in any detecting club that isn’t the one in Crawley, West Sussex tell them to go to hell. Only that club makes reporting finds compulsory – “Any person found not declaring finds to the Finds Liaison Officer will be expelled immediately“. They only have 30 members which means only 3 in every thousand detectorists are in clubs that insist on decent, history-loving  behaviour. (Ask the other 9970 WHY and don’t let them wriggle! And if any club wants to claim THEY are “responsible” tell them it’s not hard, they can adopt the Crawley rule in moments and then you’ll believe them).

Anyway, if you don’t want to take the word of a Salopian centenarian about all this, show this letteto any archaeologist and ask if they agree with every word. They will. But don’t let them mumble. And  remember: do NOT let any club onto your land that doesn’t have the established, written club rule: “Any person found not declaring finds to the Finds Liaison Officer will be expelled immediately” All archaeologists think that’s sound advice so please follow it.

Your friend, 

Triphena Brown

. __________________________________________ More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting __________________________________________

We’ve just added this update to last week’s article, “Staffordshire Joke“:


UPDATE 14 September 2013
It is noteworthy that it isn’t just The Establishment that has maintained a profound silence about ongoing nighthawking on the Staffordshire Hoard field, it is detectorists – who have said not a single public word about it.

Until today, when this extraordinary attack on us by one “Geoman” appeared on the “UK and European Metal Detecting Forum”:
then we have the internet Trolls trying hard to incite criminals, or potential thinking about it criminals, to hawk the Staffs hoard site. I am sure there is some criminal offence in inciting others to commit a crime so perhaps the heritage police will look into it.”

So, the position is this:

  • any remaining portions of the Staffordshire Hoard are almost certainly being progressively stolen
  • but The Establishment (whose function is to protect heritage) has said nothing
  • and detectorists (who are “only in it for the love of history”) have also said nothing
  • until today, when the only people that HAVE said anything (ourselves and Paul Barford) have been labelled as trolls who are speaking out about it in order to incite people to do it.

The whole situation is completely barmy.


When it comes to folklore memes at ancient sites, there are several stories which occur again and again around the country. But at most sites, these stories are singular. Stanton Drew in Somerset is a little bit different. A complex of features, known collectively as ‘The Weddings’ including the second largest stone circle in England, two further circles, an avenue, cove and nearby quoit (or remains of one) all add up to a rich vein, not only of a archaeology, but also associated folklore.

The Great Circle, looking South © Alan S.

The Great Circle, looking South © Alan S.

To the north of the three circles is Hautville’s Quoit. All that now remains is an unremarkable piece of a capstone by a hedge, which was once reputed to weigh up to 30 tons, but which has been broken up over the years for road building material. The stone was said to have been cast down off the nearby Maes Knoll, an Iron Age hillfort to the North, by the giant Sir John Hautville in bygone days. A feature known as the Tump, in the hillfort is supposedly made of earth dumped from the spade of another giant, who forgot why he was carrying it.

To the south west is the Cove, three large stones, one of which is fallen. These are supposedly the petrified remains of a bride, groom and preacher, turned to stone after their wedding celebrations continued overnight into the Sabbath.

The Cove, looking east toward Stanton Drew church. &Copy; Alan S.

The Cove, looking east toward Stanton Drew church. © Alan S.

Between these two are three stone circles; a small one to the southwest near to the Cove, the Great Circle consisting mainly of recumbent stones, and a northeastern circle. The stones in these circles are reputedly the wedding guests similarly petrified for dancing on the Sabbath, the musicians making up the Avenue in the  northeast sharing a similar fate.

And finally, any attempts to count the stones on site are fraught with danger as a dire (but unspecified) fate apparently awaits anyone who is successful in this endeavour.

Given the location, with the River Chew to the north, and the local church being a short distance away in the soutwest, the only commonly recurrent theme that appears to be missing here is the one where the stones  go down to the river to take a drink. Maybe the dancers just weren’t thirsty?

But does any other site have such a range of folklore attached to it?

We’ve  just had a message from WordPress saying Congratulations, English Heritage has started following The Journal and from now on they’ll get an email every time a new post is published.

It could be all part of the fact English Heritage are currently advertising for a new “Stonehenge Social Media Content Executive” part of the job description for which is to: “Work closely with Corporate Communications to manage the reputation of the English Heritage brand through Stonehenge social media channels” and “Track and report on relevant website and social media activity using a variety of reporting systems including Google Analytics“.

We think EH are wonderful!


Well, well well!
We’ve banged on about how the Staffordshire Hoard site has been nighthawked and how more security is needed so we were interested to find that the far less well-known Corbridge site has been nighthawked a shocking number of times.

The staff thought it was down to the fact it was monitored so much rather than that there was necessarily more nighthawking there than at other sites elsewhere but in one year there were seven instances of nighthawking and 122 ‘individual intrusions’ into the ground. At the Staffordshire Hoard site, over 4 years, that would equate with 28 possible instances of nighthawking and 488 ‘individual intrusions’ into the ground – were it not for the fact the latter is infinitely better known and infinitely more attractive to nighthawks.

We were also interested to read that since the research at Corbridge in 2005 “English Heritage have consistently employed a security firm on site. This seems to have greatly reduced the number of nighthawking incidents” ….


A study has indicated that Language and tool-making skills evolved at the same time.

Makes sense to us.


Compiled by Sue Brooke.


Dover Museum and Bronze Age Boat Gallery

‘In September 1992, archaeologists from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust working alongside contractors on a new road link between Dover and Folkestone discovered the remains of a large wooden prehistoric boat thought to be some 3,000 years old, belonging to a period known to archaeologists as the Bronze Age. It was a find of both national and international significance which will shed new light on early seafaring and woodworking skills in Northern Europe. The boat is now displayed in a glass case as the centrepiece of a whole floor in the museum devoted to archaeology.’


Public lectures are being held as part of the ‘Beyond the Horizon’ exhibition in the museum. They are free, open to all, and there is no need to book.

VENUE: all will be held at 7pm in the Theatre, Dover Discovery Centre, Dover, Kent, CT16 1PB except the lecture on 1st November, which will be held in Canterbury.


DATE: 8th October 2013

TITLE: What about the Bronze Age in Flanders? An overview of convergences and divergences with England and Northern France

Jean Bourgeois, University of Ghent, Belgium

DATE: 1st November 2013

TITLE: Throwaway bronze? The curious practice of Bronze Age ‘hoards’

Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury (exact venue to be confirmed)

Anne Lehoerff, University of Lille 3, France

DATE: 12th December 2013

TITLE: Transmanche prehistory from the air

Paul Bennett

See the Dover Museum website for full details.


Plymouth and District Archaeological Society

 LECTURE: 1st October 2012

 TITLE: New Light on West Devon in the Early Middle Ages – Professor. Andrew Fleming.

 Andrew Fleming is a landscape archaeologist and landscape historian, who was taught at the universities of Sheffield and Wales (Lampeter). His recent interest has focused on the early medieval landscape of West Devon and the western borders of Dartmoor. His study of long-distance routes helps to understand how elites exercised control and how transhumanant livestock-herders moved through the landscape. His discovery of a high status enclosure at Walkhampton and its relationship to the early road network sheds new light on pre-Conquest history

Winter lectures are held on Monday evenings at 7:00 pm in the Devonport Lecture Theatre of the Portland Square Building, Plymouth University. Non-members are welcome to attend all lectures but are asked to contribute £4 towards our expenses. No need to book, just turn up.


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


DATE: Tuesday October 15th 11am

VENUE: Carminowe Mill (SW6590 2440). Meet at Little Nanspean – on minor road from A3083 to Gunwalloe Cove.

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


Royal Archaeological Institution:

The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a leading national archaeology society, with a history dating back to 1844. Its interests span all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles. Monthly Lectures take place from October to May and are held at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. These are given by visiting speakers on recent research, current archaeological projects and new discoveries.

DATE: 11th to 13th October 2013.

RAI 2013 Conference – The Impact of Rome on the British Countryside.

Held in partnership with the University of Chester, the focus will be on ‘The impact of Rome on the British Countryside’, at the Riverside Innovation Centre (Riverside Campus).

The keynote speaker is Professor Nico Roymans (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

There will be a guided visit to various sites in North Wales on Monday, the 14th, led by Fiona Gale (Denbighshire County Archaeologist


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: Further investigations at Warren Wood, Little Marlow, Bucks:

DATE AND TIME: 13th Oct 2013 – 10:00

DATE AND TIME: 27th October 2013 – 10:00

COST: Free to members/£2 non-members

Numbers have to be limited, so please book your place in advance by emailing John Laker on or telephone him on 01628 481792.



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.

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


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’.

EVENT: Field Day Talgarth, Trefecca and Llanelieu

DATE AND TIME: – Saturday, 12 October, 11.00am

 We are now compiling diary dates for November and December. If there’s an event you’d like included, please Contact Us with the details.


September 2013

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