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EH Chief Executive Simon Thurley has just been quoted as saying English Heritage will continue to argue for the tunnel, “with all our strength”. But WHICH tunnel does he mean? If it’s the long one then fine.


But does he mean the “Short Tunnel” – the damaging one that EH supported for many years at the Government’s behest, the one that involves building 1.5 miles of access roads to it over the World Heritage Area against the wishes of UNESCO and practically every archaeological and heritage body including the National Trust, the Council for British Archaeology, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth?


Clarification would be good. EH used to have to do the bidding of their paymasters but now that their paymasters pay so little, who knows? If anyone knows which tunnel Dr Thurley means could they let us know?

Dear Fellow Landowners,


A tip. If someone from The Cotswold Heritage & Detecting Society comes asking for permission to search your land, ask them why they do it. No doubt they’ll quote the front page of their website: “A Society dedicated to the promotion of the conscientious use of metal detectors for both enjoyment and historical research.” But hold that thought and consider what it says in their Constitution: “The Committee will dispose of all finds made on Club sites with a realisable value of £1000 or more. The finder will be entitled to 60% of said value”.

Up to you friends but that rule didn’t get there by accident and you might want to think long and hard about signing away your property on such a basis (the Crosby Garrett helmet was sold for £2.3 million!), especially to those who say they are in it for “enjoyment and historical research”. You might also consider if the fact they buy landowners “gifts of spirits at Christmas to ensure continued access to their land” is as good a deal as it seems.

It will be interesting to see how they react to this moggy out of the saintly bag. When a similar rule at the Somerset Artefact Seekers was publicised that club changed it the very next day. Central Searchers, who cater for people with no sense of right or wrong, simply hid theirs from public view and carried on regardless. I’ll let you know which route is chosen in the Cotswolds. Bearing in mind they’re the new holders of “The most outrageous and blatantly self-seeking rule in metal detecting” trophy they’ll have to do something! 

Your friend,

Silas Brown


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting



Harmless, simple, elegant and inclusive. It’s a shame that it won’t be going to Stonehenge this year. But next year it will. Surely?

(Incidentally, the Disabled ramblers’ Winter Solstice ramble at Stonehenge has also been called off – due to parking problems. That’s two highly worthy, harmless Stonehenge solstice events cancelled this year.)

Our monthly listing, compiled, as always, 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.’

Please note: the museum will be closed on Sunday’s from 1st. October 2013.


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: 8 January 2014: the RAI debate – How and why did Britain become Neolithic?

Dr Alison Sheridan will debate with Professor Alasdair Whittle

Venue: Lectures are held in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London at 5 p.m. preceded by tea at 4.30 p.m.

The Neolithic period marks a fundamental shift in lifestyles and settlement, one of the most important transformations to have occurred in the history of these islands. Hunting and gathering ceased to play a significant part in food procurement and farming was adopted, pottery was introduced and the stone tool kit changed. Were these novelties brought by incoming farmers from the Continent, where farming had been already been practised for many centuries, or did indigenous communities decide to take up a new way of life? These issues still engender heated debate amongst prehistorians; the three leading specialists of this period will air their views at the RAI!

Note: Members are welcome to bring a guest to lectures. Non-members are welcome to attend lectures but should contact the Administrator in advance.

British Museum

Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

Gallery talk: Thursday 9 January 2014 at 13:15 to 14:00

Slowing down the damage: preventive conservation at the museum

Melanie Keable and Capucine Korenberg.

Gallery talk: Friday 10 January 2014 at 13:15 to 14:00

Iron Age religion – Jody Joy

Gallery talks are free – just drop in.


Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas day

Opening times from 18 December 2013 to 15 March 2014

Monday to Sunday – open from 9:30 to 17:00


Wiltshire Museum

Gold from the time of Stonehenge – Telling Wiltshire’s Story

500,000 years of Wiltshire’s story told in a brand new £750,000 gallery featuring high quality graphics and leading-edge reconstructions.

On display for the first time are dozens of spectacular treasures dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle.

‘Britain’s greatest treasures from the mysterious golden Age of Stonehenge are to go on permanent display for the first time ever. This will be the largest collection of Early Bronze Age gold ever put on public display in England. In a move that will transform public understanding of the Stonehenge era, the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, 15 miles north of Stonehenge, is exhibiting 500 Stonehenge period objects, including 30 pieces of gold treasure which have rarely been seen by the public before.

Amongst the ancient Stonehenge era treasures placed on permanent display for the first time, are a beautifully decorated gold lozenge, a magnificent bronze dagger with a gold- covered hilt, a golden fitting from a dagger sheath, a ceremonial axe, gold beads, necklaces, ear-rings, pendants and other items of gold jewellery, a unique jet disc (used to fasten a luxury garment), rare traces of ancient textiles and two of the finest prehistoric flint arrow head ever found’

Museum opening times:

Tuesday – Saturday -10am to 17:00, Sunday – 12 noon to 16:00.

Open throughout the year.

Closed: Mondays from January to March (except half term)


Berkshire Archaeological Society

Lecture: Romanised Egyptian Mummies by Professor Brian Sparkes

Date: 11 January 2014. 14:00 – 16:00

Location: Headley Road, Woodley


National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Date: 8 January 2014 – 13.05.

Archaeology Lunchtime Talk – ‘What lies beneath: The analysis of early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous metalwork’ Matt Nicholas, PhD student, Cardiff University School of History, Archaeology & Religion.

Date: 22 January 2014 – 13.05.

Archaeology Lunchtime Talk – ‘Cardiff in the early post-medieval period: new finds from excavations at Mill Leat, Bute Park’

Date: 28 January 2014 – 13.05pm.

Behind the Scenes: Archaeology – Conservation Laboratory: Latest Work

These events are free but please book on your arrival. Some tours may be unsuitable for visitors with restricted mobility so please contact for more detailed information.

If your local society or museum has an event that you’d like included in our listings, please contact us with the details, at least one calendar month in advance and we’d be pleased to include them. 


Too busy to follow the detail of the Government’s decimation of English Heritage? Want to take part in the public consultation on what happens next? Here’s a quick summary of the stage that has been reached so far (it’s to be split into two smaller elements, one on a financial shoestring and the other with a begging bowl) based on the words of those most closely involved:

Maria Miller, Culture Secretary said: “The new funding underlines the Government’s commitment to the heritage sector and will further protect the statutory functions of Historic England in these difficult economic times”
Translated as: “They’re on their own”!

Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of English Heritage said: “I am delighted that ….” and “I am also delighted that ….” and “I would like to thank the Secretary of State for taking these proposals forward”
Translated as: “We and much of what we do have been severely downgraded. Thanks!”

Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive, added: “I welcome the Government’s proposed New Model for English Heritage. It offers an opportunity for English Heritage to move forward with confidence”
Translated as: “Looking good!

and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture has said:
The consultation outlines how Historic England will look to get the heritage protection system to work better [i.e. quicker!] for owners, developers and infrastructure providers, [i.e. for developers?], reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape [i.e. weaken the safeguards?] and support growth [i.e. make it easier to build in sensitive locations] without reducing protection for heritage” [i.e. it’s magic!]

We’ve been sent this highly relevant message from our friend, regular Heritage Journal contributor Sue Brooke.

Just read your Oswestry blog. There are some comparisons here with my hill. In fact, shame for me to say this, but I literally live in the fortifications of the Caerau fort. The picture of my garden below highlights just how far into these defences the houses were built:


The concrete wall does actually hold back the trees within the defensive ditches. If you also look at the images available on the CAER website you can see how far the housing estates have crept in, this is particularly evident in the LIDAR image (PDF link, see pages 4/5).

This is what they are planning in Oswestry. In the Caerau case the 1800’s stables and later hospital had already made the inroads. It was only well after the isolation hospital closed that my housing estate was built here. The damage was actually already done by then and Oswestry needs to learn the lessons from this. The local councillor at that time kicked off big time, interestingly enough only about the ancient woodlands, which she demanded would not be affected. Don’t forget, the value of the site wasn’t widely known at that point. There is a huge difference now though in that any planning application MUST consider the impact on the history. OK, its a little bit late but at least it is now to the forefront. A  recent planning application for a solar park categorically states that it must not impact on the view from the hillfort. Interesting.

Perhaps they need a Mrs Angry from Oswestry out there. A Welsh one, by the look of things as us Welsh seem to be a little bit more inclined to shout our heads off – we managed to get something done here in Wales – but then we have always been a formidable enemy (paid or not!).

This hillfort (Oswestry) should be protected and there should not be housing anywhere near the fortifications – it just is not something that we, as intelligent and supposedly educated people should be allowing to happen.


Happy Birthday to Sir Richard Colt Hoare, historian of Wiltshire, born on 9 Dec. 1758, the only son of Richard Hoare, esq., of Barn Elms, Surrey and his first wife (and cousin) Anne. His mother died when he was six months old but his father re-married, to Frances Ann Acland with whom he had four further sons and two daughters.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Bt (1758 - 1838), historian, writing with a quill in his library. Frontispiece to Volume I of his ‘History of Modern Wiltshire' 1822-44.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare, 2nd Bt (1758 – 1838), historian, writing with a quill in his library.
Frontispiece to Volume I of his ‘History of Modern Wiltshire’ 1822-44.

Richard was educated at Wandsworth and Greenford. His classical studies continued privately whilst learning the family banking business at Fleet Street. On his coming of age, his grandfather provided a house at lincolns Inn, and a substantial sum of money. He married Hester Lyttleton on 1783 and their son Henry was born a year later. Sadly, Henry’s mother did not survive to see his first birthday, and Richard never remarried. Also in 1785, he inherited the estate at Stourhead in Wiltshire so left the bank, and equipped with a very substantial income of some £10,000 p.a. decided to travel the world in an attempt to lift his spirits.

His travels across Italy, France, Switzerland and Spain were well documented (see ‘Recollections abroad: journals of tours on the continent, 1785–1791’), visiting the classical sites and immersing himself in the landscapes, drawing, recording and collecting for his portfolio. After the briefest return home in 1787 to succeed his father in the baronetcy Richard continued his travels in 1788, “no longer as a tourist but as a systematic antiquarian … quitting … the road for the path, the capital for the provinces”. During this time he passed through the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy once more.

Returning to Britain in 1791 (the French Revolutionary War having made European travel dangerous), he turned continued his habit of keeping meticulous diaries detailing his annual visits and journeys around Britain, particlarly Wales for which he had a fondness.

Aside from his travels, he was High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1805, and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He spent time developing and enlarging Stourhead as it was incapable of holding his collections, particularly his library. In 1825 he gave his collection of Italian topographical and historical works to the British Museum, but in its place he collected nearly every book on the history and topography of the British Isles – a collection which was sadly broken up by auction some years after his death.

Despite building such an extensive library, he had longed to be an author, and was assisted in this endeavor by William Cunnington – an antiquary who was excavating the prehistoric barrows in his neighbourhood.

He was the moving spirit behind the team that produced the first volume (in three parts) of The Ancient History of South Wiltshire in 1812. Richard was the financier and author. As a survey of Wiltshire barrows it is incomplete but Richard was commended: “No antiquary had ever the same means or opportunities before Sir Richard Hoare and no-one ever availed himself more entirely of the advantages which he possesses” (Quarterly Review, 5, 1811, 118). The second volume, The Ancient History of North Wiltshire, appeared in 1819.

Following a breakdown in the relationship with his son, who had accrued various debts, Richard suffered from a variety of ill health, including gout, rheumatism and deafness, but despite this he worked on his County History of Wiltshire. The first part, ‘The Hundred of Mere‘ was published in 1822. In total, fourteen parts covering the hundreds of South Wiltshire,  were published as the six volume ‘The History of Modern Wiltshire‘. The last two hundreds were written after his death in order to complete the work. He also authored numerous other works, most of which were printed for private circulation only.

His last fieldwork was to see the Roman Pitney pavement uncovered at Somerton. He published a report on this excavation in 1831, which has proved invaluable as the pavement was destroyed five years later.

Richard died on 19 May 1838 at Stourhead and is buried in the family mausoleum in the churchyard of St Peter’s, Stourton.

If you keep to the rules then metal detecting is good for Britain we’re told. In fact heroic. Not quite, not if the rules you keep to are self-serving ones specially designed for you by your hobby association. Imagine if car drivers had self-serving rules. Or archaeologists. Or brain surgeons! What then? Yet in Bonkers Britain we allow ten thousand people to interact with our heritage on exactly that basis! And then, in an act of either knowing or uncomprehending Machiavellianism, to tell themselves and the papers they are doing it to help the public! Oh no, if metal detectorists were doing it for our benefit they’d do it in accordance with our rules, it’s as simple as that and a billion words by them or PAS won’t change that plain fact.

“Ah but we DO lay down laws in cases of Treasure” Ed Vaizey would say. Indeed, but that’s only 900 finds out of 288,000. Plus, the Treasure Act isn’t fit for purpose, as many archaeologists have told the Government. As proof, think how it would operate in the case of this “piece of the true cross


It’s in Britain at present (on a visit from Jerusalem – see here) but what if, instead of arriving in Harrow last Thursday, it had been dug up in Jarrow on Wednesday? Under the Treasure Act the public would have to pay £XXX million for it – as there’s no top limit on treasure rewards. Is that OK? Worse (if that’s possible) if the gold bits accidentally fell off it wouldn’t be treasure so it could go straight to Christies to be flogged off. Finders keepers see? You can sell it, hide it or smash it up, it’s the British way. No such thing as Society in the Continent that institutionalised it, just state-sponsored redneckery in Old Europe.

Within hours this vivid example of what we are saying pops up in the press:
“Most responsible metal detectorists will belong to a club, and work under a strict code of conduct. All our members are affiliated to the National Council of Metal Detectorists and will carry a membership card as ID. We abide by their code….”
A proud assertion that utterly self-serving rules are OK!
Knowing Machiavellianism? Or uncomprehending? What does it matter, the effect is the same and it’s just one out of thousands of such instances each year.


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


Amesbury Lantern Parade ©  Andy Rhind-Tutt, former Mayor of Amesbury

Amesbury Lantern Parade © Andy Rhind-Tutt

Last Monday Amesbury Town Council said they were cancelling the event “due to problems with access to the planned starting point at Stonehenge, predicted traffic problems and rising costs.” Congratulations then to Councillor Fred Westmoreland and the Trustees on behalf of Amesbury Museum, for doggedly facing up to and overcoming a series of objections and obstacles.

The route has had to be changed but as Councillor Westmorland said: “It would be a different route and not involve Stonehenge but it is better than nothing. It would be cheap, cheerful and local. It is short notice but I’m sure that people would want to be part of it and it would be a shame not to have a lantern parade at all.” As big fans of the parade we totally agree. The precise nature of the “problems with access” at Stonehenge is unclear and it’s a real shame the Stones won’t be included this year but so far as we understand it EH are in favour of the parade in principle so the important thing is that there will be a parade, the tradition has been established, and hopefully it will include Stonehenge next year when the new access arrangements have bedded in.

It’s no secret why we are such fans of the parade. We think that public engagement with Stonehenge should involve a much wider spectrum of the public than at present. In addition, we think holding solstice celebrations in what may well be the authentic spot at the authentic time at minimal public cost is far preferable to holding them at the wrong spot at the wrong time at horrendous public cost. The fact that this year the former gathering will be absent and the latter one will be taking place is pretty hard to defend.

Today is a big day for Oswestry. English Heritage are meeting the Town Council to discuss the Hill Fort. It’s a worry because the Council’s wish to hide behind someone else is shining like a beacon and EH sound like they’re up for a compromise for they say they aren’t against the revised plan “in principle” because “it would only affect views from the Oswestry Town side of the hillfort”.

The question arises though, how does only affecting views from the Oswestry side make the development alright? EH’s own Guidance Paper on the setting of heritage assets states that: “The significance of a heritage asset derives not only from its physical presence and historic fabric but also from its setting – the surroundings in which it is experienced….” Is it not the case that 90% of the surroundings in which this asset is experienced are on “the Oswestry Town side of the hillfort”?

Let’s hope it all works out fine. Today is a good day for a good result because it’s now less than two weeks until the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre opens, stage one of a project to restore the stones to their “splendid isolation”, something that EH will rightly enjoy worldwide praise for. At Stonehenge it will never be said new development is OK as it’s only on one side of the monument!

Finally, as we said before, if the Council wants to stand up for “no new houses round the hill fort” (and pass it on to the future unscathed by the current ephemeral scrap of doctrinal policy that will by then be long-forgotten dust) they’d better say so plain and simple and not be persuaded to support “some new houses round the hill fort”. Posterity is watching them!


new monument


December 2013

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