You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2014.

The heritage group who want to protect Liverpool’s famous “Welsh Streets” area has been accused by the City Council’s barrister of triggering a public inquiry by exaggerating evidence!

Yes, you read it right, a lawyer made the accusation.  A member of the profession whose whole raison d’être is to present a case in the best possible light on behalf of anyone that will pay them – in other words, exaggerate, understate or spin it in whichever direction is desired.  Not through conviction but for money! Faking it for cash, like a certain older profession.

Still, if the Law Society has decreed that the adversarial system is no longer appropriate and their members must now speak the unspun truth then hurrah, planning matters will be a lot simpler to decide  and there’ll be no need for pesky members of the public to get involved as justice will invariably be well served. Suddenly…. the noise from wind farms will no longer be always represented as somewhere between “minimal” and “acceptable”, housing developments will no longer be presented as attempts to bring unalloyed joy to the locals, developers will cease to be characterised as selfless community workers or patriots, nimbies will cease to be reviled as selfish, petty and anti-British and buffer zones will no longer be seen as too large however tiny they are. And heritage groups won’t be painted as somehow irresponsible for triggering something as unnecessary and awful as a public inquiry into a city council’s plan to demolish 271 homes!

And of course, lawyers will work for nothing and on the basis of sincere conviction. Like members of heritage groups!

Ambrose Bierce: Litigation is a machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Ambrose Bierce: Litigation is a machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Dear Fellow Landowners,

silas 566

I was struck by this this recent forum exchange regarding “negative view of metal detecting” : Artefact Hunter 1 :“I guess my question is how do you guys think we can do more to change the perception some people have?” Artefact Hunter 2 : “Easy….. show the landowners everything….. from the rubbish to the identifiable finds”

He’s right, it’s easy! They can instantly improve their image by just accepting everything belongs to the landowner and acting accordingly. In particular, bringing the finds to him, like anyone else would. Suddenly, there’s no need to get farmers to sign away half of what they own before even seeing it and no need to look dodgy by claiming you’re only interested in it as history while suggesting he signs a contract making you joint owner! It’s pure genius: if you don’t want to look dodgy don’t act as if you are!

Best wishes,

Silas Brown,
Grunter’s Hollow,


PS…. Mind you, Artefact Hunter 2 doesn’t apply his own advice to himself. He’s actually the “detecting  liaison officer” (it’s true!) for Loughborough Coin and Search Society. They’re merged with a coin collecting club and they take their finds back to club HQ to “finds tables” and flog them at their meetings to their coin collector members. The hapless farmer isn’t shown it but is later senta brief resumé of what was found”!  Hmmm. As Goethe said – “First and last, what is demanded of genius is love of truth”.



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


From The South Wales Guardian:

“BACK in October 2012 we reported what was initially thought to be a neolithic stone row on Betws Mountain was probably just a relatively modern grazing boundary or route waymarker.
At least that was the conclusion of experts from Cadw after inspecting the find.
But now the goal-posts – sorry, waymarkers – appear to have been moved because a senior Cadw inspector has conceded their initial identification may have been somewhat hasty. This begs the question: if those stones aren’t grazing boundaries or waymarkers, what the heck are they”
Readers of the Journal are welcome to submit their own ideas on this mystery.


See more here

Summer solstice in Cornwall was an occasion of glorious weather, and a large degree of celebration, with the completion of the raising of Carwynnen Quoit (full story to follow).

Sadly, elsewhere the summer sun obviously went to someone’s head, as they decided to dig a hole, approximately 2-3 inches deep and some 4 inches across, directly below the central stone at Boscawen-Un, near St Buryan in West Penwith.


Despite the best efforts of the CASPN monitoring team, it seems as if this wonderful site, one of my personal favourites, is the target of an attack every summer. A few years ago, a wax ‘talisman’ was found buried in the same spot, under the stone which leans at an acute angle. Wooden stakes with Christian slogans were also buried around the stone in an attack.

This time, the apparent intent seems to have been to dig a receptacle for a posey of flowers, and some crystals – an ‘offering’ of some sort? Certainly none of the Pagans of my acquaintance would endorse such a move! Maybe these were ‘wannabe’ pagans (small ‘p’), or someone looking to discredit Paganism? Either way, it’s a crass thing to do, as it harms our heritage in more than just a physical way, sending out signals that this kind of damage is in some way ‘acceptable’.

CASPN are aware of the damage and mitigating measures will shortly be undertaken by their team of volunteers.


Update 27/06/14:

Although I’m no longer in the area to personally verify, there has been a report on our Facebook page –

Visited today. Someone has dug under one of the recumbent stones which may been part of a cist or a dolman. They placed a tatty necklace with a childlike fairy on the stone. To make matters worse someone had pitched a tent between the circle and the surrounding wall. I waited, but owner did not return while I was there.

So I’ll repeat the question I added in the comments a couple of days ago. “How much damage is acceptable?”  When do we say enough is enough?

After a long legal tussle it has finally been settled: a 1,000-cow ‘super-dairy’ CAN be built within the settings of Offa’s Dyke and other important heritage assets. An original approval was overturned by a planning inspector, mainly on the basis it would cause “considerable harm” to the landscape and the setting of heritage assets. But that in turn was overruled by the Welsh ministers on the grounds that the economic advantages of the scheme were compelling. Now The High Court has upheld the Welsh government’s decision, ruling that they had not failed to pay ‘special regard’ to the impact that the development would have on heritage assets and had taken relevant considerations into account in deciding that priority should be given to the economic benefits of the scheme.


No problem with that per se. Sometimes developers must win else the country would grind to a halt. But note, the system merely requires that the Government ministers should take all relevant considerations into account, not that in mulling them over they can’t be biased in favour of development. Indeed, there’s a presumption in favour of it.

But has that been taken to extreme? Is there anything to stop the degree of bias running out of control? Well, as mentioned yesterday, according to the CPRE, in the past year more than two thirds of major housing developments turned down by local councils and taken to appeal were eventually approved. How come, ref?  Shouldn’t decisions go fifty-fifty? Are Heritage United being treated unfairly despite a rule book that gives the impression they aren’t?

No goal!  (But don't complain. In reaching his decision the ref DID have  ‘special regard’ to the position of the ball).

No goal!
(But don’t complain. In reaching his decision the ref  DID have ‘special regard’ to the position of the ball).

We’ve just received the latest newsletter of The Campaign to Protect Rural England in which they outline their efforts to protect the Countryside from the dash for economic growth.

Sir Andrew Motion, Chairman of CPRE

Sir Andrew Motion, Chairman of CPRE

Thanks to you and to thousands of others, we now have over 22,500 signatures in support of our Charter to Save our Countryside. People have been spreading the word among their friends to help demonstrate the strength of public concern for the countryside they love. Our Charter promotes the reuse of brownfield land before building on open countryside, giving people a fair say in planning for the places where they live, and providing the housing we need but in the right places.

It’s been over two years since the Government introduced major reforms to planning. Right from the start we warned that the changes gave too much weight to pursuing economic growth regardless of the long term environmental consequences. We warned that they would result in more badly located and designed development, harming the countryside and undermining the regeneration of our towns and cities. Our fears have been realised. Our latest research has revealed 700,000 houses planned in the countryside – including almost 200,000 allocated for the Green Belt. Thousands of acres of green fields could be lost. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Between March 2013 and March 2014, at least two thirds of major housing developments turned down by local councils and taken to appeal were approved by the Secretary of State or Government Planning Inspectors – double the number of appeals granted in the previous year.

Please help us stop this needless destruction. We’re campaigning to persuade the Government to make the development of brownfield land in our towns a priority before building on open countryside.

English Heritage have just bought three buses to supplement the land trains at Stonehenge which have proved highly problematical and inadequate. Hopefully this will solve at a stroke many of the difficulties that have marred the opening six months of the new visitor experience. Like all human beings we really, really hate to say we told you so but we have to say – we told you so! Here’s the Heritage Journal, 25th April 2010, commenting on a Wiltshire Council Strategic Planning Department document on  “a proposed land train between the new visitor centre and the stones”:

So why not just use buses? These days there are as many environment-friendly innovations applying to them as to land trains – electric, hybrid, low-impact, you name it. And in addition, they are arguably just as or more flexible, inexpensive, safe, weatherproof, robust, long-lasting, reliable and easy to load – and they have a pretty small turning circle (hence require only a small footprint near the stones). Half a dozen of those and the job could be done – with no expensive, exclusive maintenance agreements with manufacturers, no equally expensive “custom built” elements – and let’s face it, buses are rather well-tested technology so they’d definitely give a high degree of reliability.



by Nigel Swift

English Heritage has announced it is setting up a study of the rates, reasons for and conservation implications of metal artefact decay in the ploughsoil“. Metal detectorists will be hoping it will validate their claim that they are engaged in rescue archaeology (“saving artefacts before they rot”). I suspect they’ll be disappointed. The study is prompted by English Heritage’s interest in Measure 4 of the National Heritage Protection Plan (management options for ploughsoil archaeology), not by a wish to justify a hobby.

It’s not the first such study (e.g. see Factors Influencing the Long Term Corrosion of Bronze Artefacts in Soil by Nord, Mattson and Tronner 2005)  but the inescapable reality is that no matter how many studies are undertaken one obvious truth prevails: artefact corrosion is always in direct proportion to the strength of factors causing it so it’s  bound to vary greatly from place to place. That being so, this new study may well finally show, definitively, that detecting, since it takes place not just where there’s an urgent conservation need but anywhere and everywhere permission can be gained, is not rescue archaeology.

Could that be why allies of unregulated artefact hunting (such as PAS) have never undertaken a survey? For fear of an own goal? As we’ve all just seen, it doesn’t matter who scores it, a decisive goal is still a decisive goal and it looks as if English Heritage is about to deliver precisely that ….


own goal



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting



It just couldn’t be better – and is exactly as everyone would like it to be at Stonehenge!

Sadly though it must remain forever an unattainable ideal in Wiltshire – or at least, for so long as there’s an insistence on the “right” of many thousands of people to crowd inside the stone circle in unsustainable numbers thereby creating major Health & Safety and conservation issues.

Oh well.

“The Lough Gur Summer Solstice Festival “is the perfect event that the whole family can enjoy, with a large calendar of fun events to keep everyone occupied.”



June 2014

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 10,812 other subscribers

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: