Last Sunday the archaeological record of Weyhill Fair was damaged (legally) by an unstructured detecting rally (sans archaeological input or presence). See here.  Prompted by that, this week we submitted a formal proposal to English Heritage for the site to be scheduled. For them to do that it would need to be a place which includes deliberately created elements, which it is, and be at risk of damage which it is. It also would have to be of national importance according to set DCMS criteria. So is it of national importance? Well, here’s how it measures up to the criteria:

  • Extent of survival – partial building survival above ground, extensive artefact survival below ground.
  • Current condition – pretty good, evidently.
  • Rarity – extreme – because it’s the best of its type.
  • Representivity, either through its range of features or because of its exemplary importance – inarguably excellent on both counts
  • Importance of the period to which the monument dates – it extends over the whole of English history and probably into prehistory so the “period” is extremely important.
  • Fragility – Extreme – if  further artefact hunting rallies are allowed.
  • Connection to other monuments, or group value – as said above, it’s the very best of its type.
  • Potential to contribute to our information, understanding and appreciation – massive. Who could possibly deny it?
  • Extent of documentation enhancing the monument’s significance, whether through related archival material or through the fruits of subsequent research – what makes this place so precious  is the massive potential for future documentation and research.

We recall that a few years ago two fields near the Roman site of Durobrivae (Water Newton) were subject to emergency scheduling a few days in advance of a detecting rally. Unlike Weyhill those fields didn’t conform with many of the above criteria so the case for scheduling Weyhill seems mighty strong. This is a really important issue. A major asset is in need of protection and we hope support for that is forthcoming from both the public and professionals.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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