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Faced with wrongdoing by colleagues, detectorists often use the “Not Me” defence. Fair enough if true but not if not. For example, we recently cited a detectorist (“Mr A***r”) saying he doesn’t report all finds to PAS and is threatening to not report Treasure – whereupon the Chairman of his previous club left a “Not Me” comment saying they had ejected him for misbehaviour.

But since we replied as follows he has fallen silent: “Thanks. I take it your club’s mandatory code of conduct is the official one? It could hardly be otherwise as if your members aren’t bound by that you’d have no way of knowing or insisting that they recorded all their finds with PAS – in other words, that they are any better than Mr A***r.” The problem is that, incredibly, despite masses of virtuous talk, hardly any detecting clubs insist on members keeping to the official code or reporting all finds to PAS ! That’s why “Not Me” is an uncomfortable defence.

Luckily for them though this is Bonkers Britain so despite saying that keeping to the official code is the only acceptable way to conduct the hobby, neither the Government nor PAS say a word about the fact the detecting clubs don’t make it a condition of membership. In addition, in the academic corner of Bonkers Britain there’s no comment about it either. Indeed, sometimes things are said there that beggar belief:

And in Bonkers Academic Britain, here's a genuine statement just made about artefact hunting abroad: Archaeology is: "inherently (neo)colonialist, in denial of its own criminogenic creations and, therefore, eventually and essentially state-corporate crime enhancing". (So we got it wrong. The loss of knowledge that metal detecting involves is the fault of Archaeology not of selfish people not reporting stuff!

A recent statement by an academic (about artefact hunting abroad): Archaeology is “inherently (neo)colonialist, in denial of its own criminogenic creations and, therefore, eventually and essentially state-corporate crime enhancing”. So the massive loss of cultural knowledge isn’t the fault of non-reporting artefact hunters, the poor innocent puppies, they are simply “the criminogenic creations” of Archaeology. Bloody archaeologists!

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[“When are you going to stop banging on about the same thing week after week, who the hell do you think you are?” writes a detectorist yesterday. To which we’d reply: the day after you all stop stealing the public’s knowledge – who the hell do you think YOU are?]

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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See here ….

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-30248826
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…. and here’s a statement by The Stonehenge Alliance:

The Alliance warmly welcomes the apparent intervention of ICOMOS-UK who are advisers to UNESCO on the UK’s World Heritage Sites. Their letter could be a warning shot across the bows of Government. If the Stonehenge landscape is threatened with serious damage caused by road and tunnel building, then there is a possibility that UNESCO could place the Site on the List of ‘World Heritage in Danger’ which would be a major disgrace for the United Kingdom.
Please sign our 38 degree petition to The Transport Secretary. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/…/save-stonehenge-world-herita…

In January 2012 a previously unrecorded alignment of stones was identified on the southern slope of Bancbryn, Carmarthenshire. Subsequent research has indicated that this stone alignment shares many characteristics with examples in South West England, but one particular aspect – a specific and pronounced visual link to the sea and a coastal headland – apparently had no English parallels.  Preliminary research has revealed that this is not the case and that many of the Dartmoor rows have been specifically positioned and orientated taking often precise cognisance of the local topography to create tangible visual links with the sea.

This new series of articles by Sandy Gerrard will investigate and document these alignments and over time build a compelling body of evidence to support the hypothesis that many stone alignments represent special way-marked routes which were designed to provide the “traveller” with extraordinary visual treats. In turn this discovery may provide fresh insights into the character of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age society.

Location of the Shaugh Moor stone alignment.

Location of the Shaugh Moor stone alignment.

Leading up a gentle north facing slope of Shaugh Moor at SX 55422 63429 on Dartmoor is a single stone row which was discovered by Hugh Breton in 1917. The row is aligned approximately NNE to SSW and is at least 179m long. Walking along the row from its lower NNE end the nearby sea is hidden from sight. As one proceeds up the hill the sea framed by the headlands of Staddon Heights and Penlee Point appears at precisely the point where the row shifts alignment to point directly at Staddon Heights. From this point as you continue walking along the row the sea view slowly develops into a spectacular vista as you reach the cairn at the top. The appearance of the sea view at the precise spot where the alignment changes course very strongly supports the idea that the row was positioned to maximise and emphasise a particular visual relationship between the row and sea.

An identical relationship was recognised at Bancbryn where adjustments in the orientation of the alignment were visually connected to the sea and a prominent headland. To dismiss such observations as coincidence would seem unwise particularly as a growing body of evidence is building of similar precise relationships between stone alignments and prominent features in the landscape.

The stone alignment includes a line of small stones leading NNE up a gentle slope on Shaugh Moor.

The stone alignment includes a line of small stones leading NNE up a gentle slope on Shaugh Moor.

The lower end of stone alignment. View from above and south west. This length of the alignment has no views towards Plymouth Sound.

The lower end of stone alignment. View from above and south west. This length of the alignment has no views towards Plymouth Sound.

View from above and north east of the stone alignment. The length of row in the foreground up to the alignment shift has no views of Plymouth Sound. The length of alignment in the background has views of Penlee Point, Staddon Heights and Plymouth Sound.

View from above and north east of the stone alignment. The length of row in the foreground up to the alignment shift has no views of Plymouth Sound. The length of alignment in the background has views of Penlee Point, Staddon Heights and Plymouth Sound.

At the point where the alignment shifts Staddon Heights, Penlee Point and Plymouth Sound become visible for the first time

At the point where the alignment shifts Staddon Heights, Penlee Point and Plymouth Sound become visible for the first time

View from the point where the alignment shifts. Penlee Point is clearly visible although Staddon Heights is hidden behind a gorse bush.  From this point as you walk up the row the sea becomes increasingly visible.

View from the point where the alignment shifts. Penlee Point is clearly visible although Staddon Heights is hidden behind a gorse bush. From this point as you walk up the row the sea becomes increasingly visible.

View of the upper part of the row. The photograph is taken from a short distance west of the row because a gorse bush obscures the direct view to Staddon Heights along the row.

View of the upper part of the row. The photograph is taken from a short distance west of the row because a gorse bush obscures the direct view to Staddon Heights along the row.

View from above of the upper part of the row illustrates that it is aligned with the western end of Staddon Heights.

View from above of the upper part of the row illustrates that it is aligned with the western end of Staddon Heights.

View from the top of the row as it would appear with low sunlight on the water. This is view available at the top of the row and is slowly revealed after passing the alignment shift point.

View from the top of the row as it would appear with low sunlight on the water. This is view available at the top of the row and is slowly revealed after passing the alignment shift point.

Profile Analysis

A helpful way to illustrate the character of the local topography is with a series of cross-sectional profiles. The first shows the profile from the cairn at the top of the alignment to Penlee Point. The sea is visible in front and behind the headland. The second profile illustrates that the Plym Estuary is visible as a small body of water from the alignment as well as Plymouth Sound beyond. The third profile illustrates the impact of Staddon Heights on restricting but not preventing a view to the sea. This technique for examining the views from stone alignments will be utilised at other sites to demonstrate particular links between rows and the sea.

Map showing the position of the cross-section profiles.

Map showing the position of the cross-section profiles.

Cross-section profiles from the alignment to the sea.  The water visible from the alignment is shown blue.

Cross-section profiles from the alignment to the sea. The water visible from the alignment is shown blue.

Sea Levels and Forests

The late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age natural environment would have been somewhat different than today’s.  Sea level would have been lower and distribution of tree cover would have been rather different.  The sea level is unlikely to be a significant factor given the distances involved, but clearly a single copse in the foreground in the wrong place could significantly affect the character of views and any reveals.  Clearly there is no way that we can establish the precise character or distribution of woodland at the time the rows were built and therefore it is not possible to factor this in. This is unfortunate but the evidence for strong, deliberate visual links between the sea and many rows would support the idea that the major topographic features being acknowledged by the rows are likely to have presented themselves in a similar if not identical way today.  The journey is hopefully one that you agree is worth making – if lack of conclusive evidence was seen as a reason not to pursue explanations then the library shelves in the archaeology section would be very empty indeed.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank a number of people who have helped formulate the ideas behind this series of articles. In particular, special thanks are due to Helen Woodley who has generously contributed many of her thoughts and observations regarding sea triangles and their association with prehistoric monuments. George Currie, Nigel Swift, Alan Simkins and Sophie Smith have provided much useful feedback and suggested helpful directions. Finally I would like to thank Cadw whose infuriating failure to acknowledge the obvious provided the impetus for this re-appraisal of this enigmatic group of monuments.

The official definition of Conservation (as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework) which English Heritage is bound by is: “the process of maintaining and managing change to a heritage asset”. Fortunately no-one told Andrew Heaton and his colleagues, pesky local campaigners against a housing development close to Offa’s Dyke. Or maybe they were told but couldn’t get it out of their commonsensical Salopian heads that conservation ought to mean preservation of precious assets .
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Andrew has sent the following thank you note to a large number of people and organisations including ourselves. We thought we’d publish it verbatim on the Journal (with his permission) as it gives an idea of how the planning process feels when viewed by non-specialists out in the country. The word he uses about it is “surreal“! That’s a well-chosen term. It’s where people with common sense eyes view something that doesn’t quite make sense! How many thousands of local campaigners have felt the same way (and with worse outcomes)?
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Hi,
I’m very pleased to tell you, that the Councillors rejected the proposed housing development, by a vote of 6:3. Thank you so much, for helping us.  Were it not for the help received, the diggers would already be moving in; your help, advice and encouragement is greatly appreciated.  
 
The Council meeting for the determination, was a very interesting experience.  In some ways, I thought that the meeting had a slightly surreal feel to it.  In the Council room, we had a situation in which the Planning officials were arguing a case for development, and stating that the heritage experts (English Heritage & Dr Wigley of Shropshire Council Archaeology) had no objections.  It was apparent, that the heritage ‘experts’ had no interest at all, in protecting the heritage assets, whilst the non-experts & Dr George Nash, were concerned that they should be protected !  Obviously, we are all interested parties, but when Councillors cite their own concerns about the possible impact on the heritage assets, I can’t help but think, that English Heritage & Dr Wigley should have been doing likewise. We had a situation, in which the non-experts were concerned about the heritage assets and the experts (bar Dr George Nash) were not – totally bizarre. 
 
Oh yes, top marks for one Councillor, who I feel made the best single comment of all at the meeting; he said that he didn’t place great value on the comments of English Heritage, as they are apt to change their minds. There is still a lot of work to be done, though.  I think that the residents need a meeting, to determine the next course of action. I think that we should seek to use the positive result, as a springboard for further action.

Thank you again, for helping save Offa’s Dyke from the developers.
Best wishes,
Andy

We’ve just received the following Press release from our friends at the Sustainable Trust, announcing the official end of the Carwynnen Quoit project.

‘The Restoration of Carwynnen Quoit’ commemorative book to be launched. 

The Sustainable Trust’s award winning community project will be completed soon. A non-academic record of the project is being published and will be available from Troon Church Hall, Treslothan Road on Saturday December 6th between 6 & 8pm.

All aspects of the project are described from excavations and finds to the ‘Ballad of Carwynnen’, poems, oral and local history.

Short films about the Quoit will be shown, refreshments will be available and there will be an opportunity to buy a print of the 2014 recreation of the 1925 Old Cornwall Society’s picnic.

Pip Richards from the Sustainable Trust said “We have chosen to hold this event at the nearest community building to the quoit, hoping that some of the more elderly residents of Troon may be encouraged to attend. We are grateful to them for sharing their memories with us and look forward to a future project in the area.”

The suggested donation of £6 for the book will help cover printing costs and fund Sustrust’s next project.

email pip.sustrust@gmail.com to reserve a copy.

Recently the restoration was awarded the Council for British Archaeology’s Marsh Award for community archaeology, a national award. The project manager, was also the first lady recipient of the Sir Richard Trant Heritage Champion award from the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

EHandNT

English Heritage has just published “Heritage Counts” an interesting annual survey of the state of England’s historic environment (produced on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum). It highlights how important Heritage is both in economic terms and as a contributor to personal wellbeing.  One bit in particular caught our eye. It was this, where they emphasise their view that “standards of decision making” are important in planning matters:

LYVE.

It’s a fair bet what they really thought important in that case wasn’t the the standard of decision making but the right decision, whether arrived at well or disgracefully – and they may even have been smiling as they wrote it, who knows? What is known is that together with the National Trust they fought long and hard to prevent the heritage value of that place being diminished by massive turbines. Their Chief Executive called the original decision Despicable & disastrous” – and the NT’s Director of Conservation said of the successful reversal of that decision that “it sends an important signal that areas of outstanding beauty or national significance need protecting“.

Lyveden.

Of course, what is considered “a good standard of decision making” may differ from person to person and place to place. We can’t help wondering whether NT and EH consider their decisions to support a short tunnel at Stonehenge were of “a good standard of decision making”?

Professor David Gill has just asked a very direct question that challenges the whole basis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database: How far can we trust the information supplied with the reported objects? Are these largely reported or “said to be” findspots?

It’s a highly pertinent question – for in recent years PAS has increasingly promoted the benefits of its database to academic researchers (and ergo of itself to its funders of course). The “trust” issue that Professor Gill is alluding to revolves around the question of whether “find spot falsification” is rare or otherwise. It is normally presented as being something only nighthawks do (to cover their tracks). But actually the situation is such that it may be far more widespread than that. It’s all because there’s a complete range of “shares” agreed between detectorists and landowners so there’s lots of money to be made by changing your account of where you found something. Bearing in mind this “fibbery” as we have previously termed it can be massively lucrative, simple to execute and impossible to detect, it’s hard to think it doesn’t happen rather a lot. Here’s a theoretical page from the diary of non-nighthawk Baz Thugwit that illustrates it:

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Bazdiary.

So caveat researchers (and funders). Baz earned himself an extra £750 that day (and of course distorted the PAS database) simply by driving down the motorway. Not that he even needed to do that for you can make loads of dosh in 3 seconds flat by telling a tiny lie to PAS online while sitting at home. How often does it happen? Dunno. You could ask PAS – but they haven’t the foggiest either. Hence, there seems to be no answer anywhere to Professor Gill’s question how far can we trust the information supplied?”

PAS's piggery pokery database

PAS’s piggery pokery database

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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By Dr Sandy Gerrard

Earlier reports on the Bancbryn stone alignment have demonstrated a visual link with Hartland Point in Devon. The very precise nature of this link strongly supports the idea that the alignment was placed to take advantage of the views created by a blocking hill in the foreground. Recent work in SW England has found that this is a pattern that is repeated many times and in the coming months the preliminary results of this work will be reported here. In the meantime, this research has also revealed a particularly interesting and significant relationship between the Bancbryn alignment and the Nine Maidens stone alignment in Cornwall. The Nine Maidens is an alignment consisting of large upright slabs which was first described in the early part of the 17th century.

Nine Maidens stone alignment leading up a gentle hill towards The Fiddler from which there is a view of Hartland Point. The orientation of the alignment is directly towards Hartland Point.

Nine Maidens stone alignment leading up a gentle hill towards The Fiddler from which there is a view of Hartland Point. The orientation of the alignment is directly towards Hartland Point.

The alignment survives within enclosed farmland and has as a result suffered significant damage. Despite this the alignment includes a line of stones leading up a gentle south facing slope towards a single stone known as the Fiddler situated on the north brow of the hill. From The Fiddler there is a view towards Hartland Point, but most significantly the surviving length of the alignment is on the same orientation as the length at Bancbryn which points at Hartland Point. The significance of this relationship is most easily expressed by a map showing the position of all three places.

Map illustrating the orientation of the Nine Maidens and Bancbryn stone alignments

Map illustrating the orientation of the Nine Maidens and Bancbryn stone alignments

It would therefore appear that two separate alignments are pointing at the same prominent natural feature as well as including a large body of sea. Indeed on mainland Britain this is probably the largest single expanse of water that could have been treated in this way.  This may be significant or a coincidence, although it is perhaps worth mentioning at this juncture that a large number of SW English alignments have convincing and demonstrable links with the sea and that the precision of their siting can be explained purely in terms of visual references to the sea. These exciting new discoveries will be presented in future articles.

Simplified plan of the Nine Maidens stone alignment and associated cairns. Cairns denoted by red circles have sea views whilst the green ones do not.

Simplified plan of the Nine Maidens stone alignment and associated cairns. Cairns denoted by red circles have sea views whilst the green ones do not.

Simplified plan of the Bancbryn stone alignment and associated cairns.

Simplified plan of the Bancbryn stone alignment and associated cairns.

This far we have established that the Bancbryn and Nine Maidens alignments share the same broad orientation (remembering that alignments are very rarely precisely straight) and that their uppermost lengths are also aligned towards Hartland Point. The two alignments share a number of other details. Both separate discrete clusters of cairns and both include lengths which do not have sight of Hartland Point. The southern lengths of both alignments have no views of the sea and therefore in simplistic terms whilst progressing along both alignments a point is reached where the sea appears and disappears. This point may have been of particular importance and is marked at Bancbryn by a shift in the orientation. Sadly at the Nine Maidens this part of the alignment has been removed.

If we start from the premise that alignments were designed to denote a special and very particular route it is perhaps more than a little significant that both alignments include lengths with only local outlooks leading to lengths with far reaching views including the sea. I would suggest that should this be repeated regularly at other sites then we are perhaps getting closer to an understanding as to why stone alignments were built where they are although details of any rituals along the way will inevitably remain obscure. The importance of topography in the siting of other classes of ritual and funerary monuments of this broad period is universally accepted. The barrow in a prominent position so that it can be viewed from afar may disappear for a short time as you approach it before being finally revealed as you reach it.  Some journeys through ritual landscapes were clearly special enough to be marked with stones and it is therefore not surprising to find particular themes being repeated time and time again along the journey.

There is more to come in this fascinating series over the coming weeks – Ed.

willits.

In Willits (California) a bypass is being cut through the heart of ancestral tribal lands. In Wilts (UK) another one (comprising a “short” tunnel with massive access cuttings) is being planned to cut through the heart of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. That’s not where the similarities end.

In Willits  there were delays in funding due to the downturn in the economy.” – snap in Wilts!

In Willits:No official consultation had ever occurred” – snap in Wilts! (lots of private meetings though!)

In Willits:nearly 30 cultural sites not documented in the first EIS have been found” Will it be snap with a nought added in Wilts?

In Willits:officials never created a map” – snap in Wilts – or to be precise, detailed ones haven’t been shown to the public (yet they must exist – how else could English Heritage and the National Trust have decided to support the short tunnel?)

In Willits: “they started finding things they said wouldn’t be there.” Will it be snap to that too in Wilts? (A clue: “hundreds” of previously unsuspected features have recently been found at Stonehenge. “Two thousand” have recently been found on Exmoor! Thus what might be selected as the “least damaging” route might turn out to be otherwise. Would the line of the route be diverted if that happened – like it wasn’t at Tara?)

In Willits: Tribal officials say the authorities are “not properly informing and consulting with them about new sites that are disrupted or found during construction“. It remains to be seen if the hundreds of features likely to be found, disrupted or destroyed at Stonehenge are likely to be promptly reported to the British tribe (or the World one) or whether they’ll only learn what has been lost long after it has happened.

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A synopsis of the Outstanding Universal Value of Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site can be found here. For an account of the 20-year Stonehenge roads saga and the efforts of the admirable Stonehenge Alliance and others to resist damage to the Outstanding Universal Value see here.

On 3rd December 2014 the Chancellor is likely to announce funds for a short bored tunnel (2.5km to 2.9km)  as a result of confidential talks between the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency, English Heritage, the National Trust, local authorities and others. If you believe a short bored tunnel would be too short to protect the World Heritage Site please consider signing the Petition here.

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Just think, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on our Events Diary you could have missed this! It’s a special early evening bookable tour (for over 12’s) being run by English Heritage next Saturday (to include a visit to the stones), all about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them.

[Please bookmark our Events Diary if you haven’t done so already.]

 

 

 

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