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English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust, joint supporters of a short tunnel at Stonehenge, may wish to look away now.  We are reproducing below an extract from a book published last week by UNESCO – “World Heritage Today in Europe” which has a bearing on the matter. (It was published with the generous support of the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. Had it been financed in Britain it may well have said something different, so hurrah for the French!)

Case Study – Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites’

The property ‘Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites’ was inscribed on the List in 1986. Following this decision, a draft Statement of Significance was prepared, based on documentation considered by ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee at the time of inscription. The Statement was developed by the property Steering Committees and other stakeholders, submitted to UNESCO by the government of the United Kingdom, and then agreed by the World Heritage Committee in 2008. In accordance with the requirements for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value outlined in the Operational Guidelines in 2005, a full Statement of Outstanding Universal Value was adopted by the Committee in 2013.

Attributes were first developed for Stonehenge when drafting its 2009 Management Plan. This involved a wide stakeholder group managed through the Stonehenge Advisory Forum and included a three-month public consultation period involving an exhibition, a questionnaire, a website and a polling of local residents. The attributes were reviewed during the development of the first Management Plan to cover the whole property, adopted in 2015, and it was recognised that they apply to the entire property. At each stage, great care was taken to ensure that the attributes were firmly based on the text of the agreed Statement.

The attributes are:
1. The global fame and iconic status of Stonehenge itself;
2. The physical remains of the Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial monuments and associated sites;
3. The siting of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in the landscape;
4. The design of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to the skies and astronomy;
5. The siting of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial sites and monuments in relation to each other;
6. The disposition, physical remains and settings of the key Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary, ceremonial and other monuments and sites of the period, which together form a landscape without parallel;
7. The influence of the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial monuments and their landscape settings on architects, artists, historians, archaeologists and others.

The whole process helped to clarify the understanding of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value among key stakeholders. The attributes are now proving to be a useful tool in assessing potential impacts on Outstanding Universal Value, particularly in clarifying its spatial implications for development planners. They will constitute the basis of formal planning guidance for the property.

Making a case for a short tunnel will require showing that not just one but all seven of those attributes won’t be damaged whereas common sense would suggest they all will be.  Massive entrance trenches can’t be talked away. So far there has been silence on the issue, just talk about “the benefits”. Shortly the mattter will have to be addressed. Look out for fibs, foutards, re-interpretations and smokescreens.



It drives me nuts, all this praise for the new sentencing guidelines and the fact they include “theft of historic objects or the loss of the nation’s heritage” for the first time.  That’s fine but how come they don’t say a word about daytime stealing from us farmers? Doesn’t that matter?

Common sense would dictate that any metal detecting contract should have just one vital provision: anything regarded as a “find” should be promptly delivered into the hands of the owner with the strong recommendation that he should take independent advice on its significance and value before he decides whether to give any of it away. Yet I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I’ve never heard of a single metal detecting contract that contains such a provision. Not one. No doubt many detectorists are scrupulously honest. By the same token I have no doubt many aren’t. Taking from the owner is a crime, yet this sort of taking (by removing objects or providing false valuations) is missing from the list of heritage crimes. How come?

Shhh. This is Britain so don't mention the crime scenes!

Shhh!  This is Britain, so lets not admit many of those fields are crime scenes!

I suggest that if Britain hadn’t spent 20 years fostering a climate in which officials and legislators are frit to criticise detectorists this omission wouldn’t have happened and if Glasgow University hadn’t consistently rebuffed the Heritage Journal’s repeated pleas to widen their Encyclopedia definition of nighthawking it couldn’t have happened.

It’s now 12 years since Rescue News asked the question “Whose find is it anyway?” The answer now is the same as it was then: the object belongs to the landowner and/or the community and the knowledge always belongs to the community. None of it belongs to the finder. Rocket science it ain’t.

Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow





Foothold (fo͝ot′hōld′) noun: A firm or secure position that provides a base for further advancement.

What has that to do with Oswestry? Well, here’s the land all the fuss is about, as seen from the top of the hillfort. Pretty bad, yes?



But in fact it’s only a foothold. Here it is, shown in blue.



You can be absolutely certain that if OSWOO4 squeezes through then in a very short time the developers will push hard to develop the other areas, shown in red. Why can we all be so certain? Because they’ve already tried immensely hard to do so and  at no point have they said they won’t do so again. The HOOOH website has just published compelling evidence that the developers’ agents have already started that process.

Mendacious moneymen, conniving councils and gutless guardians all use precedents as crutches to support what is otherwise unsupportable.  OSWOO4 is most certainly a precedent in waiting. A foothold. If there’s anyone left in Oswestry or anywhere else who thinks building on OSWOO4 is no big deal let them look at the above image.

We’ve written many times in the past about situations where, whether by arrangement with the site custodians, or illegally via vandalism, ancient sites have been damaged (temporarily in most cases) in the name of ‘marketing’.

Over the past couple of weeks, a new furore has arisen in Tintagel Cornwall, over a new carving of the ‘face of Merlin’ into the cliff face below Tintagel Castle.

Tintagel Merlin1

Apparently, the sculpture is not much larger than life size and takes some effort to locate, being seen only from the base of the cliff. “So what?” you may ask? Well, English Heritage (EH) say this is

“part of ongoing re-interpretation and investment at the site. The new artwork is the first part of a project by English Heritage to re-imagine Tintagel’s history and legends across the island site. Further works will be revealed late this spring.”

The ‘further works’ planned include a large statue of Arthur, a Sword in the Stone sculpture and a scultured stone bench commemorating the legend of Tristan & Yseult. Leaving aside the artistic merit of the sculptures, the moves are being seen locally as ‘false history’, an attempt at further ‘Disneyfication’ of the village and castle site in a direct move to increase tourist footfall, maximising tourism income, and to hell with any authenticity as to historical fact.

Regardless of the local opposition, there is a much bigger issue to be resolved here. Cornish historian (and friend of the Heritage Journal) Craig Weatherhill commented:

“this is just one of 28 visual display proposals for the site, one being an 8.5ft statue of Arthur in late (not early!) medieval gear, to stand on the clifftop on The Island! The Cornwall Archaelogical Unit assess that 9 of these will have a neutral effect on archaeology and visual amenity, but that 19 have minor to moderate negative impacts. ANY negative impact on the archaeology and visual amenity of such an iconic, important and spectacular site should have been refused permission… Of the carving, the CAU says that it will have an irreversible physical impact on the natural environment. i.e. vandalism.”

With the withdrawal of government funding and the need for EH to become ‘self-sufficient’, should they be allowed to sacrifice or change the authenticity of a site in this way in the search for additional income? And if so, where does that leave our heritage, not only at Tintagel but at all the other sites up and down the country that EH are responsible for?

Further Info:

English Heritage: Merlin’s Face

Cornwall Archaeological Unit: Environmental Impact Assessment

English Heritage: Tintagel Castle

Daily Telegraph: EH accused of vandalism 18 Feb 2016

The Cornishman: Vandalism, or Art? 17 Feb 2016

Archaeodeath: Putting Merlin to Death? Tintagel, Art and the Death of Imagination 15 Feb 2016

Kernow Matters To Us: Campaign group web site

Slightly outside our normal prehistoric timescale, a guest post and impassioned plea by Paul Duschner: 

Public museums play a key role in the preservation and teaching of our cultural heritage. They are the only institutions of mass media that allow all members of society direct visual access to archaeological objects. When closed, they leave a void that no glossy magazine or television documentary can fill.

Keeping them open, affordable and well funded is a democratic cause worth fighting for. I would therefore like to ask the readers of this online journal to help in the struggle to preserve Bede’s World Museum in Jarrow, Northumbria by signing an online­ petition, lobbying relevant politicians and considering a donation to the “Save Bede’s World”­ fund.

Anglo-Saxon hall, Bede's World

Anglo-Saxon hall, Bede’s World

The town of Jarrow near Newcastle is home to a historical site of international importance, the remains of an ancient monastery founded in the 7th century. It was here that one of England’s most prominent early intellectuals lived and died; the Venerable Bede (+ 735), author of “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”. The monastery’s ancient chancel has survived intact, complete with its dedication inscription and a reconstructed window of original Anglo ­Saxon glass. In 2011 the site was rightly nominated to become UNESCO­ world heritage.

As at many sites of outstanding historical importance, a museum was founded in 1993. However, on the 12 February its employees and the public were confronted with a bombshell­ announcement. The museum would “cease operation” immediately “due to lack of funds”. From one day to the next 27 jobs were lost, together with an institution that had been made great through years and years of dedicated service from employees, volunteers and members of the public, not to mention considerable financial investments.

While studying medieval history at the LMU in Munich I have twice had the pleasure of doing a work placement at Bede’s World. Those who knew it will confirm, that it was truly a remarkable place to visit, with something to offer for members of all generations. It was the primary place of learning about the Golden Age of Northumbria and home to an important archaeological collection of early medieval coloured glass. It’s outdoor facilities consisted of a reconstructed Anglo ­Saxon farming landscape complete with reconstructed buildings and live animals.

Anglo-Saxon hall, interior, Bede's World

Anglo-Saxon hall, interior, Bede’s World

School­children featured prominently among the museum’s 70,000 annual visitors. It was here they could experience the kind of historical teaching not offered in the classroom: how to grind corn to flower the old­ fashioned way using stone slabs, how to turn wool into thread for weaving and how it feels to walk in a real shirt of chain mail.

The closure of Bede’s World Museum marks a sad day for all of us with an interest in preserving and communicating our cultural heritage. It must not be permanent. Former employees, volunteers and members of the public are once more showing their dedication by rallying to save their museum. The media has started to pay serious attention and there is even celebrity support from the writer and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg. In short: There is hope.

If you are interested in aiding the effort to save Bede’s World, you might consider doing the following:

  1. Join the swiftly growing Facebook ­community “Save Bedes World Museum” to show your support and receive constant news updates.
  2. Sign the online petition “Save Bede’s World” on directed at the South Tyneside Council.
  3. Write a personal letter or e­mail to relevant political decision makers pointing out the necessity of preserving public museums in general and Bede’s World in particular. Recipients could be the South Tyneside Council, the MP and the MEP.
  4. For those able to contribute financially, there is a fundraiser “to help fund the re­opening of Bedes World Museum for the community of Jarrow, it will also be used to help ease the burden of the staff left without pay.”

Thank you very much for your time.

Paul Duschner, Paderborn, Germany

See also:

The museum’s website

Bede’s World: Cash crisis forces closure of Jarrow tourist attraction”, 12.Feb.2016

Bid to save Bede’s World: Funding campaign launched as volunteers stage gathering outside attraction”, 13.Feb.2016

Bede’s World closure: Hundreds take to social media after shock shutting of Jarrow attraction”, 15.Feb.2016

Melvyn Bragg attacks North­South divide as Jarrow museum closes”, 15.Feb.2016

Bede’s World closure: Who was the Venerable Bede and why is he important?”, 16.Feb.2016

 All photos © Paul Duschner

It’s widely agreed that those who damage the environment should fork out to put right. Of course, not allowing  damage in the first place or at least having laws to minimise it are both preferable but it’s a plain fact that in the case of metal detecting Britain is too bonkers to have applied either of those. Instead, causing damage is allowed and the taxpayer, not the detectorist, pays for mitigation. We’ve spent £20 million on it so far. Detectorists have contributed not a penny.

Until precisely 6 months ago for back in August PAS got the begging bowl out and asked for contributions. Unfortunately only £720 has been raised from just 17 people, not all of them detectorists. Hence, only one in a thousand detectorists have contributed, and then only to a tiny extent. Now though it seems PAS has started begging them in other ways. They’ve written to a club  asking for £60 towards the FLO’s bi monthly visit. The club has “gladly agreed”. It works out at about £1 a month each.

On the other hand, detectorists have found about 5.5 million historic artefacts since PAS was formed and at £20 each that adds up to about £110,000,000. What heroes!

The very existence of PAS is inarguable testament to the fact that legal artefact hunting DOES cause damage yet it is the taxpayer alone who has paid for mitigation.

The very existence of PAS is inarguable testament to the fact that legal artefact hunting DOES cause damage, mainly in the form of knowledge loss at the hands of the majority.  Yet it is the taxpayer alone who has paid for attempts to mitigate it through education and persuasion.





We’ve been asked “where is the video pushing for a short tunnel mentioned recently”. It’s here and it’s well worth a look. It’s  a very professional production but you may well feel it’s contents are the opposite. How about the claim “If designed well, the tunnel would bring huge benefits”?  Is it professional to say that but not to spell out the massive damage it would also cause? And is it professional to enthuse about any  tunnel at this stage when the route and exit points haven’t been decided upon? Doesn’t that signal the opposite of professionalism,  an agenda to support the Government’s declared intention whatever the heritage damage?

Maybe most telling of all is how remarkably similar this new video is to the previous one about removing the A344. The graphics, text and music are so similar the new one could easily be seen as a continuation of the earlier one. There’s a reason, we suspect. The removal of the A344 had few downsides and was almost universally welcomed. Now the construction of a short tunnel is being presented as part of the same beneficial process.

It is not. It is quite separate and involves massive damage. You may therefore suspect that the “part two” video employs a subliminal, psychological trick, something one might expect from a down market advertising agency, not from heritage champions. As “Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Friends” observed last Tuesday, it is unashamed propaganda foisted on a public evidently believed by HE to be gullible“. We can also add our own view that this claim by Historic Englend that they are working “to make sure plans for the tunnel protect and enhance the Stonehenge World Heritage Site” is actually a fib, for they know and we know a short tunnel cannot protect the World Heritage Site.  Doesn’t Britain owe itself and the world better than fibs?

A short tunnel WILL involve digging something like this inside the World Heritage Site. How come neither the Government nor the heritage triplets who support their intention have published an artists impression something like this?

A short tunnel WILL involve digging an approach trench similar to this inside the World Heritage Site. How come neither the Government nor the heritage triplets who support their intention have published an artists impression something like this? Why isn’t it depicted in their glossy video?

by Jimit (one of our Founder Members)
First, the good news …. the drainage inside seems to work even after the heavy rain we have had recently ….. The small infill dry-stone walling in the facade has been repaired. Not so good (temporary?) news ….. the wide access path up has been torn to shreds and rutted. Presumably this will be re-instated.
Now the “if only they had asked me” news…..The old concrete slab over the end chamber has been replaced with a much thicker one. The only light coming in is through a tiny vertical ‘ porthole’ less than 9 inches in diameter (muddied over on the surface) and down a tube through the thick concrete. It makes much of the chamber invisible without a torch. There is a similar ‘porthole’ further east. The old lighting made the interior mysterious, the new makes it just gloomy……
On top, the thick concrete has been covered by a scrape of soil, and turfed. I give this 6 months before the turf dies of drought and is eroded by footfall back to the concrete. This area has the heaviest usage outside the barrow …….. Access to the top is now by 10 shallow wooden-edged steps, unfortunately because of this shallowness the treads slope and the shingle covering them will quickly migrate downhill. This might be alleviated by doubling the number of steps. However improving the lighting would involve drilling another ‘porthole’ through the thick concrete. Don’t hold your breath.
It’s difficult to know what this expensive “Repair” was meant to achieve. Was the old roof dangerous? I hope someone else can inspect this well-loved site and report.

Lord Avebury at Silbury

As we all know the late Eric Avebury was a true friend to Avebury and Silbury Hill. He regularly visited and some lovely photographs will be found online of Eric and his family enjoying visiting the monuments his grandfather helped save. This conservational trend was certainly extended by Eric, who in 2004 successfully appealed against the government designating Silbury Hill as ‘Open Access’ under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) 2000. It was that same year of course, 29 May 2000, that Silbury Hill suffered a catastrophic collapse, and Eric took a detailed interest in plans and repairs that were finally completed in 2008.

Eric is pictured here in October 2003, visiting Avebury with (on his left), the Ven. Khemadhammo Mahathera OBE, Abbot of The Forest Hermitage and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Angulimala, and two other monks.

Eric is pictured here in October 2003, visiting Avebury with (on his left), the Ven. Khemadhammo Mahathera OBE, Abbot of The Forest Hermitage and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Angulimala, and two other monks.


RIP Eric. Our sincere sympathy to the family.

The death was announced this morning (14.2.2016) of Eric Reginald Lubbock, Lord Avebury, peacefully, at his home in Camberwell, south London, at the age of 87.  He was attended by his wife, Lindsay, and other family members.

See the text published as an aide-memoire for tribute writers who would like to remember Eric as a man of many parts.



February 2016

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