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Some people opposed the imposition of parking charges at Summer solstice and say the whole cost of staging the event should be borne by English Heritage. They call EH “greedy” for thinking otherwise and accuse them of treating Stonehenge like a “cash cow”. Up to now we’ve been broadly on EH’s side on this – they are short of money (which has implications for the welfare of hundreds of heritage sites, not just Stonehenge) and the cost of financing the annual solstice party is a great burden – so why shouldn’t the attendees contribute? (A few dozen Druids maybe not, but thousands of party-goers, yes.)

However, the question arises: is there a limit to the amount of money that EH should extract from Stonehenge without becoming vulnerable to the accusation they are using the monument disrespectfully as a cash cow? It is prompted by this, their current planning application for improved parking: If approved, it is hoped that these changes, plus an improved drop off/pick layout at the Stones, will create a more flexible service, providing up to 900 visitor journeys in each direction every hour at peak times – compared to the current maximum of 600.

That implies that at peak times there will be 900 people processing round the stones every hour, an increase of 50%. Will that be just too many? Will the Stonehenge visitor experience be eroded to an unacceptable extent? If 900 is considered seemly, what if parking could be extended further, would 1,900 be OK? As guardians, shouldn’t EH announce what they think is a reasonable limit lest the jibes about Stonehenge being like Disneyland come true by incremental steps?

Is 50% more than this OK?

Not exactly “splendid isolation”!  Planned for next year: 50% more than this. And thereafter….. ?  Shouldn’t a definite top limit be announced?

Some four years ago now, we asked “What next for London Stone?”  It appears that at long last that question will been answered, as from this Friday 13th London Stone will be on display in its new temporary home at the Museum of London whilst redevelopment of the site at 111 Cannon Street goes ahead.


The stone will be displayed in the Museum of London’s War, Plague & Fire gallery, and will remain at the museum while work is carried out to rebuild its previous home on Cannon Street.

The stone’s origins are bathed in myth, and it is said to hold the fate of London in its hands should it ever be removed or destroyed. Let’s wait and see…

This morning, 9th May, this flock of 150 sheep will walk from the megalithic site at Carnac to the megalithic site at Locmariaquer. The animals feed on the vegetation on the megalithic sites of the area and thus contribute to their maintenance.


carnac sheep

Such a relaxed, low impact approach could hardly be further from the UK’s aggressive guardian-centric guardianship of its own flagship sites (the National Trust has imposed its own commercial stranglehold on Avebury and the guardians of Stonehenge are telling the world massive new approach roads can somehow be seen as “protection”!)


See also the article 7 years ago by our member Graham Orriss, Carmac, curation and display with a refreshingly light touch.

As expected, Dr Michael Lewis of the British Museum’s Learning, Audiences and Volunteers department attended the inaugural European Council for Metal Detecting Conference along with detectorists from seven countries including Ireland. The new (Irish) Chairman said Dr Lewis’s contribution was “outstanding”. But compare the new organisation’s logo with the National Museum of Ireland’s advice to the Irish public …..


Surely the BM should keep out of Irish affairs? The vast majority of Irelands archaeologists and heritage professionals don’t subscribe to the stance which the BM is obliged to adopt over here and many of them aren’t shy about saying so. Just this week Pat Wallace, former Head of the National Museum of Ireland, made himself crystal clear on RTE.  His words may sound harsh to British ears but crucially British ears have been subjected to a continuous pro-detecting din for decades which hasn’t been heard anywhere else.  Mr Wallace described metal detecting as ….

“an evil for our heritage and a major threat to the civilisation of our ancient past….. We’ve the best anti-metal detecting legislation in Europe …. Poor old England, our dear old neighbours, their heritage has been destroyed by metal detectors. I’m very familiar with Lincolnshire and I saw deep ploughing going on there in the eighties and then you see these kind of metal detecting tables, portable finds schemes so called, set up at weekends so that archaeologists and others can pick what’s left over. What a disastrous attitude to your own heritage.




arthur rollrights

This story, from County Westmeath, is worth publicising far and wide:

Being mulched

“In 2005, a 3,000 year old Bronze Age wooden road was uncovered in Mayne Bog in Coole, Co Westmeath. Described by An Taisce as “a major, timber-built road of European significance”, this was an archaeological find of huge importance. According to John Waddell, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at NUI Galway, the Mayne road (or “Togher”) is, in terms of size, age, and antiquity “truly of European significance and on a par with those preserved in dedicated heritage centres like Wittemoor in Lower Saxony, Flag Fen in Peterborough (UK), and Corlea in County Longford”.

Mayne Bog is worked by Westland Horticulture, which extracts peat from the site. Despite carbon-dating the find to 1200 to 820 BC, the National Monuments Service – for some reason – did not issue a preservation order or record the road in the Register of Historic Monuments. Apart from two minor excavations, no serious archaeological work has been done on the discovery and – crucially – no legal impediment has been put in place to prevent the destruction of Mayne Togher. For the ten years since the find, Westland Horticulture has – entirely legally – continued to mulch something as old as Newgrange into compost for window boxes. At least 75% of the road is gone now. Dr Pat Wallace – former director of the National Museum of Ireland – has described this as “an international calamity”.

Not sure why your tomatoes won’t grow? Try Gro-Sure® Tomato Food from Westland Horticulture, which simply grows more.

{See also our previous article ….]

by Nigel Swift

Irish family.

Recently a nice family in Ireland did it right“The find proved a great historical lesson not only for Charles’ children but also for their classmates …..Charles then handed the stone hammer into the county museum”Irish law said he had to but you just know he would have anyway. It took me back to Shropshire, circa 1955. We kids found stuff several times and would process with it in triumph to the schoolmaster or vicar “to take to the museum”. For us, like that Irish family, “finders-keepers” didn’t apply, the finds were beyond question “everyone’s”.

Many still feel that way and The Council for British Archaeology’s logo proclaims it: “Archae-ology for All”. Trouble is, some say “all” includes “me” so it’s “mine”. Two such people searched the field right next to where we used to find artefacts and soon after they argued in front of a coroner about which of them had found something: I don’t care what he says, I swear on the Holy Bible I found it.” Same parish, six decades later, and a whole lot uglier.

The CBA’s logo was re-branded in 2012. It split the first word, archae-ology, to stress that it wasn’t the physical remains but the study of archaeology (the “ology”) which was for all, hence preventing misuse of the sentiment (or in Mike Heyworth’s far politer comment to us: “these are subtleties which inevitably are lost on many people”.) We thought it worked at the time but no, it’s still being seen as a CBA charter for personal entitlement. Maybe it’s time to make it clearer: “Archaeology for all, not just one”. It wouldn’t have the force of law but at least it couldn’t be wilfully misinterpreted. Today the present one will be. Extensively. That’s surely not what the CBA intended?





May 2016

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