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English Heritage is saying that people have been celebrating summer solstice at Stonehenge for “thousands of years“. But where’s their evidence? Winter solstice, yes, they have shown loads of evidence for that, but not summer. So it’s strange they are making unsubstantiated claims about the cultural importance of the summer considering they are keen to reduce numbers in the summer. Anyway, here’s the authentic solstice view that none of the attendees will see this summer, it’s by our member Jimit and it showes the winter solstice  sunset, viewed from outside the stones on the original ceremonial approach ….

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SH Winter solstice

How convenient by the ancients, making the big moment sunset instead of sunrise. No-one has to stand around waiting all night and, because it’s mostly not dark, it involves a lot less security and infrastructure. The Australians can confirm that’s the case. Here’s their winter solstice sunset celebration at “The Henge”, Bywong. No expense, no security, no infrastructure, no stone climbing, no litter, no damage, no moaning!

Bywong

As the Canberra times reported: “Out at Bywong they steered clear of any of the pagan rituals seen at some genuinely ancient sites around the world, and instead enjoyed a barbecue, hot chocolate, mulled wine and a fun family atmosphere”. Imagine that! Hot chocolate, mulled wine and a fun family atmosphere!

So who stole OUR solstice?

It’s been six years since English Heritage had to close its Outreach Department. But does that mean the English Heritage Trust no longer has an obligation to outreach to people? We don’t think so, and we don’t just mean being polite to people with strange ideas but actually informing ordinary people about important issues.

There’s one way in which outreaching is not only owed but would also help EH itself. Shortly there’ll be the annual Stonehenge summer solstice shindig, with the usual damage and disrespect no doubt. EH has made no secret of the fact it wants to sort the problem out by the one means that will work – reducing the number of attendees to sensible levels. That’s where the outreach comes in…..

Why not make clear what EH knows the science now suggests: people who go there will be standing in the wrong place on the wrong day at the wrong time and looking in the wrong direction!

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solstice mistake

Someone found a hoard at Lenborough and got rewarded. What’s not to like? Well, two things: First, he was paid a mind-boggling £675,000, far more than was needed or warranted or could be afforded or other countries would have paid. Second, the Treasure Committee still could and should have slashed the reward for “bad practice” (he claimed, fatuously, the hoard couldn’t be guarded overnight so had to be dug up hurriedly, thus destroying much knowledge). But they didn’t, they almost never do.

Why is our reward system like this? For one simple, shameful, unpublicised reason: zillions of UK detectorists make it clear that if they don’t get maximum payouts they won’t declare treasure finds. As “Rescue” said about Lenborough:”it represents nothing but yet another lost opportunity to add to the knowledge we have about the Saxon period ….  But you won’t read about that in the papers.” Indeed you won’t. But never mind Lenborough, that was LEGAL activity, albeit bad practice. What about the rewards the Treasure Committee also gives to criminals? Well …

Here are volunteers in 2013 at an official dig in Kidderminster ....

Here are volunteers at an official dig in Kidderminster in 2013 ….

And here are our images of the nighthawk holes that peppered the area by next morning. If the volunteers had found a valuable item they'd have been paid nothing. If the nighthawks had done so (did they?) and "re-found" it elsewhere they'd be rewarded. How often has that happened in preference to trying to sell stolen goods? Never? Often? If you were a nighthawk in Britain, what would YOU do?

And here are our images of the nighthawk holes that peppered the area by next morning.

Quite a juxtaposition. If the volunteers had found treasure they’d have got nothing. If the criminals had done so (did they?) and “re-found” it elsewhere they’d be given full market value. Does that happen much? Well put it this way: if you were a nighthawk in Britain (or even a visiting one with goods to dispose of) what would YOU do? It’s beyond denial, we have a treasure system which showers excessive rewards not just on the partly deserving but also the blatantly undeserving and the downright criminal. But you won’t read about that in the papers either. Move along now. Nothing to see here.

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Why have staff from the National Trust (NT) been suggesting the short Stonehenge tunnel would be beneficial for wildlife?

It is proposed that only a little over half of the present road would be inside a tunnel – the remainder either side would be converted into four lanes of traffic travelling much faster through the World Heritage Site (WHS). And to quote a National Road Death Survey dating from the early part of this century: “High traffic speed increased the likelihood of many mammal species, including fox, badger and roe deer, and also the tawny owl, falling victim to vehicles as it reduces the time available for drivers and animals to react to danger.” This supposed ‘benefit’ projected onto the short tunnel depends then on which side of the National Trust fence the wildlife happens to be on!

Big Brown Hare, Jane Tomlinson, Meritage Action

Big Brown Hare, Jane Tomlinson, Heritage Action

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