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Surprise, surprise! A planning application has just been submitted to North Yorkshire County Council by Tarmac applying to extend its Nosterfield Quarry. As part of it, it is proposing to ‘gift’ to an appropriate body in perpetuity control of the Central and Southern henges. Sounds kind. Until you recall that Tarmac has wrecked most of the landscape of the henges already. And that giving gifts has long been part of its strategy….

tboro2

In July 2005 the Journal reported that “In an attempt to appease local opposition a strip of land between Thornborough Moor and Nosterfield has been offered to the village for recreational purposes” and the next month it was reported they’d offered to donate 60 acres of land around the Northern Henge to the nation. However, six months later we were reporting the other side of the story: “Quarrying in the vicinity of the Thornborough Henges has caused widespread concern for many years. About half of the original complex has been destroyed, a landfill site is being operated immediately adjacent to the central monuments and quarrying is still ongoing close by at Nosterfield, also within the monument complex”.

tboro-quarrying

So Tarmac’s latest gesture isn’t something to celebrate greatly. Gifting control of the Central and Southern Henges is no big deal since they are scheduled and can’t be quarried – and indeed are probably a burden to be responsible for. So it’s probably best to think of Tarmac more as a crocodile, to be treated with caution not gratitude. Just over ten years ago we quoted our colleague, Thornborough campaigner George Chaplin.  His words turned out to be prophetic: “Tarmac have not given up in their ambition to extend the existing quarry. They intend to appeal against the refusal and the danger remains very real for the whole of the remaining surroundings”.

winter-sunsets-before-and-after

After more than 4,000 years, does this generation have the right?

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (11 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

.What is widely accepted as Stonehenge’s central purpose and significance, the spectacle of the winter solstice sunset as seen from the stones, is under threat from the UK bodies charged with protecting the World Heritage Site. Will it soon be dulled and outshone and the iconic final flash be lost in an intense glow or even direct beams of light coming from the entrance dual carriageway of a too-short tunnel just 800 metres away? Is this how it will be?

wintersolstice11

solstice-poem.

If the tunnel entrance is built where digging is currently happening we’ll surely be robbed of the ability to “go back in time” and experience what the builders of Stonehenge intended. The Chairman of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, Andy Rhind-Tutt, has just put it with great clarity: “If they are going to put a tunnel in and it came out where they are exploring at the moment, you’re going to have this glow coming off the ground as the sun sets, so it would destroy the whole purpose and meaning of Stonehenge.”

As always, the public are being treated like fools. Highways England say they are “still looking at all options” and this is “just one part of a wide range of surveys” yet it has always been clear from the maps that if a short tunnel is to be built then the spot which is currently being dug is the lead probability – indeed, the almost inevitable position for the western portal. Just watch, they haven’t arranged a dig there for no reason. Meanwhile, English Heritage has dutifully repeated the same completely misleading phrase it has used ad nauseam for many months: it supports a tunnel “if it is designed and delivered well“.

The bitter truth though is that a short tunnel can’t be designed and delivered “well” and that glow and those lights can’t be spun away. English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust are in the excruciating position of trying to put lipstick on a pig. Please sign and share The Stonehenge Alliance’s petition, it really is important if something very precious and more than four thousand years old isn’t to be stolen.

PS….. It has just been pointed out to us that in the BBC article that quotes Andy Rhind Tutt’s comment there is also the assertion that earlier this year a Unesco report backed the idea of a short tunnel. It’s a total lie and it was the second yowling moggy. We dealt with it here: https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/can-icomos-be-got-at/

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[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (10 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Hard to believe, but true. Even though Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust say they are committed to ensure that “only schemes which protect and enhance the World Heritage Site are progressed” it has just been revealed that Wessex Archaeology are secretly test digging (see this) at the very spot where the entrance to one version of the route would be and it’s at the very place where it would do maximum damage to the significance of Stonehenge:

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worst-spot-of-all

[Hat tip to Tim Daw]

Ask English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust, they’ll all confirm that the central purpose of Stonehenge was the alignment with the winter solstice sunset as seen at that very spot. Yet the bizarre situation has arisen whereby they are all three pushing for a short tunnel which would involve the visible evidence of the central meaning of Stonehenge being destroyed.

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by Nigel Swift

There’s a big shadow over Britain’s portable antiquities policy. It’s that PAS’s data can’t be authenticated. So it’s right to speculate on the level of false reporting. Many nighthawks lie about findspots, for obvious reasons, but PAS data is likely to be further corrupted due to what I term the “share gap”. See below, two very different documents dealing with the sharing of finds:

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agreement

agreement2.

Detectorists can insert whatever figures they wish in the first. Typically they offer a 50% share of items worth over £300, whereas under the second they don’t have to share at all if items are worth below £2,000. That’s the share gap. Clearly, if you find a £1,900 item at one farm you can “save” £800 by “finding” it at a Central Searchers’ rally down the road and have it laundered and enhanced to boot by getting it authenticated by PAS. Common sense suggests masses of findspots get falsified that way but the matter is never mentioned by PAS. We’re all losing out in secret due to the survival instinct of a small quango.

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Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (9 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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Once again it comes from the National Trust, which says, (in response to its own question, about whether there any other options rather than building a tunnel):
“Other options within the WHS, such as a surface dual carriageway, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments.  They would also do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.”

Yet the Trust  is supporting a short tunnel, which itself involves a long stretch of “surface dual carriageway“, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments” and would “do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.

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petard3.

[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

by Dr Sandy Gerrard

Where heritage and development collide - the odds are stacked against the archaeology

Where heritage and development collide – the odds are stacked against the archaeology

At Bancbryn the archaeological establishment set about trashing the idea that the alignment of stones separating two scheduled cairn cemeteries could be important. Before waiting to see any evidence, the possibility of it being significant was being privately and publically dismissed. Over the months that followed its discovery, various outlandish alternative interpretations backed by spurious “facts” were offered and then silently withdrawn. Important files were shredded, correspondence ignored, evidence avoided and reports buried. Interestingly the various organisations do not apparently see that any of this represents a problem.

Presumably, this is because this is simply business as usual. This whole mess helpfully provides an insight into the way Welsh heritage is regularly carved up by those entrusted with its care. No matter what camouflage is deployed; these organisations are primarily concerned with enabling the controlled destruction of the historic environment. Over the years they have cleverly created the illusion that they are in the protection and conservation game – however the facts at Bancbryn and elsewhere in Wales betray their true role. Cleverly worded reports and excuses are their stock in trade – all designed to ensure the controlled and unimpeded destruction of our archaeology. After all if the “expert” at Cadw says something is not really that important, then surely it must be true? Well no. The Cadw “expert” is very unlikely to have the necessary expertise to assess its importance properly, but on the other hand they are extremely likely to have the prowess to write the sort of report suited to the desired outcome. By these means archaeological sites are regularly sacrificed on the altar of progress and economic development.

To avoid any uncertainty or confusion, Cadw are part of the Welsh Assembly Government and are entrusted with the role of ensuring that the government’s development initiatives are not jeopardised by inconvenient archaeological remains. Cadw’s position within the Welsh Assembly severely limits their abilities to be the honest broker and instead their role is often to ensure the smooth and orderly destruction of the historic environment. To do anything else would be a risky strategy indeed. With all this in mind the Bancbryn debacle sadly makes complete sense and was inevitable.

Why yowling moggy? Because a series of misrepresentations (8 so far) may suggest a concerted agenda….

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According to the National Trust, the UNESCO/ICOMOS report
mirrors the views held jointly by Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, in acknowledging that a fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km could help to significantly improve the World Heritage Site and that the design and location of all aspects of the road improvement scheme need to be carefully and fully considered”

No.
The report said:
we are concerned that associated portals and dual carriageways could have a highly adverse impact on other parts of the World Heritage landscape that cannot be set aside, however great the benefits of a tunnel
which is the opposite.

Stand by for the ninth!

[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Our Counter proposes 8,000 detectorists each finding 0.69 recordable artefacts per week (far lower than all surveys suggest) so those two figures combined result in it “ticking” upwards at a rate of one recordable find each minute during daylight hours. But look at this detecting Facebook group ….

md-facebook-group
It has 10,787 members! That changes everything. If a single group has nearly 11,000 members surely we can assume there are another 11,000 at least who aren’t members. So the total is 22,000 not 8,000! If so, collectively they’re removing one recordable artefact every 21 seconds (and only telling PAS about little more than a tenth of them). Is that a satisfactory state of affairs?

Please click the arrow while you ruminate….

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