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Two weeks ago we linked to this video by Julian Richards in which he destroyed the pro-short tunnel case. Now he’s done it again, this time in print. It’s important because it contains a number of clear key statements which  the pro-short tunnel lobby, with its yowling moggy claims (25 so far) simply can’t refute. Here are the three central ones:

  • “Firstly it is simply too short.”
  • “This scheme needs to be re-thought.”
  • “If we go ahead with it as it is then I am convinced that future generations will judge us harshly and ask what were we thinking of to allow this to happen to such an important World Heritage landscape.”

We should like to add our own speculation – that most of those employed by English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust are privately in agreement with those three points and are distressed by the public stance being adopted by their organisations. How could they not be? And no, “The Government insists” is not a morally acceptable excuse!

“Heritage Watch” has just published the standard definition of Heritage Crime in which the only reference to metal detecting is “unauthorised excavation and metal detecting (also known as night hawking)” thereby obscuring the reality.  The commonest (and most damaging) heritage crime relating to metal detecting is surely telling a farmer you took finds home without showing him as they were of no value when they were – and then covering your tracks by not reporting it to PAS.


Lest anyone thinks that’s not a heritage crime here are the bits from the Heritage Watch definition that fit it like a glove:
“any offence which targets the historic environment”
“crimes against cultural property”
“anti-social behaviour”
“metal theft”
and “theft of historical and cultural property”
(to which you could add  fraud and obtaining money under false pretences.)


Lest anyone thinks it’s not widespread, this question hangs in the air: why does almost every finds agreement (including the “model” ones offered by the detecting bodies) fail to contain this simple, respectable clause: “I the detectorist will take nothing home without first showing it to the landowner”. It’s time Britain woke up. (Or more accurately, stopped pretending it’s not happening.)






image-of-the-year                                                                          [Image by Alastair Reid]


It’s a hieroglyph which says ordinary people love heritage but national guardians are too weak.

Now (by sheer chance you understand) English Heritage is celebrating archive footage (courtesy of Heritage England) titled “A hundred years of change” showing how bad things were in the landscape years ago and ending with the words “As debate over the tunnel continues, the landscape will continue to  change”…..

The subtext, surely, is “look, there used to be an airfield on the landscape (and that’s what sparked the debate about the setting of the stones and the landscape that surrounds them says an EH spokeswoman on the film) so us promoting vast new damage to the landscape is no big deal and justified and entirely consistent with Stonehenge’s changing story. We had an airfield. Now we’ll have a mile of dual carriageways. So what’s new or not to like?

Blatant and entirely false, or what?

Dear Fellow Landowners,

Take a look at this!

  • “I bumped into the land owner a few months ago and he asked me what I did with my finds , did I sell them he asked . He offered to buy a small collection from his land , my reply was that he is very welcome to have a collection. Over the months I have been thinking what I could put in a display and have been putting a few finds to one side for him.”
  • “First class effort , landowner should be pleased as punch.”
  • “A very nice and considerate gesture”

What can one say? The finds are his not theirs. Imagine if all the money spent on PAS to support such people was spent on promoting amateur archaeology or environmental improvement or just donated to a cat’s home!


Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow,

A detectorist has asked on a forum whether there are rules for sharing finds with farmers and been told “There isn’t no hard and fast rules“.

However, in the rational, well-behaved world inhabited by ramblers, amateur archaeologists and everyone else, there IS a hard and fast rule.The finds should be handed to the farmer as they are his. How hard is that to understand? The farmer can then get independent advice on their significance and value and then, only then, he can decide if he wants to reward the finder. 

Any other arrangement is a blatantly unfair contract for it puts the detectorist at an unfair advantage in which he alone knows the value of the finds. Only an oik or a crook would do that yet that “no hard and fast rules” situation is supported by both the National Council for Metal Detecting and the Portable Antiquities Scheme by omitting to explain and to specify a fair contract. (The NCMD do it because detectorists want it that way and PAS do it for the same reason. But PAS are supposed to be respectable! What’s happening?)


“Don’t worry Farmer Giles I’ll take the cards home and let you know if you’ve won”







We’ve all been bombarded with the benefits of removing the existing A303 (quieter stones and an average of 8 minutes off the travel time). Historic England, English Heritage, the National Trust and the Highways Agency have made sure of that. But have they fully explained the harm it will do? Of course not, and that’s a story in itself, the moral of which is that a pig with lipstick is still a pig whatever the Government’s agents are telling the public.


So for the avoidance of all doubt, here’s what we will lose. Everyone should keep it in mind every time anyone says the tunnel is fine:

Loss of national reputation. We’ve signed an international promise not to do what we’re proposing to do and we’re currently concocting a form of words to deny it (we have to be, for without that we can’t do it, yet the whole world will know we’re lying).

The damage. We’re not going to just dig a hole. Or a hundred holes. We’re going to dig out countless millions of cubic feet of land to drive dual carriageways, some of them in cuttings, for a mile across 27 of archaeologically rich landscape recognised to be of outstanding universal value to mankind.

The view.   Which civilised country would deprive tens of millions of travellers a year of this ancient, iconic, world-famous sight? Depriving them of it even for a long tunnel would be tragic. Doing so for a short one would be unforgivable.

Britain's oldest man-made view? How many young archaeologists and historians has it inspired?

Britain’s oldest and most arresting man-made view? How many young archaeologists and historians off on their holidays has it inspired? (Quite a few who now work for Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust, you can be sure!)


So, which of those three are you prepared to lose? Historic England, English Heritage, the National Trust and the Highways Agency want you to lose all three!


They’re doing it for the great great grandchildren of the Shropshire councillors and they need all the help they can get. Everyone knows they won’t get any from Shropshire Council which is hell bent on allowing private developers to build a housing estate in the setting but they’re entitled to feel let down that English Heritage (whose great great grandchildren they’re also fighting for!) didn’t step up to the plate, given it’s claim that it is “inspired by a determination to put England’s heritage ahead of private interest“.

The same applies at Stonehenge where (you might feel) English Heritage ought to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the protestors, for the sake of its great great grandchildren, not supporting massive new damage to the landscape and painting it as bequeathing conservation to the future.


February 2017

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