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Eight years ago we published this, for the attention of Mr John Gormley, then Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It concerned the building of a Motorway within Irelands greatest monumental landscape, and the pretence it could be justified by refence to newly penned conservation codes. We think it’s something Historic England, English Heritage and The National Trust should be reminded about. If existing irrevocable conservation principles prohibit new damage at Stonehenge new codes or new interpretations of old codes would be blatant breaches of existing irrevocable conservation principles, however presented.


Come kindly JCBs, roll over Ireland! 

As the man in the pub said: “I wouldn’t ask him to mind my chickens, and Bertie Ahern put him in charge of our heritage and environment. He has no bottle, afraid of the hawks.”

Hey John, stick this at the front of your weasly worded Codes, it was penned by one of your countrymen more than three years ago, before proud important you and your proud important predecessors conspired and blinkered to let it happen without a squeak. It says more about development and heritage than anything in your Codes ever could –

“TARA, here I am. I have come all the way from Kerry to be with you before the vultures, with bulldozers and JCBs, open your lower belly. They are impatient to inflict the wounds.

You are abandoned, forsaken and rejected. All the powers that be – Meath County Council, the Government, NRA, An Bord Pleanála and the High Court – have walked out on you. We pay them to protect you but they betrayed us. We trusted them too much.

Tara, I know you sympathise with the people who are forced to commute to Dublin five days a week. But why are they not angry with Meath County Council for not putting in a bypass at Dunshaughlin and a proper one in Navan 20 years ago? There were so many other options for this road.  But that was a different generation, other times.  This generation prefers soulless symbols – motorways, shopping malls, four-wheel drives, big trucks and, of course, the euro. I expected all the people in Ireland to have run to protect you. It would have been unacceptable, I thought, to run a motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley, opening up a wound that no plastic surgery can cure. But this generation was not touched, nor incensed. How sad. Will you forgive us?

The day Environment Minister Dick Roche sanctioned the motorway, I was watching the evening news in a pub. One man said, when he saw Mr Roche on TV, “Isn’t he a pity? I wouldn’t ask him to mind my chickens, and Bertie Ahern put him in charge of our heritage and environment. He has no bottle, afraid of the hawks.” Poor Mr Roche. Maybe he has no power. An Bord Pleanála, which is not comprised of elected representatives, makes all the big decisions. Or does it? Who has real power today?

Democracy, the people’s participation in the ordering of their own lives, is now perceived as a meaningless facade that hides the ruthlessness of corporate self-interest. The suspicion that political ideologies and institutions are becoming irrelevant because politics is being reduced to following ‘the laws of the market’ is creating political unease among people and cynicism among the young about voting. Tara, what else can your support groups and friends do now? Are all avenues closed? Has your hour come? Will we call the lone piper to play a dirge?”

Tommy O’Hanlon
Co Kerry

[For more on Dr Hardy’s conclusions put “Sam Hardy” in our search box].

Dr Sam Hardy’s unequivocal conclusion that “permissive regulation is ineffective in minimising harm to heritage assets” has just been backed up by further strong  evidence supplied by Paul Barford. It really speaks for itself.



But not quite. The red column doesn’t include coins. Imagine how high it would be if it did!


Update, From Paul Barford 29/5/17:
…. “day after day, week after week, year after year until enough people say “hey, this can’t be right!”
That was yesterday, today the results of the same search would reveal the same pattern, and tomorrow, and the day after that. This erosion of the archaeological record to fill the pockets of those selling them, and the back bedroom shelves of those that buy them will go on, day after day, week after week, year after year until enough people say “hey, this can’t be right!” and heritage-aware society puts a STOP to this (Stop Taking Our Past – what is “wrong” with that sentiment?).

Where should that awareness be being created, and by whom?



This is from the website of “Lets go Digging” a new detecting rally organisation which is growing exponentially (currently 2,000 members with digs weekly). It seems very likely that it will be the future of artefact hunting in Britain unless The Establishment takes action.

With every day that passes, we are seeing a substantial increase in the amount of people taking up metal detecting.

it won’t be long before there are insufficient farms to meet the demand.

there’s no doubt in our minds that presenting to the landowner as a business is the way forward when it comes to acquiring land nationwide for our members.

We came to a decision that to acquire a permission, we had to make it worth the landowners time, so by pricing a dig at £15  for our full members, we could pay him £10 per head, in most cases a minimum of £400 and in some cases, over £1000.

Our goal is to further strengthen the group next year which will allow us to approach landowners with increasingly generous offers to get their permission to detect and so develop our already considerable land portfolio.

Whilst we are aware that some people may not like the fact we are offering payment, there are few alternatives that will allow this hobby to cater for the growing numbers, especially whilst local clubs are restricting numbers and farmers who have someone already detecting their land and won’t allow any others on.

For us, the goal is to give value for money, to continue to introduce new features to make the day more fun, to develop additional relationships with organisations that can offer our members beneficial advantages and continue to acquire new and  exciting land….. the best land in the best locations nationwide.

We expect all finds to be shown for photographing.




A council in Cheshire has secured a ‘landmark ruling’ from the Supreme Court that will better protect green areas from speculative housing developments. The court judgement stated that ‘No one would naturally describe a recently approved green belt policy in a local plan as “out of date”, merely because the housing policies in another part of the plan fail to meet the NPPF objectives.’ Council leader Rachel Bailey commented:

‘I am proud that this council had the courage to pursue this action. This means that we can now better protect our local communities from speculative, unsustainable development by ensuring a proper approach to the application of planning policies.’



Oswestry Hillfort is unlucky enough to be situated in the Dismal and Philistine Repugnate of Shropshireland.

Four eminent legal scholars have concluded that nothing gives U.S. presidents the authority to abolish, shrink or otherwise weaken national monuments. Sixteen presidents have designated 157 monuments and no president has ever tried to revoke a monument designation.

However, President Trump is determined to rescind or at least shrink monument status on 27 such sites (including the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah).


President Trump displays an executive order reviewing previous national monument designations made under the Antiquities Act at a signing ceremony on April 26.

It can be confidently assumed that over in Britain the leaders of English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust are privately dismayed. How then can they justify the fact they are actively lobbying for the shrinking of the protection and sacrosanct status given to the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge?



On the left, English Heritage’s new information board. On the right, the future. The two small developments have been dropped (they were standard Developers’ try-ons). The main one hasn’t.

Archaeologists are discussing “what to do about detecting rallies.” Trouble is, they have no power to enforce change. That ability rests solely with landowners for without their permission there can be no detecting at all.


So it’s vital for the resource (and their own interest) that farmers understand the issues. Yet often they’re offered an incomplete picture with detectorists simply suggesting the landowner should “trust” them to do the right thing. Far better if archaeologists advised farmers to firmly respond with:

No, I’d prefer that YOU trust ME, not vice versa. Instead of taking some of the finds away without showing me, bring them to me, without exception. (They’re mine.) I’ll submit them to PAS for recording and I’ll get them valued (by an independent expert). Then I may let you have some of them. Trust me.”




Not true.

Doesn’t the Public deserve better?

We’re proud to have been highlighting heritage issues for over fourteen years so we were interested to see that a special international meeting to discuss research and global policy focusing on the communication of World Heritage values is to be held (7-8 October, Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site). The event will be immediately followed (9-10th October) by the third annual conference of World Heritage UK, where practitioners will join to explore the many ways to communicate World Heritage to different audiences.

The Stonehenge World Heritage Site has straddled 3.5 miles of the A303 for 30 years and the only attempt to communicate the outstanding features of the landscape to the occupants of in excess of 8 million vehicles a year which pass through it, were tiny entrance sign at either end, signs that were unreadably filthy until replacement this year to mark the 30th anniversary of the WHS.

“Communication” is not a term that Historic England , the National Trust and the English Heritage Trust are famous for. Perhaps they will attend the conference and learn about “focusing on the communication of World Heritage values”.

This week Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA tweeted: Off to the British Museum to chair meeting of the Finds Best Practice working group. What do we do about metal detecting rallies?” We suggest the answer depends if they wish to protect the archaeological resource. And landowners. Or PAS. For as the meeting participants will be aware:

  • Common sense and evidence suggest numerous items found at rallies aren’t reported, even if PAS are in attendance.
  • Common sense suggests nighthawked finds from elsewhere are brought to rallies to be “laundered”.
  • Common sense suggests many other finds from elsewhere are laundered at rallies (because rally rules on sharing with landowner are lax or non-existent).
  • The rules of most rallies ignore both the official metal detecting code and the official advice on running rallies.
  • Items found at rallies are very, very rarely shown to the landowners (and everyone knows exactly why but no-one admits it).
  • Thousands of European detectorists come to British rallies to do all of the above because it’s illegal for them to do it at home.

So the answer to Dr Heyworth’s question, What do we do about metal detecting rallies?” must surely be crystal clear to the Finds Best Practice working group: one or all of them should tell the Government that rallies damage the resource, aid and abet criminality, deprive farmers of their entitlement, corrupt the PAS database and attract to Britain thousands of people  keen to do to our resource what they are prohibited from doing to their own.  The Government can then at least make a properly informed decision. If, instead, they merely tinker with the detecting code, we think they’ll be letting down everyone except detectorists and the PAS.





May 2017

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