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From a correspondent……

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“Remember recent criticism rightly broadsiding the National Trust (NT) over actions in the Lake District plus a report of a hit on the finances of the “bullying” NT where “Donations have fallen by £2.5 million a year since 2010, while revenues from commercial activities rose by almost £10 million in the past year”? Interesting then that at Avebury the NT pleads “we are a charity” whilst locals seethe over the closure of public toilets in the High Street. The background includes the NT obtaining alcohol licenses for their premises on top of opening a fast food outlet in the largest stone circle in the world. Let us not overlook the NT have a food outlet in the Manor too as well as a restaurant and shop alongside the nearby barn. Now we also hear of some sort of snack van “trial” in the car park, which will add yet more competition for the village pub, community run shop and fundraising “teas for tourists”. The writing was on the wall when the NT’s giant promotional signage appeared on a footpath (pictured).

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Time to allow the public to judge if the commercial assault on Avebury is in any way justified – declare a list of NT staff working at Avebury, drawn up along with what their role is in Avebury together with their salaries and expenses! And while the NT are at it what about the staff just up the road in Swindon too? The Times reported last year the NT has 9 board members sharing £1.3M and nearly 100 staff on over £60,000 a year. And the NT can’t afford to keep the public toilets open in Avebury High Street?”

It will be hard to do both: continuing to allow fox hunting on its land while marketing this ….

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Watch this space in the next few weeks.

(Maybe they’ll re-think their support for damaging the Stonehenge landscape at the same time?)

Despite remaining unswerving in its support for major damage to the Stonehenge landscape The Trust has been given a golden opportunity to partly mend its conservation credentials. It arises from this news item:

“Pro-fox hunting campaigners are plotting to use a predicted Conservative landslide at the general election to repeal a 2004 ban of the blood sport, according to a report. Tory Lord Mancroft, chairman of the Council of Hunting Associations, described the 8 June vote as “the chance we have been waiting for” to overturn the ban, according to an email seen by the Daily Mirror.”

If ever there was a moment for The Trust to announce it is going to ban fox hunting of any sort on its land it’s now!

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

If you Google “knowledge loss”+”metal detecting” you get lots of hits but almost all from us or Paul Barford and only one from PAS. That begs a question: how come it’s us not them highlighting the scandal of massive knowledge loss due to non-recording (especially now Sam Hardy has shown there are far more detectorists and ergo far greater knowledge loss than previously thought)?

But at long last a PAS employee (FLO Adam Daubney) has just said (in a Public Archaeology Twitter Conference): in terms of knowledge-loss, non-reporting presents a far greater threat to the archaeological record than illicit activity.”

Quite. So wouldn’t now be an ideal moment, instead of celebrating 20 years since PAS was set up, for those who lead it to also come clean and inform the Government that the project hasn’t reversed the destructive reality and needs re-thinking? Twenty years of giving the taxpayer and heritage stakeholder a different impression is surely enough?

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….of which Thomas Hardy wrote in 1881:

“To the south, in the direction of the young shepherd’s idle gaze, there rose one conspicuous object above the uniform moonlit plateau, and only one. It was a Druidical trilithon, consisting of three oblong stones in the form of a doorway, two on end, and one across as a lintel. Each stone had been worn, scratched, washed, nibbled, split, and otherwise attacked by ten thousand different weathers; but now the blocks looked shapely and little the worse for wear, so beautifully were they silvered over by the light of the moon.”

For many years countless thousands of visitors have regarded crop circles as the central part of the Avebury “experience”. The Barge Inn, Honey St has been the must-visit venue for all “croppies”, being right in the centre of the area where many formations appear and catering for all things mysterious. One of its central attractions has been its painted ceiling painted by artist Vince Palmer in 1997, showing Silbury Hill, Avebury, Stonehenge, Barbury Castle,  the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, UFOs, aliens – and of course, crop circles.

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The pub has recently changed hands and the new owners intend to paint over the ceiling. Although the heyday of crop circles has passed, many still regard the plan as regrettable and there is a petition to save the ceiling here.

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