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Here’s a thought. Being a guardian doesn’t make you an owner. You’re far more lowly than that. So if you’re a guardian of public property you mustn’t assume you know best. You might be wrong. In the words of The Talmud,“When a scholar goes to seek out a bride he should take along an ignoramus as an expert”

Examples of guardians failing to acknowledge the public are owners or to dismiss them as ignorami are legion, particularly in the heritage sector. Why else would Shropshire Council be building houses next to Oswestry Hill Fort? Why else would the National Trust be defying the view of 90% of the public over trail hunting? Why else would English Heritage be so secretive over the fact that on their watch building waste, broken glass and asbestos have been incorporated into the soil within tens of yards of the main monument at Stonehenge? Why else are they insisting their multiple mistakes in Disneyfying Tintagel are not mistakes at all? And why else are they wanting to impose this unseemly, overblown cash cow at the base of Clifford’s Tower in York?

Guardians such as those are experts in everything except the ability to understand their own humble status. Or, as George Bernard Shaw put it: “No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot”. Nowhere is that reality more on display than in the Stonehenge Landscape and no-one has put the guardians in their humble place more powerfully and succinctly than James P, writing on the Stonehenge Alliance petition. He has understood something the guardians haven’t for asked why he opposes the short tunnel he has simply said “Because it’s Stonehenge” .


November 2017

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