You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2018.

Today we welcome new team member Alice Farnsworth, who will be available and pop in from time to time to provide answers to your archaeological problems. So without further ado, let’s get on with today’s query.

Q. How can I tell if ‘lumps and bumps’ seen in a local field are archaeologically significant? The landowner won’t let me onto his land to investigate closely.

A. Obviously, without the landowner’s permission, any access would technically be trespass unless you’re lucky enough to have a public right of way across the land which passes close to the ‘lumps and bumps’. However, there are online resources that can be used to determine whether anything is already known about the area. The three main map-based resources are: for England, the DEFRA ‘MAGIC‘ map, for Wales, COFLEIN, and for Scotland, CANMORE. All three of these allow browsing on OS-based maps, and provide access to the Heritage Environment Record entries for known features.

If no entry is found, then  satellite imagery from Google Maps or Bing Maps may provide some additional clues, and are always worth checking out. Another excellent map resource is held by the National Library of Scotland, where OS maps back to the 1840s can be examined, along with many other map series. One word of caution when using these old maps: interpretation of sites can change over the years. e.g. what may be described as a ‘stone circle’ on an older map may consequently be interpreted as a ‘hut circle’ or ‘enclosure’. Despite this, old maps may also show features which have subsequently been considered insignificant or lost, and can therefore be useful in providing clues for reinterpretation.

So why not take these tips, do some research, and let us know what you find?

If you’ve got an archaeology related question or problem for Alice to answer, let us know in the comments below, and watch for further Answers from Alice…

Although no longer involved in drafting it, detectorist got their dearest wish from the new detecting code for they can still tell farmers officialdom recommends signing a finds agreement to “avoid disputes” over ownership. It’s just not true. The finds all belong to the farmer (or occasionally the State) so can never be claimed by a detectorist unless a finds agreement is signed! What the new Code ought to be saying is:


All finds must be handed to the landowner before you leave as they are his. He can then get independent advice on what they are and what they are worth (and whether he gives you anything).”


Instead, farmers are told – and shown in writing – that officialdom wants them to sign away their rights, even though it’s totally against their interest. Here are the bodies which have let farmers down:
National Museum of Wales / PAS Cymru
Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers
British Museum / Portable Antiquities Scheme
Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Council for British Archaeology
Country Land & Business Association
Institute for Archaeology (University College London)
Historic England, National Farmers Union
Royal Commission on the Historical & Ancient Monuments of Wales
Society of Museum Archaeologists.



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

AECOM is an American firm which has lots of contracts from Highways England. They have an “Innovation and Continuous Improvement Lead for Strategic Highways Europe” would you believe and she’s written some bizarre stuff about the too-short Stonehenge tunnel which will please Highways England no doubt – but give Posterity a good laugh.  Here are some excerpts:


The proposed tunnel’s potential for becoming an iconic scheme (!) owes much to well-established cultural notions of the British countryside. Romanticism of rural idylls (!) permeate popular consciousness of such sites as Stonehenge and as an infrastructure industry, we must work hard to accommodate them to achieve success in both the physical and the cultural landscape that could ultimately define the scheme as iconic. (!)

In recent years, particularly since the London 2012 Olympics, managing end-user expectation has been packaged up under ‘legacy’. The concept reminds infrastructure developers that the outputs of their design, construction, operation or maintenance must be outcome focused. (!)

Our responsibility is to the legacy of infrastructure interventions. (!) It’s to the expectations for linear improvements, multi-use developments, cable-less network connectivity and beyond – of those infrastructure projects we cannot yet even conceive. (!)

They’re projects that enable not enforce change,(!) that can incite, (!) encourage, (!) nudge (!) or transform the way people engage with the landscapes around them in way that is expected. Get that balance right and our future generations will have many iconic projects to reflect upon.(!)


No mention of conservation or destruction then. The project will incite and nudge the way people will engage with the landscape. It seems that with the road lobby publicly displaying such an uninformed attitude and the conservation bodies publicly supporting what they all privately know is wrong, we are on the brink of vandalising our premier World Heritage Site through a combination of ignorance and hypocrisy.


They seem to be upset by just a few days Government shut down…..



Call that a problem America? Try Britain! Not just a few days but 20 years of  Government indifference to cultural loss! See this from EBay this week (and all LEGAL presumably!)


20 kilos Roman medieval tudor metal detecting finds coins silver bits artefacts


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

It’s worth recalling that exactly 10 years ago (at a “Question Time” event run by English Heritage) the then Chairman of the National Trust, Simon Jenkins, spoke in a way in which no-one at the present Stonehenge-landscape-damaging-Government-pleasing Trust dares to do:

One of the things I keep getting kicked under the table at the National Trust about is, heritage is countryside. Do not forget the countryside. Every time you do a poll or a survey of what the British people most treasure about being British, they refer to the British countryside.  The countryside I think is a very important part of the heritage and it is extremely difficult to save. They don’t make any of it any more, as Mark Twain said and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Saving buildings, we’ve got pretty good at in this country. It’s got to be a pretty marginal case to be a gonner, we are really quite good at saving historic buildings we’re dreadful at saving the coast line and the countryside and I would just like to flag that one up in any conversation about the heritage, it’s also our heritage, the countryside.”



By an overwhelming majority Bradford councillors just voted to end grouse shooting on Ilkley Moor. Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“This is a landmark moment…. We are pleased to see that Bradford Council accepts the unnecessary suffering and collateral damage to wildlife and the environment that is caused by commercial shooting, and has returned the land to the people, instead of a small selection of bloodthirsty individuals.”

The move – which is also backed by the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and independent councillors in Bradford – means that there is now no longer a single local authority across the UK still allowing grouse shooting to take place on public land.


The National Trust, on the other hand, already the last bastion of those who wish to kill mammals, persists…..

Over 7,500 people signed up to tell the National Trust that they no longer wanted to see grouse shooting on its Peak District Estates – to no avail.


Many thanks to the Stonehenge Alliance for pointing out how nonsensical is the English Heritage, Historic England and National Trust claim that all will be well if the new dual carriageway is “carefully designed”.

In reality any negative impact is mainly a function of width so the only way the  impact of the road below could be significantly reduced by “careful design”…..



is like this …..



Since that can’t happen it has to be concluded that the public are being knowingly and grievously misled. There are no design options that would make other than marginal impact reductions. Please sign the Stonenenge Alliance petition to show you know.

A new code of conduct has been published. The good news is that this time only those who have the welfare of archaeology in mind have drafted it. A pretty obvious arrangement you might think. After all, the Trump boys weren’t invited to make the rules on big game hunting.

But it’s not something that was recognised as sensible in Britain until now. So could this herald a fundamental change in stewardship of the buried archaeological resource? Might the next step be something that’s been equally overdue: a letter from archaeologists to farmers explaining the realities of detecting without it being submitted for detectorists to edit, as previously demanded by the National Council?

Could it be that the elephant has finally been thrown out of the room and off the backs of heritage professionals?


“Do we do what’s right for the resource (as requested for many years by Barford and Swift), or do we sell it down the river at the behest of Jumbo here?”




Ed Vaizey is mostly a good guy and we wish him well. But sadly he isn’t always well briefed – witness his 2013 assertion that metal detectorists are true heritage heroes which prompted a furious reaction from heritage professionals. Now he has made another ill-informed and ill-timed assertion: “Stonehenge should not be a drive by attraction”.  However:

1.) That couldn’t be more factually incorrect. Stonehenge has probably been visible to passers-by continuously for 4 millennia so claiming that shouldn’t be the case is pretty strange.
2.) His statement also couldn’t have been more ill-timed for on the same day the Highways Agency announced: “In a bid to prevent motorists from falling asleep at the wheel on a dull, grey motorway, Highways England has announced plans to design roads with ‘eye-catching vistas’. It’s claimed that making roads more interesting to drive on could combat driver fatigue, and therefore increase safety.

Did Ed’s people talk to their people? Or archaeologists?

Of the Brexit vote Mr Vaizey said “We sort of stuffed the country up by accident.” It’s to be hoped he doesn’t help do the same to Stonehenge.


“National Trust New Forest Toile Fox Tankard Mug Ref: 5175956
An adorable tankard mug featuring a single fox, part of the stunning New Forest Toile collection inspired by Dockens Water in the New Forest. Featuring hand painted creatures in watercolour beautifully displayed on fine china. The New Forest Toile collection is a beautiful gift as an individual piece or as a set and will look stunning on a table together.
Suitable for any occasion this delicate design will bring the countryside into your home.”

{Product no longer available – but the hypocrisy remains!]


January 2018

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,794 other followers

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: