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After years of biased advocacy, the short tunnel supporters (the Government, its 3 “yes-bodies” and a thin veneer of allegiant archaeologists) just had a clear reply from UNESCO: the short tunnel should be scrapped! So the question now arises, what will they do? Accept it? Or ignore it and carry on regardless?

Highway’s England’s hurried initial reaction suggests the latter: “We remain confident our scheme will enhance and protect the Stonehenge landscape.” That meaningless statement often works for developers seeking to build a few houses in small villages. But this is no village, it’s the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and this is no parish council UNESCO are talking to – it’s the world.

So far as we can see the Government can react in one of two ways. It can say, fair enough, we’ve miraculously found the finance to avoid harming the landscape. OR, and this is our guess, it can get some friendly archaeologists to start discrediting UNESCO in the public mind. Keep watching. We’ll know soon!

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The first card to be drawn in our Tarot Tuesday series is The Chariot, card VII of the Major Arcana.

The Chariot: “Journey, Progression, Strong character, Success from effort, Transportation and movement

An interesting first card, as we certainly have a journey ahead of us as we progress through our archaeological tarot.

The transportation and movement aspect suggests that we could easily link this card with the issues centered around the A303 road at Stonehenge at the moment. Strong character, and the control elements this implies, and ‘success from effort‘ could indicate that the Stonehenge Alliance could well be successful in their campaign to halt the development of the tunnel. Equally, it could be implied that the government will force through the tunnel at all costs – this duality of potential outcomes is shown by the black/white symbolism of the steeds on the card. Who will emerge victorious?

Interestingly, another interpretation of this card is it’s relationship to the Tree of Life, and the Hebrew letter Cheth, meaning Fence or Enclosure. The Hebrew symbol for Cheth looks remarkably like a trilithon, giving another link to Stonehenge for this card.

 

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? 

Dear Heritage Journal,

So English Heritage has been requested by a well known Druid to increase the number of free mass gatherings at Stonehenge to eight per year. Quite a request! The Guardians of Stonehenge are being asked to say “Sure, you can all come in every 6.5 weeks, without payment and at great cost to us, great!”

It got us thinking. What about those of us who aren’t Druids or pagans or party animals and who love Stonehenge for it’s actual, factual self, for archaeological reasons? Wouldn’t it be fair if we too are granted free access to indulge our enthusiasm eight times a year? Let’s say the 25th of March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October.

Someone – lots of people – should propose this. PNP – “Parity with non-payers”, that’s all we ask. We doubt if they’d dare refuse as there’d be no problem with litter or standing on the stones, obviously. And it would be entirely just. We’re really quite excited.

Best wishes,
Jimmy Respectable and Amy Archaeology,
Gloucester.

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Ed: Jimmy and Amy, don’t worry, we’re sure English Heritage will see this.

Quite a week. A PAS official accuses us of hyperbole and a detectorist accuses us of sycophancy. Oh well, PAS has dismissed us and detectorists have insulted us for 20 years. for voicing a simple truth: 24,000 detectorists find about 720,000 recordable artefact a year but PAS only records about 90,000.

You’ll know that every PAS Annual Report says its performance is spiffing while never clarifying the spiffingness only relates to the one eighth of recordable artefacts found. To show the shame of it we’ve coloured a detectorist’s “finds pouch” green to represent what’s recorded and red for what’s lost to science:

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It’s high time PAS told APPAG (the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group) that after 20 years the knowledge of seven out of eight recordable finds is still being lost. (They could also mention we’re not know-nowt sycophants, “ignorant of the constraints of realpolitik”, and we’ve been right all along.)
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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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By Alan S

I recently had the pleasure of accompanying Dr. Sandy Gerrard on a field trip to visit two possible stone rows in West Penwith, Cornwall. Below is a short report of our visit.

The first row visited was Treveglos at Zennor. This purported row consists of three uprights.

Having scoped out the site a couple of weeks previously, the row was found easily enough, due to the large stone at the SE end of the row acting as a gatepost, above the level of the surrounding fields.

The other two upright stones were on field boundaries heading to the NW in adjoining fields and were easy enough to spot. A recumbent stone was also found in the field near to the gatepost, looking as if it had fallen to the west from a position just slightly out of alignment with the other three. However, the area has many earth-fast stones, and this alignment could well be a co-incidence.

Sadly, upon closer inspection it appears that the NW-most stone is erected upon an Iron Age field boundary, the middle stone bears characteristic tare and feather drill marks suggesting that it must have been erected sometime after 1800AD, and is erected upon what seems to be medieval field boundary. The large stone to the SE has been drilled for use as a gatepost, but given its height may well have Neolithic origins as a standing stone.

We then moved on to the holed stones on Kenidjack Common, near the Tregeseal stone circle. I was last here a couple of years ago and reported on them then.

Sandy confessed that they resembled nothing he’d seen on any other row, and was quite nonplussed. The fact that all of the stones are set at differing angles to the line of the ‘row’, and that none of the holes in the stones are targeted at anything specific only added to his confusion. The outlier appears to be set upon a bank – either a field boundary or possible dried-up watercourse.

This particular row requires further investigation, the Rev. J Buller having described them thusly in 1842:

Each has a hole perforated through its centre of about six inches in diameter. The edges of the holes are rounded as if they had been intended, and had been used, for a rope to pass through ; and had they lain near a sea beach it might reasonably have been concluded that their use was to moor a boat. They lie in a straight line nearly E. and W. There is a space of about twelve feet between the two western most, thirty three feet between the two centre stones, and nine feet between the two eastern ones, by which also it will be seen that one of the two last is broken in half, and the violence which effected it probably caused it to be removed three feet further towards the east. Originally there was in all probability a space of twelve feet between those at each end, and thirty feet between the two centre stones. They are from five to six feet long, four feet wide, and about one foot thick…

The spacing of the stones has been changed in the intervening years, and doubtless their orientation has also changed. Given this fact, it is unlikely that a definitive interpretation will ever be obtained.

The conclusion on the day was that neither row is likely to be Neolithic in origin, but Sandy will publish the full results of his analysis on his Stone Rows website in due course.

Welcome to a new series, ‘Tarot Tuesday’.

Most people know of the Tarot as a system of divination using a special deck of cards. What is less well known is that the Tarot is based on a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. In the late 18th century, it began to be used for divination in the form of tarotology and cartomancy – see Wikipedia for more details.

There are two main sections to the Tarot as used in divination, known the Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, with which we shall concern ourselves in this brief series.

Many interpretations have been placed upon the cards, dependent upon which divination system you follow, and many designs have been created over the years, covering just about any subject you care to name. Possibly the most well known of the decks available today is the Rider-Waite Tarot, the Major Arcana designs of which are based on the Tarot de Marseilles.

 

What we shall be doing in this series of posts over the coming weeks is attempting to link the Major Arcana cards to archaeological heritage sites in our own inimitable way, using the generally accepted divinatory meanings for each card as our guide. Hopefully, this will become self-explanatory as the series continues. Whilst illustrations will largely be taken from Rider-Waite, other deck images may be used from time to time, and will be acknowledged as required.

The cards will not be drawn in sequence, but on a random basis, so that no-one, not even me, will know in advance what the subject of the next card in the series will be. Of course, all interpretations are subjective, so please feel free to comment as to which monument comes to mind for you as we explore each card. Those familiar with the Tarot may draw their own conclusions as to the order in which the cards appear.

By Nigel Swift, Chairman, Heritage Action

A well known metal detectorist has produced a Glossary of Detecting Terms, two of which I’d like to take issue with.

First, under “B” there’s this:

I feel he has made a simple mistake – confusing agreement with sycophancy. For me, metal detecting without reporting all of your recordable finds, which is demonstrably what the vast majority of detectorists do, is the action of a selfish ignoramus. If Paul shares that view and is determined not to pretend otherwise what can I do but agree with him?

Then, under “H” there’s this:

But “Hedge Fodder” is not a phrase used by archaeologists, whether professional or amateur. Archaeology is about digging in the pursuit of all knowledge not selective acquisition of objects. So I see the very use of the phrase  as revealing selfishness and ignorance – and what sustains me against 20 years of attacks and personal insults is that I’m confident that virtually every archaeologist, every amateur archaeologist, every Finds Liaison Officer and every thinking person agrees. Historical knowledge is a communal resource and is not something which should be selectively discarded in a hedge by uncaring people.

So there we are Mr Detectorist, you got it wrong. I’m no sycophant, I’m someone who shares Paul’s distaste for knowlege theft – and in that I’m fully supported by all who see cultural knowledge of our past, all of it, as belonging to all of us.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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What do you do when the world’s leading heritage body opposes your ambitions? Demonise it? Is Simon Thurley, ex English Heritage leader, doing exactly that for the British Government?

This NGO (ICOMOS UK, the national advisory body to UNESCO) it is widely felt, adds another layer of complexity and (often) confusion to an already complex landscape of heritage protection and planning.” It “limps on as a membership organisation producing reports on UK World Heritage Sites and other conservation matters. It rarely sees eye to eye with Historic England and its views are more or less ignored within government – but it guides and advises UNESCO on UK World Heritage Sites, and thus has some influence.”

“The UK has a sophisticated and democratic planning system, and the government and local authorities have questioned the right of unelected international ‘experts’ to challenge what has been decided under UK law. Indeed, some believe that UNESCO should concentrate on making lists of pizza-makers and endangered sports rather than involving itself in the complex issues of national planning policy.”

Oh Simon! Who asked you to write that?

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England – listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens, and battlefields.

Sounds good, no? And in even better news, as recently reported by the BBC, the NHLE has recently had an update, with 17 new sites being added – including an industrial estate, a business park that “features circular forecourts following the turning circle of a car” and a Crown Court building which first opened in 1988.

Whilst we’re sure that these are all worthy in their own way of their place on the list, we can’t help but wonder about the omission of some much older sites, many of national importance.

Elizabeth Dale, a friend of the Heritage Journal, recently highlighted some of the very important omissions which are in danger of being lost to development on her blog: see “Our Defenceless Monuments.”.

And World Heritage Site status doesn’t afford any more protection to unlisted sites within the boundaries than to those outside of it. Blick Mead is a case in point within the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS area, it remains unprotected by scheduling and in danger of being damaged (if not totally obliterated) by the groundworks for the planned tunnel at Stonehenge..

Whilst, in theory, anyone can nominate a site to be scheduled, there does not seem to be an easy way for a member of the public to find how to actually go about this. For instance, searching on Google for Scheduled Monument Application brings up many links, most of which refer to Scheduled Monument Consent – which is something entirely different and is a way for Developers to apply for permission to work within and around scheduled monuments. But if an application is put in, to suggest scheduling and protecting an unlisted site, even nationally important sites are scheduled only if it is felt that this is the best means of protecting them!

And yet a “car turning circle” merits inclusion in the list! We sometimes despair…

Protected: Aztec West Business Centre, South Glocs.

Unprotected: Trevean Courtyard Settlement, Cornwall

An MP has just asked whether the British Government will comply with what it has promised the world:

“Article 4: Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 and situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State.  It will do all it can to this end,to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain.”

But no, the answer was not “Yes, we’ll comply as we’ve promised” it was that they’d merely “have regard” to it. Which everyone knows means they won’t comply – else why use those words?

But that’s not news. The simple fact they are proposing a short tunnel means they intend to break their promise. Only a long tunnel would involve not damaging the World Heritage landscape and that is well within our resources. The bribe to the DUP would cover it – or a two hundred and fiftieth of Trident. The truth is, we could easily afford to protect Stonehenge and no amount of tricky words by Ministers, Highways England or their heritage yes-bodies can cover that up.

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