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A detectorist called “Oxgirl” has just revealed one of the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s greatest failures:
“I have a permission where they stipulated all items, unless they fall under the treasure act, must not be reported to PAS.”

To be clear: historic artefacts that don’t fit the definition of “Treasure” – and that’s 99.99% of detecting finds, ranging from single coins right up to the Crosby Garrett Helmet, would be kept secret and lost to science forever.

PAS have told detectorists that if the farmer won’t let them report finds they shouldn’t detect on that land – but of course, a lot of detectorists aren’t exactly blessed in the morality department and openly reject that plea. But far more importantly, PAS haven’t given the same advice to farmers. It wouldn’t take much doing: an article in the farming press simply saying “No reporting, no detecting”. But no, PAS is so shamefully keen not to upset their detecting partners, they say not a word.

It is, put simply, a scandal.


Paul Barford has tweeted: “The thread (which I’ve a feeling the forum moderators will soon be ‘disappearing’) is called “What would you do[?]” not one (allegedly) “responsible” artefact hunter responds with a simple “walk away”. Lots of wheedling whiny self-justification of “just carry on regardless”. Oiks”

They are indeed oiks Paul.
“Easylife” has spoken for the whole ignorant crew:
“I have no idea what your find was as you have not said, but quite simply just don’t report it then as it is purely a voluntary scheme though it is more ideal to have the landowner’s consent. I personally would have to respect my landowners wishes out of loyalty for being given the permission.”

Damaging the resource by detecting where you can’t report is one sort of oikism. Being an educated archaeologists and failing to tell farmers to ban such oiks from access is worse. Very sad. How much culture is being allowed to be lost to these people daily?


May 14 Heading to the to chair Best Practice working group and then on to meet colleagues to discuss advocacy for

13h13 hours ago Are we looking at potential changes to the Treasure Act? That would make a huge difference to losing too many artefacts that should be in museums, not in auction houses

By Alan S.

Our video tour continues with the remaining circle at Tregeseal, in the shadow of Carn Kenidjack, the ‘Hooting Carn’.

Look for more videos in this series in the coming weeks.

by Nigel Swift

You’d think, if Princess Anne’s policemen ask for your mother’s maiden name then the least they could do in return is talk to you about the Gatcombe Lodge Long Barrow but they won’t. It’s actually in full view, only a few tens of yards off the public right of way, so it seems unlikely their denials they’ve heard of it are sincere. It’s badly mashed up; maybe they’re ashamed of the state HRH has let it get into and the lack of an information board. Royal personages hijacking the common heritage. Who’d a thought it?

Technically it is a blind-entranced Severn-Cotswold type similar to Belas Knap but for all practical and Royal purposes it’s a bit of a mess. Once you get close up it’s pretty big and there are lots of stones still on it.

“You mean TheTinglestone” says one of the officers. “You can’t go to that either”.

“Either?” you wonder. Does that mean you can’t go on the other one that he says he has never heard of?”

Either way, he has made his point. You’ve been warned. You can get a distant view of The Tinglestone from a nearby lane but you’d better not approach it.

Looks interesting, but I guess most people will never know for sure.

Princess Anne obviously thinks it is as all her pedigree Clumber Spaniels, Bull Terriers and Shire Horses have the suffix “Tinglestone”.


See also Princess Anne’s neolithic heritage: Part 1

Peter Marsden,
Chair of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (Icomos-UK)

Dear Mr Marsden,

We hope you will agree with us that there’s a fundamental fallacy in the British Government’s case for a short tunnel at Stonehenge:.

Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) has just told Parliament:
“A principal aim of the scheme is to remove the roads and heavy traffic, with their associated noise and disturbance from the vicinity of the stones and to reunite Stonehenge with its surrounding monuments in their natural chalk downland setting. This involves removing the road and its traffic completely from within sight of the stones”

Whereas Sir Simon Jenkins, ex National Trust chairman and no longer in thrall to the Government, has just said:
“Most people who enjoy the stones do so from vehicles on the A303. The stones look magnificent from this distance. They have no need of close inspection. They can be appreciated at a glimpse, without need of visitor centres, car parks, coaches and multimillion-pound tunnels. Why should the overwhelming majority of those who enjoy Stonehenge be deprived of this pleasure at vast public expense…. ?

So, despite accepting UNESCO’s designation of Stonehenge as of outstanding universal value the Government intends to “improve” the experience of it for a mere 1.5 million paying visitors a year by removing the road from sight of the stones while hiding them forever from many millions of travellers. We thank Icomos-UK for its common sense response to the scheme and hope it will continue to show that in this way and others it is fundamentally flawed.

Kind regards,

The Heritage Journal


Charlie Flindt, a real live farmer writing in Farmers weekly, has painted an eyewitness account of detectorists as seen at farm gates which is a million miles from the syrupy, selfless, “amateur archaeologists” endlessly portrayed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme ….

“The caller explained that I didn’t know him and he hoped that I didn’t mind the cold call but he was a metal detectorist and was on the hunt for new area to practise his hobby. I had trouble stopping him – he was in full flow reading from his script all about the million billion pound insurance he had and how all finds were shared 50/50 – but finally I managed to get a word in. “Sorry, no can do,” I explained. “This farm is National Trust land and metal detectors aren’t allowed.” He sounded disappointed, hung up, and I made my way back to the cat-ridden sofa.

A couple of days later, there was hammering on the front door. Big lad, he was, with the demeanour of one of our friends from the white van community. “Hello, mate,” he said. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s never a good start. He then went back to his noisy van and that had another surly “mate” in it. These two were dodgy enough to warrant a text to our local PC. Not long after that, I was on the local Facebook page …. and up popped a request from a metal detectorist. There it was again – all the same spiel. And when a nicely typed letter arrived with the same request, and a stamped addressed envelope ready for my reply, I started to think there was something funny going on.

But I was puzzled. Why the sudden popularity of my little patch of Hampshire? The answer lay on a page of our wonderful local paper – the Hampshire Chronicle. A detectorist had made a significant and valuable find in a “secret” mid-Hants location: a very rare coin from the reign of Emperor Carausius, worth thousands. It all made sense”.
More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


Alice Farnsworth is back, to answer another reader’s archaeological query. Don’t forget to send in your questions, and you may be lucky enough to get your own answer from Alice!




Q. As the old adage goes: ‘Take only photographs, leave only footprints‘, but don’t footprints cause erosion to delicate sites? How can I minimise my interactions with our ancient sites, given that I feel visiting a site in person is the only way for me to truly experience it?

A. Ha! Yes, it’s true that footfall is a major cause of erosion at our ancient sites, especially at the more popular sites. For instance, the banks at Avebury have often been fenced off to allow the soil to recover from visitors.

There is no simple answer to this question. one way to minimise impact would be to only view sites from a distance (as enforced at Stonehenge), but I can see that this is unsatisfactory in many ways. Limiting your visits to sites that are much less popular with tourists would allow you to gain the interaction you seek. But remember that many of the lesser known sites are on private land where permission may be needed to visit them, or may be off the beaten track with the safety issues that that implies.

Ensuring that you only visit in periods of suitable weather will also reduce the impact of your visit, as fragile sub-surface archaeology can be unwittingly damaged when the ground is sodden. But beware if the weather has been too dry, as the ground underfoot may then crumble and erode, and again, archaeological evidence could be destroyed.

Of course, when visiting any ancient or historical site, you should always attempt to remove any rubbish left behind by others less considerate than yourself, and of course, ensure you do not leave any detritus of your own.

In short, enjoy your visit, and leave the site as you would hope to find it – in its natural state.

Rain is forecast that will significantly add to the standing water on Byway 12 at Stonehenge today – the stretch south of the A303 can be seen in the accompanying photographs taken during April.

It may dry off soon enough but everything the Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, transport, and waste, Bridget Wayman, stated about the Ridgeway at Avebury, when closing the route to motorised traffic for a further 21 days, also applies to Byway 12 south of the A303 at Stonehenge:

“The weather in recent weeks has left the surface of the byway severely rutted, and it is still holding water in numerous locations. There are globally important archaeological features on and immediately below the surface and they need to be protected from further damage.”

We might then recall that Highways England adopted Byway 12 in September 2016 as an access route for digging machinery in connection with the now abandoned western portal location for the Stonehenge tunnel, and in the coming weeks a repeat performance is expected, in the name of the Stonehenge tunnel scheme now totally discredited by ICOMOS UK.

Standing water on byway 12

Why then is Wiltshire Council rightly protecting the Ridgeway at Avebury, but failing to extend protection to Byway 12 in the Stonehenge half of the WHS (World Heritage Site)? Keep the diggers off Byway 12 please!

Like many places, the Ridgeway as it passes through Wiltshire has suffered from the intense periods of snow and ice in 2018 that has left precious archaeology vulnerable in the wet conditions. A section of this route near Avebury has though a knight in shining armour: Wiltshire Council has extended the annual prohibition of public motor vehicles which usually runs from 1 October to 30 April, for a further 21 days to protect the surface and archaeology from further damage. It has even been stated that if need be this prohibition of motorised vehicles could be extended further for another 21 days whilst remaining open for walkers, horses, and cyclists.

Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, transport, and waste said:

“The weather in recent weeks has left the surface of the byway severely rutted, and it is still holding water in numerous locations.
“There are globally important archaeological features on and immediately below the surface and they need to be protected from further damage.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and would like to thank the public for their understanding and co-operation.”

Credit: Wilts CC

Well done Wiltshire Council, credit where due and all that.



May 2018

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