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  1. This year, because the above can’t be unsaid or denied,  the Government will seek to discredit UNESCO.
  2. Historic England, English Heritage and The National Trust will do the same.
  3. But in contrast, in the States archaeologists will continue to fight like tigers against the Republicans’ “War on Scienceand the stripping of protection from nationally important sites.

Paul Barford has just posed a seasonal question:

“There are Bloomsbury-encouraged “Citizen Archaeologists” (sic) and Responsible Amateur Archaeologists: which side will you be on in 2019?”

Anybody interested in heritage or employed in anything archaeology related ought to face up to that question as we enter 2019. We have. We’ll be on the side of responsible amateur archaeologists. But this isn’t a case of “which football team do you support?” There have to be reasons. Here are ours:

Responsible amateur archaeologists don’t pocket stuff

Responsible amateur archaeologists don’t sell stuff

Responsible amateur archaeologists don’t have secrets

Responsible amateur archaeologists don’t make “finds ageements”

Responsible amateur archaeologists don’t dig at random

Responsible amateur archaeologists report everything

Responsible amateur archaeologists seek knowledge, not metal

Responsible amateur archaeologists minimise damage

Responsible amateur archaeologists share the views of archaeologists


How could anyone support the other team?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


As crunch time for Stonehenge looms, the central excuse for supporting a massive new road through its landscape is being expressed ever more insistently by English Heritage, Historic England and the hapless National Trust.

So we thought we’d show once again the photograph we published on this day 10 years ago. It’s the motorway which was said to be doing no harm and unifying the landscape of the Hill of Tara ….



Saying something over and over doesn’t make it true!

We thought this superb painting of a wintery Grey Wethers Stone Circle on Dartmoor perfectly captures the spirit of winter and the turn of the year …..

(c) See also and for further stunning images.

This event saw around 200 local people gather to mark the midwinter Solstice on December 21. Having settled into a tradition over the last seven years, the occasion was launched with an ornate lantern transported to Stonehenge to be lit at sunset in an act representing the capturing of the dying rays of the old year.




Commissioned by the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust in 2011 and created by Andy Rawlings and Michelle Topps, the lantern is an astonishing work of art with stained glass leadwork representing the World Heritage Site landscape. The transportation of the lantern to the globally famous stones is undertaken by a local woman chosen annually as the Solstice Fairy.



The lighting of the lantern is undertaken whilst a guardian ritual is enacted by an overseeing Druid.




Having been lit the lantern is transported to Blick Mead, where it is placed adjacent to the spring to await the lantern procession that has been gathering meanwhile in Amesbury.





The Solstice Fairy then leads the gathering of adults and children, each carrying their own lanterns, in procession to Amesbury Abbey.


Here the participants are greeted with mulled wine and mince pies, thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the Cornelius-Reid family and the Amesbury Abbey Nursing Home.



On departing the Abbey refreshed and proceeding to Blick Mead, the procession forms a circle around the lantern to take part in an enjoyable and thoughtful ceremony reflecting on the year that has passed and the year to come.




When the circle breaks the participants return home, meanwhile the lantern is safeguarded overnight then transported back to Stonehenge to be extinguished on the midwinter Solstice line as the sun rises the following day.


Participation in the lantern procession is free and the tradition has been embraced by local people in an act reconnecting them with Stonehenge and the Mesolithic community that inhabited Blick Mead. Many thanks to Jeff Welch for sharing his wonderful photographs of the event this year. Please note that Blick Mead is on private land, access is not possible throughout the remainder of the year.





A link on a detecting site to our 500 detecting articles has had 3 replies:

  • Richard Lincoln: “Nigel Swift. A tosser who is only out-tossed by Paul Barford”. 
  • John Maloney: “well said sir”.
  • John Auld: “both are also regarded as tossers in archaeological circles”.

“Tossers”? For saying laissez faire detecting is damaging?! PAS says a high proportion of detectorists are challenged by formal education. Is that the reason for the self administered blinkers, the crass abuse and the threats? Perhaps, but one reality remains and can’t be insulted away: it’s not us who harm heritage for personal pleasure or profit! 



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting




Our position on whale hunting  😉


[ A seasonal spoof, with Boxing Day looming. We chose whales because the Trust’s hypocrisy over fox hunting is beyond parody. ]


We have further enhanced our approach to managing and monitoring whale hunts on our land. Our changes include creating a national Whale Hunt Management Team and introducing formal monitoring of whale hunts to enable us to further safeguard our commitments to both conservation and access.

Whale hunting has been outlawed in England and Wales and National Trust land is no exception but the law does allow what is known as Friendly Whale Hunting. This involves people on foot or horseback following a whaley scent along a pre-determined route with hounds or beagles. It effectively replicates a traditional whale hunt but without a whale being chased, injured or killed. [Ed: haha!]

We believe the overwhelming majority of friendly whale hunts act responsibly, and we hope our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions will allow participants to enjoy this activity in compatibility with our conservation aims. Any activity associated with the term ‘whale hunting’ continues to provoke strong emotions and we recognise our reforms will not satisfy everyone. But our charity was also established for the nation’s benefit and to provide the widest spectrum of public access and enjoyment.

No posing, no drilling, no fibbing, just real people in a respectful and picturesque procession …..



Historic England is objecting to the proposed Tulip Tower, saying it would interrupt some sightlines of the Tower of London (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) for anyone standing behind it.

Meanwhile it is supporting a plan to destroy all sightlines of Stonehenge (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) for all travellers.

Isn’t the public owed an explanation for this inconsistency?


A foreign archaeologist has asked to republish the chart (see below) from our 2014  article. Start at the bottom and all will be clear. It lays out (for any foreign countries thinking of copying the UK’s system) how to get the public to think recreational depletion with inadequate mitigation is in the national interest.



Let’s hope it’s widely read elsewhere – and urgently in Sweden. There, detectorists are calling for a British style free-for-all plus the setting up of  “an organisation tasked with researching and recording finds” (at a cost of £1.3 million!) which would also provide “employment opportunities for the many Swedish archeaologists forced to work part time”!

But any other country contemplating whether to move from strict regulation of metal detecting to a laissez faire system on the British model ought to convince itself that the above chart is complete nonsense, a fiction by know-nothing members of the public. Good luck with that!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


December 2018

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