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Hansard, Debate on the Rural Amenities Bill, 21st February 1930
Philip Noel-Baker:

“This debate, if it has proved anything, has proved the scale and the urgency of the problem with which the country is face to face. It is only a few months since a great historian, one of the most distinguished men of letters in the country, wrote an appeal on this matter to the nation. [“Must England’s beauty perish? A plea on behalf of the National Trust for places of historic interest or natural beauty” by George Macaulay Trevelyan”] It is surely a tragic thing that a leader of national thought should even be able to put the question. It is still more tragic that, if we try to answer it, we have to admit that a great deal of England’s beauty has already perished, that month by month and year by year it is perishing at an appalling rate, and that unless something drastic and immediate is done, future generations will be without the heritage that we have had.

It has been said before and I would like to say it again, that the education of public opinion is a vital thing. I believe that in this question of amenities we are coming very close to one of the real tests of what we mean by civilisation. We sometimes consider that we are higher in the scale of civilisation than other countries, shall we say, than the Balkan Republics. I happen to know some of the Balkan Republics rather intimately well, and I cannot conceive that the peoples of the Balkan Republics would tolerate the atrocities that have been committed by Government Departments in this country.

Let hon. Members visit the exhibition in Westminster Hall, and see what our Government departments have done at Stonehenge. I could not imagine the people of Greece treating the Plain of Marathon or the approaches to the Acropolis in such a way. I am not sure that in this respect we stand very high in the scale of civilisation.”

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“I am delighted to launch the Year of Green Action. Over the next 12 months we will work with businesses and communities to create ways for people from all backgrounds to connect with nature, protect our environment, and contribute to restoring our natural world. As the future stewards of our planet, children and young people have a vital role to play in this. The £10million boost outlined today will help ensure there are no barriers for young people to access the benefits of the natural world and importantly enable them to play their part in environmental protection.”


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Hurrah! But…..


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[No comments yet from The National Trust’s management but it can be assumed they’re well chuffed!]

For 20 years we’ve called for legislative control of metal detecting on the grounds that freedom to report finds voluntarily has been widely taken as freedom to not report them. (“It’s legal, innit?“) In 2009 we opined that if ever laws were enacted to correct the situation they should reflect 3 simple truths:.

  1. Knowledge of  Society’s history belongs to Society
  2. Individuals should therefore not be free to claim, conceal or destroy it
  3. And the deliberate unearthing of buried archaeology should only be with Society’s agreement and in a way approved by Society.

Since those basic principles have long been widely accepted as common sense abroad it is to be hoped that any proposals here will fully reflect them – and that this time they won’t be watered down through fear of the exploitation lobby.

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[Note the Erosion Counter today: Since PAS started, 6,436,986 recordable items found (if each an inch wide they’d stretch 101 miles) mostly not reported.  Such is the true reality of laissez faire.]

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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One detectorist says of plans to regulate the hobby: “The vile creatures inhabiting the socialist sewer once again somehow make it into the light again without being squashed as is their due and a detecting website says It’s an infringement of personal liberty”.

It sort of depends which side of the fence you are on. For us it is indeed an infringement of personal liberty – the personal liberty of British detectorists to deprive the public of items and knowledge that are theirs! Here’s just one example of the consequences of that liberty. The sooner the State takes control the better!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Shropshire Council’s deputy leader sees veganism as a threat to Shropshire’s agricultire“I really object to Arriva buses running Veganuary adverts in Shropshire, a great County built on Agriculture!”.

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Which is strange. He was the Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure so presumably will have supported the Council’s superhuman efforts to let luxury houses be built on the setting of Oswestry Hillfort – which is the primest of prime Shropshire agricultural land!

Perhaps he’s prefer this on Shropshire buses?

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The proposals (in the words of Mike Heyworth) involve “far-reaching (and possibly controversial) suggestions about ownership of archaeological material in general, mandatory reporting and permit systems to regulate what is today just a free-for-all in most of the UKand there are “considerable concerns over financial value approaches to portable antiquities”.

There’s are some predictable opponents: a detectorist writes “Thanks to the myopic and compliant Department of Media Culture and Sport, unsurprisingly, this Marxist nightmare is about to come true” (!!) and a US coin collectors’ lobbyist warns clients a permit requirement could be used to preclude detecting from archaeologically sensitive areas” (But WHY would they be against that?!)

Fortunately the proposals originate high in the Government, as part of Brexit planning, so won’t be “emasculated” this time. Indeed, they may be further improved so we’ll approach the protection elsewhere, e.g. in Ireland where the leaflet below has been in every library and police station for years. British archaeologists have never disagreed. Soon they’ll be free to say so.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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In a stunning about-face the National Trust has today announced in the press it will now fight against all damage to Stonehenge:

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“We have been clear throughout the process to date that we would oppose any proposal that would damage Stonehenge or its setting.”

Paul Forecast Regional Director for the National Trust said: Stonehenge sits is one of the most widely recognised places cared for by the National Trust. It is admired for its breath-taking scale and unrivalled in its dramatic views. The landscape here provides a home for a huge variety of wildlife and offers a much-loved place for both the local community and visitors from further afield to explore.

“Whilst we recognise the need for improved public transport, we are clear that we will oppose any scheme that will irreparably damage such a wonderful place when alternatives are available. We will continue to actively work with all those involved to ensure that the special nature of this part of the country and the places we look after are safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.”


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The above is true and verbatim (it’s here) except for the fact it doesn’t say Stonehenge, it says Wimpole Hall,  a National Trust stately home in Cambridgeshire. What more vivid illustration could there be of the hapless, rudderless state of the Trust – when it can fight so hard for one place yet support massive, immortal, avoidable damage to a far more important one?

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The National Trust is getting loads of publicity on TV this morning because it has been given £800,000 to improve Hambleton Hill and other Dorset and Wiltshire hill forts by removing scrub. Naturally we thought of Stonehenge, not far away, where it is campaigning for all it’s worth to cause massive, immortal damage.

But we also thought of this from 2015…..


The National Trust has written to the Portman Hunt amid claims made locally that its horses and hounds damaged Hambledon Hill, one of the finest examples of an iron age hill fort in Dorset.

Local resident Jerry Broadway, believes this is the second time the hunt has damaged the hill fort. He said: “After leaving the bridleway the hunt scattered livestock which were panicked by the hounds who were completely out of control.

“On this occasion extensive damage was done by the horses to the hill generally, and most worryingly the Neolithic Longbarrow which is over 3,000 years old.

They have now twice been guilty of damage to a scheduled ancient monument. What, I wonder will it take to make them actually take real notice?


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What indeed?

Prosecution? Hardly. Not really what the Trust does to its friends in hunts, is it?

 

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