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Here are two travellers, let’s call them Joseph and Benjamin, enjoying a view of Stonehenge, in about 1885. For Free.

A few decades later their grandsons, Joey and Ben (plus a host of other visitors from all over the world) began to PAY to see that view. Currently it’s nearly £20 for the right to park and to take a trip on a small crowded bus with Step into England’s story on the side in very curly writing to remind you its historical!

But England’s Story doesn’t end there, it’s to be diminished, for soon it seems gt. gt. gt. grandsons Jay and Benj, off to Cornwall for surfing with no time to stop – and millions like them – will never see the stones at all! How is that progress? And how, if millions and eventually tens of millions won’t ever see the stones, is that not theft?

What’s happened to the old fashioned moral imperative to simply do what’s right by people both now and in the future? Quangoed?

In 2018 there was a clear sign of how the three Establishment conservation bodies intended to approach the Stonehenge short tunnel:


“Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the work done by Highways England on the design of the proposed A303 road at Stonehenge” and the options put forward “go a long way towards protecting and enhancing the World Heritage Site”.


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Doubtless millions have been reassured by that. Why not, when those three conservation bodies say all will be well with a short tunnel. But the Government wants a short tunnel, Highways England is its creature and those three conservation bodies are in receipt of the Government’s funding or patronage. So here, by contrast is the five minute contribution by Paul Gossage, speaking as “an ordinary member of the public” with nothing to gain except the Stonehenge Landscape’s protection forever, for everyone.

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“I’m speaking as an ordinary member of the public, but with a great deal of respect for what archaeologists and scientists have revealed about the area around Stonehenge.

There are two sides in this debate about the tunnel road project…..those for….and those against…….…But who should we believe?

Well, lets just look at the claims of two organisations, who normally behave ethically, but who support the tunnel. English Heritage and Historic England. They’re the national bodies who are giving the tunnel project, historical legitimacy. And it’s no coincidence…that they both stand to gain enormously from it.

It’s best if I refer to them both jointly as English Heritage, as on the tunnel issue they are working in unison, and English Heritage are the organisation I’ve had quite a lot of correspondence with, my last being just 3 weeks ago.

Well……lets look at English Heritage’s claims….. to see if they are credible…… and truthful.

If you do a Google search using the key words “English Heritage and Blick Mead”, you’d expect to get a lot of results from such a leading historical organisation, letting the public know about Blick Mead. I mean, it’s just over a mile from Stonehenge and obviously related to it in some way. However, the only result you get, from the whole of the Web, is just three sentences.

Could it perhaps be, that English Heritage don’t want people to know about Blick Mead……as then they might realise how important it is….and perhaps think it shouldn’t be damaged.

Anyway, as regards the actual credibility of those three sentences. The first one says, quote, “There is no evidence that the proposed tunnel will damage the Mesolithic site of Blick Mead”….Come on English Heritage…this is completely untrue……and the Blick Mead team have already given an abundance of scientific evidence to refute it. And even without that, it’s obvious that Blick Mead’s going to be damaged. The dig site’s only about 20 metres from the current road and the new road is not like a long roll of stair-carpet that you can just lift up and then lay down a new one. Especially as the building of the new road will require a wide corridor of construction access either side. So, I think it’s completely dishonest of EH to say, quote “There is no evidence that the proposed tunnel will damage the Mesolithic site of Blick Mead”………

Coming to sentence two, quote “The proposed tunnel and any infrastructure needed to improve the Countess roundabout are well away from the site (Blick Mead is 700m away from the roundabout)”. Well, EH have used this figure of 700 metres to imply that Blick Mead is a long way away from any danger. As I said earlier, Blick Mead is just 20 metres from danger, so this 700 meters figure they have used gives a completely false and misleading impression. Presumably, 700 meters is what they think is the distance from Blick Mead to the roundabout. In fact, that distance is 500 meters. So their 700 meters figure is wrong…..its actually an exaggeration of 40%.

And the rest of sentence two is incorrect as it says, quote, “any infrastructure needed to improve the Countess roundabout are well away from the site”. This is just not true, because emerging from the roundabout….500 meters away and NOT 700………will be a massive four lane flyover…23 feet tall….on a huge embankment…… as well as….. two slip roads feeding traffic in and out of this large flyover, and one of these slip roads will merge into the two westbound traffic lanes, right by the Blick Mead dig site. So it’s completely dishonest of EH to say….quote… “any infrastructure needed to improve the Countess roundabout are well away from the site”.

Coming lastly to sentence three, EH say, quote,“Highways England is aware of the water table issues and will be assessing any potential impact on the site”. This really is just trying the buck onto Highways England. It’s obvious that the site will dry out if the road is built….and it’s scientifically proven that this will result in the loss of carbon dating evidence. Of course EH know all this……but they just don’t want to admit the truth, as that would then weaken their case for the tunnel.

In summary, I think those three English Heritage sentences are a mixture untrue statements, deliberately misleading information and deceit. The fact is, this tunnel project wouldn’t be going ahead at all, if it didn’t have their approval……But they simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth on this issue. Anyway, please judge for yourselves who’s telling the truth…… I know what I think……but please judge for yourselves………

Thank you.”

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Dear Fellow Landowners,

Blimey! All I said yesterday was we farmers should ensure detectorists have been vetted. A number of detectorists have responded with fury! They say they don’t need vetting as detecting is a matter of trust! So priests, doorstep salesmen and doctors need vetting but not them! And warnings to the public not to let unverified people into their houses (or computers) doesn’t apply to strangers searching your fields for your property!

Funny, isn’t it, how a blindingly simple suggestion by a notional octogenarian farmer has instantly exposed a truth – for show me a person who resists being vetted and I’ll show you a person who needs vetting! Oh, and I now hear PAS says it can’t do the vetting as they don’t know most detectorists personally. Which begs the question: why have they spent 20 years implying to farmers almost all detectorists are fine to have on their fields?

Would any PAS employee, including their top man, have “Wayne from Wigan, no exact address” searching unsupervised in their back gardens? No? Why not?!

Regards
Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow
Worfield
Salop

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Dear Colleagues,

I’ve just seen this Heritage Journal Comment from a member of the public, Andy Heaton, about a press article, Mystery of Shropshire Iron Age coin hoard detectorists :.


Bonkers Britain indeed ! Take a look at the ‘facts’ – of which there are few! Two detectorists ‘Andrew’ & ‘Charlie’ and ‘possibly from Kent’, dug up a number of coins and kindly gave them to the farmer. Realistically, they could be called anything and they could be from anywhere; oh yes, the mobile phone number that they gave to the farmer doesn’t exist. Take note, that they ‘gave’ the coins (that they didn’t own in the first place) to the farmer – was that all the coins, or just a few? we shall never know.


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But of course we all DO know. People called ‘Andrew’ & ‘Charlie, possibly from Kent, with a non-existent mobile number are not there to help any farmer or Britain. Nor are any people with any name from anywhere who claim to be amateur archaeologists yet put finds in their pockets.

It’s simple, friends:
Ask the Portable Antiquities Scheme or your local archaeologist or museum to vouch in writing for anyone wanting to metal detect on your land. If they won’t, don’t allow it. How can that possibly not be fair and sensible?

Regards,
Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow,
Worfield,
Salop

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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English Heritage’s renovation of the Iron Bridge is marvellous!

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And the National Trust’s care for Lindisfarne Castle is superb

And Historic England’s Conservation Advice and Guidance is exemplary …..

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So how come all three are now cheerleading for massive new damage to be created for a mile across the Stonehenge Landscape against UNESCO’s wishes?

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As already announced by the National Audit Office, the project will deliver “£1.15 of quantified benefit for every £1 spent”, which is “a significantly lower benefit-cost ratio than is usual in road schemes” and in their experience “this ratio could move to an even lower or negative value.”

You might think that’s bad enough but now it transpires that the £1.15 figure was reached because Highways England included a monetary value for “cultural heritage” in the costings and they worked that out “by asking the public how much it would pay to have the road removed from the site”. Yet that’s a false and misleading approach: it’s not just that a road is being removed, it’s that a mile of new road is being constructed, causing vast new damage. You can be sure Highways England didn’t stress that to those it canvassed, or the fact that UNESCO says that cultural loss is unacceptable.

In any case, cultural value can never be reduced to monetary terms as the value depends entirely on who you ask. In anticipation of that criticism Highways England said they had used “approved methodologies” to get to the figure. The National Audit Office politely said “calculating benefits in this way is inherently uncertain.” We prefer to call a spade a spade: it’s baloney. If it isn’t, let’s see them use their method to calculate the cultural value of The Pyramids, Hamlet or a sunset.

If a positive cultural benefit has been falsely represented in the figures then the “£1.15 of quantified benefit” must be lower and the project is already in a negative benefit situation.

So says the National Audit Office :
In pure economic terms, because of the high cost of building a tunnel, the Amesbury to Berwick Down project, at £1.15 of quantified benefit for every £1 spent, has a significantly lower benefit-cost ratio than is usual in road schemes. Given our experience of cost increases on projects of this kind, this ratio could move to an even lower or negative value. It will be even more important therefore that the Department and Highways England ensure that the project meets its strategic and heritage objectives, and that Highways England manages the project well.”.

But there’s simply no scope to improve the existing proposals by good management. The problem isn’t “management” it’s the concept, about which they were warned. As the Stonehenge Alliance said in September 2017:

“The proposed scheme …. would cause severe and permanent damage to the archaeological landscape of the World Heritage Site in direct conflict with international advice to the UK Government earlier this year.”

So the trouble isn’t that the tunnel’s heritage objectives won’t be achieved, it’s that they will – severe and permanent damage in direct conflict with internationasl advice. If now the strategic objectives aren’t achieved either, that will be irrelevant for it will be an additional failure on top of an existing one. Two solutions still remain: lengthen the tunnel by 100% or shorten it by 100%.

In September there’s to be a Metal Detecting Fun Weekender– £50 a head, 300 detectorists, which adds up to £15,000! Plus there’ll be rent/takings from a variety of trade stands and a licensed bar suggesting a total of about £20,000. Nothing unusual, the farmer will presumably get a few thousand, plus (if you believe in fairies) half the value of all finds over £500. So quite an income for simply saying yes!

But even more so when you read this from the organiser: “This land is on the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which means for us, it is strictly forbidden to detect on grass margins around the fields, or on the camp-site pasture.”

So welcome to bonkers Britain where a farmer is getting paid by English Nature to look after the grass margins and by a bunch of detectorists to damage the rest!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Here are a group of American detectorists in a Norfolk field ten years ago. They paid £2,200 excluding air fares to be there. Numerous similar “detecting holidays” have been held throughout Britain for nearly 40 years.

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 “The experts are keen to have the help of responsible detectorists to help them piece together Norfolk’s history said one organiser, although we haven’t heard any archaeologist or archaeological bodies saying that and we’re confident that Chuck, Errol and Arnie are there to help themselves more than  Britain.

In any case, the group of people who have benefitted most from selling about 100,000 heritage prospecting days over 4 decades are the salesmen. We calculate they’ve taken about £20 million. It’s to be hoped the pending metal detecting reforms will involve the discouragement of this unique-to-Britain trade.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The previous 34 yowling moggies (i.e. the sound of truth being tortured) show the pro-tunnel agencies bending reality to justify inflicting massive new damage on the Stonehenge landscape against UNESCO’s wishes. Mr Hunter of Highways England has outdone them all, telling the world: “What we have shown, what archaeological remains there are, are nothing that one wouldn’t expect. As the World Heritage Site goes they are a bit on the dull side.”

For his information, the Stonehenge Landscape contains the densest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe. Wherever archaeologists look, they find. Recently hundreds of new features have been found including 17 previously unknown circles, mounds and pits, a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and a unique double henge.

And the basis of his “a bit on the dull side” claim? 514 trial ditches and 1,800 test pits, (many not on the line of the proposed access roads), perhaps totalling 10,000 square feet out of the 1,500,000 square feet they intend to tear out of the landscape – so a derisory 0.66% sample! To then imply to the public who pay their wages that only “dull” archaeology will be lost is a national scandal.

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