The likes of English Heritage and Historic England are very much into their heritage heroes and none more so than Sir John Lubbock, our greatest prehistorian, who introduced the Ancient Monuments Act which set up a system of scheduling and state guardianship which has prevailed to the present day and has been replicated worldwide.

But our present-day “heritage champions” only revere him when convenient. When the road lobby comes calling they disregard him entirely and massive new damage is repackaged as “worthwhile improvement”. Yet who can deny that Sir John would be appalled at the “worthwhile improvement” English Heritage and Historic England are promoting at Stonehenge at the behest of the Government and in defiance of UNESCO?

If you’re in doubt, consider whether he would ever deny – or they would ever acknowledge – the immutable truth of his words to the Anthropological Institute on 15th of January 1872:


“The continued destruction of prehistoric monuments is a fact which I am sure we all deeply regret, and which reflects little credit on us as a nation.”



August 2019

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In January 1883, A C Smith of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society wrote to John Lubbock advising him of a scheme by the London & South Western Railway to put a new track close to Stonehenge. He took up this cause in opposing the idea and spoke against it in Parliament. In Stonehenge’s defense, he argued that the nearby cursus (prehistoric banks and ditches) would be destroyed but also “the whole aspect of this solemn and mysterious scene …” would be “… irreparably destroyed”. This shows that he had a modern outlook for considering not just the monument itself but the landscape in which it sits. It is a shame that there are many that still do not think this way.

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