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Yet again grubby detectorist oiks have attacked a scheduled monument with metal detectors. This time, Old Sarum.

Note our use of the term “grubby detectorist oiks” not nighthawks. The latter term lets off the hook every detectorist who ever got permission but didn’t report what they found, thus stealing our and posterity’s history in exactly the same way as the grubby oiks on Old Sarum – but,  because they out-number them so greatly, vastly more damagingly.

It would be nice if the archaeological Establishment and the police made that point instead of pretending that nighthawking was somehow more culturally damaging than legal non-reporting. It isn’t, not by a factor of many thousands.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Last week, the Salisbury Journal offered proof you can make statistics say anything you want them to say.

In a somewhat sensationalist article, ‘Stonehenge found to be one of the top landmarks for causing road accidents‘, which bemoans the phenomenon of ‘rubber-necking’, it is stated that:

SCORES of drivers have crashed their vehicles while eagerly trying to peek a view of Stonehenge

but then goes on to state that:

Research shows that eight incidents occurred on the busy stretch of road directly to the south of the stones

There is no analysis into the cause of these accidents, and indeed, differentiating between those driving westbound afforded a spectacular front on view, or eastbound where the view is much less rewarding, would seem one obvious question. 

Given the number of vehicles using the A303 on a daily basis, 8 accidents in a five-year period would seem to indicate a very tiny percentage. On the other hand, the number of accidents at or near the Visitor Centre itself suggests a much higher percentage. The site of the highest number of accidents was at the Longbarrow Roundabout designed and introduced by Highways England – need anyone say more?

“Rubbernecking’ has developed from spying an accident on the motorway, to drivers actively slowing down on the many roads straddling famous landmarks to get a peek. The problem has become so severe in recent years, that authorities have put forward plans to build a tunnel next to Stonehenge, to put a lid on the issue.”

…and suddenly, the raison d’etre for the tunnel becomes clear: 8 drivers (in 5 years) out of the many thousands that use the road every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

News has come to us about the latest project from Golden Tree Productions, a community interest company that develops and delivers constructive cultural projects that uncover and celebrate Cornwall’s distinctiveness and diversity. They are the team behind the recent Man Engine project, which was displayed to a total of 146 thousand people in a 10-day tour around Cornwall in 2016.

Their latest project, ‘Kerdroya: Cornish Hedge Community Heritage Project’ is currently in planning, and the idea is that local master hedgers will work with community groups and schools between April and November 2019, passing on knowledge and skills to create a diverse team of ‘Hedge Stewards’. A number of hedges will be restored and rebuilt in the local styles and will comprise a Cornwall-wide trail culminating at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor in November 2020. This final site will take the form of a classical labyrinth (similar to those found in the Rocky Valley near Tintagel).

Rocky Valley Labyrinths

Built of traditional Cornish hedging with a 56m diameter, Kerdroya, the Cornish Landscape Labyrinth will be a major new piece of public art to last for generations to come, where visitors will have a fully immersive experience as they walk a single, meandering path through stretches of artisan stonework celebrating the aesthetics of distinct hedging styles from the previously restored Cornwall Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) sections. At its heart, a 10m circular space will open out to breath-taking views across the moorland and lake.

Artist’s impression of the Colliford Labyrinth

It is intended that the Kerdroya Cornish Landscape Labyrinth will open in November with construction work starting in April. Although some funding is being provided by investment from Cornwall AONB, Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Cornwall Council, both corporate and individual sponsorship opportunities are available. A new website for individual sponsorship pledges will open next week, March 2nd.

 

Recently, a band of French policemen entered the house of an ordinary citizen and seized many thousands of metallic historical artefacts which he had been privately caring for. In response, a group of French archaeologists issued the following deluded, anti-British statement in support of the police actions:

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Whole sections of knowledge of the past have thus been lost

Archaeology is a profession, the use of metal detectors outside the legal framework is prohibited

The State must guarantee the rights of future generations by transmitting to them a preserved natural and cultural heritage and will do everything in its power to prevent such destruction from happening again.”.


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Such elitist nonsense! Have they not heard that in Britain there are 27,000 metal detectorists plus thousands of visiting ones from France, Holland and the USA, and that nearly all of them report nearly all their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and to the landowners, and that mass amateur metal detecting is therefore hugely beneficial to the country and humanity?

Or do they prefer evidence?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Uffington Horse, in Oxfordshire was the site of the first meeting of the founders of Heritage Action, which led to the eventual creation of the Heritage Journal, published continuously since 2006.

Although the figure is thought to date to the Iron Age or even the Bronze Age, like many other chalk hill figures the image must be regularly ‘refreshed’ with fresh chalk to ensure the figure continues to stand out in the landscape.

This refreshing of the chalk is often carried out by volunteer labour, under instruction from the figure’s guardian organisation – in this case, the National Trust. This year the re-chalking is due to take place on the weekend of 4th-5th July and anyone who would like to lend a hand is asked to book in advance. The work involves being given a hammer and a bucket of chalk and then bashing the chalk into the existing monument for an hour or so to help brighten the image.

A great way to meet like-minded individuals, and contribute to the upkeep of a national treasure (that doesn’t involve handing over cash to the NT!)

Our friends at Clonehenge have announced a new competition!

Announcing the Clonehenge Group Henging Contest! (Participation is voluntary.) The deadline will be March 1, but if it turns out we need to we can push it further. Anyone who wants to participate would make Stonehenge out of found objects or trash (or both), any size, and post pictures to our Facebook group. We’re not going to make a lot of rules and if someone varies a little from the materials mentioned, we’re likely to turn a blind eye. The one solid rule is no henges from pre-made kits.

The point is to make the Stonehenge you feel inspired to make. Depending what we get, we’ll figure out winning categories. Funniness counts, of course, but accurate ones that aren’t funny will also be valued. If you go for beauty instead, we will enjoy that, too. You will no doubt come up with things we would never think of. We live for that.

You can make it as Stonehenge may have been when it was complete or Stonehenge as it is now, or some portion of either. Lone trilithons are okay if that’s how the spirit moves you, but it’s harder to win that way.

Remember, curved lintels on the outer circle are the way to my heart. I have seen enough Spinal Tap references in the last 12 years to last me ten lifetimes so if you go there, don’t count on me. But I won’t be the only judge.

Ready, set, start your henges!

No mention yet of any prize, but it should be interesting seeing how creative people can be! Will you be entering?

But never mind the bug hotels, there’s a possibility that Stonehenge could see a different kind of hotel being erected in the future! But relax for now… the Salisbury Journal reports that the city may get its own version of the iconic board game, Monopoly.

Alongside the obvious candidate landmarks around the city such as the Guildhall, Cathedral and Market Square we can only hope that surrounding ancient heritage sites such as Old Sarum, Stonehenge, Blick Mead, Figsbury Ring, or even Danebury Hillfort will get a look-in!

A Facebook page has been set up to discuss the game, and suggestions for sites for inclusion in the game are being taken.

 

Many of us will have purchased ‘bug houses’ from supermarkets in recent years. These bug houses hang on fences and walls across the country, and some of you will have helped build grander bug hotels like the one pictured below, sited in the northern half of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, at Avebury.
Where though do the bugs hang out near the most famous stone circle in the world since the demolition of the old visitor centre at Stonehenge?
(The question wasn’t put by just anyone, it came from a visitor under 10.)
Come on National Trust, get with it English Heritage, give those bugs a home!

We have been shocked to discover the National Council for Metal Detecting provides a set of 3 concocted excuses for people who dig up a hoard without waiting for an archaeologist. Apart from re-iterating that doing such a thing would definitely mean they forfeit a reward, the pending Treasure Act reforms ought to confront these excuses and demolish them:

  1. “you may be on a building site which is due to be bulldozed”. No, you won’t be. Builders almost never agree to that.
  2.  “the landowner may be insisting it is removed immediately.” No, he won’t. Why should he, unless you’ve lied to him about the correct procedure.
  3. “you may be on a rally with lots of prying eyes”. So what? Your duty, as a half-decent citizen who wants a reward, is to PROTECT the hoard until archaeologists can deal with it. (There are loads of ways as we’ve explained ad nauseam).

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Shouldn’t the central purpose of the Treasure Act reforms be to end these uniquely British outrages for which the NCMD is supplying ready-made excuses?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Trump administration is to open vast areas of the protected Grand Staircase-Escelante National Monument to mining and oil and gas exploration. Together with the removal of a million acres from Bears Ears National Monument this comprises the largest rollback of protection in US history.

So why is it “doing a Stonehenge”? Well, Governor Gary Herbert said “As I have reiterated for years, monuments should be as small as possible to protect artifacts and cultural resources” and County Commissioner Tammy Pearson said “The downsizing to a manageable acreage was the most amazing, selfless act of a sitting President of the United States. Utah thanks you President Trump.”

As small as possible …

Meanwhile at Stonehenge Historic England et al are campaigning to downsize the protected area surrounding Stonehenge by supporting the digging of a mile of new dual carriageway across it. Arguably, the largest rollback of protection in British history.

So it’s clear that Trump is doing a Stonehenge in Utah and, far more disgracefully, Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust are doing a Trump in Wiltshire.

 

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