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Remember how PAS used to act as if metal detecting rallies weren’t massively damaging and had no place in a civilised country? They even had a guidance note for organisers. You won’t find it now though, they’ve quietly removed it.

Quietly, because it’s beneath their dignity to agree that the Heritage Journal was right all along. Still, embarrassingly for them, we still have it! We won’t reproduce it though as it comprises crawling to money-making yobs but we’re gratified that the relevant section of PAS’s website now says instead: “Metal-detecting rallies: The PAS does not provide advice for metal-detecting rally organisers.”;

Would it be too much to ask that PAS now advises Government NOT to allow rallies to re-start? Ever. Or will it be back to the crawling? We’ll see.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Archaeology is not metal-detecting – the discovery of objects is not the aim, however “valuable” an item or hoard may appear to be (Stealing Britain’s history: when metal detectorists go rogue, 2 June).

The use of the term “treasure” in the name of English and Welsh legislation is highly misleading, only fostering views such as that of the National Council for Metal Detecting that a find is akin to “opening a Christmas present”.

As a professional archaeologist, I approve of the antiquities systems in Ireland and Scotland, and would advocate that the use of an electronic device to detect lost metal should be licensed…

Christopher Sparey-Green

For as long as we can remember, archaeologists opposed to the damage caused by laissez-faire detecting have advocated “licensing” for England and Wales. But we would urge reflection. What does it mean, how would it work, and crucially, how could it work?

Currently, there’s an official voluntary Code of behaviour which is widely ignored. This is the crux. It means that for any “license” to work better than that, and not be a second application of tokenism, it would need to insist on good behaviour and to carry the sanction of prosecution in the event of non-compliance. Shouldn’t archaeologists confront that reality?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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It’s easy for people over here to feel a sense of superiority when they read things like this about the US Government …

Trump administration reverses Alaska hunting ban and allows black bear cubs, wolf pups to be killed in dens

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But not when you realise our Government quietly posted this a month ago …

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“If you are shooting live quarry or deer stalking from 13th May, you must either:

  • be alone;
  • with members of your household, or;
  • with one person from outside your household so long as social distancing measures are maintained.

If you do go shooting or stalking with someone from outside your household then no equipment should be shared.”

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So fortunately (nearly) all the participants will stay safe!

 

There’s a new set of stamps celebrating Roman Britain. Here’s one of them:
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The Ribchester Helmet, Found in 1796 and safe in the Museum for everyone to see and study.

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But here’s one that didn’t get printed:
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That’s the Crosby Garrett Helmet. Thanks to Britain’s inadequate legislation on detecting finds it isn’t on a stamp, it isn’t in a museum,  it doesn’t count as Treasure and didn’t have to be reported. It was dug up by unqualified amateurs in strange circumstances, renovated for sale in even stranger circumstances, then sold for millions by auction to a private individual, not a museum, and isn’t available for public viewing or study.

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Pretty bad, eh? But this is far worse:
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Another fictional stamp representing the thousands and thousands and thousands of archaeological artefacts not reported because of Britain’s unique, lunatic laissez faire system on metal detecting!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society are delighted to announce the completion of the first phase of their digitisation project.

After 174 years, the complete journals of one of the oldest archaeological societies in the UK are going online, for anyone to access free of charge.

Supported by a grant from the Marc Fitch Fund, the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, a registered charity founded in 1846, has worked with a professional document scanning company to digitise the entire contents of 44 volumes of its journal, Norfolk Archaeology – and make 1361 articles and images open access for scholars, researchers and the interested public. Numbers from 1848-2005 are live now, as well as three Society monographs, and numbers from 2006 onwards, as well as the historic minute books of the Society, will follow shortly.

Hosted by the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York, and searchable through the Society’s website, the articles, letters, reviews and notes cover all periods of the history and archaeology of Norfolk and include articles by world-leading experts, and important discoveries like Seahenge (Norfolk Archaeology 1999 43.2). Many are wonderfully illustrated, including magnificent hand-engraved Victorian plates and detailed drawings and photographs, including records of monuments which have since been lost or destroyed.

Dr Andrew Hutcheson, President of the Society, said, ‘I am really excited that Norfolk Archaeology is now online. The first issue dates from 1848 and ever since the journal has covered the rich archaeological heritage of the county. What an incredible boon to research to have it all at our fingertips!’

Explore Norfolk Archaeology online at www.nnas.info/NABackIssues.html

It’s easy to make the moon appear 150,000 miles closer to Stonehenge.

 

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So it’s equally easy to make a road appear 150 yards closer to Stonehenge.

But is it legitimate for English Heritage, Historic England, The National Trust and Highways England to use cheap visual trickery to mislead the public into thinking there’s a need to inflict massive new damage on the Stonehenge World Heritage landscape in defiance of UNESCO?

As can be seen, Stonehenge is not very close to the road yet some government funded and conservation bodies have used “moonraking tricks” to convey the reverse.

 

 

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Now there’s more: detectorists are being urged to follow the Code but there’s no mention that the detecting organisations have refused to sign it! How is that not misinforming landowners about what might happen if they say yes? WHY, when landowners are the only people who can decide whether detecting takes place at all and are therefore the only true guardians of our archaeology?
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WHY?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Government has just issued advice to detectorists on how to behave during Covid. It should be OK as it was written “with advice from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme on how to report your finds and to protect in situ archaeology.” But it’s not OK:

“If you discover an in situ find (such as a hoard or burial): Cover it up, make a note of its location and let your local Finds Liaison Officer and the landowner and/or occupier know. The Finds Liaison Officer will then be able to advise you when and if an archaeological excavation can be organised. This could take many weeks or months to be arranged … ” .

That’s tone deaf and damaging for the vast majority of hoards are dug up immediately, using the excuse that the FLO couldn’t get there before nighthfall. The idea that most detectorists will wait “many weeks or months” is silly.

So why weren’t the Government told that? Had they been, they surely wouldn’t have given 27,000 detectorists the green flag to go out as if they were as harmless to heritage as elderly ramblers or birdwatchers?

Man being harmless

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Following on from the shocking story of Doll Tor earlier this week, scanning through social media shows that there have been several such incidents of vandalism, desecration and sheer numptiness at various sites over the past couple of weeks. Examples include:

  • Doll Tor – as we reported earlier this week, stones have been uprooted and camping fires set within the circle.
  • Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor – picnicking rubbish strewn across the site.
  • Caerleon, Gwent – a series of vandalism events between March and May where stones were displaced and smashed, whilst access to the sites was closed.
  • Carn Euny, West Penwith – a group were videoed leaping around the stones in a ‘parkour’ like fashion, potentially damaging the site. Bear in mind that remedial work was done recently to the floors of the courtyard houses which may not yet have ‘bedded in’ properly.
  • The Hurlers, Bodmin Moor –  General litter strewn around the site, including several Nitrous Oxide canisters.

Add into this catalogue the recent mayhem (only word for it!) at Durdle Door and other beaches around the coast, and serious questions must be asked about the psychology of the people that act in this way.  Is it possible that lockdown and the isolation that many people have been under for the past couple of months has somehow reduced their sense of social responsibility? Or has it increased their sense of entitlement – “We’ve made the sacrifice so now we can act as we damn well please”? If you’ve partaken in such behaviour, we’d love to hear from you to explain how you can justify your actions – please see our contact page or leave a comment below.

As usual, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation across the country as the summer progresses (and lockdown eases). If you witness any irresponsible behaviour, or indeed any evidence of heritage crime, please report to the local police or other authorities with photographic evidence if possible. But under no circumstances should you put yourself at risk in gathering any such evidence! Be sensible, but socially responsible out there.

Following our article highlighting Highways England’s use of trigger words, our regular contributor, paulintheswimhotmailcom has submitted the following compelling further analysis of their deceitful behaviour:


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I think it’s deceitful of Highways England to claim they have the support of “a Scientific Committee of eminent archaeological experts” when they know full well that there is a consortium of 22 world-class archaeologists (headed up by Mike Parker Pearson) who are against the current tunnel scheme. So too are UNESCO, ICOMOS, Stonehenge Alliance, CPRE, FOE, CBT, Council for British Archaeology and over 63,000 people who have now signed the two petitions against the tunnel (one for the UK and one for overseas).

Furthermore, Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues have asked for 100% sieve-rate (the gold standard) in sensitive archaeological areas but Highways England aren’t willing to do anything like that “on cost grounds”. It is very apparent that they aren’t willing to build the tunnel to the archaeological standards that the experts are asking for as they just want to do it on the cheap.

However, Highways England are correct in claiming they have the support of “the country’s heritage bodies” as these are English Heritage, Historic England and National Trust. And these three organisations are willing to let serious damage be done to Blick Mead, the western burial grounds and other areas of this World Heritage Site in order to further their own interests in Stonehenge (which they own and make a lot of money from).

They are all trying to con the public, and the decision makers, into thinking the tunnel is a historical improvement when the reality is that it will be very damaging to the wider Stonehenge landscape.

It’s just deceit and hypocrisy!

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