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First, the BBC has very clearly reported why the legal action is being taken.

and second, the article is headed by this HONEST picture in which Stonehenge is shown at the apparent size and distance it actually is when seen from the road, not greatly magnified in the way all the pro-tunnel bodies have been repeatedly doing!


So let’s hope today will be the start of a process when Stonehenge will, at last, be given an entirely fair hearing. If so, there are grounds for optimism.




Legal action launched on Stonehenge road decision 

EMBARGOED: 00:01 hrs, Monday, 30 November, 2020

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site [2], a new organisation set up by The Stonehenge Alliance, has instructed counsel and Leigh Day to investigate the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision [3] to approve the A303 Stonehenge dual carriageway.  A letter is being sent today (Friday 27th) to the Department for Transport outlining its concerns.

To make this possible, campaigners are launching an appeal on CrowdJustice [4] to raise £50,000 to cover the initial costs of the legal action, which will go live at 6am on Monday.

The decision by Grant Shapps to approve the road on 12 November, despite a recommendation by the Examination Panel that it be refused [5], sent shock waves around the world.

Tom Holland, Stonehenge Alliance President, expressed his backing for the legal action:

I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme. The Government has ignored advice from both UNESCO [6] and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination. To have won the arguments based on reason and evidence, and then to have them overruled on a ministerial whim, shows just how broken the roads approval process is.

“I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to support this legal action. There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.



PAS stopped accepting finds for recording last March and it seems unlikely they’ll have resumed by next March, but Let’s Go Digging is now enthusiastically arranging a string of rallies, including a fancy dress one with a hog roast at Christmas. Yet a mountain of unrecorded finds is building up.

PAS advises detectorists to hang on to them until they open up. But everyone knows even fewer than usual will be reported after a year’s delay, and anyway, a proportion of the mostly elderly finders will have left the field in the meantime.

“Responsible detecting” is stated to mean “no detecting without recording” yet non-recording is patently happening even more just now than before Covid 19 and pretending it will be put right next Summer involves a damaging untruth. So irrespective of law and Government guidelines and the inarguable health risks, detectorists should be left in zero doubt: no rallies should be happening just now.

Let PAS say so to all detectorists. and let Rescue, CBA, BAJR, ALGAO, EH, HE, et al say so in public and tell Parliament and Whitehall so. We know that’s what they all think


The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, who could influence the Government to everyone’s benefit, blinkered and hobbled by lack of proper advice.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

From a letter in Wiltshire Life, 2015:



Tunnel supporters are scandalised that anyone should think English Heritage getting a highly lucrative near-monopoly of seeing Stonehenge is connected to its enthusiasm to hide the free view. Accept that if you wish, but what no-one can deny it that it was not what Cecil Chubb intended when he gave Stonehenge to the nation. The term “betraying a trust” springs to mind.

So for archaeologists to defend the project on the basis a few people will still be able to see Stonehenge for free from footpaths betrays a failure to appreciate the significance of what Chubb did and the profundity of the public’s loss.

Which of them weren’t thrilled and inspired as children by their first view of the stones from their parents’ car? Not many, we suspect so how do they have the right to decree future generations of children can’t have the same thrill they had? It’s just plain wrong.


CLUE #1:  In a World Heritage Site

CLUE #2: No longer visible, but if it was, it soon wouldn’t be.

Launching the A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme in December 2014, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, summarised ‘those conversations we’ve all had’:

I didn’t get stuck in traffic on the way in, the traffic is moving … It reminds me of all the times going down to Devon and Cornwall on holiday and sitting in the car often shouting at my mum saying when we are going to get there… those conversations we’ve all had. I’ve been many times before, the times when I did pester my mother to stop on the way.

Those pestered to stop are among the number paying English Heritage an entrance fee at Stonehenge each year, which is around the number attending a middle of the table football club in a season.

In the context of those ‘conversations we’ve all had’, even with ourselves alone in a vehicle, the number of times Stonehenge presents a free opportunity to engage with the site when travelling the A303 each year, is equivalent to the combined number paying to go through the turnstiles at several of the top Premiership football clubs in this country.

In 1599 Samuel Daniel speaks of the ‘gazing passenger’, that ‘Enquires and asks his fellow traveller’ what he knows of the site and his opinion of it.

the gazing passenger,…looks with admiration,

And faine would know his birth, and what he were,

How there erected and long agone,

Enquires, and asks his fellow traveller,

What he hath heard and his opinion,..

Then he turns again,

And looks and sighs, and then admires afresh,

Angry with time that nothing should remain,

Our greatest wonders wonder, to express.

That a ‘good view of Stonehenge from the A303’ is important, was acknowledged by English Heritage when launching the ‘Save Stonehenge’ campaign in September 1995. Writing to The Times in November that year, Lady Bowman announced that ‘The glimpse that I get of Stonehenge, halfway through such journeys, never fails to rejoice my heart.

Stonehenge c.1832 / 1843 Stonehenge, Mezzotint by David Lucas after John Constable.

We’re told:

“The WHS is full of rights-of-way offering free views of the stones. How has it come about that people purporting to defend the WHS from development and damage are arguing that cars are the only way to see Stonehenge? (that sign below, incidentally, is what we might call unalloyed bollocks)”

Point of information: we never said the A303 was the only place from which to see Stonehenge, we said it was the only view of Stonehenge that 99% of the public ever see, so for them, it is the best view, and soon it will be gone.

We do wonder whether such misrepresentation and attacks by an archaeologist unconnected with the project are shared by EH, HE, and NT. And what would the CBA’s view be? Perhaps they’ll clarify.

One might expect the decision to go ahead with the Stonehenge short tunnel would prompt quite a reaction among Britain’s 27,000 metal detectorists – who are, PAS tells us, mainly in it because of their interest in history. But no. So far as we can see there’s not a word about it on metal detecting forums, blogs, and Facebook pages. Except on one blog:


“This happy news is not only an Agincourt Salute to that employment bureau for ex-commies, UNESCO, but arguably best of all, humiliates the smug, preserve-the-countryside-in-aspic, Heritage Journal… a gormless, vacuous, fringe archaeology outfit. There’ll be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth in Mercia tonight. Guffaw, guffaw, guffaw! Trebles all round.”


The swipes at the Journal don’t matter, they’re our punishment for wanting metal detecting to be less destructive. But UNESCO as an employment bureau for ex-commies? And the destruction of part of the Stonehenge World Heritage landscape is an occasion for “trebles all round”?

Neither that nor the silence about the issue from most detectorists suggest PAS’s term “citizen archaeologists” and its claim that most detectorists are in it purely for a love of history are valid, Indeed, we’d suggest most metal detectorists do as much for history as trophy hunters do for zoology and the main difference between the two is that in Britain the former are praised and paid!


A Productive site mate! And if we show the bodies to the Portable Animal Site they’ll praise us. We might even get a massive reward from the British Government. So stuff UNESCO and their conservation claptrap!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

There have been attempts to present the tunnel as a struggle between ill-informed amateurs and well-informed professionals. It is inaccurate. Indeed, we suspect most archaeologists not connected with the scheme, including those abroad, are dismayed by it. What is beyond denial is that the opposition of both UNESCO and the Government’s own planning executive was ignored.

So there’s scant reason for English Heritage et al to rejoice or self-congratulate. They prevailed only due to Government intervention and have achieved what, on some levels, they must know is wrong. Rescue’s statement, “A sad day for our archaeological heritage” will be uncomfortable reading for them, as will this letter to the Times by 17 prominent independent scholars:



November 2020

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