You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2020.

The last 12 months have been strange, worldwide. Certainly here at the Heritage Journal, several of us are classed as ‘vulnerable’ and our excursions have been seriously curtailed due to the pandemic. As Father Time marches on and none of us here are getting any younger, it is likely that will continue to be the case. With that in mind, next year we hope to bring some retrospectives to the Journal – looking back upon some of our past field trips as a reminder of the wide range of our prehistoric heritage. 

In addition, as most readers will be aware, our self-imposed remit in the past has largely been focussed upon the pre-Roman monuments of the Uk. From the New Year, we hope to be widening our scope to include Post Roman and Early Medieval topics and even to delve (lightly) into the subject of ‘Earth Mysteries’ – but all the while keeping a scientific eye on the evidence. After all, no ancient aliens are involved in the production of the Journal!!

This is therefore an appropriate moment to thank our loyal readers, and all those who have interacted with the Journal in the past. We certainly hope that you’ll stick with us, and maybe even consider contributing an article or two in the coming months ahead.

If you’d like to write a piece for the Journal, please contact us. Even if you have no idea what to write, we have plenty of topics in our ‘ideas bank’ just waiting for someone to volunteer their time!

Happy New Year! (or Bledhen Nowyth Da! as we say here in the deep South West)

…My true love gave to me:

Seven swans a-swimming

‘Swans at Carahunge’ by Nadya Johnson

Here, we have an artwork by Nadya Johnson of swans swimming through the stars above the megalithic site of Carahunge in Armenia, entitled ‘Swans at Carahunge’. It’s interesting to note that “car” means “stone” in Armenian, while “hunge (or henge) refers to “speech”. These talking stones, also referred to as the Stones of the Powerful are believed to be the remnants of the world’s oldest known astronomical observatory, built to mark the movement not only of the sun and moon, but also the stars. 

A number of the huge standing stones bear smoothly angled spy holes 4 to 5cm in diameter, each one angled toward a different point on the horizon or an ancient target in the sky.

Most significant to some, is that Carahunge’s principal stellar alignment is towards Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus the swan….not as it exists today, but as it did 7,500 years ago. Cygnus contains six named stars. The proper names of stars that have been officially approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) are Albireo, Aljanah, Azelfafage, Deneb, Fawaris, and Sadr.

…My true love gave to me:

Six geese a-laying

The beach at Porth Nanven in Cornwall looks as if it’s been visited by a few more than six geese! The beach, and the stones, are protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSI). Similar stones can be seen protruding from the nearby cliffs, and are know locally as ‘dinosaur eggs’ (rather than goose eggs).

We conclude our review of the hell that has been 2020, focussing on the autumn and winter months. Although we have largely omitted our coverage of both Stonehenge and metal detecting issues from this review, both featured larger than usual in this latter part of the year .

Through September and October, with the easing of lockdown, commercial metal detecting rallies once more reared their ugly heads across our landscape. However, with COVID still rampant, some communities were concerned about the prospect of rallies being held in their area

Many of these rallies were held on a commercial basis, with detectorists paying to detect, and the consequences of the pandemic  be damned! Thankfully, some were banned by the authorities, but that didn’t stop the organisers from putting together alternatives at very short notice, an indication of their priorities: money over public health. A petition was even raised to object to the banning of such events during lockdown2!

In November we reported the news that everyone had dreaded:

The Stonehenge Alliance team WON the argument against the combined forces of English Heritage, Historic England, and the National Trust so that the Planning Authority recommended permission should be refused. What happened was that the Minister, Grant Shapps said he would grant permission anyway! So was it a “decision” or a pre-planned Government agenda? There seems little doubt.

…but at the end of the month an appeal was launched to appeal the decision through the courts.

And so we come to December, and  a tale of wanton damage at Stoney Littleton. And speaking of damage, we began to give examples of the type of damage to be inflicted upon the Stonehenge landscape.

Which, apart from fighting the propaganda being espoused in the national press, brings us pretty much up to date. 

Keep reading in the new year for more items about our ancient sites, some of their history, and the threats posed against them.

…My true love gave to me:

Five Gold Rings

The Yellowmead complex on Dartmoor consists of four concentric stone circles, surrounding a no longer visible burial cairn, making a total of five rings. There is also a multiple stone row feature leading away from the circles.

We continue our review of this most unusual year, looking at the summer months. As mentioned in part 1, our extensive coverage of both Stonehenge and metal detecting issues is mostly omitted from this review. Our search facility can be used for those interested in these specific subjects which received a lot of attention throughout the year.

May

In Oswestry, there was an outcry when Historic England announced it had relaxed its concerns over the proposed development.

And English Heritage showed its bipolarism when it was presented with an award for conservation work at Telford’s Iron Bridge, whilst defying UNESCO in their support of the Stonehenge plans!

We rounded off the month with a short series, looking at a “baker’s dozen” of Cornish quoits.

June

June is often known as ‘silly season’, and sadly this year, despite or maybe because of lockdown, proved to be no exception. Vandalism was reported at Doll Tor and at several other sites during the month. One good thing to come out of the Doll Tor vandalism was the creation of a new site protection group for the Stanton Moor area.

In academic news, The Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society announced the completion of the first phase of their digitisation project, which meant that after 174 years, the complete journals of one of the oldest archaeological societies in the UK are now online, for anyone to access free of charge.

July

The National Trust AGM was cancelled this month, an AGM where support for Trail Hunting on Trust land was due to be discussed again. We raised the point that the Trust could be held legally responsible for any ‘accidents’ where foxes were killed during a hunt.

Sticking with the National Trust, July saw the centenary of their stewardship of the Cerne Abbas Giant, gifted to the nation in 1920.

August

As the pandemic continued, we had to postpone our annual get-together, the Megameet. But we continued to highlight the potential damage to be caused at Stonehenge, and the damage caused by metal detecting rallies, one of which was thankfully cancelled this month.

Come back tomorrow, when we conclude our review of 2020 in the Heritage Journal.

..my true love gave to me:

Four colley birds

Colley, or calling birds are generally thought to be blackbirds. But as members of the Corvid family, rooks, jackdaws, crows and starlings can all be considered ‘black’ birds. Here are four above Stonehenge where corvids can often be seen roosting in the higher nooks and crannies of the stones.

As most people would agree, 2020 has been a hell of a year! With lockdown effectively cancelling all our planned spring, summer and autumn field trips, we make no excuse for handing the vast majority of the Heritage Journal entries over to the most important story of the year;  the ongoing saga of the Stonehenge Tunnel. As regular readers will be aware, we strongly oppose the tunnel in its proposed form, and have fought bitterly against the propaganda pushed out by the establishment organisations and those with a vested interest in the short tunnel going ahead. At all times we have provided our readers with what we believe to be the true picture, from the viewpoint of what is best for the archaeology, and for the heritage owners – the public.

But away from that, and our ongoing campaign to highlight the damage done by artefact hunters, what else have we covered this year?

January

We began the year with a pop or two at the National Trust who, despite several pleas from us, are still allowing trail hunting to take place on their land. Of course, as many know, ‘trail-hunting’ is now NewSpeak for ‘fox-hunting’, yet the National Trust still support this barbarism.

February

We reported on the petition to save the Rollright Stones, which are under threat from yet another road-building scheme. Also, we covered two landscape projects. The first called for volunteers to refresh the chalk figure at Uffington, scene of the first meeting of Heritage Action, the Heritage Journal’s mother organisation. The second was ‘Kerdroya’, the Cornish Hedge Community Heritage Project, which culminated in a vast (56m) wide labyrinth built of Cornish Hedging, near to Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor. It is hoped that the finished article will be open to the public in Spring 2021.

March

This month began with some good news: the three monuments of the Rollright Stones came under single ownership for the first time, the King Stone being added to the Kings Men circle and the Whispering Knights tomb under the auspices of the Rollright Trust.  

In our occasional ‘Fascinating Facts’ series, we looked at Dartmoor’s Sacred Circle, whilst in development news, it was good and bad for Oswestry as the developers withdrew their plans for housing, only to return with an amended plan later in the month. The obligatory appeal for objections was raised, and gained considerable support from our readers before the April deadline.

And then it hit. COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. As the prospect of staring at the four walls loomed large, with no definitive end in sight, we made some suggestions for lockdown activities.  

April

Oswestry. Due to the pandemic, the deadline for objections was extended and such was the response that the website for objections struggled to stay online.

Sadly this month, we lost one of the greats with the news of Aubrey Burl’s passing.

We rounded off the month with a ‘what if?’ question for our readers.

We’ll continue our review of 2020 in part 2, tomorrow.

Landowners might well consult Wikipedia to learn about nighthawks but it’s clear that whoever wrote the entry deliberately distorted the truth. For instance:

1.) “Nighthawkers, being criminals, are distinct from law-abiding metal detectorists.”

Obviously. But that diverts from the important truth, useful to landowners, that nighthawks are NOT distinct from detectorists in general. The two groups occuply the same space, the same clubs, the same forums and the same Finds Liaison Officers. How else could nighthawks gain intellgence and professional identifications and Treasure rewards? Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

2.) “The National Council for Metal Detecting or the Federation of Independent Detectorists are not to be confused with such criminal activity”.

But as explained above, that can’t be true! Of course nighthawks are likely to be members of those bodies since nighthawks aren’t a distinct species they are simply metal detectorists. Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

3.) “Furthermore, it has been claimed, but not proven, that nighthawkers use such groups as a method of obtaining information about archaeological sites.”

But why wouldn’t they, being metal detectorists, every one of whom do exactly that? Why doesn’t Wikipedia make THAT clear for the benefit of landowners?

4.) “It has also been claimed that criminal gangs have been directed to archaeological sites by rogue archaeologists seeking a share of ill-gotten spoils.”

Claimed by whom? Evidenced when? Why would a rogue archaeologist intent on ill-gotten spoils have a need to enlist the help of a scruff with a spade? The statement serves simply to make it crystal clear who wrote the page. It is to be hoped that landowners will take heed.

PS … and this one’s a doozy!

5. Regarding Treasure, “Nighthawkers rarely declare their finds due to the method of acquisition”.

What utter, utter rot! If you’d nighthawked something valuable and had no conscience you’d simply tell PAS and the Treasure Registrar you found it elsewhere, at a rally, surely?!

.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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…my true love gave to me:

Three French hens.

Here we have two Roman (or Roman-style) mosaics, and a Gallo-Romano ceramic hen. Gallo is almost French, isn’t it?

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