You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2021.

This bit of nonsense, putting a mask on the Long Man of Wilmington, “as a joke” …

… has prompted lots of “official” condemnation.  It’s “an affront to those who maintain this heritage asset for the enjoyment of all” [The Police] and “We’re incredibly saddened that someone has deliberately damaged the Long Man of Wilmington” [Simon Dowe, chief executive of Sussex Archaeological Society}.

On the other hand, crass and unfunny though it is, it happens to be reversible whereas 20,000 detectorists not reporting their finds is also crass and unfunny but also massively damaging, and in every case entirely irreversible. So where’s the cacophony of official condemnation of THAT?

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by Nigel Swift

The UK is to revise the definition of treasure “to protect its rare artifacts“! That sounds like great news. But is it? People who keep and hide nationally important objects that belong in museums unless they are paid are to be offered even more ransoms? Wouldn’t “rewards” in such circumstances be better described as “Yobs geld” and the proposal to increase them as Yobs geld Extra?

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So the term “treasure reward” misleads. But there’s more: “Authorities hope that an expanded definition of treasures will prevent many amateur finds from being illegally sold into private collections.” Who told them to write that?

The reality is that nighthawks and those who wish to defraud farmers can now take an even larger range of criminally sourced important artefacts to metal detecting rallies and there legally “find” them, thereby laundering them by findspot description and claiming even more rewards from the taxpayer. See? Yobsgeld Extra will increase nighthawking.

And so our British talent for damaging our own interest continues. Anyone care? Anyone told DCMS or APPAG?

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We begin our look at the Cumbrian circles with one just across the border in Lancashire, that holds sad memories for me personally. 

Some 5km south of Ulverston, and just 0.5km from the coast, on the SE side of Birkrigg Common lies the Druid’s Circle. There are fine views from within the circle across Morecombe Bay.

The ‘circle’ is unusual in that it consists of two roughly concentric stone rings. The inner ring is some 8.5m across, and is made up of 12 stones. None of the stones are higher than 1m above ground level. The outer circle with a diameter of around 24m is much less distinct, composed of around 20 much smaller stones.

Excavations in 1911 identified that the area within the outer circle was paved with cobbles. Within the inner circle was a  second paved area, buried below the first.

Druid’s Circle plan, after Burl.

I visited this circle twice in 2005. The monument is easily accessible from the road, a fact which spoiled my first visit, around Midsummer. A family had set up camp, within the circle. Their van was parked within the outer circle along with their tent, and their family belongings were spread across the inner circle. Needless to say I didn’t stay, and in my naïveté failed to inform the authorities of the desecration. On my second visit in the October, the circle was clear, but there was a large bare patch in the centre with evidence of fire damage. Needless to say, the activities witnessed on both these occasions are highly irresponsible, and as the area is a scheduled monument, almost certainly illegal. 

It’s not just English Heritage that talks the public engagement talk while shutting down the public’s ability to engage (by hiding the “Turner View” of Stonehenge). It’s also that other tunnel-supporting public engagement pretender, the National Trust.

Here’s the very last image captured by the Avebury webcam on 5 May 2004. The camera had been mounted on the outside of the Old Chapel overlooking the centre of the circle in 2002 by Kennet council but was repeatedly vandalised. After a gap we were informed that it would be reinstated in the summer of 2005 and would provide new images every 10 seconds as well as a facility for live streaming if required. We suggested that if it was angled a little higher and 24/7 coverage was provided then moonrises could be observed.

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It never came back. But now The National Trust owns that chapel so there’s every opportunity to set it up again, inside the building, where it couldn’t be vandalised. Thousands of people all over the world would enjoy it and isn’t that the very least the organisation which owns the Avebury World Heritage site and which constantly boasts it is there “for everyone forever” should provide? Or is hiding Stonehenge AND Avebury from the wider public the Trust’s preference?


We first published this article in 2019 but since English Heritage hasn’t yet taken the bait we thought we’d repeat it. You can never embarrass them too much!.

 


 

TWO Stonehenge webcams to be set up?

English Heritage has placed a webcam in the centre of Stonehenge! As a result, as they say: “Celestial sun-seekers can now enjoy a personal Stonehenge sunrise all year round”. Bravo!

Also, they’re putting a second one at the very place Turner painted his iconic panorama of the stones within their landscape and beneath an enormous sky, to compensate for the fact that vista will be hidden forever from travellers by the short tunnel scheme.

Ed: That last bit is a lie. Did you really think a body blinded by its own pompous, elitist certainty would want to compensate tens of millions of ordinary people for the loss of the iconic Turner vista? Plus, putting a webcam where Turner stood would involve admitting they’re supporting the loss of an immensely precious and irreplacable cultural asset, and you’ll never, ever hear English Heritage, Historic England or The National Trust confessing to that.

 


 

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Not a view worth bothering about, eh?

 

(We also have something to say about a webcam needing to be provided by that other public engagement pretender, The National Trust. Watch this space later on this week.)

 

Despite the pandemic and the parlous state of national finances, expensive reforms to the Treasure Act are imminent and the public is being misinformed about them.

Here are four true headlines and one truth:

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(First published in the Journal 10 years ago)

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“I stood with my feet upon the Stone Age and saw myself four thousand years away and all my distresses as very little incidents in that perspective.”

From The Secret Places of the Heart by HG Wells, 1923.

At Stonehenge, yes. There the Trust seems mad keen to earn the opprobrium of posterity. But on Trail Hunting, no-one yet knows. Following the recent revelations, it has suspended trail hunting at last but only provisionally. It has long been said the Trust has been infiltrated by the hunting lobby and ITV News has just made further allegations.

Two opportunities for change (the 2020 AGM and the election of new Board Members) were lost due to Covid and although a 2021 AGM is planned it looks probable that, just like happened in 2017, the Chairman, will cast the thousands of proxy votes entrusted to him in favour of continued trail hunting. Watch this space.

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“Doesn’t happen”?

18/01/2021 in Metal detecting (Edit)

People in Devon and Cornwall are being told the Stonehenge tunnel will boost the South West economy. It’s a lie, the 40th Yowling Moggy (the sound made when the truth is being tortured. Here are the other 39.)

It’s easily demonstrated. According to the Highways England Technical Appraisal Report, when travelling past Stonehenge “On an average month, it is estimated that users experience average delays of nearly 9 minutes”. So that means the average time to drive from Highways England’s Head Office in Guildford to St Ives, currently 4 hours 36 minutes, will be reduced to 4 hours 27 minutes. That’s the same as shrinking the distance by 2.9%.

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So, if ANYONE (EH, HE, NT, Wilts Council, and many other bodies in the South West) tells you that will boost the South West economy tell them they are repeating a lie and that to wreck a World Heritage Landscape in defiance of UNESCO on the basis of a lie is unconscionable.

In 2005 we  published the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter (HAAEC), providing a real-time running total of the likely number of artefacts found by detectorists. Evidence from various surveys (including detectorists; ones) show that on average each active detectorist finds at least 30.5 recordable artefacts per year and we assumed at the time there were 8,000 active detectorists, hence the rate of “tick”.

The resultant total now stands at close to 6.3 million recordable artefacts dug up since PAS was formed (compared with 1.5 million recordable artefacts recorded in the PAS database.) However, there are now perhaps 27,000 active detectorists and accordingly in 2018 Paul Barford published a revised counter reflecting this growth.

The implications are very sobering and Paul has now prepared the graphic below showing how things will be in ten years assuming the same number of detectorists each finding the same number of artefacts per year.

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