Even with a highly pro-tunnel interlocutor, the Highways England Cultural Advisor Jim Hunter struggles to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Thus:

Q: “Will the public be able to learn about what’s being found”? (In cricket that’s known as a very slow, very friendly full toss!)

Jim Hunter:Absolutely… We’ll visit schools, write blogs, post on Facebook and Twitter. This is going to be an opportunity for the public to engage with archaeology and let their imagination be fired by it.

If only someone was there to deliver some fast balls, instead of just balls. For example:

  • “But won’t every bit of the archaeology you find (and that which you don’t find) be DESTROYED? Wouldn’t far more be learned if it was all left undisturbed for future archaeologists to investigate, with vastly more sophisticated techniques?
  • And on that subject you say you found “some interesting but infrequent burials” “Infrequent”, eh? So how many others will you find and will those be destroyed too? Do you know?
  • It rather matters doesn’t it? Do you think future archaeologists will be grateful to you or do you think they will regret all the knowledge they could have gleaned that you have obliterated?

Jim Hunter: “We believe that the people who built and planned Stonehenge thought the barrows were important. They buried their dead here and returned again and again, so it’s important to be respectful of that.”

  • Important to be respectful eh? So will you be explaining to school children how gouging a wide scar almost a mile across the World Heritage Site is respectful to the ancients? And will you leave a note in a bottle for the future, sending your respects and saying sorry old beans, it’s all gone, but we’ve left you our inadequate notes on the parts we discovered (though not the bits we didn’t)?