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According to Wikipedia, “More recently the CBA has adopted “archaeology for all” as its focus“. Hardly. Twelve years ago, in 2010, we highlighted their logo, Archaeology for all. Since then they seem to have quietly dropped it. But how much damage has it done? As we said at the time:

“The CBA is currently working with a branding agency to review its branding, marketing and messages and they’re inviting people to submit comments of their own, So here are ours….
The CBA’s current “mission statement” is expressed in its strap line – “archaeology for all”. Similarly its current “role” (as defined by Don Henson in Friend or Enemy – Community archaeology in the United Kingdom) is to ensure that archaeology is “open to all”. That couldn’t be clearer, Archaeology is “for all” and should be “open to all”. Who’d disagree? Well me for one. And their Director, Dr Mike Heyworth for another as he quite properly tweeted that “only responsible detecting is acceptable”. So when CBA refers to “archaeology for all” it actually doesn’t mean “for all” at all. It means “for some“.
Of course, “archaeology for some” sounds vaguely ignoble in a post-PAS world where inclusive is good and exclusive is bad but it’s perfectly OK if the “some” are properly defined – and that’s easy to do as the “some” are specified in two other CBA definitions: one of their “objects” is “to advance public understanding and care of the historic environment” and their “vision” is stated to be “We want everyone to know that they can take part in enjoying, understanding and caring for the historic environment and why it matters“. So it’s “Caring”! The “some” are defined by whether they are “caring”!”

Shouldn’t the CBA put right the damage it may have caused? To better express what it believes (and to better hammer it home) it might do well to produce a new strapline, “archaeology for all who care for it”, which of course, doesn’t mean those thousands who find and keep quiet.

The basic claim is that “If archaeology is for all I’m entitled to take my share of it”. Of course, that’s not what the CBA means and no doubt it is usually a misinterpretation of convenience but it can’t be right that the CBA provided such a convenient message to misinterpret. Why not leave them with NO philosophical basis to justify what they do? There’s a plausible case for saying that a failure to properly define is a failure to properly defend. It needs sorting, does it not?

If the CBA of all institutions can’t be relied upon to clearly and loudly express what’s right and wrong about the moral ownership and treatment of Archaeology in big letters across the front of its website and publications then who on earth can the public rely on? The Government? PAS?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

Varfell is a hamlet situated in Ludgvan Parish west Cornwall. It was recorded as ‘Varwell’ in 1568 after the 16th-century Varwell family. The hamlet was the ancestral home of the famous Cornish chemist, Sir Humphry Davy 1778 to 1829, inventor of the miners’ safety lamp.

Varfell Farm is the world’s largest producer of daffodil bulbs and until recently was home to the National Dahlia Collection, where it enjoyed a long and successful growing period of over 20 years under the management of Mike Mann with the help of Dahlia breeder Mark Twyning.

Varfell and its daffodil farm

The nearby Giant’s Grave linear earthwork may be an early medieval linear earthwork and is comparable with both the Bolster Bank in St Agnes parish and the Giants Hedge, which runs from Lerryn to Looe.

This earthwork has borne the name for many years as the Tithe Award refers to it as an `ancient road called Giant’s Grave’.

It consists of a bank up to 10 feet high, but is sadly much mutilated by agricultural activity. At one time there was a ditch on the south side. It has been proposed that this may the best surviving section of an earthwork that ran from coast to coast, effectively isolating the Penwith peninsula.

Excerpt from 1888 OS Map Cornwall LXVIII.SE

A large circular mound just over 50 feet in diameter is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs in a field east of Varfell. The date and function of this feature is unknown. It may be an agricultural feature, post-medieval in date.

Toponymy by the late Craig Weatherhill.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

The critics are unanimous: the British Museum’s new exhibition, The World of Stonehenge, is a triumph.

And so says the Guardian, who have given a glowing 5-star review to the latest extravaganza display of our Neolithic past within the museum’s hallowed halls.

Yet all is not necessarily well at the BM. Yet again, the sponsorship of the museum by petrochemical giants BP has been called into question.

And we would also question the use of the Stonehenge name in the exhibition. Individual exhibits range from across Europe and the UK – as shown by the use of the Nebra Sky Disk (made with Cornish Gold) on the cover of the accompanying catalogue (£35!) Is the Stonehenge name being used because of the money it can draw in? We all know that Stonehenge is a cash cow for English Heritage, Heritage England and the National Trust.

And finally, at the weekend our friends at the Stonehenge Alliance staged a small roadside protest outside the museum, to warn visitors that the Stonehenge World Heritage Site near Salisbury is still ‘under threat’ from a £1.7 billion major road scheme.

As regular readers will be aware, the plans to upgrade the A303 past the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge stone circle will cause “significant” harm to the World Heritage Site.

John Adams, chairman of the Stonehenge Alliance, said:

Stonehenge is one of the most impressive megalithic structures in the world and the World Heritage Site has the densest concentration of burial mounds anywhere in Britain.

The road scheme would require massive civil engineering works within the World Heritage Site, with huge damage to this unique landscape. Even the Transport Secretary accepted the road would cause significant harm.

The scheme was firmly rejected by five senior Planning Inspectors and by UNESCO and in 2021 the High Court quashed the development consent for the scheme. The Stonehenge Alliance is asking the Government to think again.

We need a new approach that improves people’s access to the South West without damaging the World Heritage Site or increasing carbon emissions. There are better schemes the government could spend £2bn on.”

About ‘hulls’……

‘Hulls’ have been used mostly as storage places for potatoes, root crops, dairy products such as milk, eggs and cream both for domestic use, and in farmyards for storage prior to taking the products to local markets.

‘Hull’ is not a mispronunciation of ‘hole’. It is derived from the Cornish word ‘huth’ meaning ‘cover’ or ‘shade’ in Cornish.

The photograph below illustrates a ‘hull’ with this example being situated in Four Lanes, near Redruth.

The ‘hull’ at Four Lanes, near Redruth

A listed building, much of the structure is located underground and it extends westwards for approximately 28 feet from the entrance steps. The side chambers, which are at right angles to the central passage, extend for some 15 feet to both the north and south of the passage.

Interestingly, Cornish dialect – not Cornish language, but dialect – describes a hole in the rocks or a shellfish store as a ‘hully’.

Existing across Cornwall and into Devon, the Cornish exported this method of storage, kept at an even temperature, to North America and very possibly, Australia.

There is some suggestion that the earliest ‘hulls’ date from medieval times and they were still being constructed and used in and up to the 19th century.

Local historian Michael Tangye has researched and written extensively about these unique features. See ‘“Hulls” in Cornwall: a survey and discussion’ in the Journal of Cornish Archaeology.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

Since the 1970s 41% of Britain’s species have declined or been lost (due to urbanisation, agriculture, pollution, or climate change).

But in addition, over the same time period 8 out of 9 buried archaeological artefacts that have been found have gone unreported. But not due to urbanisation, agriculture, pollution, or climate change. Purely because of a lack of Government action.

No country has a combined record as shameful as that.



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

The race to record the historic archaeology of Seaford Head, East Sussex in the face of ongoing coastal erosion

The Iron Age hillfort at Seaford Head has stood watch over the English Channel from its clifftop location for two-and-a-half millennia.

Sadly, it is now doomed to collapse into the sea with parts of the site already lost and climate change accelerating its downfall.

Archaeologists are now in a race against time to unlock its secrets.

A team from University College London have spent recent weeks surveying the ancient monument with drones and producing 3D models of it in the hope of not only learning more about Seaford Head but producing a template for the hundreds of other historic monuments along the British coastline set to disappear beneath the waves.

Seaford Head courtesy of UCL

Seaford Head fort, which also contains a Bronze Age burial site and dates to around 600 to 400 BC, perches atop the Seven Sisters headland of the same name between Brighton and Eastbourne.

Despite being known to archaeologists for centuries, it has only had investigative work done on it twice, in the late 19th century by Augustus Pitt Rivers and again in the 1980s. These surveys have done little more than date the fort and barrow.

This latest survey is not designed to reveal those mysteries, so much as identify them and decide what further archaeological work should be done and can be justified with constrained resources.

A key plank of the survey work is drone photogrammetry, which involves taking multiple aerial photographs of the site, merging them using advanced software and georectifying them so that they are to scale and measurable. This allows archaeologists to create a 3D model of the site and identify sites of potential interest.

The drones are also used to survey the cliff face itself which, due to previous collapses, already provides a cross-section of the fort. Whatever the results, time and tide are working against his team. On average, the coast at Seaford is retreating by 20 inches a year.

That figure, however, masks a pattern of cliff falls followed by months or even years of stasis. The UCL team cannot predict when the chalk might next give way but it could take with it another large section of the fort. 

In March 2021, a large section of the Seaford Head cliff face collapsed following heavy rain, leaving behind an enormous mound of debris reaching into the seawater. Elsewhere on the clifftop, large cracks have appeared, portending further losses.

The site has now been placed on the Heritage at Risk register.

Climate change is likely to accelerate this process. Increasingly rough weather conditions and rising sea levels are all expected to eat away at Britain’s coastline and the ancient monuments dotted around it. 

Because of the precarious nature of coastal heritage, the study undertaken by Archaeology South-East at Seaford Head is designed to produce results quickly and cost-effectively.

The pilot project is also intended to spark a discussion among a general public perhaps unaware of how much of its heritage is about to plunge off a cliff face.

With sea defences potentially costing millions of pounds, as well as sometimes being disfiguring, few at-risk sites realistically can be saved from disappearing.

The project will produce a podcast series, bringing in institutions such as the National Trust, as well as films discussing the protection of heritage.


University College London Seaford Head website news:

Phys Org website and Seaford Head article:

The British Museum has announced what it describes as the “most important” discovery of pre-historic art in Britain in a century

The Burton Agnes chalk drum, a 5,000 year-old chalk sculpture, was found on a country estate of the same name in East Yorkshire

The drum is covered in an elaborate design that was popular during the time when Stonehenge was built.

The 5,000-year-old sculpture was found in an East Yorkshire grave, along with a bone pin and a chalk ball thought to be a child’s toy credit The Trustees of the British Museum

It was found near the grave of three children of different ages. The three children’s bodies were buried in an embrace, with the eldest child holding the two youngest whose hands were touching.

The drum was buried just above the head of the eldest child.

Neil Wilkin, curator of ‘The World of Stonehenge’ at the British Museum, said it was the “most important” piece of prehistoric art to be found in Britain in the last 100 years.

“This is a truly remarkable discovery, and is the most important piece of prehistoric art to be found in Britain in the last 100 years,”

He added that the scene discovered at the grave was “deeply moving”.

“The discovery of the Burton Agnes grave is highly moving. The emotions the new drum expresses are powerful and timeless, they transcend the time of Stonehenge and reflect a moment of tragedy and despair that remains undimmed after 5,000 years.”

It was unearthed by contractors from Allen Archaeology, and is now on display at the British Museum as part of its “The World of Stonehenge” exhibition.

Link to BBC report:

Link to Art Net News:

The ‘crows’ at Rosemergy

‘crow’ is Cornish and translates as ‘hut’.

Post-medieval ‘crows’, which rhymes with ‘cows’, were used to house geese or pigs. Some were used as cold stores, too.

The Rosemergy ‘crows’ taken by John Ralph

These openings are joined together and measure about three feet by two feet.

There are a good many of them around the Carnyorth – Trewellard – Pendeen – Lower Boscaswell area of West Penwith, and some are big enough for human use as shelters.

Edith Nicholas compiled a catalogue list of crows, with descriptions of each, in an early edition of ‘Cornish Archaeology’.

The two pictured are Grade II Listed Buildings.

Local production of milk and cheese in this area goes right back to the Middle Bronze Age.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

By Nigel Swift

It’s not just the police and archaeologists who are misleading farmers and the public about the realities of metal detecting. Here’s a metal detectorist who is showing off his finds as a sort of mobile museum:

“Unfortunately there are detectorists out there who detect on land without permission and over the years these people have ruined the chances of gaining permission to detect on land for those law-abiding detectorists, who follow a strict code set out by the National Council for Metal Detecting.”

It’s a lie, the same verbal claptrap employed weekly to fool thousands of landowners, the implication that because most detectorists aren’t nighthawks therefore most detectorists are responsible. The “strict code set out by the National Council for Metal Detecting” is useless, a pack of nonsense designed to allow detectorists to not report finds and avoid following the proper official code. The NCMD won’t even endorse the proper code.

Once again:

Why aren’t landowners, taxpayers, stakeholders, and legislators told so, weekly? Why is cultural damage being enabled?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

English Heritage is crowing that a Daily Mail survey has revealed that Stonehenge is the number one sight that all Britons should see within their lifetime.

While all the time campaigning to hide it. Unless people pay them.


Wanna see the number one sight that all Britons should see within their lifetime? It’ll cost yer £20.


February 2022

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