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By Nigel Swift

Many tens of thousands of people are being encouraged to count butterflies in the great butterfly count so that the decline of numbers can be known. They have been called Citizen Scientists which is fair enough, scientists are characterised by their pursuit of knowledge.

Metal detectorists are called the same thing so we’re entitled to ask why PAS doesn’t organise a great artefact count by detectorists? The answer is clear and sad: most detectorists don’t report their recordable finds.

Since 1975 this is a typical graph of butterfly numbers. Note it’s uneven – weather and migration means numbers increase some years.

Here’s a graph of artefact numbers over the same period. There are no upward spikes. Sad, isn’t it? But that’s how erosion by non-citizen scientists works. It’s why the term “my productive fields are worked out” is so often used. PAS et al should STOP calling metal detectorists citizen scientists.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

This is a puzzle. National Highways is now saying extending the length of the Stonehenge tunnel would be only “slightly more beneficial”. (Wow, fibbing by understatement, or what?) and would, therefore “not be worth it” (wow again, fibbing by misrepresentation!)

We certainly know it’s not what they really think, because they previously gave a different reason. See our article two years ago:


Ever wondered why they don’t make the tunnel longer than 2.9 km and save all this argument? Well, Highways England implies it’s because “2.9 km is the maximum length a tunnel can have before it becomes necessary to install ventilation shafts along its length.” So not money then! It’s because a longer tunnel would mean unsightly ventilation shafts sticking up. 

But we’re puzzled. There are zero shafts in the English Channel and only four in the 27 km Gotthard Road Tunnel in Switzerland, built 40 years ago! So we searched “types of tunnel ventilation” and the answer popped straight up: “For short tunnels that are 3 km or less in length, longitudinal ventilation systems are generally preferred due to their modest construction cost“.

So there we are! “Modest construction cost“! The shortness of the tunnel isn’t about care – but cost! This is the 39th Yowling Moggy (the sound made by the truth being tortured by the pro-short tunnel lobby).

You may have been shocked by the recent pictures of Dorothy, a huge HS2 tunnel boring machine with a diameter of 9.1 metres.

However, the Stonehenge tunnel machines will be 14 metres in diameter and 85m of the tunnels at the eastern end and 200m at the western end will be constructed using cut and cover.

And there will be two of them!

Having treated The Hill of Tara very badly by building a motorway near it, the Irish government now has the neck to still put it forward for World Heritage status. Sounds familiar? Except in UK we’re likely to LOSE that status at Stonehenge for the same reason. Here’s one of our many complaints about Tara from 2009:


Quote of the week #1 : John Gormley on how to destroy Irish heritage kindly

26/06/2009 in Hill of Tara, Quote of the week

Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and see-no-evil do-nothing witness to the violent rape of Ireland’s most precious ancient heritage, has just launched not one but THREE  “Agreed Codes of Archaeological Practice” in co-operation with potential heritage-worriers Eirgrid, ESB Networks and the “Irish Concrete Federation” (which includes one or two aggregate hungry outfits of the ilk of those that have desecrated so much heritage in Britain)…..

Here’s his remarkable Quote:

The codes show that development and conservation can go hand in hand.

Hand in hand, eh John? Like you let happen without lifting a finger at Tara then?

And more:

I hope  that the Codes would help spread the message that “being pro heritage does not equate to being anti-development.”

Heaven forbid! But why did you avoid saying the obvious other bit John, that you also hoped the Codes would help spread the message that “being pro development does not equate to being anti-heritage“?

Too worried you might choke on your words? Or that your pals in the Irish Concrete Federation might not like it? Who knows?

Come kindly JCBs, roll over Ireland!

Hey John, stick this at the front of your weasly worded Codes, it was penned by one of your countrymen more than three years ago, before proud important you and your proud important predecessors conspired and blinkered to let it happen without a squeak. It says more about development and heritage than anything in your Codes ever could –

Tara abandoned by a generation who prefer soulless symbols

TARA, here I am. I have come all the way from Kerry to be with you before the vultures, with bulldozers and JCBs, open your lower belly. They are impatient to inflict the wounds.

You are abandoned, forsaken and rejected. All the powers that be – Meath County Council, the Government, NRA, An Bord Pleanála and the High Court – have walked out on you. We pay them to protect you but they betrayed us. We trusted them too much. [As the public will say about Stonehenge the day it disappears from view!]

Tara, I know you sympathise with the people who are forced to commute to Dublin five days a week. But why are they not angry with Meath County Council for not putting in a bypass at Dunshaughlin and a proper one in Navan 20 years ago? They allowed them not only to close down but also to rip up the Dublin/Navan/Trim railway line over 30 years ago. And they still trust them. There were so many other options for this road. Are you the same Tara who was magic for Master O’Connell, the principal of Tarmons National School in Tarbert? He instilled a love of you into our hearts, and I can still see the face of Fr O’Flaherty (our history teacher in St Brendan’s, Killarney) come alive at your name. But that was a different generation, other times. You are no longer in fashion. This generation prefers soulless symbols – motorways, shopping malls, four-wheel drives, big trucks and, of course, the euro. I expected all the people in Ireland to have run to protect you. It would have been unacceptable, I thought, to run a motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley, opening up a wound that no plastic surgery can cure. But this generation was not touched, nor incensed. How sad. Will you forgive us?

The day Environment Minister Dick Roche sanctioned the motorway, I was watching the evening news in a pub. One man said, when he saw Mr Roche on TV, “Isn’t he a pity? I wouldn’t ask him to mind my chickens, and Bertie Ahern put him in charge of our heritage and environment. He has no bottle, afraid of the hawks.” Poor Mr Roche. Maybe he has no power. An Bord Pleanála, which is not comprised of elected representatives, makes all the big decisions. Or does it? Who has real power today?

Democracy, the people’s participation in the ordering of their own lives, is now perceived as a meaningless facade that hides the ruthlessness of corporate self-interest. The suspicion that political ideologies and institutions are becoming irrelevant because politics is being reduced to following ‘the laws of the market’ is creating political unease among people and cynicism among the young about voting. Tara, what else can your support groups and friends do now? Are all avenues closed? Has your hour come? Will we call the lone piper to play a dirge?

Tommy O’Hanlon
Co Kerry

We’re sorry to report that Triphena, Farmer Brown’s mum, has done her back while helping a sow to farrow, so we thought we’d cheer her up by re-running her seminal advice to landowners from back in 2013. No-one could publicly deny she is a true heritage hero. Yet they will.



Farmer Brown’s mum attacks metal detecting historians and saints!

15/09/2013 in Metal detecting (Edit)

Dear Fellow Landowners,



The trouble with my lad Silas is he’s too trusting. Last night some metal detectorists came, asking to hold a “charity rally” on our top field. Why? says Silas. We’re history lovers they says. And saints? says Silas. Well, yes, that too they says. Well I wondered about that as when you see pictures of saints they never have pockets but this lot had loads. So I looked on Silas’s computer to see if there was a problem with them and now I know, the fawning, rough-hewn poverty-toothed grabmoles.

There’s a “charity rally” due at Cranfield, Bedfordshire. “In aid of Farmers Contribution To Homeless Children” it says. But it doesn’t say how much. Or if the event will comply with the official guidelines. Or if PAS will be there to record stuff. But it DOES say “dealers” will attend. That’s so people can convert finds into wonga in moments – and not for the benefit of the farmer or homeless children. Does that sound like history loving? Or charity? Or more like dissembling, brazen-faced, hedge-born scuts? I know what I think and what The Archaeological Establishment thinks. It’s pretty obvious to anyone that thinks about it, even Silas: 1.) if the finances aren’t clear, 2.) if it’s not guideline-compliant, 3.) if PAS aren’t there or 4.) dealers are there, it’s not a history event or a charity one, it’s a grabfest.

Oh, and if the detectorists at your door are in any detecting club that isn’t the one in Crawley, West Sussex tell them to go to hell. Only that club makes reporting finds compulsory – “Any person found not declaring finds to the Finds Liaison Officer will be expelled immediately“.

Anyway, if you don’t want to take the word of a Salopian centenarian about all this, show this letteto any archaeologist and ask if they agree with every word. They will. But don’t let them mumble. And  remember: do NOT let any club onto your land that doesn’t have the established, written club rule: “Any person found not declaring finds to the Finds Liaison Officer will be expelled immediately” All archaeologists think that’s sound advice so please follow it.

Your friend, 

Triphena Brown

George Whatley @ArchaeoWhatley

“This weeks #findsfriday is only the 2nd Early Medieval hanging bowl mount reported to PAS Cymru from Wales! Even better, the finder has very generously offered to donate it to AC/NMW!”


Prof Michael Lewis FSA MCIfA @Tostig1066, Head of Portable Antiquities Scheme.

“That is brilliant and so wonderful of the finder to do that.”


“Wonderful”? But ALL archaeologists do that by law and nearly all amateur archaeologists do it as a matter of decency whereas most metal detectorists don’t do it. It’s not wonderful, it’s how it ought to be. We have slipped into a false reality where what is right depends on who you are.

More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

Mark Hankinson, former director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, previously sentenced for teaching hunts how to break the law, has successfully appealed the decision.

In the original judgment, the Judge described Hankinson and others as using exemptions as ‘a sham and a mirage’ designed to let them carry on with ‘old-fashioned illegal hunting’. However, HHJ Perrins has now ruled that while Hankinson’s words were capable of encouraging hunts to break the Hunting Act, he couldn’t be satisfied that the evidence met the threshold to prove that was Hankinson’s intention. He therefore quashed the conviction.

However, the crucial question is not whether Mr. Hankinson intended to encourage hunts to break the law but whether the new ruling is seen by the National Trust as a reason to reverse its ban. We suspect it is being lobbied to do so at this very moment.

Where’s Jumbo?

A reader writes:

Dear Sirs,

I went to the British Museum’s world of Stonehenge exhibition recently and saw an elephant in the room. Ironically, it was in the form of something that wasn’t in the room. There were plenty of references to archaeological sites near Stonehenge that predate Stonehenge, but absolutely no mention of nearby Blick Mead despite it being nearly twice as old as Stonehenge and crucially significant.

English Heritage and Historic England etc have been ‘advising’ the museum and I do wonder if this puzzling omission is because they don’t want the public to know anything about Blick Mead’s importance or, more to the point, the widespread fear that the tunnel road project will dry out the site and destroy all the crucial carbon dating material?

Yours faithfully,

Sarah Vanner, Cheltenham.

The June update by Area Representatives of the Cornwall Archaeological Society is deeply depressing. In reporting on “Dirty Deeds at Minions” by suspected nighthawks the standard false reassurance is given:
“But it would be wrong and unfair to throw blame at all detectorists. The vast majority would be absolutely furious to see this sort of thing being done in a sensitive area like this.”

Fine, but this is unfair, (not to detectorists but to the rest of us): “Not only are detectorists likely to obey the law [true} and follow the code of practice (see for example) – utterly untrue.

THAT Code is useless and is designed to avoid detectorists disclosing all recordable finds to PAS or to follow the real Code. What’s more, the vast majority of detectorists are members of the NCMD which refuses to sign up for the proper code.

As in many walks of life, a tiny number will flout laws and codes”. The second part is a fib. Ask PAS. Let them deny it here.

More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

The World of Stonehenge: the British Museum’s “knock out epic” show, but where’s the exhibit explaining the knock out blow to the future of the Stonehenge landscape?
The World of Stonehengethe British Museum’s brilliant exhibition, that is “as magical as a great barrow full of glinting treasure” is a “knock out epic” as art critic Jonathan Jones put it, closes soon on Sunday 17th July.  The trouble is that it is so focused on its dazzling prehistoric contemporary culture and sophisticated artefacts that the threat to the future of this iconic World Heritage Site completely passes it by. 

Calling supporters within reach of London

Would you like to help us raise awareness of what’s in store for the World Heritage Site and join Alliance activists on THURSDAY 14 JULY?Visitors to the exhibition shown our leaflet will view the proposed devastating incision into a “landscape without parallel” with horror. 


Meet outside the gates of British Museum, Great Russell St, WC1 3DG 


11.15am up to 1pm


Leafleting, displaying our banner,  placards and group photo at noon.

It’s also a chance to visit the show and enjoy the exhibition before it closes.

Redetermination process grinds on …  

Unfortunately Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, persists with redetermining the very same scheme and is currently consulting on a number of its aspects. We have pointed out contradictions in National Highways’ [NH] submissions which revealed two incompatible facts:

If NH implements government policy on carbon reduction, traffic will reduce or stabilise, thus traffic forecasts would no longer justify the scheme. 

Or, by providing for an increase in traffic, and thus an increase in carbon, NH is planning for a decarbonisation policy failure.  

Many respondents to the consultation used the opportunity to object to the scheme once more and met the June 10 deadline. 

… and on

In a further query to NH, the Transport Secretary noted “that a number of consultees have raised the issue that it is not clear how the Applicant has arrived at the conclusion that the alternative tunnel routes would only have minimal additional heritage benefits over the Development” and has asked NH why its cultural heritage assessment on this issue has not altered. 

Our own views on this matter are that less damaging options should be explored, including non-road engineering solutions.

Let’s make sure that this government, and future governments, are under no doubt about the unacceptability of driving a damaging dual carriageway and tunnel through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

We hope some of you can come along on Thursday. If you’re travelling via Tottenham Court Road tube station the best exit to walk from is marked ‘Exit 2, Tottenham Court Road.’
Supporters of the Stonehenge Alliance made a stand at the launch of the World of Stonehenge exhibition last February.


July 2022

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