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It’s not just millions of British people and their children’s children’s children, it’s millions of foreign visitors and their children’s children’s children who also wish to see this world-famous World Heritage Site. It’s their pre-history too surely?

Among them are hundreds of thousands of Americans on once-in-a-lifetime trips, often on tight schedules. One of them wrote: “Thanks for these helpful posts, everyone!!! We are zipping thru and have to meet our daughter at a specific time hence we don’t have 2 -3 hours to stop and see the visitors center, bus, and walk up closer. BUT – I can’t imagine not seeing it at all if I’m that close!”

No need to imagine. It WILL happen if English Heritage gets its way.

Surely English Heritage et al have a solemn obligation to ensure overseas stakeholders (for that is what they are if they are part of humanity) will at least be able to briefly see Stonehenge for free when they come to Britain? Imagine how many tourist dollars and euros will be spaffed up the wall if they are suddenly told they can’t? Can we afford it?


The Winter Solstice is approaching. Imagine telling this lot they could no longer see it for free!


It’ll never happen, will it? Yet they’re trying to make sure that this lot and their children’s children’s children will never again see the stones for free!

Silver Roman Coins Missing ; “Hi guys, Today I received a email from pas in Lancashire who wrote to inform me that my small hoard of Denari were unaccounted for…….ie stolen. To say I’m sickened by this news is an understatement”
As you can imagine this prompted a torrent of anger – we are virtuous, PAS are lax, maybe we’ll stop giving them our finds, this man should be compensated …

Such virtue signaling! From a hobby which fails to report most of its recordable finds! And as for “imagine it was a hoard of gold nobles worth many 1000s that went missing” well yes, I do remember the Twinstead Rally

“METAL detector enthusiasts on a charity day ended up in a brawl after 300 ­sovereigns worth £75,000 were found in a field. They then ran off with the loot – half of which belonged to the farmer who owns the land – instead of declaring it under treasure laws. One enthusiast said: “The find was made by someone inexperienced who started yelling about a gold coin. Soon there were about 100 individuals digging. It was out of hand. Metal detecting is a cut-throat world. Only two of the 300 coins were in the finds box at the end of the day.”

Some were returned, (under duress and without punishment) but many weren’t. If it comes to comparing who steals the most artefacts and knowledge it would be better if detectorists stayed profoundly silent.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

It was back in 2014 and it went to the heart of what’s indefensible about British detecting rallies and how landowners are let down by the authorities. No one turned up and PAS has kept schtum about its own deplorable and damaging silence on the matter.

Dear Colleagues,

Me and the wife

Surrey County Council say their metal detecting policy “is based on the premise that an applicant will be considered to be part of an ongoing archaeological survey of SCC properties. Applicants will in particular be expected to have a proven track record in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of Surrey County Council.

Now Friends, here’s a heck of a question. If that’s the premise on which they work in order to protect their own interest as owners and the public’s interest as stakeholders, how come we landowners aren’t advised to adopt it too? Beats me. If you have a moment please email anyone involved in British portable antiquities policy and ask them: “Should landowners hold rallies only on the Surrey Council Premise and if not why not?”

If you get no reply, ask again. And again. This country is owed an answer. Meanwhile, I’m about to hold a detecting rally myself here in Shropshire using the Surrey Council Premise. Will the BM say well done Silas? Will lots of detectorists turn up? Who knows? I’ll let you know.

Best wishes,

Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow Farm,




More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

There have been complaints that the price which English Heritage charges to visit Tintagel Castle is unreasonably high. For instance, a Family Ticket (2 adults, up to 3 children) costs £38.50. It has been pointed out that at that rate it will be no time at all before the cost of the new bridge is recovered. So why so high?


But then compare it with the identical Family Ticket at Stonehenge (2 Adults, up to 3 children), £52. So £13.50 more than Tintagel. Why the discrepancy? We don’t know, but you are free to speculate whether the discrepancy will grow far larger once English Heritage secures a virtual monopoly on most people even seeing Stonehenge.

If you read the “official” accounts you could be forgiven for thinking the Stonehenge project is almost harmless and a bit like keyhole surgery. Indeed, in Defence of the Stonehenge Road Tunnel, Tim Darvill writes:

“Before work begins in any landscape, but especially sensitive areas such as those around Stonehenge, a series of steps is taken to gather detailed information that can be used in planning, engineering, and designing a development. Following guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework first published by the government in 2012, and revised several times since, this work is specified by archaeological officers in the relevant local planning authority. The briefs are then carried out by commercial archaeological companies at the cost of the developer, monitored by the planning authority. Work usually starts with desk-based assessments of existing knowledge before moving on to what is known as field evaluation when previous records are validated and areas with no existing records are thoroughly checked. Negative as well as positive evidence is collected so that the impact of proposals can be fully understood and, where necessary, schemes can be modified to minimise harm to archaeological deposits.

For the Stonehenge scheme, field evaluation was undertaken over a broad corridor using a wide range of techniques that included geophysical survey, test-pits, and evaluation trenches. Findings from this work, carried out in 2019, have been used to criticise the tunnel scheme in the press, most recently by Garry Shaw in an article for the Art Newspaper. But these criticisms miss the important point that discovering finds as part of the field evaluation informs the design process so that sites of archaeological importance can be avoided. That is exactly what has happened since, with small but important changes to the footprint of the scheme itself and the position and extent of enabling works. If the archaeologists involved have done their job then the overall impact of the scheme will be minimal. Certainly, the archaeological teams have made their best shot.

Sounds great. But a picture says more than a million words, like this one from Ireland:


Does anyone care to bet that this will hold true: “discovering finds as part of the field evaluation informs the design process so that sites of archaeological importance can be avoided

Tomorrow, detecting rally at Harpswell, Lincs: “Numbers will be capped at 40 people… £20 per detectorist, all proceeds go to landowner

No! The landowner gets £800 maximum whereas if one detectorist finds one item worth £999 he does better than the landowner. And there are 40 of them. And if one finds more than one, or more than one find more than one item – or LOTS of items worth £100 … the division will be grotesquely unjust.

And guess who gets to decide whether each find is only worth £1,000?



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

The Chancellor, supported by others who should know better, has swerved the opportunity to do the right thing by Stonehenge and posterity …


From A History of How We Conserve Our Past by James Stourton

“Rows about preservation go back much further than present-day defenders of the green belt, conservation areas, well-liked local buildings or precious paintings may realise… In 1825 Stonehenge was sold by one grand family to another; not until the very end of the century was it openly recognised that ‘there is something absurd in the idea … that Stonehenge should be at the mercy of a private person’”

Absurd. Yet the situation is still absurd. Why right now should Stonehenge be at the mercy of English Heritage et al, none of whom have been voted into their positions of power? Does Stonehenge belong to them or to the rest of us? By what right do they try to hide it from us?


Hidden for its own good by English Heritage.


From a detecting forum this week :

“Just seen on FB someone looking for permission and willing to pay £500 if over 30 acres, Sent them a question asking is this for groups/clubs or a single person and they replied single, i despair.”

“Wow. That is frightening.”



But why be surprised or upset? Commercial detecting groups pay farmers twice that amount up and down the country every week. That’s how much of Britain’s buried heritage is being removed – and of course, even though it belongs to the landowner or the country – in silence.

It’s been going on for so many years and at such a scale that Britain is now inured to it – the authorities rarely express horror and landowners remain largely unaware of how damaging it is. Why aren’t farmers officially advised not to allow it? Here’s an example of what’s going on in the fields reduced to a domestic scale. If such a conversation between unequal partners was ever caught on a doorbell camera there would be national outrage.


“Hello dear, I’m an historian and charity worker. May I go in your loft for £500?”


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


November 2022

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