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WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE Extended forty-fourth session Fuzhou (China) / Online meeting

“Regrets that the Development Consent Order (DCO) has been granted for the scheme; and therefore, further considers in conformity with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines that the approved A303 improvement scheme is a potential threat to the property, which – if implemented – could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics, notably to its integrity’.

“While it is noted that the State Party is committed to engage further, if the permission which has been granted were to be upheld by the High Court, it is unclear what might be achieved by further engagement, as it would not be possible to compensate for the unacceptable adverse impacts of the present scheme, which the State Party itself has identified …

The approved A303 improvement scheme threatens the integrity of the property within the meaning of Paragraph 179(b) of the Operational Guidelines. It is therefore, recommended that the Committee consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in the event that DCO consent was confirmed by the High Court. Such a decision would exacerbate this threat.

World Heritage Committee finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2022, with a view to considering the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the A303 route upgrade scheme is not modified to deliver the best available outcome for the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.”

Due to a delay to lockdown Stonehenge had to be closed for the solstice again this year. However, as you may have seen, English Heritage has placed a webcam in the centre of Stonehenge with the result that, as they say: “Celestial sun-seekers can now enjoy a personal Stonehenge sunrise all year round”. Bravo!

Also, they’re putting another webcam at the place Turner painted his iconic panorama of the stones in their landscape beneath an enormous sky, to compensate for the fact that vista will be hidden from travellers forever by the tunnel scheme.

Ed: That last bit, in red, is a lie. Did you really think they would be planning to compensate tens of millions of ordinary people for the loss of the iconic Turner vista? Doing so by 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 any of the pro-tunnel lobby confessing to that.

[This is the third year we’ve published a version of this article and so far English Heritage hasn’t taken the bait. We believe there is no limit to the amount of embarrassment they should be given on this matter].

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UPDATE: The feed was ended as a lot of people crossed the fence and “invaded” the site. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-57550606.amp?fbclid=IwAR1A_nr2V8hvrSJl6ymbqJoetDV5z8OYyZefta7KBKXD3HOLFBOaQNL8kEE

Bloody idiots. They do nothing but harm to the campaign.

Dear Fellow Landowners,

I see a detectorist has just said, when pressed, they would have “no objection” to a farmer getting an independent appraisal of whatever a detectorist finds on his land. How big of them! Shame they and the rest don’t insist on that without being asked! It reminds me of what I wrote in the Journal seven years ago:

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It was a rumbustious night down at the Black Sheep and Wellies on Friday. I and my farming pals celebrated that a detectorist has just written on his blog: “I will also be letting the farmer know that all items found excluding treasure items belong to him, if there is anything that he does not [want] after the recording of the finds I will let him know I am interested in acquiring them”.

He might have added “once he’s obtained independent advice on them“ but still it’s a step forward and I’ll give a bag of mangel wurzels to any detectorist, archaeologist, lawyer, philosopher or priest that can show why ALL artefact hunters shouldn’t be doing it too.

Regards,

Silas Brown, Grunter’s Hollow Farm, Worfield, Salop

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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A new facility for metal detectorists, just-detect.com, has just been launched. In order to express what we think about it we’re launching a similar system, just-clear-a-grannys-loft.com!

Are you tired of trying to gain permissions to clear lofts? Maybe because a granny didn’t like the look of you? What if you could pick a permission, book and just clear it without ever having to meet her?

We are revolutionising loft clearance in the UK. Annual subscribers can access and book permissions directly from the app, solving the number one issue for most loft clearers in the UK. No more rejections! Become an annual subscriber to unlock loft clearance jobs across 10+ counties in the UK. Just choose a date, book and pay.

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“It was wonderful! I went to see my sister for a couple of days and when I got back the loft had been completely cleared!”

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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According to Dominic Cummings, in January last year the Prime Minister was presented with “garbage” evidence showing exponential increase in HS2 demand – demand that, if taken seriously, would have meant the entire country travelling on high speed rail. However, The Department for Transport said “We do not recognise the evidence being referred to in the blog in question.

This is consistent with the fact they appear not to recognise that the National Audit Office has warned that the Stonehenge scheme “has a significantly lower benefit-cost ratio than is usual in road schemes” and “could move to an even lower or negative value”!

Only good news seems to be admissible and for that English Heritage. Historic England and the National Trust are forever on hand! Want to dig up thousands of square yards of world heritage landscape? Give us a ring, we’ll enthuse about how it will be a cultural triumph!

They’re looking for an archaeologist and are very particular about who it should be. Here are their requirements (we’ve added the last one in red as they may have forgotten to include it but it’s obviously essential)…

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During that time 6.5 million free views of the stones will be lost. That’s what Highways England is planning in order to carry out preliminary work for the tunnel.

English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust all claim the tunnel is a net cultural “improvement”. They may do so till they’re blue in the face but it’s extraordinary to reflect that, if they get their way, the A303 will soon be closed not just for 13 weeks but permanently and the loss of free views of the stones will extend to 26 million a year forever!

How they or anyone else can say that’s not profound net cultural vandalism is a mystery which may never be solved.

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UPDATE: We have been asked to clarify that “The A303 is not being closed. The A360 is planned to be closed between Longbarrow junction and The Avenue junction (which is a road off the A360 to the south)” which we do of course.

However, soon enough, the A303 WILL be closed, forever, with the loss of 26 million free views a year.

Hope that’s clear to absolutely everyone!

As day two gets underway we thought we’d post this picture of Birmingham Central Library, destroyed by fire with the loss of 50,000 books in 1889. Knowledge-loss matters, as it’s permanent.

There have been lots of massive Detectivals. Of one in 2018 we wrote; “more than 40 organisations will be at Detectival and all but one will be hoping to profit from the destruction. The other one (PAS) is lending stolen valour to the event“. We only got one comment about it from an attendee: “Suck it up, buttercup”.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Most public landowners disallow metal detecting on their land “unless as part of an archaeological project”. It’s to maximise the knowledge dividend from the activity and minimise the loss. How sensible. But only 8% of land is in public ownership. 92%, including a block of 37 fields near Sunbury upon Thames where today’s massive “Detectival” event is happening, have no such safeguards.

How is this possible, in logic? Is archaeology on privately-owned land less precious? Clearly not. There’s no rational conservation reason why archaeologists shouldn’t be giving the same advice to farmers as they give to public landowners. Yet Detectival is happening. The event highlights an intellectual and physical rift which is very damaging to our national interest and serves only to make Britain look entirely foolish, as much of the world knows very well.

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A physical and intellectual rift?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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In 1849 a young relative of Wordsworth, Emmeline Fisher, wrote Lines on the Opening of Silbury Hill, a poetic apology to the ancestors for an excavation that was going on at that time into the “Green Pyramid of the plains, from far-ebbed Time” as she called it. It commenced:

Bones of our wild forefathers, O forgive,
If now we pierce the chambers of your rest,
And open your dark pillows to the eye
Of the irreverent Day!

We think there may be a much more significant apology due soon, for the gouging of a mile of new dual carriageway through Europe’s most important prehistoric landscape at Stonehenge and the stealing of the free view of the stones currently enjoyed by millions of travellers a year. We’ll all be long gone when the full scale of the loss is fully understood by a future possessing technology inconceivably more sophisticated than ours.

So, we would like to announce a poetry competition, in the form of an apology to the future. The winning entry or entries will be put in an envelope sealed with red wax and placed in a ceramic urn, just like Emmeline’s was, and buried just outside the World Heritage site, an apology for posterity to find!

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Entries please, no longer than 10 lines, with your own choice of title. We’ll publish some of them here in the Journal and elsewhere and the winner will be chosen by a committee drawn from some of the many organisations and groups who have worked so hard for so long to stop this dreadful scheme going ahead. Then, if the worst happens, on the day the first bulldozer is deployed, we will bury the apologies as described. Please send your entries to info@heritageaction.org.uk  Good luck!

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