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This is an article we published in 2011. We thought it worth repeating.


Right on the edge of the Cotswolds, not far from the famous Crickley Hill Camp, is a little visited ancient monument, Crippets Long Barrow, that in its day must have been of immense significance yet today is little regarded – and all because of some trees – not the ones actually on it but the ones planted near to it.

This is a shame because as landscape art goes, it’s quite an achievement…

The trees on it were planted in the late nineteenth century ostensibly to protect it, but now that they are mature it’s a very moot point whether they are doing that …

But these are the trees that have truly “damaged” the monument, the belt that was planted in front of it, probably at the same time, and which would have seemed harmless at the time but have now matured and locked the barrow away from the very reason it was built there, the fantastic view it points towards…

And this is the view the builders intended. Has there ever been a more magnificent resting place in the history of these islands?

The arrow indicates the position of the barrow, hidden behind the belt of trees and shielded from the truly remarkable 60-mile panorama, surely one of the finest in England,  right across the West Midlands and into Wales. The significance of the spot has been entirely lost in modern times and it is a reasonable assumption that had the trees not been planted a little over a hundred years ago then far from being half-forgotten this would be one of the most celebrated and visited monuments – and not just by prehistory enthusiasts.

By Nigel Swift

If you want to go metal detecting on Dorset Council land: you need to get permission through the Historic Environment Record Service and have it signed off by the senior archaeologist. Any finds remain the property of Dorset Council.

But that’s not the way everywhere. This week I wrote to Xxxx Council asking for permission to metal detect their land (name withheld as I really don’t want anyone else asking them) and had this reply: “Good Afternoon Nigel, All that we as a Council require, is for you to firstly become a member of NCMD or FID, Once you have proof of membership I shall issue you with a permit valid for one year, and a list of sites on which we allow metal detecting. Any finds may be kept.”

So no archaeologist is involved and I can keep what I find. Did the people of Xxxx agree for the Council to give away their property?

Both these Councils can’t be right – and there are lots of Councils which have similar policies to each of them. I know which I think is right, and I know PAS agree with me, so why the damaging shambles?


By all accounts, it was a great event. “Closing event is AMAZING at Corfe – ancient crafts, X Box Minecraft(!) storytellers, heritage orgs & archaeologists everywhere answering questions“.

But the problem wasn’t the event, it was the venue. So far there have been about 20 commercial metal detecting rallies there and the implications are clear: as early as 2013 one of the participants said: “Finds were seriously reduced up there anyway this year because its had us on it for twelve years and finds dont get replaced.”

No, they don’t, so to hold a pro-archaeology event just there was like holding a security conference in a house that had long been stripped bare. Did the event make that clear or is it just us?

“Bravo indeed. Next. Can National Trust return to its founding principles & distance itself from burrowing through its property for a damaging #StonehengeTunnel? After all NT was a signatory to the 2006 consortium of conservation bodies’ statement (

STONEHENGE WORLD HERITAGE SITE: Joint response by conservation organizations

On 17th March 2006, leading independent conservation organisations met to agree a common view of the current Highways Agency A303 Stonehenge Improvement Scheme Review consultation.

“All call on the Highways Agency to explore different options, which would be acceptable in terms of impact on the World Heritage landscape. These options should include above ground, or mainly above ground, routes, within northern and southern corridors, together with tunnel options that avoid impacting on the World Heritage site“.

We recently expressed the fear that the acquittal of Mark Hankinson, previously sentenced for teaching hunts how to break the law, might mean the National Trust might reverse its own decision to ban hunts from its land. The fear was reinforced by the Countryside Alliance’s statement that in view of the acquittal “it would be entirely unreasonable if the Trust were not to review that decision“.

However, a National Trust spokesperson has told MailOnline:

We will not be reviewing our position on trail hunting as a result of this appeal“. and explained that “There were many contributing factors in our decision to no longer issue trail hunting activities on National Trust land, including the appropriate use of charitable funds, the risk of reputational harm to the Trust and the result of the recent members’ resolution vote on this matter at our October 2021 Annual General Meeting.

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.

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!


August 2022

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