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Highways England’s gloriously named Derek Parody has just used four powerful trigger words to convince the public that the Stonehenge World Heritage landscape is safe:

“The World Heritage Site around Stonehenge is a heritage site of national and international importance. We want to ensure that archaeological remains are preserved and recorded, in advance of scheme construction, by commissioning appropriate archaeological expertise,” says Highways England project director Derek Parody. “Throughout this project we have been working closely with the country’s heritage bodies and a Scientific Committee of eminent archaeological experts to ensure the scheme will conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site, and this will continue throughout the archaeological investigations and the construction process.”

Highways England has gained a reputation for untrue Trumpian superlatives. No-one fair minded can believe that driving a new four-lane dual carriageway across a mile of Europe’s richest prehistoric landscape against UNESCO’s wishes will preserve, record, conserve or enhance it.

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Another long lens visual fib giving an entirely false impression of the reality at the stones. If the pictures are dishonest why would the words be different?

 

 

 

The National Council for Metal Detecting is lobbying the Government for the return of commercial detecting rallies. The DCMS has responded:

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Given that most detectorists and most archaeologists (including PAS) disapprove of commercial detecting rallies on the grounds they are particularly damaging, not to mention morally dubious, it is to be hoped the answer is a resounding NO.

Interestingly, just about the only “further investigation” the DCMS will be undertaking is to ask PAS what they think. We can but hope that PAS has the testicular fortitude to tell them!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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A recent Twitter thread suggests it has, for they assert that “The PAS don’t promote detecting, they take a pragmatic approach to what is allowed under the law in England and Wales. What they do promote is responsible detecting.” But in “promoting” responsible detecting they have actually aided and sustained irresponsible detecting – for anyone, no matter how acquisitive or immoral, can tell farmers they are responsible and thus gain access to fields.

Yet PAS was founded to END non-reporting! As Baroness Blackstone told the Lords so in 1992: The aim is to change public attitudes to recording finds so that it becomes normal practice for finders to report them“.  Yet, disgracefully, 28 years later most detectorists STILL don’t report what they find and PAS provides them with a verbal cloak to wear when they speak to landowners.

So the Founders’ aims have been frustrated – and saying it’s a pragmatic approach doesn’t change that reality. The Founders believed archaeology is best dealt with not by amateurs but scientifically by professionals and there’s absolutely no reason why PAS shouldn’t be saying so very clearly, to every landowner. It already has Guidance notes. This is what the Founders would want it to say:

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Stonehenge project is going to be put back by another year. Those who oppose massive new damage to the World Heritage landscape (and that includes UNESCO) will be gratified but they may have much more to celebrate:

Although Transport Minister Shapps wants us to “build ourselves out of the crisis”, the delay may be long enough for him to find the Government’s funds have run out – and the value-for-money calculations have deteriorated.

So the chances of the Government giving him a couple of billion pounds to shave a few minutes off the journey to Cornwall are remote. Could this latest delay be the crucial straw that breaks the scheme’s back?

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How many cups of coffee will it take before someone tells him there’s no money? And how many cups will EH, HE and NT drink while drafting a response to any cancellation? Will they say “hooray, the damager is avoided” or express regret that it can’t go ahead?

 

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A proposed ‘Institute of Detectorists’ is to run a course on “Metal detecting, archaeological principles and the ‘Contextual Detectorist’“. It’s meant for people helping in archaeological surveys and Dr Mike Heyworth an acting tutor, says it’s “nothing to do with any “collection-driven exploitation””

Sadly, that’s unrealistic. Thousands of detectorists tell thousands of farmers they are amateur archaeologists, are “only in it for the history” and report everything to PAS when PAS’s statistics and EBay show otherwise. If they can show farmers a certificate of attendance from an “archaeology” course the opportunity for “collection driven exploitation” will be greatly enhanced.

So today we’re launching our own online course. We were inspired to do so by Michael Lewis of PAS who just opined: “there is a skill to using a detector effectively that comes with experience”. We disagree. The only skill they have is in distinguishing the beeps from “good” digging targets from what they term “rubbish”. Archaeological work requires no such expertise. All beeps matter.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Sadly, last Wednesday detecting was allowed to re-start in England straight after the National Council for Metal Detecting told Ministers it was a member of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, implying that detecting is pretty wholesome.

But it isn’t a sport and it’s unlike all the other listed outdoor activities as it involves taking stuff from the countryside and not reporting most of it. Precisely like egg collecting. So it’s not “wholesome” at all.

Why PAS didn’t explain that to the Government is a mystery.

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So here’s the upshot: all the recordable finds dug up in Europe, mostly unreported, on Wednesday, all from just one country. And every day from now on will be the same.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Is there one English Heritage which gets a European Heritage award for its superb care for part of the World Heritage site at Ironbridge and another which is defying UNESCO and supporting massive new damage to part of the World Heritage site at Stonehenge?

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Or is it that there’s just one organisation but with two parts – the main part comprising hardworking, dedicated professional experts who do a fantastic job and the other consisting of those in charge who decree that the organisation must do whatever the British Government wants?

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Congratulations to English Heritage, winner of the Conservation category of the European Heritage Awards which promote “best practices related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication.” The Iron Bridge is the first in the world to be constructed of iron and is a symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It is a Scheduled Monument and part of the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stresses in the ironwork compounded by ground movement in the Ironbridge Gorge and a 19th-century earthquake led English Heritage to undertake necessary interventions to preserve its original fabric to the greatest extent possible.  All elements were addressed: the iron radials and braces holding the bridge together, the deck plates and wedges, the main iron arch, and the stone abutments on either side of the Severn.  The cast iron elements were repaired, the masonry conserved, the deck resurfaced, and the entire structure cleaned and repainted in its original red-brown colour.

The Jury remarked that “this iconic heritage, cared for throughout its lifetime, is a part of a larger whole, relating to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the surrounding industrial landscape. Its conservation approach is based on full respect of the original technology and was made possible through international collaboration and funding. It is a very good example of conservation in action, providing access to visitors and locals during the work”.

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The Iron Bridge, Shropshire, UNITED KINGDOM

Many readers will recall that back in 2007 NASA agreed to place our message, Hands off Stonehenge, on Spaceship Dawn. It is now orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, 3 billion miles away.

We are pleased to report that the message seems to have been heeded …

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And the relevance of that to the Heritage Journal, which promotes awareness and the conservation of threatened prehistoric sites in Britain and Ireland ?

Well, far from protecting the iconic view of Stonehenge, English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust are campaigning hard for it to be hidden.

Yesterday Greece had zero Covid deaths and its overall death toll is 0.5% of Britain’s. Why is Britain so unlucky in it’s Government and its conservation bodies?

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