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According to Guy Shrubsole (Who Owns England?) just 25,000 landowners have control of half of the country. From that Paul Barford has made a leap of logic: it would be better to spend time and money outreaching to those 25,000 landowners who would mostly listen than to detectorists, who mostly don’t!

The reality is that it’s not PAS or archaeologists who control whether detecting takes place, it’s landowners alone and if they’re properly informed via the broadsheets and farming magazines they’ll be immune from farm gate baloney.

Thirteen simple, but true words, “most detectorists don’t report most finds so are the antithesis of amateur archaeologists“, read by the right people, would do far more good than 20 years of expensive outreach to the wrong people. It would be a massive leap forward for conservation. Detectorists would at last have to prove they were “only interested in the history” not just say it!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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You might well think so, because they recently said:

Whilst we recognise the need for improved public transport, we will oppose any scheme that will irreparably damage such a wonderful place when alternatives are available.”

But don’t get excited, they were talking about opposing the East-West rail route near Cambridge, not about the Stonehenge short tunnel scheme which will irreparably damage an even more “wonderful place”! Words don’t travel when uttered by the National Trust it seems. See the Trust’s oh-so-carefully chosen words in response to the identical threat at Stonehenge:

“An ambitious plan to divert traffic through a tunnel beneath the site could provide an overall benefit to the whole World Heritage Site, providing it is located and designed with the utmost care.”

Yet common sense dictates that the short tunnel plan cannot provide an overall benefit to the World Heritage Site. Whatever the claimed visit enhancements a mile of brand new dual carriageway driven across the surface of the WHS in defiance of UNESCO’s wishes will cause  undeniable, incalculable, irreversible loss and damage forever to both the outstanding universal value and Britain’s international reputation.

So by all means let the Trust fight against heritage damage on the East-West rail route but let it not pretend to the public at the same time that it is not itself being a key enabler of far greater damage in Wiltshire.

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If you haven’t yet signed the Stonehenge Alliance petition please consider doing so here


 

 

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Replicas, yes, but still awe-inspiring.

In 2017 The One Show ran live broadcasts from an archaeologist-aided detecting rally in Water Newton. It didn’t turn out well for it was later admitted the assurance that “all artefacts will be recorded” didn’t happen. As a direct result archaeologists were forbidden from organising any more such events.

But on Wednesday the One Show featured one of the very many “detecting holidays” for Americans which have sprung up. None of them pretends to be archaeological research, they’re purely to make money (£1,500 a head in this case). As one of the Americans said, “it’s very reminiscent of pirate treasure”.

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There’s a case for bitter complaint, but to whom? Not to the BBC as they’re advised by PAS. Not to PAS, for it was there, uncritically implying to 10 million people that Britain’s archaeology is fair game for unthinking, repeated, unstructured exploitation by any random person from anywhere in the world.

Hopefully the CBA, Rescue or others will react, as the timing is perfect since there’s a current national consultation on the future of metal detecting. Maybe part of that should be that the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group is asked to view the 2007 and 2019 episodes of The One Show?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Exactly 16 years ago a hurricane of looting was unleashed in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad and then roared all over the country to Iraq’s archaeological sites, the cradle of civilisation, destroying the memories of mankind in order to supply thousands of “respectable” middle class collectors in Europe and the USA, a process that is continuing today.

It can’t be stressed too often that it’s not just something that is happening far away. Today thousands of people of many nationalities will go out in the fields of Britain and most of them will take our memories for themselves, and not tell us, or to sell. It’s a reality that is constantly spun otherwise but is constantly true. So it’s to be hoped that the Rescue AGM, which is happening today, won’t resolve to change Rescue’s policy:

Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource”.

Isn’t it true that metal detecting has to be seen as needlessly damaging unless it conforms to the standards and aims of Archaeology, not in just some but every respect?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Those observing the current Stonehenge Scheme examination proceedings would be well advised to keep just two things in the front of their minds:

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.                                 .First: this 2018 Joint Statement ….
“Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the work done by Highways England on the design of the proposed A303 road at Stonehenge.” : The options put forward today by Highways England go a long way towards protecting and enhancing the World Heritage Site (WHS), according to the three agencies responsible for its care and protection

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.                  .. . Second: This image of The Hill of Tara’s landscape

 

 

 

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The Weekend Wanderers detecting club founder has just complained about proposed Treasure Act reform: I strongly disagree with a single gold coin being classified as treasure. For a coin worth thousands, you’re not going to get the good price for it anymore, so that’s a disincentive to sell it through the proper means”.

No prizes for guessing what that means. Some (many?) detectorists will break the law and secretly sell finds privately, thereby depriving Society of its entitlement. Paul Barford sums it up rather well, voicing what every single archaeologist and archaeological organisation thinks (but doesn’t say in public) and demonstrating exactly why urgent reform IS needed:


“Speaks for all greedy, grabby oiks out there. The archaeological record belongs to us all, and it should not be ‘finders keepers'”


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[ Lest anyone doubt this is the 18th threat, here are the other 17….
1. Don’t criticise us or we’ll stop reporting. 2. Don’t tell us what to do or we’ll stop reporting. 3. Don’t undertake surveys of nighthawking else we’ll stop reporting. 4. Don’t let PAS dominate us else we’ll stop reporting. 5. Don’t reduce PAS’s funding else we’ll stop reporting. 6. Don’t impose a Code of Responsible Detecting else we’ll stop reporting. 7. Don’t discuss licensing us else we’ll stop reporting. 8. Don’t ban inappropriate rallies else we’ll stop reporting. 9. Don’t impose restrictions under stewardship schemes else we’ll stop reporting. 10. Don’t tighten up EBay else we’ll stop reporting. 11. Don’t ever, ever, ever short change us on the Treasure rewards else we’ll stop reporting. 12. Don’t abate our Treasure rewards for not calling an archie out else we’ll stop reporting. 13. Don’t talk of using some of our Treasure rewards to finance proper excavations else we’ll stop reporting. 14. Don’t write to farmers without us dictating what is to be said else we’ll stop reporting. 15. Don’t extend the items covered by the Treasure Act beyond exactly what we say else we’ll stop reporting. 16. Don’t suggest giving PAS a percentage of Treasure rewards else we’ll stop reporting 17. Don’t suggest FLOs charge us for their services such as attendance at rallies else we’ll stop reporting. ]

Campaigners claim the current plans for the tunnel would breach one of the restricted covenants in the deeds from 1915 that were made part of the condition of the gift to the nation three years later. They said the document prevented building work within 400 yards (365m) of a milestone just north of the monument, and plans show the tunnel within about 375 yards (343m).

However, a spokesman for Highways England said their interpretation of the covenant only prevented building on the northern side of the site and only referred to above-ground construction.

 

Quick, quick, find a barrister and offer him a knighthood!

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