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An Irish detecting site has just echoed the lament of countless British detectorists. They believe they should have access to state lands …. where many other groups already enjoy the hobby of their choice.”

 

It’s a claim to equivalence – on the grounds that metal detecting is just like rambling, birdwatching, kite flying and a host of other pastimes. But actually, there is no equivalence. People who pursue those other interests on public land don’t pocket public property. Simple really. That’s why most Councils, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission allow rambling and birdwatching and kite flying but not detecting.

Is there a solution? Of course there is! The decision would be entirely different if detectorists offered to keep to “the Surrey Council Premise” – detecting in a way similar to an archaeological survey with the landowners and the public being the main beneficiaries and “all finds being Council property.” But guess how many detectorists have proposed that?

No. Lower.

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Permitted fun on Avebury Henge. No pocketing, see?

 

Hilary McGrady, the new Director-General of The National Trust, has just been on Radio 4 and has said that The Trust is “right in the middle of the Trail Hunting debate” but it WILL continue to allow Trail Hunting on its land.

Well Ms Mc Grady, that means you aren’t in the middle, you’re on one side – and the wrong one at that for more than 90% of the public are against the cruelty which you cannot deny trail hunting repeatedly involves. It follows that the Trust’s stance on the matter runs counter to its mantra “forever, for everyone”.

Please reconsider.

 

In its State of Conservation report to UNESCO the big question, how would Britain wriggle out of UNESCO’s opinion that the short tunnel was too short, has been answered. It seems that a longer tunnel isn’t  “viable”. Wow, but what does that mean? Highways England says it had already explained what it means but not clearly enough so now it has had another go: 

“although the evidence that had been submitted to the 2017 Advisory mission was extensive, the reasons why these particular routes were not deliverable had not been clearly articulated. Further work has been undertaken by Highways England to better collate the evidence and set out more clearly the reasons why neither the F10 southern bypass nor the longer tunnel option are deliverable.”

Are you on tenterhooks? What is the clearly articulated reason Highways England has revealed for saying a longer tunnel isn’t deliverable? What is the further evidence it has collated?  Please read it. It’s simple. It’s the MONEY, and they say so very clearly. Britain is unwilling to spend little more than it has bribed the DUP with to deliver a non-damaging solution for the World Heritage landscape at Stonehenge!

See here (we’ve highlighted the relevant bits below in red). When reading them keep in mind UNESCO has stated very clearly that the tunnel is too short so would do more harm than good!


Derek Parody, project director for Highways England, said: “We were grateful to the representatives from UNESCO/ICOMOS who took time to be with us on a three-day visit to understand the scheme we are proposing. We look forward to the panel’s report in due course, which will help us further refine the scheme”. Highways England said ….. it has continued to work with heritage groups and experts in the field to ensure a new route is built with sensitivity to the WHS.


.Whereas in fact ….
They’ll never get UNESCO to “understand” the scheme they are proposing
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!
They’ll never adequately “further refine” it – unless the tunnel is lengthened
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!
They’ll never ensure that the new route will be “built with sensitivity”
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!

The authority running the Lake District National Park has been accused of “violating its World Heritage status“. It’s a shattering accusation to level at official guardians for it is saying they have failed to do the very thing they were appointed to do. It’s all about a “massive increase” in motorbikes and 4×4 vehicles which have “profoundly changed the landscape”. In their defence the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) said it would be “preferable if people did not take vehicles on these routes” but it was legal. A familiar, metal detecting style reaction – a shrug, a grin and the words – “it’s legal, innit?

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Of course it could do more to prevent it. It has statutory powers and a statutory duty. Campaigners are asking UNESCO to force it to use its traffic regulation powers to keep off-roaders off unsurfaced tracks. For its part the LDNPA is refusing to do so and says  although traffic regulation orders “cannot be ruled out”, using them was a last resort and it has “no immediate plans” to do so. So it would be “a last resort” to prevent the World Heritage status being violated! Why isn’t it a first resort?

Are you indignant? Do you think the guardians of the Lake District should take action against off roading which violates World Heritage status? Presumably. What then do you think abot the fact the guardians of Stonehenge are supporting a massive, mile long new road being ruthlessly driven through that World Heritage Site? Please write and express your opposition here.

 

 

Did you see the recent April Fool joke about a detecting rally at Stonehenge? A joke, yet tens of thousands of people DO detect legally on thousands of  other archaeological sites. How come? Because the essence of detecting is maximising finds rates by finding hot spots – and hot spots by their very nature ARE archaeological sites!

So “laissez faire” has delivered to Britain a simple grotesque reality: the vast majority of archaeological sites aren’t protected and of those the more precious they are the more likely they will be collected away to obscurity!

The simple, sad logic of  Britain’s detecting “laissez faire”. Of course, if any archaeologist, official or otherwise, wants to deny it be our guest!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The final end of the land train era. Six “greener, cleaner buses” have arrived. But pardon us for mentioning it but exactly eight years ago, in April 2010, we wrote:

“Why not just use buses? These days there are as many environment-friendly innovations applying to them as to land trains – electric, hybrid, low-impact, you name it. And in addition, they are arguably just as or more flexible, inexpensive, safe, weatherproof, robust, long-lasting, reliable and easy to load – and they have a pretty small turning circle (hence require only a small footprint near the stones). Half a dozen of those and the job could be done – with no expensive, exclusive maintenance agreements with manufacturers, no equally expensive “custom built” elements – and let’s face it, buses are rather well-tested technology so they’d definitely give a high degree of reliability. There are thousands currently on sale, you’d get some beauties for £15,000 each so we’ll wager you could solve the whole visitor transit issue for a shed load less than the combined supply and exclusive maintenance packages the land train companies are quoting.”

and pardon us for also mentioning that exactly two years ago in April 2016 we wrote:

“The latest, and most eye-wateringly expensive debacle is the purchase and now abandonment of the Stonehenge land trains in favour of buses. The claim that they were privately financed seems rather economical with the actualité but it’s a fair bet we’ll never hear exactly how much money was lost. What IS absolutely true is that not a penny of it would have been if they hadn’t been so insistent that they were right and all those who said otherwise weren’t worth listening to. Less arrogance, more listening to the public seems to be the lesson to be learned”

Is there a moral? Listen to the public, sometimes they’re right? (And that goes for the Stonehenge tunnel too, as some in English Heritage are now admitting, we hear!)

Remember the big red Brexit Bus? Highways England does and they’ve been driving a flat bed up and down the A303, no doubt eagerly seeking traffic hold ups over the Bank Holiday, asking people to respond to the Consultation. Not in London or Cardiff or Leeds, places that have vastly more stakeholders in the matter, or at times when there was zero chance of a hold up.

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It’s surely not how a public body should be acting? Here’s a democratic alternative….

Please warn your elderly relatives. Numerous people are going door to door offering loft clearance for free – but with 3 disreputable conditions:

Scandalous or what! “Finds of a lesser value I shall own”! “We’ll keep you informed of what’s gone by sending photographs! You may well wonder why don’t they just charge a flat fee like any respectable contractor would? It’s clear why, and it’s clear whose interests are being served – and whose aren’t! No doubt the police would like to hear of any sightings of these cowboys. .


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But actually, the above isn’t quite true. Those 3 statements are not from a loft clearance firm, they’re from a model “metal detecting finds agreement” published in this month’s UK Detectornet online magazine!.

It’s strange, isn’t it, how something that is so readily seen to be blatantly unfair, disreputable, unprofessional, exploitative and worth reporting to the police when it refers to lofts is tolerated in silence by The Archaeological Establishment and the Police when it refers to fields! But that’s the horrible mess Britain has constructed for itself. The authorities know it’s wrong but feel they have to keep quiet. And farmers suffer as a result.

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