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Dear Friends,

silas 67

This week a bloke with a plastic halo and a large finds bag asked if I’d host a detecting rally “for charity”. I pointed out that he wasn’t the first and that every other detecting rally is now pitched to landowners and local communities as “for charity”, clearly to increase the likelihood that people would allow them to be held. But the truth is, although a footling entrance fee goes to the charities, they don’t get a molecule of what is found so it’s actually acquisitiveness dressed as altruism and I told him to clear off with his “for the love of history and charity” claptrap..

Scandalously, neither the Government nor PAS say a word about these charity rallies (and PAS even attends them!) Here’s what they ought to be saying out loud, if they were honest and acting like the rest of the world, something the Journal said back in 2011 ….

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“If communities are dead set on allowing the digging up of their local archaeological record to raise charity money (and they shouldn’t be – let them ask PAS or any archaeologist in private what they think) they’d be vastly better off hiring a few detecting machines for their local amateur archaeology society to do it (although their ethics would hopefully preclude it).

That way, 100% of any government Treasure rewards could go to the charity, 100% of all the other finds could go to the charity and 100% of the finds would be willingly and accurately reported to PAS (making the exercise less damaging than any metal detecting rally in history!

Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow
Worfield
Salop

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.Simon Thurley, defending the Visitor Centre against criticism said:.

I think this building is elegant, beautiful, and above all fit for purpose. I think it is a great work of art. But amazingly, it is also reversible: if somebody thinks we got it all wrong in 30 years, it could be dug up, taken away and rebuilt somewhere else, or crunched up and sold off as scrap – and the field would be again as it was.”

So if somebody in 30 years thinks they got the new mile long dual carriageway and cuttings wrong could they be dug up, taken away and rebuilt somewhere else? Or crunched up and sold off as scrap leaving the field and the archaeology as it was?

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Reversible?

Reversible?

 

petworth.

Actually, that’s a mistake. They’re supporting a new dual carriageway over their World Heritage landscape at Stonehenge.

Sorry.

By all that’s right and rational the Stonehenge tunnel should have been conceived, proposed and designed by a ẁide panel of respected archaeologists. But no, it was all down to this bloke, looking for votes…..

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cameron-at-stonehenge

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He and his team wanted it cheap. Which means short. But that gave them a PR problem because “short” also means “horribly damaging to the WHS”. However, that wasn’t insurmountable. All they needed was a sufficient number of archaeologists in receipt of Government funding or patronage to say such damage is acceptable. Which, as is clear to all, they’ve obtained.

So just so you know, it’s a political tunnel.  It was neither conceived, designed nor blessed by the likes of Aubrey Burl, Martin Carver, Carenza Lewis, Francis Pryor, Colin Renfrew, Tim Darvill, Josh Pollard, Vince Gaffney or Jim Leary. In Tom Holland’s words, Stonehenge has been “offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of electioneering“. It’s as simple and shameful as that.

The National Trust has just commissioned this gingerbread model of Waddesdon Manor (a French style chateau built for Baron de Rothschild in the 1870s to entertain his fashionable guests). The model is six feet tall, took fifteen months of preparations and 500 hours of work and used 33kg of butter and sugar, 240 eggs and 216kg of icing.

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gingerbread.

Meanwhile, it is supporting massive, irreversible new damage to our national icon.

The abiding message of the 30th Anniversary Conference is that the whole Stonehenge landscape is very special. So logically you’d think everyone would want to keep it from harm. But no. “Desecration by short tunnel” must still be considered acceptable for no-one said otherwise and Tom Holland’s 2 minute 27 second video saying otherwise couldn’t be shown as the programme was “too full”!  

It all makes zero sense. But perhaps most puzzling of all is the attitude of the National Trust. By what mechanism has “Preserving special places for everyone, for ever” become “we support what the Government wants”?  We think we may have found the answer buried in an article in The Independent back in 2003 :

It is the largest conservation group in Europe and the third-biggest landowner in the country. But, a senior official admits on screen, it does not know exactly what it is meant to be doing. What disturbs about The National Trust is not its concern with fine buildings and natural landscape but its inconsistencies and distortions and its clod-hopping, bureaucratic megalomania in dealing with them. Tyntesfield must be frozen archaeologically, but Lennon can be imagined. Cliveden can be developed, but Orford Ness must remain a desert.”

And the Stonehenge WHS must be valiantly defended. Or not. Depending on which decade the question arises.

 

PAS is holding a Conference tomorrow titled “Can detectorists be archaeologists?” Why ask a question the answer to which is obvious: Of course they can, providing they do it for public benefit and in accordance with archaeological methods and morals and they don’t pocket the stuff for themselves!”

Set against the selfless benefits which thousands of amateur archaeologists quietly deliver in exactly that way, cheerleading for artefact hunting looks bizarre, to put it mildly. PAS should have saved their money and breath, cancelled the conference and announced  a replacement one titled: “Hurrah for amateur archaeologists!”

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bbbb

Oooh look, no Treasure rewards, no EBaying, no secrecy, no selfish motivation, no flattery. no dodgy stats, no cammo, no pockets, yet all the funding and praise and promotion is being dished out elsewhere!

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The Irish President has just said that teaching philosophy in schools, and promoting it in society, is urgently needed to enable citizens “to discriminate between truthful language and illusory rhetoric”. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of British portable antiquities.

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brass-neck

Today Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage will be taking to the platform of the conference celebrating 30 years of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site – why?

Historic England are endorsing their employer’s wish for a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

The National Trust has opened a fast food outlet in the centre of Avebury’s henge, amidst the largest stone circle in the world, and also support a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

English Heritage have summarily failed to protect Stonehenge from damage during annual solstices, and also support a short tunnel that would devastate the Stonehenge half of the WHS.

The question this collective act of bare faced cheek should leave on everyone’s lips is whether they can be trusted to truly care for our greatest prehistoric monuments?

 

This weekend a Stonehenge & Avebury conference is being held. No-one will be allowed to oppose the short tunnel.

It’s up to you. Please sign the petition.

See here. A Spanish mining magnate has just been fined more than €25 million and sentenced to 30 months in prison for destroying a cave that held evidence of how humans lived in neolithic times..

cave.

 Meanwhile in Britain a millionaire racehorse owner got away with no prison and a derisory fine for destroying part of a Priddy Circle that held evidence of how humans lived in neolithic times.

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