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As the calendar changes, we’ve looked back and reviewed the past 12 months. Now it’s time for another beginning, looking forward and making plans for the coming year.

new-year-resolutions

Our suggestions for resolutions back in 2013 still stand as admirable targets to strive for and we would commend them all to anyone interested in our past heritage. Here they are again:

  1. Visit new sites
  2. Join a local Archaeological Society
  3. Take a course
  4. Attend a conference
  5. Involve the family
  6. Contribute to the Heritage Journal

But this year, forgive me for speaking from an entirely personal viewpoint when looking forward…

A long held dream of moving to, and living in, West Cornwall looks to be coming to fruition for me in the following 12 months, and with it early (semi-)retirement! My hope is that this will allow me time to get more involved on a day-to-day basis in helping to preserve and understand our ancient heritage.

Once settled, and health allowing, I intend to volunteer for the CASPN clear-up days when I can, and will see if/how I can help the Cornwall Heritage Trust in their work too. I hope to be attending more walks and talks with both CASPN and the Cornwall Archaeological Society. And of course, writing! I have plenty of ideas for articles for the Heritage Journal, and possibly even a book or two, but these require a large commitment of time for research which I just don’t have at the moment.

So what will you be doing to preserve and understand our ancient heritage in 2017? Please let us know in the comments below.

By Alan S.

As the calendar clicks over another year, and we’ve looked back at some of the stories of the past 12 months, it’s now time to look forward and to express some of our hopes, dreams and wishes for the year ahead.

Baby Unicorn

After what has passed, it can be quite difficult to be positive when looking ahead, but our primary hopes are that:

  • Shropshire County Council have a change of heart, and decide to finally listen to the wishes of the majority of those whom they were elected to represent, rather than the minority of developers and landowners who stand to gain from potential housing development within the shadow of Old Oswestry hillfort.
  • The government and associated interested parties also listen to reason, and decide to keep the Stonehenge World Heritage Site somewhere that is deserving of the epithet, rather than turn a frightening proportion of the area into what could turn out to be a very large extended building site for more years than we’d care to imagine. And all for a transport system that relies on a fossil fuel that we are constantly being told is itself a dwindling resource.

 

I’d like to think those two hopes, backed by the right campaign groups and pressure in the right place, could both be met in the coming months.

As for dreams, wouldn’t it be marvellous if:

  • The Portable Antiquities Scheme were to become properly funded. With the right resources, the scheme could finally grow teeth and claws, provide proper educational outreach, and halt the depletion of a finite resource.
  • The DCMS actually realised the extent of that depletion (we’ve mentioned it here enough times!) and decided to fall in line with the majority of other countries around the world and ban outright the unlicensed use of metal detectors.

And finally for wishes for the future. Well, (apart from the big lottery win that would finally allow me to retire and spend my time on leisurely pursuits) we obviously wish:

  • All the best for the museums up and down the country who are struggling against the ‘austerity’ measures and cuts (that never seem to affect the well-off sections of society, funny that!) that are biting so deep.
  • An improvement in prospects for:
    • those affected once again by flooding (the Yorvik Centre has just been on the news as I write this) and
    • all the HEROs (‘Heritage Environment Records Officers’) whose employment prospects seem to be dwindling by the day.
    • all those archaeologists, graduate or otherwise, who find it so difficult to find employment at anything other than minimum wage.

We wish you all well!

Many thanks to all those who responded to our recent survey. The results were interesting, but not in the way we expected.

Firstly, by far the largest group to respond were the metal detectorists at 30% of the overall votes. However as a very large proportion of these were cast in just a 45-minute period on the Sunday evening, with no further votes after that, we’re minded to completely eliminate those votes as a deliberate attempt to subvert the results.

So discounting those votes entirely, and in round numbers: approximately 38% of respondents are involved in heritage matters in a professional capacity – either as an archaeologist (16%), historian (3%) or other heritage professional (19%). A further 19% voted as ‘antiquarian hobbyists’, which to be honest we could have done with defining a bit better.  11% considered themselves amateur historians and only 5% voted as amateur archaeologists. This leaves 8% tourists and 2% students. The remainder (17%) selected ‘None of the above’, which strongly suggests that there are other groupings of our audience that we hadn’t considered.

SurveyPie

But what this shows is that our audience is fairly well balanced between the professional and ‘lay’ sectors, and that in turn, our balance of comment and opinion pieces alongside the factual ‘site focus’ type articles is again roughly correct. It’s encouraging that so many (often very busy) professionals consider us worth reading on a regular basis, and for that we thank you all.

Our readership numbers have remained relatively stable over the last 18 months or so, despite reducing the number of articles. We can only interpret this as a period of underlying growth in overall readership – all of which is very encouraging for the future.

So what of that future? From these results it looks very much as if it’ll be business as usual on the Heritage Journal, our mix of pointing out problems in the heritage protection world and raising awareness of the wonderful sites to be visited throughout Britain – “Pricking the Conscience of the Protectors” – continuing as at present.

But we’ll also be working to identify just who those ‘None of the above‘ voters are, and looking to reach out to them too. So if you voted ‘None of the above‘, please let us know who you are, and what you’re looking for from the Journal. And thanks once again to everyone who took part in the survey – your input is very much appreciated by us all here!

Like all good blogs, we are always looking to improve, but in order to do that, we need your help!

As originally conceived, the Heritage Journal was aimed at a readership of like minded-individuals. The kind of people that read the Modern Antiquarian, the Megalithic Portal and similar sites, but we were also hoping to pull in others who were maybe not quite so enthusiastic about tramping across desolate moors to look at ‘lumps and bumps’ in the landscape, but who were maybe curious about the ancient remains scattered around the countryside in the British Isles. The idea of raising awareness of such sites was intended to offer them some protection – after all, the more that people know and care about something then the less chance there is of it being lost to development, deliberate damage and desecration or just sheer neglect.

But as time has passed it’s become obvious to us, largely from browsing our Twitter followers list (around 7500 of you at the time of writing!) that our audience has extended far beyond our original target, to embrace many heritage protection professionals, other organisations and more than a few politicians (local and national). Whilst we take this to be a sign that we’re doing something right, it does leave us wondering how many of our readers still fit our initial intended profile. And moving on from that, whether we should change our content to either better fit (and grow!) our current audience or try to regain those we first targetted. After all, as Abraham Lincoln famously said “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

With this in mind, it’s time for a bit of audience participation. We’d like you to peruse the categories below, simply select the most appropriate and click ‘Vote’ to let us know which category best describes you.

The poll will be open for one week only, after which we’ll assess the responses. Thanks for your help!

The prestigious Culture 24 website (a Government-funded arts and heritage charity listed as one of the Guardian’s top 100 essential websites) has just published a feature titled “Ten of the best archaeology blogs from current UK history projects” – and look what’s included!

gong

We know very well we shouldn’t really be spoken of in the same breath as the others, which are mostly blogs by professionals who actually do something but nevertheless we’d be liars if we said we weren’t very pleased, and we’re very grateful to Ben Miller for thinking of us.

We’ve been at this for nearly 12 years on the simple basis that the best way to help preserve ancient sites is to raise awareness of them. What began as a small effort hatched by a group of likeminded friends at a picnic at the Uffington White Horse has grown bigger and involved more people every year. We’ve published more than two thousand articles from dozens of contributors and last year we were read in 154 countries. We must be addressing a need but we can only keep going if people keep coming forward with news, views and articles. (Hint hint! See here for how to do so.)

The eagle-eyed among you will notice a new item in the navigation bar above, a link to an Events Diary. This new page displays our Google Diary entries, and lists on a monthly basis the various prehistory-based events that we’ve uncovered as being of potential interest to our readership.

2014Cal

It is our intention to populate the calendar each month with basic details of the following types of events:

  • Site Clearups
  • Lectures
  • Exhibitions
  • Community Events
  • Open Days
  • Conferences

However, we cannot possibly check every archaeology or museum web site to collate information, so that’s where you come in! If you are an events organiser, or involved with a local archaeology society and would be prepared to help us by adding your own prehistory events, please contact us and let us know. We can talk through the process if necessary, and thus potentially increase the audience for your events. Similarly, if you’re a regular speaker and would like some exposure for your talks, get in touch.

If you have a Google account and would like to copy an existing event to your own calendar, just click on the event to see the details, and then click on the ‘copy to my calendar’ link provided.

The Events Diary will not totally replace our regular ‘Diary Dates’ postings, which are maintained by Sue Brooke, and will continue to highlight events such as exhibitions which may open across a range of dates (weeks or months).

Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All Men

LanyonAwen

We’d like to extend our thanks to all our readers, friends and social media contacts for their support throughout this year. If you’re new to the site, please stick with us through the coming year, and maybe think about submitting some articles or helping us out in other ways. Enjoy the day, and don’t overindulge!

Although many would consider it a little early for such things, this year in the run-up to Yule we thought we’d try something a little different here on the Heritage Journal. After a bit of brainstorming, we came up with the idea of getting our readers involved in creating a Prehistoric Heritage Advent Calendar.

And that’s where you come in. Whilst we already have a  large collection of photos between us here, many of the shots suitable for this time of year have already been used in the past on the Heritage Journal, and it would be nice to see others’ efforts for a change. So, if you have a suitably wintry/seasonal photo depicting a prehistoric heritage site that we could use, please send it through to us at either of the email addresses on our Contacts page.

The photo could be of a site, feature, excavation, artefact or something a bit more ‘creative’, as long as it’s suitably wintry or ‘seasonal’ and fits with the ‘prehistoric heritage’ theme.

Whilst we can’t/won’t pay for contributions, in the spirit of the season all photographs used as part of the series will be considered for the award of a small token of thanks, All works submitted must be your own, and we claim no rights, other than to use the photo in this year’s Advent series, with suitable attribution. There’s a deadline of 30th November for entries, so dig through your digital archives and let’s showcase the prehistoric heritage we have here in the British Isles!

 

Many of the comments we publish here on the Heritage Journal are relevant and insightful. Some are argumentative or controversial. And to those that take sensible part in such debate, we offer our thanks.

However, sadly in these unenlightened times there are many comments which are *not* suitable for publication, either because an argument has run its course, the topic is off subject, or because for the vast majority of unpublished comments, the spam filter on the website has done it’s job and consigned them to the dustbin.

It seems there are ‘bots out there designed to comment randomly on web sites, in the hope that the comments will be published, thus giving exposure to the poster’s web site address. This is done in the vain hope of improving search engine rankings for malicious sites, so the scammers can claim their pound of flesh from innocent or naive users.

Luckily, our site catches the vast majority of these, and they are deleted without further thought. It’s one reason we moderate *all* comments on the site, and don’t generally allow comments that come via anonymous proxies. The few that slip by the filter are then manually deleted.

spam

However, it can be useful from time to time to review those comments caught in the net, and also entertaining!

We happen to think that over the years, we’ve provided a good mix of content on our primary chosen subject matter: The Pre-Roman Heritage of Britain and the threats thereto. So, in the spirit of all the best West End shows and best selling paperback cover blurbs (remember those?), we present a selection of recent (in the last week) ‘positive review’ comments from our net, for your delectation and delight. Posters details have not been included, for obvious reasons!

  • Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It really helpful & it helped me out much. (not with your English, obviously. – ed)
  • I wanna thank you for publicing this fantastic information. Keep up the good work. I’ll subscribe to your website also. Thanks! (I think you mean publicising it? – ed)
  • This post really peaked my interest. (peaked, or piqued? – ed)
  • Greetings! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and tell you keep up the fantastic work!
  • That is really fascinating, You are an overly skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for seeking extra of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!
  • Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your site unintentionally, and I am stunned why this accident did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.
  • Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is actually irritating. A good web site with exciting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it..
  • I could not refrain from commenting. (Please do! – ed) Exceptionally well written!
  • I delight in the data on your internet site. Thank you.
  • Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It if truth be told was a amusement account it. Glance complicated to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep up a correspondence? (There are no words… and you seem to have used most of them incorrectly -ed)
  • Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done. (Try sending less spam – you’ll have lots of time then! – ed)
  • Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity on your post is simply great and i can suppose you are an expert on this subject. Well together with your permission let me to seize your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thank you a million and please carry on the rewarding work.
  • Fantastic items from you, man. I have take note your stuff previous to and you are simply too magnificent. I actually like what you have received here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which wherein you are saying it. You are making it entertaining and you still care for to stay it wise. I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is really a great web site. (I’m lost for words – ed)

It seems odd that people with the wherewithal to set up such automated systems are so poor at the Queen’s English. Do they really think we’re fooled?

Yet again we have received a large number of comments via anonymous proxies (Boothy et al). Some of these have seemed genuine but most have been antagonistic or deliberately disruptive. To ensure genuine debate we will still be deleting all comments which have come via anonymous proxies when we detect them.

(We have also had postings that seem to be concerted attempts to represent us as saying things we haven’t: someone left a comment likening detectors to guns and it has been quoted suspiciously fast on a US detecting site as something said by us. A pitch for the attention of the none too bright Cold Dead Hand lobby no doubt!)

If you are a genuine poster who uses anonymous proxies for legitimate reasons please email us at info@heritageaction.org.uk and we will make a special case for you.

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