You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Damage and desecration’ category.

Placebo politics? In 2010  Conservative MP John Glen certainly pleased the voters, saying he would not rest until a Salisbury bypass was built. But this year he changed: “I have always said that I will not rest from seeking improvements to Salisbury’s roads infrastructure.” Not quite the same thing! Anyway, he has now applied placebo politics to Stonehenge (and added a dash of muddle!):

On 4th March 2014 he wrote: there is one option that would address the demands of those who crave a fit for purpose dual carriageway and those who rightly seek to protect the precious archaeology of Stonehenge. A long deep bore tunnel would enable safe passage through without disturbing the hidden barrows and earthworks of the wider World Heritage site.” Sounds pleasing! A long tunnel and no disturbance to archaeology. But next day at a Westminster Hall debate he said  “In the past there has repeatedly been one solution that has united all parties, a deep bore tunnel if it was at least 2.8 km long.

For his information … all parties were NOT united, in fact nearly every archaeological and heritage body was strongly against it! In addition, his “long tunnel” turns out to be a short tunnel, and that of course would disturb the archaeology of the wider World Heritage site! Placebos (and yowling moggies) are bad enough but describing damaging quack remedies as reliable cures is worse.

[To see the others put ‘Yowling’ in the search box.]

Historic England says the Stonehenge tunnel would be “the biggest single investment ever made by Government in this country’s heritage.” No. It was always a road investment. For avoidance of doubt: the Government’s published purpose was “to turn the A303 into a strategic corridor to the south-west” (and of course, to get votes!) It was subsequently painted as a heritage investment by the 3 bodies trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Neither “heritage” nor anything like it passed David Cameron’s lips when he visited the site for the announcement. In fact, he let the moggy out of the bag that day. Just after being briefed by the Highways Agency and the Trust he stated, unconvincingly: It’s quite a long tunnel but I think that’s what makes it such a successful plan. No David! They may have told you it’s quite a long tunnel but actually it’s a far too short tunnel for conservation purposes and that’s what makes it a disastrous plan and one of the biggest single destructive actions ever made by Government against this country’s heritage!


[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Surprise, surprise! A planning application has just been submitted to North Yorkshire County Council by Tarmac applying to extend its Nosterfield Quarry. As part of it, it is proposing to ‘gift’ to an appropriate body in perpetuity control of the Central and Southern henges. Sounds kind. Until you recall that Tarmac has wrecked most of the landscape of the henges already. And that giving gifts has long been part of its strategy….


In July 2005 the Journal reported that “In an attempt to appease local opposition a strip of land between Thornborough Moor and Nosterfield has been offered to the village for recreational purposes” and the next month it was reported they’d offered to donate 60 acres of land around the Northern Henge to the nation. However, six months later we were reporting the other side of the story: “Quarrying in the vicinity of the Thornborough Henges has caused widespread concern for many years. About half of the original complex has been destroyed, a landfill site is being operated immediately adjacent to the central monuments and quarrying is still ongoing close by at Nosterfield, also within the monument complex”.


So Tarmac’s latest gesture isn’t something to celebrate greatly. Gifting control of the Central and Southern Henges is no big deal since they are scheduled and can’t be quarried – and indeed are probably a burden to be responsible for. So it’s probably best to think of Tarmac more as a crocodile, to be treated with caution not gratitude. Just over ten years ago we quoted our colleague, Thornborough campaigner George Chaplin.  His words turned out to be prophetic: “Tarmac have not given up in their ambition to extend the existing quarry. They intend to appeal against the refusal and the danger remains very real for the whole of the remaining surroundings”.

Hard to believe, but true. Even though Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust say they are committed to ensure that “only schemes which protect and enhance the World Heritage Site are progressed” it has just been revealed that Wessex Archaeology are secretly test digging (see this) at the very spot where the entrance to one version of the route would be and it’s at the very place where it would do maximum damage to the significance of Stonehenge:



[Hat tip to Tim Daw]

Ask English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust, they’ll all confirm that the central purpose of Stonehenge was the alignment with the winter solstice sunset as seen at that very spot. Yet the bizarre situation has arisen whereby they are all three pushing for a short tunnel which would involve the visible evidence of the central meaning of Stonehenge being destroyed.


[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Once again it comes from the National Trust, which says, (in response to its own question, about whether there any other options rather than building a tunnel):
“Other options within the WHS, such as a surface dual carriageway, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments.  They would also do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.”

Yet the Trust  is supporting a short tunnel, which itself involves a long stretch of “surface dual carriageway“, would have a major and negative impact on the Site and its monuments” and would “do real damage to the reputation of the UK as caring for its heritage.



[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

by Dr Sandy Gerrard

Where heritage and development collide - the odds are stacked against the archaeology

Where heritage and development collide – the odds are stacked against the archaeology

At Bancbryn the archaeological establishment set about trashing the idea that the alignment of stones separating two scheduled cairn cemeteries could be important. Before waiting to see any evidence, the possibility of it being significant was being privately and publically dismissed. Over the months that followed its discovery, various outlandish alternative interpretations backed by spurious “facts” were offered and then silently withdrawn. Important files were shredded, correspondence ignored, evidence avoided and reports buried. Interestingly the various organisations do not apparently see that any of this represents a problem.

Presumably, this is because this is simply business as usual. This whole mess helpfully provides an insight into the way Welsh heritage is regularly carved up by those entrusted with its care. No matter what camouflage is deployed; these organisations are primarily concerned with enabling the controlled destruction of the historic environment. Over the years they have cleverly created the illusion that they are in the protection and conservation game – however the facts at Bancbryn and elsewhere in Wales betray their true role. Cleverly worded reports and excuses are their stock in trade – all designed to ensure the controlled and unimpeded destruction of our archaeology. After all if the “expert” at Cadw says something is not really that important, then surely it must be true? Well no. The Cadw “expert” is very unlikely to have the necessary expertise to assess its importance properly, but on the other hand they are extremely likely to have the prowess to write the sort of report suited to the desired outcome. By these means archaeological sites are regularly sacrificed on the altar of progress and economic development.

To avoid any uncertainty or confusion, Cadw are part of the Welsh Assembly Government and are entrusted with the role of ensuring that the government’s development initiatives are not jeopardised by inconvenient archaeological remains. Cadw’s position within the Welsh Assembly severely limits their abilities to be the honest broker and instead their role is often to ensure the smooth and orderly destruction of the historic environment. To do anything else would be a risky strategy indeed. With all this in mind the Bancbryn debacle sadly makes complete sense and was inevitable.

According to the National Trust, the UNESCO/ICOMOS report
mirrors the views held jointly by Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, in acknowledging that a fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km could help to significantly improve the World Heritage Site and that the design and location of all aspects of the road improvement scheme need to be carefully and fully considered”

The report said:
we are concerned that associated portals and dual carriageways could have a highly adverse impact on other parts of the World Heritage landscape that cannot be set aside, however great the benefits of a tunnel
which is the opposite.

Stand by for the ninth!

[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]

Last Tuesday officials seized earthmovers hired by a temple committee as it was destroying the Karez heritage site in Naubad, India. Following a tip-off, a team led by Tahsildar Jagannath Reddy and those from the Departments of Forest and Mining, inspected the work of cutting trees and levelling hillocks on a portion of the Manjra plateau. They seized the equipment and (most satisfyingly), filed cases against workers and persons who had ordered the work!

If only Tahsildar Jagannath Reddy was an Ancient Monument Inspector in Britain! We could tip him off that 3 conservation organisations are currently plotting to let loose a battalion of bulldozers across a mile of the World Heritage Site.


You might find it hard to believe that such organisations are in favour of such a thing. But it’s true. Meanwhile one of them, English Heritage, is going for the lower-than-populist approach, no doubt to distract from the Stonehenge scandal ….


pokemon eh

On that day Historic England is sponsoring a conference celebrating 30 years since Stonehenge was added to the World Heritage List. Very nice. Except that it will include an examination of “developments in conservation”. Why?

Well, Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust are all making presentations. All three have been pushing hard for a short tunnel with entrances and new road infrastructure inside the World Heritage Site even though it  simply can’t happen unless the meaning of the wording of the World Heritage Convention can somehow be morphed to say that construction of massive entrance trenches inside the World Heritage Site is OK!

It’s to be hoped that a conference billed as a celebration of the WHS and the protection it has enjoyed won’t be used as a platform to suggest that profoundly damaging it is valid. It isn’t!

Visited Avebury yesterday. Concocted a riddle:

Q: How do you stop 6 people climbing onto the stones in a ten minute period?
A: By putting up signs asking them not to – that are bigger than 1.25 square inches!



We know the National Trust aren’t big on listening (they’ve ignored us on this matter repeatedly, going back to 2010) but we thought we’d mention it anyway. Yesterday there were some really small children on top of one tall stone, which leads us to a second riddle:

Q:  If a child fell down and broke a leg would NT’s sign stand up in court?
A:  ????


October 2016
« Sep    

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Twitter Feed

%d bloggers like this: