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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 ….
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?
We noticed last week the 2005 paint damage has almost disappeared ….
Eleven years it has taken. Which prompted us to wonder: if there was a severity scale for vandalism, how would you measure it? Maybe “how long will the change last” is a good measure. On that basis, breaking a lump of stone off is worst as that change is forever and painting the stones, thereby changing them for 11 years, comes second.
Then there are other, smaller changes which we noticed there….
Easily tidied up (except for the candle way which is a real pain for those who look after the site). But this one also looks minor, but isn’t…..
A polished pebble that has been forced in and now can’t be removed except by damaging the stone. So on the “how long will the change last” scale it could be there indefinitely and is one of the worst bits of damage. Best not do it then? In fact, best not change the stones at all? Instead, just capture some reflected photons, like this respectful American visitor did ….
or leave no trace of your visit, like this Polish immigrant did …..
Part of the Stonehenge tunnel lobby has been tweeting this scary image, apparently showing how desperately a tunnel is needed….
The millions who don’t know the area might think the traffic flows up the hill and goes right by the stones. Trouble is, the image on Twitter isn’t as wide as the original so doesn’t make it clear that the road up the hill was a minor side road. Here’s the original ….
Rather different, eh? But that’s not all. The image is an old one and the place is nothing like that now because the road up the hill has been closed and turfed over for years! The reality is more like this ….
Hmmm. So FAR less indicative of a pressing need for a tunnel (especially an horrendously damaging short one). We are reminded of our own warning last February “Look out for fibs, foutards, re-interpretations and smokescreens.“
The Journal has been around quite a while and one of the advantages of that is that we can look at our archives and find things which EH, NT et al, those who are trying to say (and DO say) that UNESCO/ICOMOS think a short tunnel would be spiffing, would rather everyone would forget.
Here’s a beauty from exactly 11 years ago, in July 2005:
"Heritage Action welcomes the news that the A303 improvement scheme that threatened the loss of archaeology and further intrusion into the surroundings of Stonehenge has been withdrawn. ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, has also welcomed the news. They say: "We believe that the review announced by the Minister allows time for serious consideration to be given to alternative schemes for upgrading the A303 that do not involve cutting across the heart of the World Heritage Site".
The army is building some new houses at Bulford, a couple of kilometers from Stonehenge and they’ve discovered a couple of 5,000 year old neolithic henges. The houses will still be built but a green space containing the henges will be left untouched.
By contrast, not far away and very soon, it is intended that bulldozers will dig out the entrance trenches to the “short tunnel” inside the World Heritage Site. There will be a host of archaeological sites in that area and you’ll have heard that the line chosen will minimise the impact on them. It’s important to understand though, that if two more henges (or ten, or anything else, no matter how precious) are found to be “inconveniently” placed, the line of the road won’t look like this….
No, it will look far more like this, it’s a certainty. Any diversion will be marginal or impossible so “minimising the impact” means about as much as a politician’s promise.
That in a nutshell is what the Stonehenge Alliance and others are upset about. So please sign their petition if you haven’t done already. The road lobby, you see, wearing the smiling professional face of EH, HE and NT, is likely to be far more ruthless than the army.
As if to prove the theory that graffiti begets graffiti, one of the stones in the Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor has been carved into yet again. The damage was spotted on Wednesday by a local who has informed the Police.
This is the third time in a couple of years this site has been targeted, yet again seemingly by an ignorant visitor to the site. Perhaps its time for the authorities to consider more proactive measures including cctv to stop such flagrant abuse.