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News comes from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) that they are working closely with other (unspecified) organisations to find out if archaeological sites and monuments in our towns, cities and countryside are being carefully managed within the planning process. They are looking for good and bad examples of cases where archaeology has been (or should have been) considered as part of a development. They are particularly keen to hear about developers that have ‘gone the extra mile’ in helping local communities understand their heritage through excavation or conservation and those developers who seem disinterested.

Dealing sensitively with archaeology through the planning process is a standard requirement of developers and the local planning authority. The National Planning Policy Framework (recently revised) sets out clear requirements for Local Planning Authorities to follow. As a rule, damage or destruction of archaeological sites should be avoided. Where this is not possible, there is usually a requirement to ensure that archaeology is recorded, and the results made publicly available.

The CBA is working with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) on a project that will collect information on how the current planning system is – or isn’t working – for archaeology, and they’d like to hear from you.

  • Have you ever felt frustrated or angry that your local heritage has been treated poorly?
  • Have you ever benefited from increased knowledge of your heritage because of development?
  • Have you ever felt that no one is listening, and your community’s views have been ignored?
  • Have you ever felt the opposite?

If you have any examples with a story to tell, then please get in touch with them with outline details and they’ll get back to you.

You can find more information on the CIfA website together with a link to a survey that you can use to submit detailed information if you have been or are closely involved with the planning system.

Alternatively, contact the CBA directly with your story by 21 September 2018.

 

A founder member of Heritage Action, Graham writes:

As you’re reading this, I think it’s safe to assume that you have a healthy interest in prehistoric monuments, so it’s unlikely that you’ve NOT heard of the magnificent cinematic masterpiece that is “Standing With Stones”.

This wonderful film was created in its entirety by Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott, who funded, wrote, presented and produced the whole thing by themselves. It truly is a labour of love, and well worth a watch if you haven’t already, and a re-watch if you have.

The film was followed up a few months later with a book entitled “Standing with Stones: A Photographic Journey Through Megalithic Britain and Ireland”, which – again – is a must-have item for any fellow stonehuggers out there.

Since the release of the film, many of us have hoped for a follow-up, and various discussions have taken place over the years. Michael and Rupert have sporadically hosted Facebook chats on the subject, and now 10 years after the release of the original film the two of them have got together to create a regular Standing With Stones podcast! Followers are encouraged to show their gratitude with regular donations via the Patreon platform, which will help to fund the shows but also eventually hopefully fund a second film!

A Standing With Stones Community on Facebook has been created and contains regular updates and “open house” live chats along with the podcasts and snippets of previously unseen and brand new film footage. Contributors receive priority access to certain content as an incentive to donate.

I can highly recommend getting involved with this group. Michael and Rupert are absolutely delightful and extremely knowledgeable on the subject. The discussions are very easy going, free-flowing and welcome interaction from viewers whose interjections are usually responded to during the chat.

I cannot speak highly enough of these two wonderful gentlemen and their dedication to the subject. The megalithic world benefits greatly from their efforts.

Several years ago (May 2012 to be precise), we posited a mobile app that would allow visitors to heritage sites to report any damage or details of other heritage crimes direct to the appropriate authorities. Heritage crime is any offence which targets the historic environment.

We spent some time thinking about the design of such an app, and how it could work in practice; what functionality would be necessary or desirable, how the lines of reporting would work, and so on. We received a couple of feedback comments to say that a couple of groups were also researching such a thing, but sadly we did not have the resources (or the skills and experience) to take the idea any further ourselves. And we never heard back from those commenters about any progress on their work.

However, an app has recently come to our attention that would appear to meet many of our suggested requirements. Historic England in partnership with Country Eye has made reporting heritage crime quick and easy with a free app. The app looks to be potentially useful according to the introductory video:

After downloading, the app requires the user to register, with the usual details; name, email address, postcode and mobile phone number. Sadly, we were unable to progress beyond this point as every attempt to register was met with a 404 error. This may be due to the app’s one serious shortcoming: it is (currently?) only valid for users in the county of Kent. As we tried to register with a non-Kent postcode, this may have led to the error.

Despite our failure to be able to give the app a tryout for review, it’s encouraging to finally see an attempt by the market to provide something which we first envisaged six years ago. We can only hope that the wider Kentish population becomes aware of the app and that its use is successful in reducing heritage crime in the area.

But dare we hope that this app, or something very similar, will become available on a nationwide basis in the not too distant future?

After years of biased advocacy, the short tunnel supporters (the Government, its 3 “yes-bodies” and a thin veneer of allegiant archaeologists) just had a clear reply from UNESCO: the short tunnel should be scrapped! So the question now arises, what will they do? Accept it? Or ignore it and carry on regardless?

Highway’s England’s hurried initial reaction suggests the latter: “We remain confident our scheme will enhance and protect the Stonehenge landscape.” That meaningless statement often works for developers seeking to build a few houses in small villages. But this is no village, it’s the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and this is no parish council UNESCO are talking to – it’s the world.

So far as we can see the Government can react in one of two ways. It can say, fair enough, we’ve miraculously found the finance to avoid harming the landscape. OR, and this is our guess, it can get some friendly archaeologists to start discrediting UNESCO in the public mind. Keep watching. We’ll know soon!

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The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is seeking to appoint a new Chair of Trustees from November 2017. There are also vacancies for four Trustees.

Chair

Voluntary and unremunerated: reasonable expenses reimbursed.

Location: Flexible

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is seeking to appoint a new Chair of Trustees from November 2017. The CBA, based in York, is a UK-wide educational charity working to involve people in archaeology and promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment.

Working with the Trustee Board and Executive, the new Chair will make sure that the Council for British Archaeology develops and delivers a new ambitious strategy for change in accordance with its charitable aims and to secure its long-term sustainability. The new Chair will champion the educational objectives of the Council, recognising how access to archaeology can inspire young people across the UK.

The Chair will lead the organisation in the next phase of its development to build the role that a progressive archaeological organisation can play in the twenty-first century, growing its impact, profile and financial sustainability.

The Board is seeking someone with good change and business experience as well as strong ambassadorial skills to work with a wide range of stakeholders. In the new Chair the Board is seeking someone with experience and enthusiasm for heritage or archaeology to provide leadership for the Board along with support and challenge to the Executive.

Commitment up to two days per month, term 3 years, renewable.

Closing date for nominations: Friday 21 July 2017

Trustee vacancies

Following the retirement of a number of existing trustees having completed their full term, there are vacancies for four new trustees for election at the AGM in November 2017. The CBA is particularly seeking trustees with strategic experience in fundraising, marketing and communications, and business management.

All trustee nominations for election at the 2017 AGM must be received by 6 August 2017.

For further details and for an informal conversation about any of the above vacancies please contact Dr Mike Heyworth MBE, CBA Director, director@archaeologyuk.org.

Following recent changes to the heritage legislation in Wales, plans now appear to be afoot to “evaluate whether the structures underpinning the sector are fit for purpose” (Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure).

Pentre Ifan in Pembrokeshire

Regular readers of the Heritage Journal will be aware of the various concerns raised over the years regarding the existing medieval feudal structure and hope that the Committee set up to look into the matter will take the opportunity to modernise the archaic structures that currently riddle the Welsh heritage sector. Providing genuine positive changes are made with protection and sensitive management of the heritage at its core, this would seem to be a long overdue step.

If on the other hand it’s just another excuse to wield the axe, or tinker with job titles then almost certainly the result will be another lost opportunity. Apparently the heritage sector in Wales contributes more to the economy than agriculture and it would therefore seem sensible to treat it with the respect it deserves and fully recognise its importance.

Last week saw a new commemorative stamp issue from the Royal Mail in the UK, this time celebrating our ancient past.

The eight special stamps feature iconic sites and exceptional artefacts. The lineup is as follows:

* 1st Class – Skara Brae and the Battersea shield.
* £1.05 – Maiden Castle and the Star Carr headdress.
* £1.33 – Avebury and the Drumbest horns.
* £1.52 – Grimes Graves and the Mold cape.

prehistoric-stamps
The stamps are all enhanced with illustrations that reveal how our ancient forebears lived and worked. I plumped for the First Day Cover (postmarked Avebury) and the Presentation Pack. A useful and informative sheet gives details about each of the subjects. More information and ordering details can be found on the Royal Mail website.

Have you got yours yet?

By Dr Sandy Gerrard

A recent press report in the Express & Echo should concern everyone with an interest in the archaeology of the South West English uplands.  Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and Exmoor are particularly rich and important archaeological landscapes where the impact of the past can be easily appreciated.

On Dartmoor alone around 5,000 Bronze Age houses together with hundreds of hectares of field systems and enclosures survive in close proximity to thousands of cairns, hundreds of cists and the largest concentration of stone rows anywhere in Britain. Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor together provide a unique insight into the character of life and death in prehistoric times. Nowhere else in Britain is it possible to explore and appreciate the true impact of prehistoric people on the landscape. In recent years this incredible resource has been slowly disappearing beneath a sea of gorse, bracken and purple moor grass as farming practices have been adjusted in response to subsidy changes.

According to the Express & Echo article fresh plans are being drawn up to accelerate this process by returning parts of the moor “to the wild”. It is not clear which parts the bureaucrats have in mind, but we can be sure that given the extraordinary wide distribution of archaeology that important archaeology that we have all taken for granted could soon no longer be visible. Hopefully Historic England will fight this proposal and prevail – any other outcome would be disastrous.  Any attempt to deliberately conceal our heritage from us all should be opposed with the utmost vigour. Inevitably once the archaeology was out of sight it would soon be out of mind.

If this plan goes ahead much of Dartmoor’s amazing archaeology will be lost from sight. The fate of the largely invisible stone row at Spurrell’s Cross could await many cherished archaeological sites in South West England.

If this plan goes ahead much of Dartmoor’s amazing archaeology will be lost from sight. The fate of the largely invisible stone row at Spurrell’s Cross could await many cherished archaeological sites in South West England.

 

Each December, English Heritage (or Historic England as we must now call it – what about Pre-Historic England?) issue their annual Heritage Counts report.  Heritage Counts is an annual audit of England’s heritage, first produced in 2002. It is produced by Historic England on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum.

There are nine regions across the country, but this year only three have decided to issue a regional report. Well done to London, the North East and the South West! This compares to the total of five regions that produced a report last year. One can’t help but wonder if this is due to the ongoing financial constraints placed upon the organisation, and the need to become self-financing. Will there be any regions reporting next year, I wonder?

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