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We haven’t had a Quote of the Week for ages, but something in the Yorkshire Times prompted us to start it again.

It’s from an article that poses the question “Are there too many wind farms in East Yorkshire?”. If you’re worried about global warming, you’d probably say no. If you’re a windfarm developer you’d probably say no. If you’re a farmer wanting to make oodles you’d probably say no. And if you are a local who wants cheap local electricity and increased employment opportunities you’d probably say no.

But what if, actually, you think some (though not all) heritage sites and their settings need preserving or treating with respect so that some (but not all) can be passed to the future unscathed, what then? What if you think the pendulum has swung a bit too far in favour of people who want to make gazillions and against those who want to preserve some (but not all) such heritage assets? What if you feel that since  East Yorkshire has the highest density of wind turbines in England (226 turbines over 50 metres high have been built, approved or are pending a decision), enough is now enough?


Dr Peter Halkon, an archaeologist and a lecturer at the University of Hull, has spoken for them:

“The landscape of East Yorkshire is varied and subtle. It possesses a beauty of its own. There are very few parts of our region which have not been shaped by human activity since the first farmers some 6,000 years ago. Most of these changes however were in keeping with a landscape created by centuries of settlement and agriculture. Despite intensive use many monuments still survive making this one of the most important archaeological regions in the UK, a heritage which includes the Rudston monolith, Britain’s tallest standing stone, great prehistoric burial grounds and the network of massive linear earthworks.”

He said one of the most important archaeological landscapes in the region is between Market Weighton and Sancton, containing long barrows built five and a half thousand years ago and now home to one of the area’s largest windfarms.

“The views down valleys like this are very important. Now all one sees looking down them towards the Humber are the massive blades of wind turbines. No amount of predevelopment archaeological prospection or excavation can make up for the loss of the visual and symbolic connection between the wider landscape and these significant monuments to past human activities.”

He said he has no objection to small scale, carefully sited single turbines on farms, but said any more large developments “will wreck this beautiful historic landscape”.

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope”.


Happy New Year to all our supporters and readers.

“Summer Solstice Sunrise from West Kennet” © Jim Mitchell, Heritage Action

From the Wairarapa Daily Times, New Zealand,  9 November 1915 :

“It appears that it was a local landowner, Mr C H E Chubb of Bemerton Lodge, Salisbury, who purchased Stonehenge for £6,600…..After the sale Mr Chubb said that when he went into the saleroom he had no intention whatsoever of buying the monument. “While I was there,” he added “I thought a Salisbury man ought to buy it, and that is how it was done”.

Asked if he had any plans for the future of Stonehenge Mr Chubb said that while he intended to preserve the monument, he would do nothing for some little time, as he had to consider the position.”

[Whether Mr Chubb had in mind that it was necessary to “consider the position” for almost a century is not recorded.]

“English Heritage should appoint a local society as its point of liaison for all the monuments in its care. There are constantly minor works that need to be done, such as new pathways, the foundation for a new seat, or a need for an extension to the toilets or plumbing. Such minor works could perfectly well be investigated by the local society. Major works will need to be done professionally, but the local people should be consulted and made to feel that the local monument belongs to them – not to English Heritage in London.”

Andrew Selkirk, Editor-in-Chief, Current Archaeology.

More (some of which we agree with rather less!) here.

“As in any hobby or organization you have a small rouge (sic) element this includes detector users, archeologists, and no doubt some Heritage Action employees”

We were amused by the above slip of a detectorist’s pen in a Comment to our piece on detecting on ridge and furrow  (we haven’t published it there as the discussion seems to be sterile). But perhaps we’re entitled to react to the much cited claim by detectorists that there are rogue elements everywhere.

For the avoidance of doubt it should be clearly understood that neither archaeologists nor Heritage Action members have a nighthawking wing. Nor do they favour grabbing things for themselves. Nor not reporting them. Nor selling them.

Since all detectorists are guilty of between 1 and 4 of those things (and most of them are guilty of at least 2 according to PAS), attempting to say there’s a comparison between the behaviour of detectorists and that of archaeologists and Heritage Action members is a bit silly.

The difference is clear. Detectorists exploit and remove for their personal benefit. All of them. Very very very few other people involved with heritage matters do that. Only one group that is interested in heritage needs to blush, and it’s not archaeologists or Heritage Action members.


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting


Across the UK and Ireland, excavation funding is falling; archaeologists are losing their jobs. But the unrecorded past is still there, and building, farming, roadworks and many other forces relentlessly wipe the record.  Only now, after decades of astonishingly productive work, do we realise how much must have been lost before, We are losing things now. And in the present state of the economy it is no surprise to hear calls to relax protection legislation… [British Archaeology ]

Powerful words. And there is great significance in what he adds:

We feature six typical sites that are being or may soon be destroyed. They range from traces of 8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers to a world war two bomb shelter, and none can be saved by professional archaeologists on their own.

STONEHENGE, the grandest prehistoric monument in the British Isles, is at last in sight of the end of its troubles.

“Preservation was assured some years ago, but its essential setting, the vast solitude of Salisbury Plain, was lost during the war and has never been recovered. First the war, then tourists, broke in upon the silence and spacious emptiness of Salisbury Plain, but plans for protection are afoot.”

The New York Times, October 16, 1927.

“You are an archaeologist, I am a naturalist…Go thy way to Abury…thou man of stone, of bronze, of iron. I, being of flesh and blood, with warm heart and warm sympathies, seek my companions amid the living and the beautiful, and not among the dead.”

John Tyndall, the physicist, writing to his friend John Lubbock in 1863.

“The single largest source of destruction of the archaeological heritage today is through looting – the illicit, unrecorded and unpublished excavation to provide antiquities for commercial profit.”

This of course doesn’t apply to Britain – where most destruction of the archaeological heritage through metal detecting is unrecorded and unpublished but licit

Nothing like any third world country then.


Culture Vulture

Thatcher’s children return to Avebury

Nighthawks are “site burglars” say detectorists. Wrong again!

More Wiltshire local history being flogged off “for charity”

Staffordshire Hoard: Parting the Piggy Bank

Lucrative heroism?

Heritage Action vindicated at Portable Antiquities conference

Largest detecting forum confesses to undermining PAS

PAS to support metal detecting sales push

Metal detecting and helping Trump: two new school subjects?

Wiltshire metal detecting rally flouts archaeological guidelines

Metal detecting at the end of the noughties: bad just got worse

Metal detecting: a letter to English Heritage

£3.2 m reward for Staffordshire hoard should be £32 million!

The Staffordshire Hoard: my Irish Eyes see an Illegal Activity

Legalised detecting? “Non merci, we’re French (and care!)

Reward payment delays “unacceptable say detectorists!   

Detectorist Michael Darke on what YOUR £500,000 means to him

Detectorists dig up 11,000 ancient artefacts. Fortnightly!

Half a million artefacts removed since Britain pulled out of Basra

Metal Detecting: more evidence it’s all for the love of history?

Metal Detecting: now the dealers are heroes too!

Metal Detecting: support from abroad – but look who it’s from!

NEWS: Metal detectorist jailed for six months

Metal detecting for money: Isobel, 7, shames the sham heroes.

Metal detecting is purely about love of history: UPDATE

Metal detecting is purely about love of history: computer says no!

Mr Browning, heritage hero – UPDATE

French metal detectorists seek archaeological asylum in Britain!

Metal detecting: annoyed by the rules? Make up your own!

Nighthawking: much ado about the wrong thing.

“it has been noticed that some people have been asking our Finds Advisers for an ID on an item, then popping straight across to Ebay to sell the item complete with Finds ID word for word, with not even a polite word of thanks to the guy who spent his time identifying the item !! This is not on !! Anyone found guilty of this sour practise will be made very aware that we do not condone this at all !!”  (From the latest newsletter of UKDN, the leading metal detecting website).

A sour practise eh? The point has rather been missed. Digging up our history and flogging it on EBay is an obnoxious practice in our view, much worse than being disrespectful to the UKDN finds advisors, yet where’s the UKDN official statement that THAT is also “not on”? But there’s something far worse than flogging it: digging up our history and not recording it with PAS (something UKDN says it “encourages” it’s members to do) is far more obnoxious since it clearly injures the whole of society without even a token bit of mitigation. Patently, the UKDN finds advisory service is being used by some detectorists instead of approaching the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds officers so items are consequently not being reported or recorded.

UKDN cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim they are encouraging UKDN members to report their finds to PAS while at the same time providing a quick and convenient alternative non-PAS identification service. It is as damaging and wrong as the activities of the alternative “detectorists recording scheme” that UKDN quite properly avoids promoting.

Metal detecting, eh? So many fine words. Such historicidal behaviour. We await their “solution” with interest. We doubt it will involve abandoning their ID service in order to better encourage all their members to go to PAS but who knows? Maybe those in charge, some of whom actually know what’s what, will decide to do the right thing despite their members!


PAS to support metal detecting sales push

Metal detecting and helping Donald Trump: two additions to the British education syllabus?Wiltshire metal detecting rally flouts archaeological guidelines

 Metal detecting at the end of the noughties: bad just got worse.

 Metal detecting: a letter to English Heritage

 Metal detecting: £3.2 million reward for reporting the Staffordshire hoard should have been £32 million claims detectorist!

Legalised metal detecting? “No thanks, we’re French (and we give a damn about our resource!)” – Official. Quote of the Week #3: The National Council for Metal Detecting on why current delays in rewarding their members are “unacceptable”

Quote of the week #2: Metal detectorist Michael Darke on what his share of YOUR £500,000 means to himNEWS: Metal detectorists dig up 11,000 ancient artefacts in amazing two week period. Every fortnight!


June 2023

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