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You’d think Stonehenge had troubles enough, what with proper protection being ditched in favour of proper vote catching and the National Trust inexplicably going along with it. So what it doesn’t need is loads of American detectorists piling in to support the short tunnel. (Nor, truth to tell, does the Trust, bearing in mind the ramshackle case they are trying to maintain and the fact they don’t allow metal detectorists onto any of their land!)  Yet supporting the short tunnel is exactly what a British detectorist is urging American colleagues to do:

May I through the comments section ask that support be given to the UK’s National Trust who favour the ‘short tunnel’ option to protect Stonehenge from traffic. We need to counter the propaganda nonsense spouted by Heritage Harry, aka, Nigel Swift of Heritage Action who is desperate to see the ‘short tunnel’ option binned. Write to:- enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk . I already have. Please support the ‘short tunnel’ option.”

"Awesome"

The new Stonehenge World Heritage landscape. “Awesome”

If, on the other hand, you aren’t an American detectorist and you oppose new damage at Stonehenge, please sign the petition. Plus, if you’re an NT Member please write to them saying: I see you are submitting the short tunnel to a Members’ vote. I vote NO.”

Just when you thought it was ignoring democracy,  the National Trust has launched a review of itself and has invited its 4 million members to comment on how it can deliver its core purpose…..

The working party is focusing particularly on the role of the Council – the body of 52 people which appoints the Board of Trustees, holds it to account and generally ensures the National Trust stays true to its core purpose. All our members will be invited to share their views on the review – do take the opportunity to have your say.

So if you’re a Trust member you have a great chance to make a difference. Why not write to them – enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk saying you wish them to drop their support for a short tunnel at Stonehenge because supporting massive new damage within the World Heritage Site is completely at odds with their core purpose of preserving special places …

for everyone

 Update….

Dan Snow has put it more succinctly….

Retweeted 42 times

Following the recent wide publicity we would like to make our position clear regarding solstice celebrations at Stonehenge:


 

We have no objections whatsoever to solstice celebrations at Stonehenge subject to the simple proviso that they don’t involve damage or disrespect to the monument by which we mean significant litter, urine, vomit, faeces or deliberate marks on the stones – or any climbing up or standing on them (both of which are not open for debate as they are illegal under the government regulations by which English Heritage is bound).

We feel those obvious parameters should have been imposed many years ago on a zero tolerance basis and we look forward to the speedy publication of measures to achieve them. We trust the reforms will be announced not debated and that they will be judged by results this summer and will be revised thereafter as necessary. To this end we call for the prompt publication of a full damage and disrespect status report for each year from 2000 to 2014 and for each year thereafter.

We suspect that most people will agree and we are heartened by this from the Free Stonehenge Facebook Group: “Just to reassure The Heritage Journal that there are in fact many Druids and Pagans in complete agreement with the Journal’s position and are steadfastly campaigning for something to be done ….” It is surely now time for English Heritage to listen to the majority of people for whom respect for the site is the priority.


Thanks to heritage law expert Peter Alexander-Fitzgerald for directing us to this document  suggesting we were right, the National Trust might be able to make its Stonehenge land “forever sacrosanct”. The National Trust Act 1907 says its holdings “can be declared inalienable which means they cannot be sold, mortgaged or even compulsorily purchased by the government (without a debate in Parliament).” Of course, whether it can is one thing but whether it wishes to is another. But we can all hope. Better a second, honourable u-turn than keeping to a decision that will surely echo down history to its discredit.

It’s true that the Trust and EH have just entered into “a Memorandum of Agreement concerning the management of the landscape in and around the Stones including the A344 and the former Visitor Centre site” but it’s in the nature of a memorandum of agreement that it can be cancelled. The Trust is not yet locked into support for a short tunnel. It could still join The Stonehenge Alliance and call for “no new damage at Stonehenge, forever, for everyone”.

BTW, did you know The Trust is advertising for a Business Development Manager for the Wiltshire Landscape portfolio of sites with a role to “drive the commercial and visitor offer”? That ‘offer’ would be vastly more lucrative if that pesky A303 is removed and the two halves of the Stonehenge WHS are conveniently linked together. If the Trust’s recent u-turn had regard to that it would be a scandal so let’s hope it wasn’t.

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Can we have our National Trust back please? If you’re opposed to what’s happening, please sign this petition (for those living in Britain) or this petition   (for people in the rest of the world including NT employees on holiday).


handsoff.

Spaceship Dawn, which is carrying the name of our member Handsoff Stonehenge is now approaching dwarf planet Ceres and will arrive tomorrow, March 6, 2015. At that point it will have travelled about 3 billion miles displaying the message that the universe needs to do right by the whole of Stonehenge not just a part of it.

If you agree that the proposed tunnel is too short and that removing a road from one part of the World Heritage Site while destroying another part is a betrayal of trust and unacceptable, please sign one of the petitions

this one for those who live in Britain

– or this one for those who live in the rest of the universe.

We have been sent this message from someone who has attended several Stonehenge solstice events in a professional capacity. They have supplied their name but have asked that we don’t divulge it.

While we’re happy to agree with King Arthur and others that it is not true pagans or Druids that misbehave at Solstice, the account does suggest there is  more than a small minority of other people, perhaps pagans-for-the-day or simply revellers,  who do so. In addition it highlights the issue of “insults” to the monument i.e. behaviour that may not cause permanent damage but nevertheless shouldn’t be tolerated by the rest of us – and particularly by true pagans and Druids. Is not the unwavering insistence on a “cram-in” ensuring that the monument is grossly disrespected every year and shouldn’t pagans and Druids, of all people, be leading calls for reform, not supporting an indefensible status quo?


I would like to add my thoughts to the debate about open access to the Stones at Solstice.I would prefer to be anonymous for professional reasons.
 
I have attended several of the summer Solstice events in a professional capacity as a senior officer in one of the statutory emergency services. I have witnessed first hand the heartbreak that the staff feel when they reclaim the area within the circle the morning after. I have seen guardians in tears at the insults wrought to the monument, the appalling stench, the rubbish, the vandalism, beer cans wedged into cracks in the stones, urine, vomit and faeces everywhere.
 
The majority seems to have little care for an ancient monument, and utterly disrespect it.
 
One member of staff (NT or EH, can’t remember), whilst starting to collect the detritus, in tears, muttered “364 days a year we protect and care for this place, 364 days a year, and then this happens in one night”. But they always manage to clear the rubbish up and get the site open again. The smell lingers, though, for days.

It seems that King Arthur Pendragon has “slammed” the Heritage Journal in the press (see here). Yet we’ve been very supportive of him over the years and have described him as “brave” here and “affable and amusing” here and “in his own way one of the sanest men in Britain” here.

But he has got it wrong in this case. He says “As for the Heritage Journal, calling for an end to managed open access, they’ve been doing that since they were formed in the first place.” Not so. What we’re against is damage and all we’ve ever wanted is an end to that by redesigning the event so it’s far less crowded and some proper protective control can be applied. Ten years of damage is witness to the fact we have a point and our pagan members all agree. If Arthur can stop the damage, fine, but if all he can do is tell the press “obviously we abhor the vandalism” then we’re entitled to propose measures that will end it.

There are a couple of additional points in support of our view. The latest research suggests the stones were designed to allow people to view the summer solstice sunset from outside the circle, not crowded inside it, so we’re surprised Arthur and others aren’t calling for the authentic re-enactment. It costs a couple of hundred thousand pounds to run the event in the current format and the attendees don’t pay a bean. So if most people stayed outside the circle they’d have a better view and a more authentic one and the rest of the population wouldn’t have to shell out ridiculous amounts of money to run the event. AND the damage would stop in a jiffy!

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See also The View of a Senior Officer

It’s probably best that the following account of vandalism at the winter solstice should be given a wider airing than to just 14 people at the latest Round Table meeting….

damage

The bit about “it will be too expensive to have analysis done” is striking in view of the fact that each year up to 35,000 summer revellers aren’t charged (say) £10 each which amounts to £350,000 not collected. But be that as it may, since it has recently been revealed that apart from the above winter damage there has been vandalism at the stones during almost every summer solstice gathering over the past decade, would it be unreasonable to ask for something to be done to put a stop to it?

(So far as we know there was no vandalism during the lantern parade gathering so it’s clearly possible).

As National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins once said (in 2008) : To accuse the Trust of being effete, a little bumbling and slow to embrace change is really to accuse it of being what its public likes it for being. ” 

Quite. Slow to embrace change, that’s the ticket, the charm, the thing that keeps the money flowing in from 4 million members. It’s “Forever, for everyone” that hooks them, and until recently the Trust has delivered. As Sir Simon recalled more recently: “When in 2011 the coalition government caved in to developer lobbyists and began to dismantle rural planning” the Trust “pivoted to militant mode.” Their stance has been not far short of heroic. So it was all the more shocking when late last year they did a screeching Top Gear u-turn at our national icon. It was like finding Sir David Attenborough is a Russian spy. Wow!

So the Stonehenge WHS isn’t as well protected as everyone thought. Yes it’s full of scheduled monuments, yes it’s covered by a UNESCO declaration but no, it’s not protected from sudden winds of change – especially if two come along at once (in this case, a perceived electoral advantage corresponding with a key guardian having a temporary brainstorm). So do we need something more robust? I noticed that in America they have something which might fit the bill. Here’s an example –

forever wild

That land is designated “forever wild” under Article 14 of the New York state constitution so it’s status can only be changed by amending that constitution. Imagine if Stonehenge had been in New York State and covered by a “Forever Sacrosanct” statute? Right now it would be – well, sacrosanct – unless and until lots of complex procedures and votes said otherwise. Trouble is, it’s in Wiltshire and a lapse by it’s key guardian and a fag packet electoral strategy plan has done for it in a jiffy. Sacrosanct, nah. Sacrificed, yes.

Not that Britain is devoid of “robust protection”, we invented it. Just last week the Conservators of Malvern Hills have said no to a cable car as they are forbidden to say yes by at least 5 statutory provisions including the Malvern Hills Acts of 1884, 1924, 1930 and 1995! (So no question up there of “but we’d get votes out of it” and “Oh go on then!”) Not that statutes are the only techniques – the Americans also have things called “forever wild deed restrictions” which owners can impose on their land. Presumably the Trust could place  a “Forever Sacrosanct deed restriction” on their land all round Stonehenge. It might not hold the line against a compulsory purchase order but it would at least show they are staunch defenders of what they hold in trust forever, for everyone, not unreliable ones. Incidentally, at Malvern the vote was 21-0 against the proposed development with one abstention. What were the voting figures at the Trust? You don’t know? Why?

Dear Posterity,  For the third time in history we've been asked to allow a visitor centre to be built at the top with cable cars up the slopes but we refused. This has been our gift to you. Enjoy. The Malvern Hills Conservators, 2015.

Dear Posterity,
We’ve been asked to allow cable cars to be built on the slopes and a visitor centre at the top but we refused as we’re not allowed to say yes and we have a duty to “keep the hills open, unenclosed and unbuilt on“. This has been our gift to you. Enjoy.
The Malvern Hills Conservators, 2015.

sh SAVED.

Read all about it in The Daily Mail here .
What  a relief. Campaigners at Stonehenge are going to have “a key voice”!

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