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As a boy I was furious when the bit of Enville Common where we played cricket every Sunday was suddenly fenced off and planted with small trees. Here they are now ….
Fortunately for young cricketers the Enville Estate practices sustainable forestry and shortly a lot of them are to be felled and the land will revert to how it was in 1955, for a while at least. I plan to take my grandson there to play cricket.
What has this to do with the price of beans? Well, it crossed my mind it’s a good example of harmless change. A circle has turned and no harm has been done. Whereas, the change that’s proposed at Stonehenge is on a line not a circle. If EH and NT and Mr Cameron and the road lobby get their way a new massive scar across one of the most important archaeological landscapes in the world will still be there long after all of them aren’t – and indeed long after there’s no more petrol.
You can write to the Trust very easily here . (Just say to Dame Helen Ghosh that as a stakeholder you support the simple but compelling principle of no new damage to Stonehenge and you think she should too.)
You can also write to UNESCO very easily here. (Tell them that the things that they’re liable to hear from EH and NT, they ain’t necessarily so, and a lot of people in Britain don’t support what they are trying to do to the World Heritage Site).
Can you guess who said this?
“I still find Stonehenge rather dull. When it comes to prehistory, I am more for picturesque Avebury or Brittany’s stupendous Carnac. Wiltshire’s henge is small and fragmentary, and I wish someone would replace the fallen lintels and fill in the gaps.
Another “Stonehenge sensation” this month revealed that the the henge had been a complete circle. Given its astronomical precision, why not put it back as intended by its builders? We do not leave sundials out of line or clocks without escapements. We know where the sarsens and bluestones came from. We rebuild churches and cathedrals. A reconstructed Stonehenge might make sense, and not just to archaeologists.
But there we go. Like Obama and the rest, I have communed too long and am probably going mad.”
Someone in long flowing robes, high on a hill, hands outstretched to the moon? No, it was the NT’s outgoing chairman, here just weeks before announcing he – and you – were going to support the short tunnel! But that was then and this is now and he has left and you haven’t.
If you feel that supporting a short tunnel conflicts with the Trust’s mission and spirit you’ll be pleased to know it has just invited its members to say how it can stay true to its core purpose (could it be asking you to urge it to change its mind?) You can tell them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like, you could mention that when they boasted on World Heritage Day that “we’re proud to protect eight World Heritage Sites” you think they should have said seven!)
You could also follow Dan Snow’s advice: “Great that the National Trust has given members a vote on the Stonehenge tunnel. Please help to Save Stonehenge“
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:- email@example.com . I already have. Please support the ‘short tunnel’ option.”
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org 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 …
Dan Snow has put it more succinctly….
@NationalTrust has given members a vote on the Stonehenge tunnel. Please help to #SaveStonehenge: https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/national-trust-to-allow-its-members-a-say-about-the-short-tunnel/ …
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.
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).
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
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?
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!
See also The View of a Senior Officer