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Is the view of Stonehenge from the A303 of cultural value?

Having considered this for you, I can confirm that this is not a Freedom of Information request. Yours sincerely Frances Gibbons Senior Information Rights Officer

I’m sorry you judge that the question was not a Freedom of Information request since it was a request for information. However, you do have an opinion on the importance of the view of Stonehenge since on the first line of your page about Stonehenge you opine that Stonehenge is a “must-see monument” so is it also your position that the view of Stonehenge from the A303 is of cultural value?

As your query does not fall under FOI legislation it was passed to the English Heritage Press Office on 1 September. I have sent them a reminder this morning and someone will be in touch as soon as they are able. Kind regards, Ann Bryan Information Rights Administrator.

This is the Whixall Stone, recently retrieved from a domestic trench by a householder in North Shropshire. The markings are Neolithic/Late Bronze Age and are considered to be of regional, if not national importance.

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However, something surprising happened in September 2021 when it was being investigated in the Portable Antiquities Scheme laboratory. The owner decided to retrieve it and place it in an online auction house – (Timeline Auctions, Lot 0452).

Brett Hammond, managing director of Timeline Auctions, said the stone was sold to a Californian buyer for a total of £15,240 but “Negotiations are underway to allow Shropshire Museums to have the piece on long-term loan so they can display it to the public.” Why that happened is a matter of speculation.

In 2014 I wrote …

Dear Fellow Landowners,

This week I’ve been puzzling about this: why, if “metal detecting good practice” is so desirable, hasn’t it been made compulsory?

A detectorist on a forum has just provided a clue. He complained that a PAS document reproduces the official Code of Practice but it “omits the basic fact that is a VOLUNTARY Code.”  Think about that, Friends. Why on earth would anyone worry that its voluntary nature wasn’t stressed? After all, as everyone says, “responsible detecting” is an entirely Good Thing for the more it is followed, the less heritage damage there is. Every detectorist that has ever come to my gate says they follow the Responsibility Code for that very reason. But here’s a thing you might not realise: detectorists only support it if it is voluntary!

The truth of Bonkers Britain is that a few thousand people (and absolutely no-one else) are adamant that they must retain their freedom to choose not to comply with the code if it suits them. They comprise only 0.015% of the population, 1 person in every 6,000, yet their threats to defy any element of compulsion that is proposed have rendered the introduction of “compulsory good practice” completely impossible – in a highly developed, educated, conservation-minded Western democracy.

Let me put it like this: imagine if a tiny (and demonstrably selfish) section of the British population had successfully threatened and lobbied for the past 40 years to prevent any drink driving laws being introduced!

You want freedom to misbehave?

Your friend,

Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow Farm,
Worfield,
Salop

According to the Taking Part Survey (quoted here in the Government’s statistical release for 2019/2020): “an estimated 2% of adults in England said they had taken part in metal detecting at least once in the 12 months prior to interview.

That’s 1.1 million, which is 39 times more than the 28000 which is commonly quoted these days and 137 times more than the 8,000 figure that our Artefact Erosion Counter assumes!

Yes, such people may or may not go out regularly but it does mean 137 more landowners’ doors knocked on than PAS and the Archaeological Establishment has ever told the public. Has the scale of metal detecting and the likely number of unreported finds ever been explained to the public, the taxpayer and the legislators?

The following update was recently released by our friends, the Stonehenge Alliance.

Extract from #2.3, Final Report on the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / ICCROM Advisory Mission to Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, 19-21 April 2022:
     “The Mission again raised the question regarding the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) attributes of the property, arising particularly from impacts on the integrity and authenticity of the Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary landscape and hence the exploration of alternatives to the A303 passing through the very heart of the WHS and so close to key monuments.” 

New Transport Secretary consulting on UNESCO’s Advisory Mission’s report

Dear Supporters,

National Highways has commented on UNESCO’s  Advisory Mission’s report following their visit of April 2022 published last month.

Last week, during a period of national mourning, the new Transport Secretary invited Interested Parties to respond to NH’s comments by 28 September.   Despite this tight deadline we hope you will be able to do so.

The Mission advised that a less damaging scheme, such as a southern bypass, should be sought and indicated that, at the very least, any tunnel should be extended to the western WHS boundary. National Highways insists that its current scheme would bring benefits to the WHS and that a longer tunnel would not be worth the expense.

The Stonehenge Alliance will send a response to the Secretary of State and share its response in due course. 

If you wish to respond we have shared some reactions and links via the link below. 

Points concerning UNESCO’s Advisory Mission report

About the Stonehenge Alliance

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm..  

More about us 
The petition against the road has almost reached 220,000 signatures.  You can sign and share it  here.

It’s now 17 years since the prestigious Society of Antiquaries provided us with unequivocal support for our suggestion about how to radically reduce the amount of historical knowledge loss that happens on a large scale in our fields every day.

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The Society of Antiquaries, London, Newsletter 5 December 2005: “In a balanced and well-argued paper, Heritage Action also sets out an agenda for more responsible metal detecting. It states that ‘the majority of detectorists still don’t report their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and that ‘growth in willingness to participate in the scheme has been slow … Heritage Action recommends that property owners and farmers should only give permission to detectorists to carry out surveys on their land if they agree to record and report their finds. ‘All metal detecting must start with a question: “May I detect on this land?” Our aim is to ensure that everybody’s answer is always: “Only if we can be sure you will report to the Portable Antiquities Scheme”.

Nothing could be simpler or more effective than for the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the archaeological Establishment to convey this advice to all landowners. What possible reason could there be for it not to have been actioned long ago? How much knowledge has been lost in the meantime?

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This has been a problem for many years in lay-bys in the Avebury area and not for the first time visitors leaving vehicles in the National Trust car park have been targetted by thieves.

Please take every precaution when visiting heritage sites and beauty spots.

National Highways Logo

They have come up with a new Facebook profile picture. But there’s a puzzle: Why have they put their logo next to an image of iconic British landmarks? Beats us. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of the Facebook profile they should have as they’re working 7 days a week to remove Stonehenge, the most famous of British landmarks, from the public’s gaze forever!

Perhaps their new Facebook profile is their rueful admission that they know what they are doing at Stonehenge is dreadfully wrong?

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