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Ten years ago we wrote …

Proud to be British!
The recent “Neolithic marathon” along the Sarsen Trail was a huge success, attracting over two thousand participants. People came from all over the world to take part and as one of them said: “There’s nothing like it in Australia. Where else can you run from Avebury to Stonehenge?”  (Beats us!)”

Two of England’s most important early medieval archaeological discoveries have been reunited for a new exhibition, Swords of Kingdoms: The Staffordshire Hoard at Sutton Hoo.

“Every object tells a story,” says Laura Howarth, Sutton Hoo’s Archaeology and Engagement Manager. “Whilst you can immerse yourself marvelling at the stories and skills behind each of the objects on display, Swords of Kingdoms is also a special opportunity to unite objects from different collections and weave a shimmering web of connecting threads which together speak of the 7th-century warrior elite and a period of great change. Some chapters of each story may be lost to us today, but it is fascinating to wonder and imagine this gold and garnet adorned age.”

Some chapters may be lost to us, yes, but some of those chapters still lie in that Staffordshire field and could be easily recovered. Here’s all the evidence (there’s a lot of it!)

We agree with Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy Historic England, who has just said that he does not like the term nighthawking: “It almost romanticises it, but they’re stealing artefacts that belong to all of us.”

We agree (although we disagree with his other point that the majority of detectorists reported their finds – that’s just daft and defies both statistics and logic).

But our main objection to the term nighthawking is that it’s not inclusive. If not reporting is stealing from all of us then MOST detectorists are nighthawks. Ooh, how dare we say that? Well, we’ll desist if anyone can show it’s not true.

We thought that as members of the public and stakeholders we’d tell PAS the same thing but on the PAS Twitter Account, Portable Antiquities @findsorguk, it says …

Still happening: Historicide, the erasure of History.

Our article from 2 years ago. It still rankles, daily, especially when the police have just re-mouthed PAS’s absolute falsehood that the great majority of detectorists are responsible …


You can’t get much meaner than removing traces of a country’s history, obliterating its past. Yet, as the pandemic restrictions are eased, thousands are poised to pick up their metal detectors and do exactly that once again.

Yes, collectively they report many finds, and that’s a dividend. But how does that compensate a country for collectively failing to report the rest? To claim a small gain makes up for a large loss is the maths of a fool.

And yes, the PAS has insufficient staff to record everything, but is it so impossible for them to be at least SHOWN what is found? Of course not, a brief look at seven artefacts an hour by each Finds Liaison Officer to pick out anything significant is perfectly possible – and indisputably desirable.

So British historicide is entirely avoidable. But instead we allow it and have coined a phrase to make up for the fact, “responsible detecting”, meaning “the minority who report”. If only we were honest and talked of “moral detecting”, meaning “they who don’t obliterate history”. Calling a spade a spade would surely have done more good than more than two decades of pretending? Maybe, one day …


The Finds Liaison Officer who stood up and used the phrase “moral detecting”


THE team behind the Stonehenge tunnel will be taking a “chatty van” around the local villages next week to talk about the scheme.

The implication is that it is something that will simply be of local interest, something that is being reinforced by a small group of tunnel supporters, the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group who say the Stonehenge Alliance is coming up with “obnoxious” counter-arguments and “sending it to all their “followers around the world who are not in the least affected by the A303 at Stonehenge and don’t have a clue where it is.”

Not true. Huge numbers of people worldwide see the scheme as THEIR concern – and why not, Stonehenge and its landscape belongs to the whole of humanity, not just the locals. That being so it would surely be more appropriate if National Highways sent their ridiculous “chatty van” far beyond a small corner of Wiltshire to explain why they are damaging a world heritage site against the express wishes of UNESCO.

Dear Fellow Landowners,

Here’s the latest from a detecting forum: “Some want to see everything & take their pick of the goodies, others just aren’t interested and are happy for you to take everything.”

Seriously? Are we farmers so uncultured that we don’t care or so rich we don’t mind giving a scruff the complete run of our wallets?

I, for one, don’t believe it.

Silas Brown,

Grunter’s Hollow, Worfield, Salop

We were very pleased to see this on the Stonehenge Alliance Facebook page …


Why? Because that same message is already circling around a dwarf planet three billion miles away! See our article last year …


Forever Written in the sky: an immortal Stonehenge rebuke

Spaceship Dawn is in the news just now. After a journey of 3 billion miles, it is now in permanent orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and has just reported back the discovery of an enormous lake of saltwater.

Back in 2007 we successfully applied to NASA to have Dawn carry the simple message below into space where it will stay forever.



So it is to be hoped that those attempting to subvert the intentions of the World Heritage Convention and falsely spin a road project as a heritage enhancement exercise will sometimes glance upwards and reflect that what they are supporting is profoundly wrong. We suspect they all will.

The hapless National Highways Wriggling Department has come up with this beauty about the impact of their scheme at Stonehenge:

“Predicted overall CO2e emissions have decreased” due to an updated matrix which has an “updated fleet mix including the projected uptake of electric vehicles up to 2050”.

Trouble is one of the main reasons English Heritage et al support the scheme is that there is noise and fumes from the road which reduces the experience for visitors to the stones. There’s very little actually, but even if there was then for every additional electric car National Highways postulates there’s an equal weakening of reasons for English Heritage’s support!

According to Hampshire detectorist Pete Beasley delays in deciding the fate of rare finds has caused some people to stop handing their finds to the authorities. He said he had handed a pure gold Norman ring into the Finds Liaison Office in Winchester two years ago, which has yet to be returned. “This takes forever and it shouldn’t, these are experts. It should take weeks rather than two or three years.

So no mention of Covid nor that every detectorist bar none is “in it for the history not the money” nor that Treasure items are OURS, not theirs and rewards are merely ex gratia and it’s criminal not to report treasure. Nor that researching finds can be very complex and take a long time especially as the Portable Antiquities Scheme is starved of resources.

There’s a solution. Let 27,000 history-loving detectorists pay £5 a year to help PAS be speedier. That’s £1.3 million, which should be more than enough. (They could afford it. One detectorist recently said “the majority spend close to £1K on a detector, over £25 on a rally and expect to always find something”).

But here’s a funny thing: in 2015 the PAS asked for voluntary donations. So far (and nothing for 2 years) …

“The NCMD app is now available, I downloaded it earlier and am impressed with it I especially like fact that if I record a findspot the data stays on my phone not on a server somewhere with who knows who accessing it.

“Is the info for the finds location secure, i.e not shared via the app with another party?”

“The app details does state that no data is shared, so on that basis it should be secure.”


May 2022

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