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This week we said Mike Pitts had scolded people who worry about a tunnel portal. But scolded is too mild. He said the Stonehenge Alliance acted like “the archaeological wing of Donald Trump’s social media campaign” and their leaflet imagery was “worthy of Putin-supporting trolls”. Hmmm. We know some of the members of the Stonehenge Alliance and they are dedicated, well-informed and genteel and not how he seeks to portray them. Hope that’s now crystal clear.
On the other hand, we find Mr Pitts’ account of why that trench was dug exactly on the solstice line far from crystal clear. Specifically this: “In this particular case thirty trenches were dug over a wide area south of the A303. If each trench was a sign of where a tunnel would end, we’d have a portal that reached half way across the world heritage site.” But the question remains: if there’s no chance whatsoever a portal will be located on the solstice sunset line why has one of the trenches been dug exactly on that line?
An explanation from the authorities would be appropriate, one that doesn’t involve belittling legitimate stakeholders.
“all this stuff about portals and midwinter sunsets is premature. Currently routes are being identified – not decided on ….. There will be a public consultation next year. If I was an objector, I’d wait until next year. At least I’d know what it was I was objecting to, always a help in these things…..
I don’t think Highways would be able to secretly put a tunnel portal just where the sun sets at midwinter. The eagle-eyed people at Icomos would notice. [The Heritage Journal] “could have said that as HE, EH and the NT want to protect and enhance the world heritage site, it’s unlikely they would’ve wanted the tunnel portal there. But where’s the fun in that?”
Well Mr Pitts,
First, please be assured there’s no fun in worrying a tunnel portal may be built on the solstice line. It’s a sincere concern which we share with many people, OK?
Second, thanks for the advice to wait, not worry but we’d prefer to exercise our democratic and natural right to worry, not wait.
Third, a fundamental reason why we are worrying is because HE, EH and the NT are welcoming the idea of a 1.8 mile long tunnel inside a 3.5 mile wide WHS – which is not an indication of wanting “to protect and enhance” this special landscape but quite the opposite.
However, since you seem to be in close touch with them you are perhaps in a position to help. Rather than scold legitimate stakeholders for being worried without cause, please ask those three bodies to publicly announce that they would all resolutely oppose the placing of a tunnel portal anywhere near the line of the solstice sunset. If they won’t, please respect the public’s right to worry. Simple really. We’ll watch with interest.
What is widely accepted as Stonehenge’s central purpose and significance, the spectacle of the winter solstice sunset as seen from the stones, is under threat from the UK bodies charged with protecting the World Heritage Site. Will it soon be dulled and outshone and the iconic final flash be lost in an intense glow or even direct beams of light coming from the entrance dual carriageway of a too-short tunnel just 800 metres away? Is this how it will be?
If the tunnel entrance is built where digging is currently happening we’ll surely be robbed of the ability to “go back in time” and experience what the builders of Stonehenge intended. The Chairman of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, Andy Rhind-Tutt, has just put it with great clarity: “If they are going to put a tunnel in and it came out where they are exploring at the moment, you’re going to have this glow coming off the ground as the sun sets, so it would destroy the whole purpose and meaning of Stonehenge.”
As always, the public are being treated like fools. Highways England say they are “still looking at all options” and this is “just one part of a wide range of surveys” yet it has always been clear from the maps that if a short tunnel is to be built then the spot which is currently being dug is the lead probability – indeed, the almost inevitable position for the western portal. Just watch, they haven’t arranged a dig there for no reason. Meanwhile, English Heritage has dutifully repeated the same completely misleading phrase it has used ad nauseam for many months: it supports a tunnel “if it is designed and delivered well“.
The bitter truth though is that a short tunnel can’t be designed and delivered “well” and that glow and those lights can’t be spun away. English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust are in the excruciating position of trying to put lipstick on a pig. Please sign and share The Stonehenge Alliance’s petition, it really is important if something very precious and more than four thousand years old isn’t to be stolen.
PS….. It has just been pointed out to us that in the BBC article that quotes Andy Rhind Tutt’s comment there is also the assertion that earlier this year a Unesco report backed the idea of a short tunnel. It’s a total lie and it was the second yowling moggy. We dealt with it here: https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/can-icomos-be-got-at/
[To see the others put Yowling in the search box.]
Not in archaeology but appropriately in Critical Thinking and Ethical Reasoning!
One wonders how many archaeologists would pass? All of them we suspect, providing their answers were kept confidential! Anyway, since we designed the Counter we thought we’d answer the question.
Q: How useful is the Erosion Counter as evidence of the Activities of metal detectorists?
A: It’s the very best guide there is. It must be, as it’s based on and confirmed by every one of the studies that have been carried out – by archaeologists, resource guardians and detectorists themselves. It has never been challenged by academics, quite the reverse, and the only opposition to it has been blanket denial (and abuse, and threats) by those with a vested interest in it being wrong. Its core conclusion, that 70% of detectorists don’t report all their recordable finds has recently been confirmed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
So in summary, the application of critical thinking and ethical reasoning leads us to conclude that the Counter is extremely useful as evidence of the activities of at least 70% of metal detectorists.
Dear Fellow Landowners,
Last Sunday a bloke offered me £500 to allow a detecting rally in my top field! I asked him what he thought they might find. “Nothing probably” he said, “we’re only interested in history – but if any treasure comes up you’ll get half”.
Talk like that should trigger alarm bells for any farmer. The truth is that 99.95% of the saleable artefacts they find aren’t treasure items so I was being offered only 0.025% of what they found and they were going to keep 99.975%. In MY bloody field! Think I’m making it up? Look at the Southern Detectorists Group pitch to landowners. It’s the same!
I sent my little “history lover” packing. It’s ironic that he came last Sunday, Hen Harrier Day when lots of selfless conservation-minded people (including my grandson Simon) were out demonstrating against their persecution. Bonkers Britain’s countryside is full of contrasting groups.
Grunters Hollow Farm