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We confess, this isn’t prehistoric but we like it:


It is thought to have been William Langland inspiration for Pierrs Ploughman and of it he wrote

“Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie
And see the coloured counties
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky”

And here, C.S. Lewis wrote of how he communed with Divinity behind Nature; and nearby Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings was first recorded on tape. The American Branch of the Richard III Society makes a small annual donation here and here Sir Edward Elgar and his wife now rest.

Yesterday National Trust Archaeology celebrated #WorldHeritageDay with an attractive image of Sycamore Gap, Hadrian’s Wall. It’s excellent but we couldn’t help reflecting the management of National Trust doesn’t treat ALL World Heritage sites with such appreciation. Imagine if they’d campaigned to inflict this massive scar at Sycamore Gap like at the Stonehenge World Heritage site …

Lest anyone is in doubt about the nature of today’s event taking place right now, here are two recent announcements by the organiser:

The value of finds that don’t have to be shared with the landowner has been increased to £3.000 “because that’s only fair”.

If a “treasure” reward is paid then: “if our farmers stick to the agreement we make with them they should only keep half of anything over £3000 so if it’s under and they get paid they should pay the finder the money they received.”


This week, without fanfare, pay-to-dig detecting rallies were allowed back on Britain’s fields. There are no such events anywhere else in the world, no matter how backward..

Let’s Go Digging has one at 9.00am tomorrow in Gloucestershire. We can’t tell you exactly where. as you have to ring the night before to find out. (Why? So local archaeologists don’t have time to check if it will be damaging and get in touch with the farmer?)


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

Stonehenge Alliance points out there’s much lofty talk about “reuniting the landscape” (12.7K Google hits!) But is the claim valid? See below, a little-seen impression from the proposed Green Bridge 4″ towards the western portal, “requested by the Examiners but not shared by the scheme’s supporters” as far as SA is aware:


So is that “returning dignity to Stonehenge and its landscape” or is it pure baloney? A brand new cutting, far deeper, far wider, and far more visually shocking than the existing road, will reunite the landscape? How?

Well, the claim rests entirely on building some “green bridges” over the new dual carriageway. Not green at all as they’ll comprise concrete with grass on it, nothing else, and they’ll have no connection with the ancient landscape on each side. So an awkward question hangs in the air for English Heritage et al:

If “reuniting the landscape” is so darn important to you, why haven’t you ever pushed for green bridges over the existing road? Or some pedestrian tunnels under it? And saved all this vast amount of damage and expense? And reply came there none.

Paul Barford has analysed the National Council for Metal Detecting’s latest attack on the proposed Institute of Detectorists. They seem to have two main objections.

1.) They hate the idea of a step towards licensing. But why? Why would people object to a country having a say in how people exploit what belongs to it? It’s the loft clearance model again: “trust us, we’ll clear your granny’s belongings and you can be sure we’ll behave well”.

2.) But even more they HATE the idea that they themselves may be circumvented when it comes to informing landowners. Oh the horror! The idea that the very people whose land it is should be given proper information and not left to be solely informed by an unregulated, self-interested random bloke at their gate!

The NCMD have form on this matter and ALWAYS oppose reform. Right now, they’ve refused to sign the official Code of Responsible Detecting – how much clearer a confession could there be thast they should be out of the loop? But look at this from 2010, our list of the things they had resisted by then:
“Don’t criticise us or we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t tell us what to do or we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t undertake surveys of nighthawking else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t let PAS dominate us else we’ll stop reporting” (and later: “Don’t reduce PAS’s funding else we’ll stop reporting”), “Don’t impose a Code of Responsible Detecting else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t discuss licensing us else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t ban inappropriate rallies else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t impose restrictions under stewardship schemes else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t tighten up EBay else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t ever, ever, ever short change us on the Treasure rewards else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t abate our Treasure rewards for not calling an archie out else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t talk of using some of our Treasure rewards to finance proper excavations of our findspots else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t write to farmers without us dictating what is to be said else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t extend the items covered by the Treasure Act beyond exactly what we say else we’ll stop reporting.” (Rich, is it not, when the majority of detectorists….. don’t report!)

So isn’t it time that Britain imposed it’s own rules on what happens to it’s own buried heritage and gave the raggle-taggle self-interested NCMD army zero say in the matter?

Sarah Palin, 2007: There is no evidence there are fewer polar bears these days”. NCMD has been talking damaging nonsense for much longer.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

You can’t get much meaner than removing traces of a country’s history, obliterating it’s 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”


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

When early colonists in North America tried to participate in the old English sport of fox hunting they had no luck as the local gray foxes are one of the very few canids that can climb trees and often make their dens high up in a hollow branch. So when chased they run straight up the nearest tree.

British red foxes can’t do that so are prey to those who pretend trail hunting isn’t hunting. So maybe there’s a solution. Does anyone have some gray fox semen?


Soon, tens of thousands of people will resume metal detecting “for charity”. Farmer Silas Brown was spot on yesterday: in most cases neither the farmer nor the charity nor the archaeology benefit as much as they should, and that’s putting it diplomatically, so the case for reform is overwhelming.

We think a simple notice on farm gates expressing what Silas suggested would do more for farmers, charities, and heritage protection than anything currently being done. Simple, sensible, equitable, and very, very effective.

The fact that metal detecting rally organisers will be vehemently opposed whereas the Archaeological Establishment, including PAS, will be fully supportive (albeit not in public) is all the endorsement the idea requires.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

Dear Fellower Landowners,

Soon charity rallies will be starting again, so please remember: ALL finds are yours (or occasionally the country’s) so you alone should say who gets what and if anything can be taken away. So it follows that if you’re offered a finds agreement that says less than that, you’d be foolish to sign it. Incidentally, “ambiguity in a contract benefits the party that didn’t draft it” so if you are offered a pre-printed agreement that doesn’t contain that clause saying that, you should insist it is added. (The official Code, which recommends signing an agreement “to avoid subsequent disputes” ought to say that, but doesn’t!)

But that’s not all you should consider. What does “charity rally” actually mean? Keep in mind, if the stuff is kept by the finders the charity won’t benefit from it and if YOU are giving up your stuff for charitable purposes maybe THEY should give up your stuff for charity too? I saw a doozy in a detecting forum this week, someone talking about lockdown ending: “I think there will be a few pushing the charity boundaries like there were before where they take the money and tell the landowner to give their share to charity”!

Some people are just brigands. Can YOU tell the difference? Why not do the obvious: ask ALL prospective charity rally organisers for audited accounts from previous events, showing exactly where all the money – and all the finds – went? A real charity would supply those details by return.

Best wishes,

Silas Brown,

Grunters Hollow, Worfield, Salop


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


April 2021

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