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Hilary McGrady, the new Director-General of The National Trust, has just been on Radio 4 and has said that The Trust is “right in the middle of the Trail Hunting debate” but it WILL continue to allow Trail Hunting on its land.

Well Ms Mc Grady, that means you aren’t in the middle, you’re on one side – and the wrong one at that for more than 90% of the public are against the cruelty which you cannot deny trail hunting repeatedly involves. It follows that the Trust’s stance on the matter runs counter to its mantra “forever, for everyone”.

Please reconsider.


In its State of Conservation report to UNESCO the big question, how would Britain wriggle out of UNESCO’s opinion that the short tunnel was too short, has been answered. It seems that a longer tunnel isn’t  “viable”. Wow, but what does that mean? Highways England says it had already explained what it means but not clearly enough so now it has had another go: 

“although the evidence that had been submitted to the 2017 Advisory mission was extensive, the reasons why these particular routes were not deliverable had not been clearly articulated. Further work has been undertaken by Highways England to better collate the evidence and set out more clearly the reasons why neither the F10 southern bypass nor the longer tunnel option are deliverable.”

Are you on tenterhooks? What is the clearly articulated reason Highways England has revealed for saying a longer tunnel isn’t deliverable? What is the further evidence it has collated?  Please read it. It’s simple. It’s the MONEY, and they say so very clearly. Britain is unwilling to spend little more than it has bribed the DUP with to deliver a non-damaging solution for the World Heritage landscape at Stonehenge!

See here (we’ve highlighted the relevant bits below in red). When reading them keep in mind UNESCO has stated very clearly that the tunnel is too short so would do more harm than good!

Derek Parody, project director for Highways England, said: “We were grateful to the representatives from UNESCO/ICOMOS who took time to be with us on a three-day visit to understand the scheme we are proposing. We look forward to the panel’s report in due course, which will help us further refine the scheme”. Highways England said ….. it has continued to work with heritage groups and experts in the field to ensure a new route is built with sensitivity to the WHS.

.Whereas in fact ….
They’ll never get UNESCO to “understand” the scheme they are proposing
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!
They’ll never adequately “further refine” it – unless the tunnel is lengthened
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!
They’ll never ensure that the new route will be “built with sensitivity”
– as UNESCO says the tunnel is too short!

Latest news: “Sale of ivory to be banned in the UK as part of government plan to help protect elephants”

Public sentiment and legislation opposing animal cruelty are all moving in one direction. So how much longer will the Trust persist in pretending trail hunting is innocuous under pressure from the Countryside Alliance? It should take a look around, the world has moved on and it is looking more foolish by the day …


“That bloke is defending the indefensible!”

The Trust says it believes this from the Countryside Alliance: “Live quarry species naturally live in the countryside, so on occasion, the hounds may pick up the scent. If this occurs, the huntsman and other members of hunt staff stop the hounds as soon as they are made aware that the hounds are no longer following a trail that has been laid.” But it’s not true, as is demonstrated on numerous occasions.

So the public is entitled to ask why is an organisation as respectable and venerable as the National Trust supporting what it must know is a false statement and is it thereby abandoning its claim to respectability?

The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square has been filled! It’s a life sized replica of the Ninevah winged god destroyed by I.S. in 2015.

It’s very arresting and delivers a powerful message opposing cultural destruction. But not as stunning as if it depicted all the recordable artefacts legally not reported by British detectorists and lost to science since 1975.

But to do that it would need to be hundreds of miles high!







How does an organisation that protects, champions and saves heritage justify to itself its support for massive damage to a World Heritage landscape? It seems it can only be down to the fifth of its self-declared functions:

We champion historic places
We identify and protect our heritage
We understand historic places
We deliver national expertise at a local level
We support change.

Surely there are limits to what is acceptable change at our national icon? Do the changes below fit in with their other 4 aspirations? Or is the truth that our Heritage Champions can only think that if they keep their eyes tightly closed?


UNESCO: “The benefits of a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of Stonehenge World Heritage Site cannot be offset against the damage it would cause to other parts of the site.” Historic England say they disagree.  Sleep tight, Heritage Champions!


Surrey County Council are advertising for a Finds Liaison Officer. Interesting, because there’s a Surrey County Council premise for allowing metal detecting on its own land: “An applicant will be considered to be part of an ongoing archaeological survey of SCC properties. Applicants will in particular be expected to have a proven track record in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of Surrey County Council.”

Awkward, or what? Day after day the poor new Finds Liaison Officers will have to keep to the Portable Antiquities Scheme line and liaise with hundreds of people who aren’t part of an archaeological survey, and don’t have a proven track record and haven’t conceded that the finds all belong to the farmer! Indeed, many will have come from rallies involving twenty quid a day, undisturbed pasture, lots of crop marks, loadza dealers on site, no compulsory recording and no showing finds to the farmer.

So that’s how it’s going to work, if “work” is the right word. The FLO will wear blinkers about the circumstances of finds whereas the Local Authority which provides his or her office, laptop and telephone won’t. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the interview!





It seems the dislike of large rallies by PAS and others has finally fed into Government thinking. See the current Consultation about a post-Brexit environmental land management system. It contains aspirations that would make holding large rallies impossible:


1.)“The system will help us to deliver our manifesto commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it”. Yet it’s beyond all denial that mass detecting rallies impoverish the historic environment, not enhance it.

2.) It will also include “a more effective application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle”  which indicates farmers who damage the natural environment will have to pay – and so will those who allow others to damage the historic environment.


Soon to be mere history? Two thousand paying artefact hunters helping themselves on archaeologically sensitive fields alongside the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. About time too?




It’s a good question. You don’t get charity birdwatching events even though vast numbers of people do that. Yet the 18th Rotary Spring Detecting Rally took place last Sunday near Swindon and that’s just one local Rotary club. Scores of them run rallies and lots of other charities too. Why? It’s simple. Detectorists massively increase their chances of getting permission if they dress up their events as for charity.

Trouble is, only the entry fee goes to the charity and what’s  found goes to the detectorists alone. It’s a misdescribed racket, yet PAS legitimises it by attending them. Back in 2011 we suggested what ought to be said:

“If communities are dead set on allowing the digging up of their local archaeological record to raise charity money (and they shouldn’t be – let them ask PAS or any archaeologist in private what they think) they’d be vastly better off hiring a few detecting machines for their local amateur archaeology society to do it (although their ethics would hopefully preclude it). That way, 100% of any government Treasure rewards could go to the charity, 100% of all the other finds could go to the charity and 100% of the finds would be willingly and accurately reported to PAS (making the exercise less damaging than any metal detecting rally in history!)

Instead, the “charity rally” concept has ballooned since then. The latest even bills itself as not just for charity but also “to prevent so-called “nighthawk” metal detectorists getting there first and stripping the field of any finds.” What heroes, grabbing the loot for themselves before others loot it! They say it’s an open event, “free for all”…. So of the 100 attendees XX will be nighthawks, YY will pocket finds and not report them to PAS and all 100 of them will keep the finds and not give them to the charity or the farmer! So here’s a rational thought:

Since rallies damage the archaeological record how about these charity minded people stay at home, donate £10 each to the charity and donate the cost of the petrol too!




They’re inviting proposals for new ways of remembering events, people and identities in the public realm.

Things that may have a long term beneficial effect.

Here’s ours. If all was well in Britain, we’d win the competition!



April 2018
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