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(First published in the Journal 10 years ago)

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“I stood with my feet upon the Stone Age and saw myself four thousand years away and all my distresses as very little incidents in that perspective.”

From The Secret Places of the Heart by HG Wells, 1923.

At Stonehenge, yes. There the Trust seems mad keen to earn the opprobrium of posterity. But on Trail Hunting, no-one yet knows. Following the recent revelations, it has suspended trail hunting at last but only provisionally. It has long been said the Trust has been infiltrated by the hunting lobby and ITV News has just made further allegations.

Two opportunities for change (the 2020 AGM and the election of new Board Members) were lost due to Covid and although a 2021 AGM is planned it looks probable that, just like happened in 2017, the Chairman, will cast the thousands of proxy votes entrusted to him in favour of continued trail hunting. Watch this space.

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“Doesn’t happen”?

18/01/2021 in Metal detecting (Edit)

People in Devon and Cornwall are being told the Stonehenge tunnel will boost the South West economy. It’s a lie, the 40th Yowling Moggy (the sound made when the truth is being tortured. Here are the other 39.)

It’s easily demonstrated. According to the Highways England Technical Appraisal Report, when travelling past Stonehenge “On an average month, it is estimated that users experience average delays of nearly 9 minutes”. So that means the average time to drive from Highways England’s Head Office in Guildford to St Ives, currently 4 hours 36 minutes, will be reduced to 4 hours 27 minutes. That’s the same as shrinking the distance by 2.9%.

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So, if ANYONE (EH, HE, NT, Wilts Council, and many other bodies in the South West) tells you that will boost the South West economy tell them they are repeating a lie and that to wreck a World Heritage Landscape in defiance of UNESCO on the basis of a lie is unconscionable.

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As Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Tim Laurence can never be anything but a distinguished visitor at Stonehenge. In guiding this distinguished visitor around the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, English Heritage appears to have been highly selective with their information, since Sir Tim Laurence’s statements about the A303 tunnel scheme in the Telegraph (£) require a better-informed response.

The headline of Sir Tim Laurence’s article states:

‘Removing the noisy, polluting traffic from the site will return it to the peace of its ancient origins.’

Whereas:

The proposed works would not remove noisy polluting traffic from the WHS, they would add to it on the A303 as well as increasing the number of noisy polluting buses at English Heritage’s bus terminus near the Stones – hardly returning the site to ‘the peace of its ancient origins’!

Sir Tim Laurence states:

‘We want to make sure that the route is fully surveyed and avoids any significant features.’

Whereas:

The road scheme proposes wide and deep cuttings routed through the remains of an Early Bronze Age settlement and prehistoric cemeteries – all within the World Heritage Site.

Sir Tim Laurence states:

‘Anything of significance will be recovered; anything of interest will be recorded and photographed.’

Whereas:

Highways England has recently excavated and removed the contents of a number of graves from a Beaker cemetery that lies on the route of the tunnel’s western cutting within the World Heritage Site, but their locus and those of other graves in the Expressway’s path will vanish.  These and other places and sites of interest where significant things happened in prehistory will no longer exist within the World Heritage Site if the road scheme goes ahead.

Sir Tim Laurence states:

‘A scientific panel has been established, comprising archaeologists of all persuasions, to hold Highways England’s feet to the fire.’

Whereas: A scientific panel has been established, but Highways England chose its membership having first requested a list of recommendations from those with a vested interest: so not just the independent voice UNESCO recommended. Freedom of Information requests have revealed that tunnel supporters were targeted to join this panel, whereas no one from the Blick Mead project team received an invitation; and among those not originally invited to participate included a widely respected former English Heritage archaeologist who opposes the short tunnel.

A group of individuals closely associated with the Stonehenge Alliance which has been campaigning for around 20 years to protect the Stonehenge World Heritage Site recently started a crowd-funding campaign to raise a legal challenge to the government’s decision to go ahead with the plans for the tunnel.

An initial target of £25,000 was set, this being deemed sufficient to instigate proceedings, with the hope that an overall target of £50,000 could be reached to be able to complete the Judicial Review process. The initial target was reached in just 60 hours, as word spread of the appeal. There are now just two weeks left to reach the higher target.

If you haven’t already contributed, please read about the appeal and consider making a donation. And if you have already answered the appeal, please consider increasing your donation, so that this abominable decision can be challenged in the courts.

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THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE [1]

Legal action launched on Stonehenge road decision 

EMBARGOED: 00:01 hrs, Monday, 30 November, 2020

Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site [2], a new organisation set up by The Stonehenge Alliance, has instructed counsel and Leigh Day to investigate the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision [3] to approve the A303 Stonehenge dual carriageway.  A letter is being sent today (Friday 27th) to the Department for Transport outlining its concerns.

To make this possible, campaigners are launching an appeal on CrowdJustice [4] to raise £50,000 to cover the initial costs of the legal action, which will go live at 6am on Monday.

The decision by Grant Shapps to approve the road on 12 November, despite a recommendation by the Examination Panel that it be refused [5], sent shock waves around the world.

Tom Holland, Stonehenge Alliance President, expressed his backing for the legal action:

I fully back the move to test whether Grants Shapps acted legally in approving this highly wasteful and destructive road scheme. The Government has ignored advice from both UNESCO [6] and the independent panel who presided over a six-month examination. To have won the arguments based on reason and evidence, and then to have them overruled on a ministerial whim, shows just how broken the roads approval process is.

“I urge everyone who cares about the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to support this legal action. There is still a chance to stop the bulldozers moving in and vandalising our most precious and iconic prehistoric landscape.

                                                   -ENDS-

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https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-stonehenge-world-heritage-site/?fbclid=IwAR1ZOjWLed6Ax5g6RJQBrrTIAfJdnjwRhWSF11IKsoB080dOt752jGocBiA

Someone on the Let’s Go Digging commercial rally FB page has just said about a Finds Liaison Officer:

“Kurt Adams cost Let’s Go Digging possibly the best and most productive site they ever had. He went behind the scenes and made arrangements for himself and the local History society to take over the investigations as to a potential major historical discovery”

No, he acted correctly. He’s not your acquisition agent, he’s there to maximise the amount of knowledge which can be extracted from that site for the public. Your use of the ugly phrase “productive site” gives your game away. It’s the knowledge, stupid, not how many artefacts you can get for yourself, and that can only be extracted professionally else much will be lost.

Do you get it now? Detectorists assume “I found, so I must have a stake in ownership and extraction”, but it’s wrong and childish, as is the constant use on their forums of possessive pronouns, my farmer, my permission, my find, my treasure. None of it is true. Nothing in the fields is ever theirs, it all belongs to the farmer or occasionally society, and in the case of “a potential major historical discovery” they have no moral right to take their spades to it. That would be to knowingly destroy history.

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There is only ONE way to properly extract important knowledge for Society, not two. (Perhaps PAS hasn’t made it clear enough?)

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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UPDATE ON TODAY’S ARTICLE:

It appears that 51 people have turned up to today’s Let’s Go Digging commercial metal detecting rally at Corse, Gloucestershire, and only one has decided to stay away in view of the serious public health implications. So 98% of participants have decided that all that matters is that “it’s legal innit”, perhaps an indication of the sort of attendees random pay-to-dig events attract.

Worse, because next week’s event will no longer be allowed the organiser has speedily arranged an alternative one on adjacent land (60 acres of pasture) on TUESDAY, so just before the lockdown “to prevent a medical and moral disaster” begins.

Let the authorities take note, in due course.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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