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Dear Santa,


.       All I want for Christmas is a neolithic flint sickle from Ramsgate!


.              Season’s Greetings to all our contributors and readers!



We didn’t quite believe it when we first heard it, but we’ve found a video of it. Look what happened at this years soltice gathering:


The shock isn’t the one person dancing on top but the thousands cheering him. They clearly aren’t druids or pagans or megaraks or archaeologists or EH staff or anyone that gives a damn about Stonehenge, they’re just there for a laugh. That would be OK if the number allowed into the circle was just at the level that allowed EH to exercise some control to prevent not just that sort of incident but also other things that happened this year – chalk, candle wax and resin on the stones and excrement near them.

Next year solstice will be at a weekend so numbers will be higher still so here’s an idea. Why not cancel all those “Round Table” sessions and let all who care for Stonehenge (Druids, pagans, megaraks, archaeologists and EH staff) have a single meeting to decide the reduced number of people inside the stones they will all co-operate to bring about next June? That would certainly deliver increased protection to the stones, an enhancement to the reputation of genuine druids and pagans and a boost to EH’s international image as an efficient guardian of a world heritage site. It’s pretty simple, if you oppose “restricted access” you are putting the welfare of Stonehenge second. Who can deny that’s true?

The Long Barrow at All Cannings is a columbarium or place for cremated remains in urns to be kept. It is being built in 2014 in the style of a traditional long barrow in natural materials, but made relevant for today in its internal layout. It is aligned to the sunrise of the winter solstice when the sun will illuminate the internal stone passageway.

The long barrow is for anyone. It is for those of any religion or none. The field it is in is being restored to native chalk grassland and will be kept as natural as possible for visitors to enjoy its beauty and solitude.

All Cannings.

See more here.

It’s nearly a week since we pointed it out but Regtons, Britain’s largest metal detecting shop, is STILL advertising a range of sophisticated night vision gadgets and describing them as “metal detecting accessories”.

Are you happy about that? Are you convinced that legitimate metal detectorists need such things? If not, you might care to ask anyone who knocks on your door this weekend asking for detecting permission if they’ve contacted Regtons to protest.

You could ask them to leave a comment here on The Heritage Journal confirming that they have. (So far, out of 8,000 metal detectorists, not one has – although some have left messages abusing us.)



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


NOTE: Established 2500 BCE !

NOTE: Established 2500 BCE !

Saturday 26th July:

Chipping Norton Amateur Archaeology Group presents Exploring the astronomy of special places.

—1.00pm Tours of the Stones and Dowsing (led by members of The Rollright Trust)
1.30—4.00pm Talks about astronomy, folklore & ancient sites (Venue: Long Compton Village Hall SP2885 3230)
1.30pm Introduction
1.40pm A Story Walk through the Heavens, Lizzie Bryant. (Professional storyteller)
2.20pm Archaeo-astronomy: finding out how and why heavenly bodies mattered at the Rollright Stones and other special places, Professor Clive Ruggles (Leicester University, expert archaeo-astronomer)
3.00pm, Astronomy: discovering special places in the heavens, Dr Chris Lintott [TBC], (Oxford University, presenter of BBC’s Sky at Night)
3.40pm Questions
4.30—6.00pm Demonstration: Site surveys for astronomical alignments (led by Clive Ruggles Venue: The Rollright Stones)
All Day Demonstration: Telescopes and other astronomical equipment (led by members of CNAAG Venue: The Rollright Stones)



The above is what someone has just done to Lia Fáil, “The Stone of Destiny” which stands on top of the Hill of Tara.

Mr Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s Arts and Heritage Minister, has made all the right noises on behalf of his Government: “This act of mindless vandalism, on one of our premier archaeological sites, is truly shameful …. The national monuments at Tara, which include this standing stone, form part of our national heritage and history.

But you can’t help reflecting that the Irish Government hasn’t always treated Tara with such reverence. Not long ago there was a little matter of them driving the massive M3 Motorway past it! And remember this …

The trail of the M3 works, from Rath Lugh back to Lismullin - The huge Iron Age enclosure was recorded and then, incredibly, destroyed.

The trail of the M3 works, from Rath Lugh back to Lismullin – The huge Iron Age enclosure was recorded and then, incredibly, destroyed.

(See also the previous Journal article by our colleague Gordon Kingston – Tara, the damage forever done)

Could it be that Governments (on both sides of the Irish Sea) are a bit selective about which bits of heritage they cry about? Culture Minister Jimmy Deenihan certainly seems to be. In 2012 he led a Government deputation to Europe arguing for the interests of turfcutters rather than heritage on a protected bog, saying: “My sympathies are first and foremost with the turfcutters, including members of my own extended family on Moanveanlagh. Part of me wishes that the portfolio had been kept to arts, sports and tourism, but that wasn’t the case and I have to accept responsibility on behalf of the Irish State on this issue.


It’s not the first time that the Lia Fáil has been vandalised. Two years ago someone attacked it with a hammer and took pieces away. There were plenty of official noises about that too but the best and crucially most sincere commentary on it appeared in The Herald. It’s not clear who wrote it but the level of sincerity and passion suggests it wasn’t anyone from the Irish Government. (Or the British one – can you imagine the Environment Minister and MP for Oswestry, Owen Patterson, speaking with such passion about the vandalising of the setting of his local hill fort?!)

“The stone carried writing from a time we can barely imagine. A time when Ireland was filled with mystery and myth. It caused visitors to realise just how small they are, in the long, long story of this island.

Until someone took a lump hammer to it. Some anonymous vandal struck the monument at least eleven times. Oh, the power that vandal must have felt, destroying history with each blow. And the secret power the vandal may still feel, clutching some of the pieces chipped off the stone. Souvenirs to be boasted of with drinking buddies, or maybe just savoured in private to prove how heroic the vandal is, in his own eyes.

For many, this was a “whatever” moment, rather than a shock-and-awe issue. And now, some expert will assess what can be done and the majority will forget about it, because we have more immediate fish to fry. We’ve lost monuments before and their loss hasn’t done us enormous harm. But …. Ireland’s story is told in song, in story — and in stone. That some fool with a lump hammer destroyed one of the great stone chapters in our history is stupid, shameful — and sad.”

Great stuff, eh? (Mr Patterson’s equivalent is: “Like my predecessor I have a strict rule about not getting involved in planning in my constituency. I am a supporter of localism and the local plan. I am very keen that local people have a say in planning in their area and have never tried to second guess the decisions of councillors.”)

Fellow Landowners,


As golden rules go it couldn’t be simpler: never sign a finds agreement without seeing what you are giving away….

It’s obvious isn’t it: the finds are your property so you should control what happens to them,  once you have them in your hand. Obvious yes, yet since I mentioned it last week lots of detectorists have been trying to deny it – which tells a dodgy tale I think. Some have been leaning over to a ludicrous degree to oppose its implications, saying it’s OK to take the finds home in the first instance because “sometimes you cannot get to see the farmer straight after a dig.” Yeah right. Not possible or respectful or responsible or practical to restrict your detecting to just those days when the owner IS there, eh?!

So Friends, to repeat: there’s no good reason for things to be taken straight home nor for you not to be given the opportunity to  take independent advice on them. So if someone asks you to agree to it you ought to ask yourself why. The sale of British artefacts is a multi-million pound industry in which the owners get a lamb’s share (how about you?) Most artefact hunters won’t tell you that, nor will anyone working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. But take a look at Ebay, Treasure Hunting Magazine, The Searcher and coin dealers’ catalogues and see for yourself. The evidence is overwhelming.

Your friend

Silas Brown,
Grunter’s Hollow Farm,




Wording to look out for and avoid:
A portion of the National Council for Metal Detecting Model Finds Agreement showing the two crucial phrases that make the detectorist, alone in the field, the sole arbiter of the value of each object and hence whether you get any money for it or even ever see it. As contracts go, it must surely be one of the most manipulative in history.



And now comes yet more defence of the “take it home without showing him” system!  “You wouldn’t find a person who shoots pigeons on behalf of a landowner having to go along to the farmhouse at the end of the day to show the farmer how many birds they shot…. “

Eh??!! What a desperate comparison to make – and how strongly it signals there’s no respectable defence?! It’s up to you Friends, but I personally see ludicrous gyrations in defence of taking home items of yours that might be worth multi thousands of pounds without showing them to you as instructive. The question that remains hanging  in the air is why, why, why would anyone NOT want you to see what they’ve found?

The same fellow even has the almighty neck to conclude with: “Truth, openness and honesty with your landowners is all that is required”  Too damn right it is, Sunshine, the same as Tesco’s require of their customers! Just bring every farmer everything you’ve found before you leave their premises, using the moral standards of normal people outside your circle, and stop trying to wriggle out of it. Grrrr.


Another one has just said: “The ‘Farmer Brown’ character in these posts is a joke in terms of a balanced attitude”. Damn right,  Moonbeam! I’m a farmer that’s pro-Farmer, what’s wrong with that? Have years of PAS flattery and talking to your mates convinced you you’re owed a balanced attitude? Truth is, you’re simply random people who turn up at our gates proposing you go on our fields and keep everything of ours worth up to 300 or 500 pounds while saying you’re mad keen on history. Is that not 100% accurate? Yes it is. So how is saying so not a “balanced attitude”? Do you mean you want me to pretend it’s not true and that you’re some sort of national hero? The brass monkeys in Hell will be crying their eyes out before that happens, ooh arr.

Oh, and here’s a true jewel of detectorists’ self-delusionary self-praise from one of his colleagues…

I bet every detectorist on this forum has a good relationship with their farmer/landowner(s)“. (I’ll bet they do!). “Honesty and trust is paramount.” Oh really! Then how come, instead of getting farmers to sign binding contracts you just trust them to give you some of them back when you deliver them?  Oooh, er, ummm, ignore Farmer Brown he’s an extremist who presents an unfair image of us…. !!   [And predictably, the remarks have now been hidden. Makes you proud to be British doesn’t it!]

And someone else doesn’t like facing up to reality….
“I for one am sick to death of having my words twisted, ignored and dismissed by these seemingly educated people who are only interested in the improvements that are offered on their terms.Therefore rather than keep on banging my head against a brick wall, I have decided to shut down this blog and just get on with my metal detecting…the way that I like it.!”

To clarify: They aren’t terms and they aren’t ours. They are a description of civilised behaviour  If he doesn’t want to comply when other detectorists have happily done so without difficulty or complaint for many years then so be it, but don’t blame us or civilisation. No-one is being fooled.

And another equally uncomprehending fellow chips in … accusing us of “extremist demands” that have caused “responsible detectorist Steve Broom to vacate his responsible metal detecting blog”. Makes us sound more like  terrorists than conservationists. Boo hoo.  That comes of us taking stuff home without showing the owner and saying it’s the responsible thing to do. Oh no, that’s not us is it?!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


As part of our occasional series looking back at previous articles here’s what was in the Journal on this day 9 years ago in May 2006, an account of a very enjoyable weekend many of us spent in Derbyshire.

How did our neolithic and Bronze Age ancestors transport massive stones? Many theories have been put forward but none of them truly satisfied Gordon Pipes, a carpenter from Derbyshire, and member of Heritage Action. So he formed a group of interested amateur antiquarians called ‘the Stonehengineers’ and staged a demonstration (appropriately, at the National Tramway Museum) of a method he believed may have been used. He called it “stone rowing” and his idea was that by lifting the stones on levers and moving them along in a series of short steps would involve less friction and therefore require less effort than hauling them on rollers – so far fewer people could have been involved.

Elaine Swann of Heritage Action was there. She said: “The levers and fulcrums were put in place and it was all hands on deck. Gordon stood at one end and on his word we pressed down on the levers taking the weight of the 12 ton concrete block. We all stepped in one direction and, wow, the stone moved effortlessly in the other…”

Something we tried earlier....  A number of Heritage Action members taking part in the Stonehengineers' stone rowing experiment. (c) Nigel Swift, Heritage Action

Something we tried earlier….

Steve Gray, an engineer and also a member of Heritage Action who was there, said: “I’m sure with practice we could easily get up to 100 yards per hour and our ancestors who would have known all the things we were trying to learn could have done it very much faster.”

Gordon thinks an additional advantage of the method is that by using it large stones can be transported just as easily uphill, downhill or across uneven, scrubby land, which is very problematic when hauling them on rollers. But the greatest advantage is the fact that so few people are needed. The demonstration used less than 30 people which is certainly food for thought considering the concrete block they moved weighed as much as 3 or 4 Stonehenge blue stones! Could the bluestones have been brought by teams of just 8 people?

The Stonehengineers went on to try other methods (including enlisting the services of a super-fit tug o’ war team to apply the traditional hauling methods. It became clear that hauling could be made far more efficient than had previously been demonstrated, particularly by using far smaller rollers. In the end the consensus was that both methods might have been used – hauling for level, solid ground and rowing for when the ground was problematic or steeply sloping. It was certainly felt it would be difficult to imagine stones being manoeuvred around corners or over streams or lined up to precise positions without a degree of rowing being used.

Today’s feature is not about ancient sites but about a true hero of conservation….




[Words by Sir David,
Artwork by Heritage Action member Jane Tomlinson | | Twitter @JaneSunflower]


March 2015
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