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It’s easy for people over here to feel a sense of superiority when they read things like this about the US Government …

Trump administration reverses Alaska hunting ban and allows black bear cubs, wolf pups to be killed in dens

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But not when you realise our Government quietly posted this a month ago …

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“If you are shooting live quarry or deer stalking from 13th May, you must either:

  • be alone;
  • with members of your household, or;
  • with one person from outside your household so long as social distancing measures are maintained.

If you do go shooting or stalking with someone from outside your household then no equipment should be shared.”

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So fortunately (nearly) all the participants will stay safe!

 

There’s a new set of stamps celebrating Roman Britain. Here’s one of them:
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The Ribchester Helmet, Found in 1796 and safe in the Museum for everyone to see and study.

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But here’s one that didn’t get printed:
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That’s the Crosby Garrett Helmet. Thanks to Britain’s inadequate legislation on detecting finds it isn’t on a stamp, it isn’t in a museum,  it doesn’t count as Treasure and didn’t have to be reported. It was dug up by unqualified amateurs in strange circumstances, renovated for sale in even stranger circumstances, then sold for millions by auction to a private individual, not a museum, and isn’t available for public viewing or study.

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Pretty bad, eh? But this is far worse:
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Another fictional stamp representing the thousands and thousands and thousands of archaeological artefacts not reported because of Britain’s unique, lunatic laissez faire system on metal detecting!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Now there’s more: detectorists are being urged to follow the Code but there’s no mention that the detecting organisations have refused to sign it! How is that not misinforming landowners about what might happen if they say yes? WHY, when landowners are the only people who can decide whether detecting takes place at all and are therefore the only true guardians of our archaeology?
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WHY?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Government has just issued advice to detectorists on how to behave during Covid. It should be OK as it was written “with advice from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme on how to report your finds and to protect in situ archaeology.” But it’s not OK:

“If you discover an in situ find (such as a hoard or burial): Cover it up, make a note of its location and let your local Finds Liaison Officer and the landowner and/or occupier know. The Finds Liaison Officer will then be able to advise you when and if an archaeological excavation can be organised. This could take many weeks or months to be arranged … ” .

That’s tone deaf and damaging for the vast majority of hoards are dug up immediately, using the excuse that the FLO couldn’t get there before nighthfall. The idea that most detectorists will wait “many weeks or months” is silly.

So why weren’t the Government told that? Had they been, they surely wouldn’t have given 27,000 detectorists the green flag to go out as if they were as harmless to heritage as elderly ramblers or birdwatchers?

Man being harmless

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Following our article highlighting Highways England’s use of trigger words, our regular contributor, paulintheswimhotmailcom has submitted the following compelling further analysis of their deceitful behaviour:


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I think it’s deceitful of Highways England to claim they have the support of “a Scientific Committee of eminent archaeological experts” when they know full well that there is a consortium of 22 world-class archaeologists (headed up by Mike Parker Pearson) who are against the current tunnel scheme. So too are UNESCO, ICOMOS, Stonehenge Alliance, CPRE, FOE, CBT, Council for British Archaeology and over 63,000 people who have now signed the two petitions against the tunnel (one for the UK and one for overseas).

Furthermore, Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues have asked for 100% sieve-rate (the gold standard) in sensitive archaeological areas but Highways England aren’t willing to do anything like that “on cost grounds”. It is very apparent that they aren’t willing to build the tunnel to the archaeological standards that the experts are asking for as they just want to do it on the cheap.

However, Highways England are correct in claiming they have the support of “the country’s heritage bodies” as these are English Heritage, Historic England and National Trust. And these three organisations are willing to let serious damage be done to Blick Mead, the western burial grounds and other areas of this World Heritage Site in order to further their own interests in Stonehenge (which they own and make a lot of money from).

They are all trying to con the public, and the decision makers, into thinking the tunnel is a historical improvement when the reality is that it will be very damaging to the wider Stonehenge landscape.

It’s just deceit and hypocrisy!

The National Council for Metal Detecting is lobbying the Government for the return of commercial detecting rallies. The DCMS has responded:

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Given that most detectorists and most archaeologists (including PAS) disapprove of commercial detecting rallies on the grounds they are particularly damaging, not to mention morally dubious, it is to be hoped the answer is a resounding NO.

Interestingly, just about the only “further investigation” the DCMS will be undertaking is to ask PAS what they think. We can but hope that PAS has the testicular fortitude to tell them!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Sadly, last Wednesday detecting was allowed to re-start in England straight after the National Council for Metal Detecting told Ministers it was a member of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, implying that detecting is pretty wholesome.

But it isn’t a sport and it’s unlike all the other listed outdoor activities as it involves taking stuff from the countryside and not reporting most of it. Precisely like egg collecting. So it’s not “wholesome” at all.

Why PAS didn’t explain that to the Government is a mystery.

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So here’s the upshot: all the recordable finds dug up in Europe, mostly unreported, on Wednesday, all from just one country. And every day from now on will be the same.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Congratulations to English Heritage, winner of the Conservation category of the European Heritage Awards which promote “best practices related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication.” The Iron Bridge is the first in the world to be constructed of iron and is a symbol of the Industrial Revolution. It is a Scheduled Monument and part of the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stresses in the ironwork compounded by ground movement in the Ironbridge Gorge and a 19th-century earthquake led English Heritage to undertake necessary interventions to preserve its original fabric to the greatest extent possible.  All elements were addressed: the iron radials and braces holding the bridge together, the deck plates and wedges, the main iron arch, and the stone abutments on either side of the Severn.  The cast iron elements were repaired, the masonry conserved, the deck resurfaced, and the entire structure cleaned and repainted in its original red-brown colour.

The Jury remarked that “this iconic heritage, cared for throughout its lifetime, is a part of a larger whole, relating to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the surrounding industrial landscape. Its conservation approach is based on full respect of the original technology and was made possible through international collaboration and funding. It is a very good example of conservation in action, providing access to visitors and locals during the work”.

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The Iron Bridge, Shropshire, UNITED KINGDOM

Detectorists are lobbying hard to be allowed back. But now is the perfect time to more than halve the cultural damage their activity causes by announcing there will  never be a resumption of the worst element of their activity, massive commercial rallies. As PAS says:

“Most archaeologists think metal-detecting rallies can be damaging to archaeology. Often random, searching takes place over a large area of land, and it is almost impossible for archaeologists (when invited) to make a proper record of all objects found.”

In addition, despite “token” charitable claims most rallies are money-making machines, often run appallingly, e.g. holding them on sites where damage is caused, refusing to take professional advice to desist and allowing participants to keep non-Treasure finds worth up to a massive £2,000 without even showing them to the landowner. So the question arises: what benefit are rallies other than to enrich their organisers and why should they ever be allowed to resume?

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Will PAS now advise the Government to never allow a resumption of shameful scenes like this? (No need to say it out loud, just say it).

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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… the National Health Service Bill passed through Parliament.

Two years later “the noblest domestic act of Government in the twentieth century” became a reality.

Here’s the stone which memorialises Aneurin Bevan:

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