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PAS is holding a Conference tomorrow titled “Can detectorists be archaeologists?” Why ask a question the answer to which is obvious: Of course they can, providing they do it for public benefit and in accordance with archaeological methods and morals and they don’t pocket the stuff for themselves!”
Set against the selfless benefits which thousands of amateur archaeologists quietly deliver in exactly that way, cheerleading for artefact hunting looks bizarre, to put it mildly. PAS should have saved their money and breath, cancelled the conference and announced a replacement one titled: “Hurrah for amateur archaeologists!”
The Irish President has just said that teaching philosophy in schools, and promoting it in society, is urgently needed to enable citizens “to discriminate between truthful language and illusory rhetoric”. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of British portable antiquities.
This weekend a Stonehenge & Avebury conference is being held. No-one will be allowed to oppose the short tunnel.
It’s up to you. Please sign the petition.
See here. A Spanish mining magnate has just been fined more than €25 million and sentenced to 30 months in prison for destroying a cave that held evidence of how humans lived in neolithic times..
Meanwhile in Britain a millionaire racehorse owner got away with no prison and a derisory fine for destroying part of a Priddy Circle that held evidence of how humans lived in neolithic times.
According to “Irish Metal Detecting” on Twitter…..
A public debate on the uk Portable Antiquities Scheme at a venue in blanchardstown crowne plaza was rearranged due to intimidation of guest speakers from the uk. The debate arranged by the Irish Metal Detecting Society was open to the public and archaeologists and of course those who enjoy the hobby of metal detecting. While the debate was cancelled a number archaeologists decided to meet with Liam Nolan (event organizer) privately to express their concern at the cancellation of the debate and the reasons why it was cancelled. A number of politicians have also expressed concern at the cancellation and have agreed to look further into the matter.“
Well! If the “bullying” comprised the British Museum criticising its own employees and refusing to pay their air fares to Dublin, good!
If the “bullying” comprised the National Museum of Ireland taking offence at employees of the British Museum trying to influence Irish conservation policy, good!
And if anyone being accused of bullying had read our article last week asking “Why is PAS lobbying against Europe’s conservation laws” and thought that this question in particular had merit ……
“Why? Why is PAS promoting the British system abroad, despite having no mandate or funding or visible incentive to do so? Why are the French, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Poles, Italians, Swedish and Irish being lobbied by a small British quango with an entirely parochial vested interest in praising artefact hunting at home? Why is it commending to others a system which is supported by detectorists in Britain only 30% of the time at best? Why on earth has PAS become part of a campaign run by detectorists to persuade two dozen sovereign European countries to rip up their laws on metal detecting?”
…. then good!
Not all piles of stones are cairns and tombs. The image is of a 5,000 year old leopard trap, one of many built in Israel’s Negev Desert. In each case they were built near areas where sheep and goats were kept.
Today there are no more leopards left to hunt in the Negev desert. The last was seen one decade ago, and they are almost extinct in neighboring Jordan as well. On the other hand, there are leopards elsewhere. Luckily though the two Trump boys are heroically keeping them under control ….
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is about to stage a conference asking “Can Detectorists be Archaeologists“. If the PAS was honest it would be a very short conference for it would start and end with a simple statement:
“Yes of course they can. However, searching at random, targeting only metal artefacts, doing it for personal pleasure or profit and, in the great majority of cases, not putting what you find on public record for the benefit of others, is damaging and in each instance the antithesis of archaeology. Proof lies in the fact that any archaeologist who acted like that would be sanctioned and expelled from the profession.“
Clearly, PAS knows all that but shamefully it is attempting to morph the difference by saying: “This conference explores the various ways in which detectorists (working alone or with archaeologists) have undertaken archaeological fieldwork“. Fine, but it’s expressing in a coded fashion a basic truth which they are frit to say in the public arena: “Yes OF COURSE detectorists can be archaeologists – but only if they act like archaeologists.”
Long Meg and her Daughters, the ancient stone circle near Penrith is being damaged by vehicles and has been placed onto Historic England’s ‘at risk register’.
As someone on Trip Advisor wrote recently: “My American visitor was stunned to find we could just drive up, park and wander at will with no red tape and for free.” Freedom of access in that way is to be welcomed but it’s clear there are limits.
This week we said Mike Pitts had scolded people who worry about a tunnel portal. But scolded is too mild. He said the Stonehenge Alliance acted like “the archaeological wing of Donald Trump’s social media campaign” and their leaflet imagery was “worthy of Putin-supporting trolls”. Hmmm. We know some of the members of the Stonehenge Alliance and they are dedicated, well-informed and genteel and not how he seeks to portray them. Hope that’s now crystal clear.
On the other hand, we find Mr Pitts’ account of why that trench was dug exactly on the solstice line far from crystal clear. Specifically this: “In this particular case thirty trenches were dug over a wide area south of the A303. If each trench was a sign of where a tunnel would end, we’d have a portal that reached half way across the world heritage site.” But the question remains: if there’s no chance whatsoever a portal will be located on the solstice sunset line why has one of the trenches been dug exactly on that line?
An explanation from the authorities would be appropriate, one that doesn’t involve belittling legitimate stakeholders.
“all this stuff about portals and midwinter sunsets is premature. Currently routes are being identified – not decided on ….. There will be a public consultation next year. If I was an objector, I’d wait until next year. At least I’d know what it was I was objecting to, always a help in these things…..
I don’t think Highways would be able to secretly put a tunnel portal just where the sun sets at midwinter. The eagle-eyed people at Icomos would notice. [The Heritage Journal] “could have said that as HE, EH and the NT want to protect and enhance the world heritage site, it’s unlikely they would’ve wanted the tunnel portal there. But where’s the fun in that?”
Well Mr Pitts,
First, please be assured there’s no fun in worrying a tunnel portal may be built on the solstice line. It’s a sincere concern which we share with many people, OK?
Second, thanks for the advice to wait, not worry but we’d prefer to exercise our democratic and natural right to worry, not wait.
Third, a fundamental reason why we are worrying is because HE, EH and the NT are welcoming the idea of a 1.8 mile long tunnel inside a 3.5 mile wide WHS – which is not an indication of wanting “to protect and enhance” this special landscape but quite the opposite.
However, since you seem to be in close touch with them you are perhaps in a position to help. Rather than scold legitimate stakeholders for being worried without cause, please ask those three bodies to publicly announce that they would all resolutely oppose the placing of a tunnel portal anywhere near the line of the solstice sunset. If they won’t, please respect the public’s right to worry. Simple really. We’ll watch with interest.