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It’s always fascinating to see new entrants to the blogosphere, particularly those which focus upon heritage matters in geographical areas which interest me personally. The CornishBirdBlog appears to have been started earlier this year, and the About page tells us a little of the impetus behind the site:

After visiting 50 countries in 9 years I came home and realised that some of the best sunsets are found right on my doorstep. I want to share my walks around Cornwall and my thoughts with you. (And a little bit of local history too, the fun stuff I promise!) I should just add that I am not a professional historian, all the research is my own and I have formed my own opinions and stories from it – nothing should be taken as 100% fact.

CBBHdr

In the few months since starting, there have been many interesting stories published on the site, from tales of shipwrecks, local folklore, treasure (the latest story tells of the Rillaton gold cup), lost Cornish kings, Roman roads and other ancient trackways, Cornish crosses, standing stones and other ancient sites, and some interesting historical Cornish characters. Yes, some of the stories are well known, but others are more obscure, and deserve a wider audience.

So if you’re interested in Cornwall’s history and heritage, why not pay the Cornish Bird Blog a visit, take a look around the archives, and leave a comment or two. Don’t forget to say we sent you!

With over 15,000 sites and over 116,000 (and counting) user submitted fieldnotes, news articles, folklore tales, links and pictures, The Modern Antiquarian website is undoubtedly one of the UK’s national online treasures. Alongside the Megalithic Portal, it is one of the foremost places for the general public to share and learn information about our oldest sites. However, unlike the Portal, there is real danger this amazing resource could vanish forever.

The Modern Antiquarian Screenshot

Julian Cope’s outstanding public spirit has paid for the building and maintenance of the Modern Antiquarian and has continued to pay for the not inconsiderable cost of hosting it for over 15 years. Let us be the first to say thank you for such amazing generosity. Also, we have no reason to believe it is likely to stop and trust it will continue for years to come. But we can’t rely on that generosity for ever and we believe that the site should be preserved by the nation, for the nation. This resource has been created from literally years of human endeavor by thousands of people and must be preserved for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Fortunately a mechanism for preservation exists, The UK Web Archive provided by The British Library. They are archiving important UK websites forever. The aforementioned Megalithic Portal is on there and we believe it essential that The Modern Antiquarian is preserved too. Please visit their nomination page and add your voice to the growing clamor, we have!

Dr Sandy Gerrard’s ongoing series of posts concerning stone row alignments, and their associated landscape tricks and treats have been generally well received here on the Heritage Journal.

StoneRowsLogo

Such has been the reaction that a decision was made to give his articles and associated research a more permanent, focused home. To this end we are delighted to announce the creation of a sister site for the Journal, and new web resource: ‘The Stone Rows of Great Britain‘ which goes live today.

The site includes a gazetteer of known and accepted prehistoric stone rows, along with a list of those rows whose antiquity or veracity is in doubt. Many of the gazetteer entries show not just basic information such as location, characteristics and so on, but many are accompanied by links to other web resources, photographs, and each region can be investigated via an interactive map.

The ‘Research’ area of the site will be of interest to many people, and many of Dr Gerrard’s articles which have appeared on the Heritage Journal to date, and more, are included here.

There will still be a great deal of information to be added as further research sheds light on possible uses of the enigmatic monuments, so please pay ‘The Stone Rows of Great Britain‘ a visit, and leave us your comments.

Dr Sandy Gerrard’s ongoing series of posts concerning stone row alignments, and their associated landscape tricks and treats have been generally well received here on the Heritage Journal.

Such has been the reaction that a decision has been made to give his articles and associated research a more permanent, focused home. To this end we are delighted to announce the creation of a sister site for the Journal, and new web resource: ‘The Stone Rows of Great Britain‘ which we are working to make public in March 2016.

StoneRowsLogo

This new web site will eventually include a full gazetteer of known stone rows covering the length and breadth of Britain, organised on a regional basis – Dartmoor is the first gazetteer area to be completed but other areas will be populated in the coming weeks and months.

gazetteer

There will also be a full analysis of rows by type, length and number of stones available at launch. As time goes on, further information will rapidly be added, including links to other resources, and it is hoped that this site will grow into a major resource and focus for stone row-based study in its own right.

Research

A further announcement (and working link) will be made available closer to launch date, but we wanted to give an early ‘heads-up’ to all those who are interested in this area of study, so watch this space!

Another year, and another highly successful Day of Archaeology, which this time round occurred on 24th July (and new posts are still appearing). I imagine the organisers must be feeling very pleased with themselves, and quite exhausted at the moment! Hearty congratulations to everyone involved, and many thanks to the organisers, behind the scenes techies, and all the contributors for telling us exactly what it is they get up to.

doa-noyear

As usual, I was watching the Twitter feed (#DayOfArch) and had the web site added to my RSS feed throughout the day, but was simply overwhelmed with the number of posts from very early in the morning, and which continued unabated throughout the day. And what posts! Every aspect of archaeology was covered, from sites around the world, in multiple languages. Many of the posts were lengthy and so detailed that I’m afraid I didn’t get much of my own work done, just trying to keep up! This is a web site of treasures that I’ll return to again and again over the coming weeks and months to see what I can unearth.

And therein lies the problem. In just 5 years, the sheer scale of the project has mushroomed to an extent where, to find an item of specific interest increases in difficulty. Yes, there is a Search facility, but this can seemingly only deal with simple searches. There is also an excellent map facility on the site, showing those posts which have been geo-referenced, but sadly many are not and the map is currently restricted to only show posts from 2011-2013.

DayOfArch2015Map

The moderators work extremely hard every year categorising each post before it appears so that related posts can be found, and it’s this work that makes the finding of a specific interest a bit easier, although the system isn’t yet perfect. By lunchtime on the day, probably 150-200 posts had appeared on my RSS feed – if not more. Yet searching for the category ‘Day of Archaeology 2015’ showed only 33 posts, of which only 5 were tagged as relating to prehistory! So a bit more work to be done for next year, by which time I may have caught up on reading the posts of interest!

I can’t help but wonder if any other professions would be able to emulate the Day of Archaeology project, let alone garner the obvious depth of public interest. Hopefully the organisers will release some stats in due course showing just how many posts have been created, how many hits the site receives, and which were the most popular posts, year by year.

Here’s to next year!!

Stonehenge a mere 115 years ago was obviously a very different place from what we see today. No fences, no visitor centre, no interpretation signs, no caravans or campers on the by-ways.

The British Film Institute have a new web site, Britain on Film, which allows browsing and searching on a map for old films, from the mid-1800’s (if you’re lucky!) through to the present day. Many are free to view, for others there is a modest cost.

So far, there’s only one film showing Stonehenge, dated from 1900. It shows a brief panorama across the stones, where a solitary self-concious policeman is on ‘guard’ duty for a single visitor.

StonehengeCop

Imagine if that ratio of police to visitors were to be in place today!

of course, the BFI don’t have a monopoly on old films. The British Pathe News web site also has a selection of films showing Stonehenge throughout the last 100 years.

Why not take a look at the BFI and Pathe News sites and see if your favourite Scheduled Ancient Monument is represented by an old film? Let us know what you find!

We often mention the good work that Rescue, the British Archaeological Trust do on behalf of us all in trying to protect heritage under threat, and we’re proud to say that we support their cause.

Rescue

It’s been a while coming, but their website has finally been given a bit of a makeover, and looks fresher and cleaner, making it easier to read and to find the articles of interest. But the big news is that they now also have an e-commerce component to the site (known to you and me as ‘a shop’), to be known as eRescue.

It’s now possible to sign up for membership online, and to purchase hardcopy books, PDF downloads of the ‘Rescue News’ newsletter, and other products, or to just make a donation to the cause. And as a special bonus, registered members get a discount on everything they buy via the online shop!

eRescue screenshot

There is also a special Members’ Area, called ‘Rescue Premium’. This is a bit bare at the moment, containing only a video of a talk from this year’s AGM, but I’m advised that more content will be coming soon.

As a charitable trust Rescue do not receive any state support. They are entirely reliant on the contributions of members to support their work as advocates of the historic environment, at a time of unprecedented threat. So if you care about our heritage, please stop by their website and consider joining (only £15 a year for individuals), making a donation no matter how small, or purchasing one or more items from eRescue.

by Sandy Gerrard

Last week a new App was launched which allows all of us to view information about archaeological sites in the whole of Wales. According to the Daily Mirror “Wales has become the first country in the world to have all its archaeological treasures made available at the touch of a button.” BBC News less dramatically reports that “The app will also allow the public to interact and add new information.” The Welsh Assembly Minister for Culture, John Griffiths, acknowledged that “The historic environment records of Wales were already available online, but with the launch of the app Wales will make this wealth of information, collected by generations of investigators, available to mobile users, allowing them a glimpse of the hidden heritage all around us.” In the spirit of the event the Dyfed Archaeological Trust stated “We look forward to interacting with users and being able to update and add new records as a result of their discoveries.”

These claims are well worth examining and from my viewpoint there was nowhere better for a test run than the mangled Mynydd y Betws landscape. It may come as no surprise whatsoever to find that the stone alignment at Mynydd y Betws does not figure on the app. So not quite “all” then! Whatever your favoured interpretation there can be no doubt that within this rich prehistoric funerary landscape there is an alignment of stones and that the Dyfed Archaeological Trust are aware of its existence. So why would they choose to deliberately exclude this feature from their records? This might appear to smack a little of censorship. Are embarrassing sites to be deliberately excluded or perhaps they have launched their new tool before bringing their records up to date? Evidence to support the second solution is sadly abundant.

The record for a scheduled cairn at SN68950998 states “This monument shold be considred for scheduling as part of significant funerary landscape on Bancbryn, which shoulkd also include cemeteries PRNs 551 and 868 and ring cairn PRN 45120”. Ignoring the interesting spelling for moment (we all have off days) it is perhaps worth pointing out that this site was actually scheduled a number of years ago.

More disturbing given the claims by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust that “The app will also allow the public to interact and add new information” is the mis-plotting of the Banc Y Bryn coal mine. The site is shown 1.07km from its actual location. This is worrying given that this area had been the subject of several archaeological evaluations and none of these had picked up on this very obvious error. Moving on though, it is perhaps even more disconcerting that I pointed out to the Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER on 7/09/12 that the site is actually centred a long way away at SN 68834 10333. So over a year after telling them that their records were wrong they have not updated them.

Interestingly the entry for the nearby Banc y Bryn cairns notes “The extent of the cemetery and the close proximity of the other monuments makes this a significant funerary landscape and one that should perhaps be scheduled,”  So the stone alignment leads through “a significant funerary landscape” but we should not be surprised that it receives no mention as after all despite pointing out to them over a year ago that the site was already scheduled they have failed to update their records. How often is this the case and therefore just how useful a tool is this? A further four cairns on Bancbryn are also recorded as unscheduled when in reality they are. It is clear there are problems with the data and when I raised this issue last year was informed: “the information is all available here in various stand-alone databases and as tables in our GIS platform, not to mention as fieldwork reports. But this information is on our internal systems, it is just not currently available on Archwilio. All DAT staff have full access to it at all times.”

So there we have it. DAT staff have access to all the information, but Archwilio contains only a proportion of the available information and clearly if the Mynydd y Betws area is typical much of this is inaccurate and significantly out of date. Not sure any of this was mentioned at the launch!

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For all previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box.

See also this website and Facebook Group

A couple of years ago now, Heritage Action member ‘Scubi’ (Chris Brooks) documented his ‘trip of a lifetime, Scottish Adventure‘ around the highlands and islands of Scotland, visiting many of the prehistoric monuments on the islands.

And now, regular reader Mark Griffiths has documented part of his own trip to Orkney on his personal blog.

As Mark says in his introduction:

Prehistoric Britain exists all around us, with standing stones jutting out of the ground all over the countryside, and chambered tombs tucked into shady corners of modern housing estates. But there are several ‘prehistoric landscapes’ where great swathes of the country are kept as once they were, and it doesn’t take much imagination to feel a tremendous resonance with the past. Remote in both time and space, places like Mitchell’s Fold and Bryn Celli Ddu hold a special fascination for me. Larger landscapes, such as the justly-famous Stonehenge and Avebury sites in Wiltshire, even with the close proximity to the modern world, and the super-attraction tourist status they have, still have the power to evoke a certain something.

Certainly words that resonate with us here at the Heritage Journal! He continues:

Orkney, however, is a particular favourite of mine. A collection of 90 islands off the north coast of Scotland, the islands are made of Old Red Sandstone, which is excellent for building with as it can be quarried into blocks with ease. Perhaps it was this very fact that led to prehistoric folks settling here all those years ago. From about 3500BC it is believed the islands were being settled, as the hunter-gatherer way of life settled down into farming.

His account includes some stunning photographs – I suspect the islands are similar to Cornwall with regard to good light, I’ve yet to see a bad photograph of the monuments there!

Mark visits all the usual sites in his blog: Skara Brae, Barnhouse, Stones of Stenness, Brodgar, Maes Howe etc. and it makes a good read. His blog name includes the epithet ‘Heritage Hunter!’ as a tag line, so we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on his future posts…

Visit: marrrkusss – Heritage Hunter!

If you’ve experienced your own ‘trip of a lifetime’ to a British heritage site or sites, why not drop us a line and let us know about it so we can feature your trip here too?

A new Community Archaeology resource has been announced in the latest CBA Newsletter.

ISGAP‘, the Introduction to Standards and Guidance in Archaeological Practice is a new web site developed by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) in conjunction with the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA), and supported by English Heritage, aimed at Community Archaeology projects and which “highlights the standard procedures you will need to apply when carrying out your archaeological research and investigation. Whilst we do not provide a step-by-step ‘how to’ instruction for specific methods, we do tell you about the best practice approach. We have also included essential details about your legal obligations and a helpful guide to sources of further advice or information.

There are sections for each stage of a project, covering such areas as Stewardship, Site Evaluation, Excavation, Research and Conservation of Artefacts, Publication and Dissemination and much more. The standards derive directly from the Institute for Archaeologists’ (IfA) Standards and Guidance, and so ideally should be followed by professionals and volunteers alike, no matter what the scale or circumstance of archaeological work.

Although the ‘Using ISGAP’ page refers to downloadable modules, the only obvious download links are to associated supplementary documents which expand on the material on each page. Each section or module is a single page, so maybe that’s what is meant by downloadable? Another minor quibble – on the same page reference is made to 17 modules, but only 15 sections are listed. On the ‘Documentation’ menu link the same 15 are listed, whilst on the Documentation page and on the Home Page, a list of 18 sections is given.

Despite these inconsistencies, there is a lot of information contained within the site and ample links to more detailed information. In all, this should be a useful information resource for any archaeological project, regardless of which stage the project may have reached.

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