PAS has launched an appeal for donations. They’re entitled to expect that detectorists, whose bacon they and the taxpayer have saved for 18 long years, will promptly respond. Surprisingly, just £3 a week from each detectorist would cover all their running costs!

However, there’s a lot of evidence that the “partnership” between PAS and detectorists is only platitude-deep with each side seeing praising the other as essential to their own survival. Thus, while most detectorists indubitably don’t report most of their finds to PAS they invariably claim they do – and PAS constantly ties itself in quite elegant linguistic knots to avoid admitting that crucial truth to the public. But now PAS seems to have inadvertently committed a big tactical error by asking for money instead of fine words – for so far, after three and a half weeks, there have been just 8 donations (and not all from detectorists) totalling £370. That equates to less than 10p per detectorist per week! Little more need be said.

Or does it? Were those in charge of “New PAS” quite so naive, or were they actually perfectly well aware of what the response would be and are using it to send a coded message to the Government? Is it all a way to demonstrate, without needing to say so themselves, that they see they have inherited a voluntary system which is not as it has long been portrayed? Who knows, but if so, someone is to be congratulated for they have arranged matters so that it is detectorists, no-one else, who are doing the demonstrating – in a way that simply can’t be denied or spun. The taxpayer has been giving £30,000 a week to support PAS and the voluntary system whereas detectorists have mostly abused the voluntary system and are now collectively giving just £100 a week.

I do hope “New PAS” has done this deliberately. My guess is that they have, for since they took over there has been a slackening of the selective “good news” propaganda and this latest development fits in very well with that change. Could this be the beginning of Britain shaking off it’s bonkersness and starting to move towards treating its portable antiquities like other countries do? “Regulation” is not a dirty word and is only opposed by those detectorists who have something to hide – literally. Let the rest of us voice it more openly.



Last weekend, I attended a one-day conference organised (and fully funded) by Wessex Archaeology at the Greenwich University Medway Campus on 12th September 2015. The theme of the conference was ‘Celebrating Prehistoric Kent’.

The programme was set out as follows and despite some minor overruns, all went very smoothly, ably m.c.’d by Wessex Archaeology’s Regional Team Leader for London and the South East, Mark Williams.

9.30: Welcome (coffee and selection of teas provided)
9.50: Introduction
10.00: Paul Garwood (University of Birmingham): Seas of change: the early Neolithic in the Medway valley and its European context
10.40: Sophie Adams (University of Bristol): We dig what you dig: exploring later prehistoric bronze working from the excavated evidence
11.20: Break with coffee and selection of teas provided
11.40: Phil Andrews (Wessex Archaeology): Digging at the Gateway: the archaeology of East Kent Access 2
12.20: Andy Bates (University of Kent): Investigation and Survey of the Oppida at Bigbury and Oldbury
1.00: Lunch (not provided) displays etc
2.00: Jacqueline McKinley (Wessex Archaeology): The Late Bronze Age-Middle Iron Age mortuary landscape at Cliffs End
2.40: Ges Moody (Trust For Thanet Archaeology): Prehistory in our place and our place in Prehistory; Thanet and the Trust for Thanet Archaeology
3.20: Andrew Mayfield (Kent County Council Heritage Team): Public perceptions of prehistory
4.00: Discussion & Close

I tried to take notes throughout the day, and I hope I haven’t misrepresented what was said by anyone in the following summary. Please comment if you were there and feel I’ve got anything wrong.

Paul Garwood kicked off the day, talking about the Medway Valley Megaliths, “discovered, forgotten, rediscovered etc. but not quite fitting in”. He postulated a two-phase Neolithic: The ‘Formative’ (4000-3750BC), which included the spread of farming to previously Mesolithic cultures, and the ‘Early Developed’ (3750-3400BC) which included the long barrow culture.

Evidence from each of the megaliths in the Medway Valley, which we’ve visited before, was examined in turn. As the size of the monuments increases (4000BC for White Horse Stone, Kits Coty etc) up to large enclosures such as that at Burham Causewayed Enclosure (3700-3500BC), this indicates a time of huge social change and activity, and suggests a new chronology for the British early Neolithic period.

Sophie Adams then ran through a wealth of evidence for Bronze Age and Iron Age metalworking in Kent, and provided several samples and reproductions to be passed around the audience. The evidence for metalworking usually consists of ingots, crucibles, moulds (often made of clay) or smithing tools.

There are many metalworking objects recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme from Kent relating to the Bronze Age, plus a lot of Iron Age coins.

Some 25 sites in the county provide evidence of metal working. This is a high number for such sites in a single county in Britain. Sophie examined the finds from several of these sites in detail, such as Holborough Quarry, Mill Hill in Deal, Highstead Chislet, and the Boughton Malherbe hoard.

After a short coffee break, Phil Andrews took us back to 2010 and the largest excavation in Britain, where over a period of 9 months some 48 hectares of land were stripped from a rich archaeological landscape for the East Kent Access route. The project was overwhelming but the road was completed on time. The site was divided into 25 ‘zones’ for ease of reference.

Among the earliest remains found were a palaeolithic flake from Telegraph Hill, along with Mesolithic axes. Zone 6 included a concentration of Neolithic Flint in pits, while zone 14 exposed pits with pottery. There are a large number of barrows in Thanet, almost all of which have been ploughed flat. There were at least 12 large barrows under the course of the road.

One ring ditch barrow produced up to a dozen burials at Cliffs End near to a possible henge – a 50 metre wide monument. A total of 8 late Bronze Age hoards were all found on the Ebbsfleet peninsula as part of the excavation.

Zone 6, over 300m long, also produced evidence of a very complex Iron Age site, with trackways, ditches, roundhouses etc. The settlement grew through to Roman times. The most significant discovery? A possible link to Julius Caesar in the form of a very substantial ditch, part of defences dating from around 100 bc or so. The ditch was recut in 100 AD, and investigation continues.

Andy Bates then described his work, surveying two under-researched hillforts in Kent, those at Bigbury and Oldbury.

Bigbury is an are dominated by gravels, much of the area has been quarried, some of the surrounding fields are being surveyed using metal detector, magnetometry and resistivity geophys, with some encouraging results including an intriguing rectilinear feature which bears some resemblance in form to a possible shrine found on Cadbury Castle in Somerset.

Oldbury, one of the largest hillforts in Europe, has been largely inaccessible to geophys due to being heavily wooded to the south with agricultural use (orchards) to the north, but an opportunity opened up for some survey work in a northern field. Not much showed on the geophys here, some features but all were very disturbed.

After a lunch break Jacqueline McKinley described some of the major findings from the Cliffs End farm site (see the article in Current Archaeology issue 306). This was a very busy mortuary site, with burials from the late Bronze Age, middle Iron Age and some Anglo-Saxon burials too. There were no bones in many of the graves, due to the acidity of the soil, but fortuitously in one area of redeposited soil, 14 articulated burials were preserved. This find increases by around 30% the number of articulated bodies found in Kent to date. Unusually, the majority of the bones were from teens.

The main find was the burial of a Bronze Age woman, found with two lambs on her lap, holding a piece of chalk to her face, and her other hand pointing to a central enclosure. Two youths were also buried with her, one with their head resting on a cow skull. The woman had died from four blows to her skull with a bladed instrument – a violent death, but possibly a sacrifice?

Ges Moody then gave us a brief history of Thanet, the Trust for Thanet Archaeology and the background to many of the antiquarian (and more up to date!) archaeological investigations in the area.

The Trust recently completed their ‘VM-365’ project, with a blog post every day for a year looking at Thanet archaeology and many of the finds available in their ‘virtual museum’. An interesting site, well worth a visit.

The day finished (for me) with Andy Mayfield giving a lighthearted look at how the public view prehistory. he then went on to explain a little about his work as a Heritage Environment Records Officer in Kent (what a H.E.R.O.!), and a review of the enormous amount of prehistory available in the county.

After the meeting, an invite was extended to all to continue discussions in a nearby pub, but as we had a long trip home in front of us, we left as the organisers were packing up the display materials.

All in all a very entertaining, interesting and educational day, and Wessex Archaeology are to be applauded for covering the cost of the event. I’ll certainly be looking out for other events in the future. Maybe they could consider covering each county in turn? Personally I’d like to see a similar review of archaeology in my local counties of Hertfordshire and Essex (hint hint!)

We continue our series looking at Dr Sandy Gerrard’s research into the stone row monuments of the South West. This time we are looking at the second of a pair of alignments north west of Sharpitor on Dartmoor. Last time we looked at its neighbour.


The two stone alignments are situated close to each other on a spur of high ground leading north west from Sharpitor. This time we shall look at the southern row which is of the single variety – last time we looked at the associated double row. Both rows stand immediately next to the public highway (B3212) leading from Yelverton to Princetown near a car park next to Goatstone Pool. They have seen considerable damage but despite this their form is still discernible. The single row includes at least thirty stones forming an 82.5m long row standing between 0.1m and 0.4m high leading a low spread mound at its western end. Unsurprisingly a walk westwards along this row provides nearly identical views and reveals to those experienced at the nearby double row although in this case the row is not aligned on South Hessary Tor, but instead points directly at the cairns at the top of the Hart Tor stone rows.


Idealised sketch plan of the Sharpitor stone alignments showing what they may once have looked like based on Google Earth and field observations


View from the north eastern end of the row looking south westward.

View from the north eastern end of the row looking south westward.

Most of the stones in this alignment protrude only slightly above the ground surface.

Most of the stones in this alignment protrude only slightly above the ground surface.

Row leading towards the low cairn at the south western end. View from the north east.

Row leading towards the low cairn at the south western end. View from the north east.

Views from the alignment

The character of the reveal achieved by walking south westward along the row is very similar to that experienced along the adjacent double row. So instead this time the view revealed as you walk north eastwards is examined. A case is being built that the alignments were built to denote movement and that a megalithic character was not necessary. Indeed this row could have been built by a single family group in an afternoon. The stones were capable of being easily handled but this does not detract from their importance or the information they have to tell us. In this instance as is probably the case with many of the rows other visual treats are on offer, but the most obvious is the relationship between the row and the stone rows at Hart Tor. This row points directly towards the Hart Tor rows which are partly revealed as you walk up the hill from the cairn at the south western end. The Hart Tor rows are framed and partly obscured by the lower slopes of Leeden Tor which effectively block the view to the lower parts of both rows. It is anticipated that further work will reveal more examples of this type of particular precise visual inter-relationship and  these taken together with the links to the sea will allow analysis of patterns and convincingly demonstrate how these monuments were used even if we never understand why. Each row is unique in appearance and it should therefore not come as a surprise to find that they were each placed very carefully within the landscape to take full advantage of a myriad of different visual treats.

View looking north east along the row from the cairn at the south west end. The views in this direction are restricted by the rising ground leading to the blind summit.

View looking north east along the row from the cairn at the south west end. The views in this direction are restricted by the rising ground leading to the blind summit.


As you walk up the hill the stone rows at Har Tor appear framed by the near ground and the lower slopes of Leeden Tor. The fact that this row is aligned on these rows and they are revealed as you proceed along the row seems deliberate particularly when one considers that the slightest difference in the orientation of the row would mean that this visual treat would not happen.


Finally at the end of this row the Hart Tor rows are peeking out behind the lower slopes of Leeden Tor in the foreground.

Previous articles in this series:

It’s a fair question. How did we arrive at a situation where tens of thousands – perhaps millions of people don’t want the hill fort’s surroundings developed and a very small number – perhaps in single figures do, and the latter may get their way? It has been a multi-threaded process but here’s just one of the threads, lest anyone forget. Years ago someone spoke to us unfondly of Peter de Figueiredo who has provided an expert opinion for the developers, citing this. Not sure if any of that is fair, we’re not saying it is, but what we can do is refer everyone to his paid-for opinion on Oswestry Hill Fort and suggest they decide for themselves if it’s fair or otherwise.

We love Section 5.3.9 about “views from” ….

” The sense of detachment the viewer feels, however, comes from the elevated viewpoint and the otherworldly character
of the structure (as described in paragraph 4.2.16-17 above), rather than
because of the particular nature of the setting. Hence the view over open
fields and woodland seen to the west may be very attractive, but it
contributes no more to the significance of the hill fort than the view of pylons
and traffic passing along the A5 to the east. Indeed the view of modern day
activity as seen in the buildings and roads that are spread more densely
across the eastern side can help the viewer to understand the continuity of
human occupation on the site and the links with its hinterland.”

and Views To  (where he says it’s best viewed from very close, i.e. the only valuable setting is a very small one!) ….

“5.3.2 Distant views providing broad-ranging panoramas can be of particular
significance since they place the hill fort within its wider urban, rural and
topographical context. The relationship between the hill fort and its setting is
important to understanding the history of the area. Yet given the restricted
number of views, and the fact that many of them can only be glimpsed from
a travelling vehicle, their kinetic nature means that understanding of
significance relies on a matrix of views rather than a few static viewpoints.
This makes it difficult to model the potential impact of the proposed
development, since the setting changes in a dynamic sequence of vistas.

5.3.3 Localised views can provide more information about the hill fort itself, since
its form and structure is better revealed when the viewer is close to the

and this is just amazing …..

“A number of changes in the setting of the hill fort are identified. These have
been assessed in terms of impact on significance. Slight adverse impacts are
found in relation to kinetic views from the A5 by-pass and from a single
viewpoint on the B5069 travelling north. A beneficial impact is found in
relation to kinetic views from the B5069 travelling south. Other effects of
development are found to be either neutral or beneficial.
Mitigation measures are proposed in relation to archaeology; access to the
hill fort, car parking and interpretation; and landscape and ecology. These will
substantially offset the adverse visual consequences of development.
On balance this assessment finds that the consequences of development of
land at Oldport as proposed would have a neutral impact on the significance
of the Old Oswestry Hill Fort, providing that suitable mitigation measures are
taken. This would accord with Policy 134 of the National Planning Policy
Framework that states that where a development proposal will lead to less
than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this
harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.”

by Nigel S

OK, this article is mainly about non-prehistoric stuff but my excuse is that it didn’t start that way as I visited the village of Kempsey in Worcestershire to see the ramparts of an Iron Age promontory hill fort,  just west of the church and close to the River Severn. Not spectacular these days but real enough. I chatted to the priest and he made me feel silly by saying some of it might be the “bund”, the very recent flood defences, but I don’t think the bit in the picture is, at least.

Kempsey 2

What caught my eye though was this, adjacent to the churchyard…..

Kempsey saxon 1

It was erected by the locals following the discovery of 42 ancient graves during the construction of the flood defences and it contains the inscription: “Marking the reburial of our Saxon and Mediaeval ancestors 800-1300 BC”. The actual interment was just the other side of the fence, within the churchyard, but the stone was erected outside the fence so that passing ramblers would be able to see it. That strikes me as a great example of a village taking the trouble to mark its past, a past that is still connected to the present in some ways: as the priest pointed out, those who had been re-buried would all have been familiar with this …

Kempsey 4

Not all of Kempsey’s past is cherished though. Some of it is being exploited IMHO.  First (like every village by now probably), Kempsey has been visited by metal detectorists under the unique Bonkers British legal umbrella which says they needn’t tell anyone about 99.98% of the historical finds they come across.  One wonders just how much cultural knowledge of its past that has cost Kempsey bearing in mind that ARCHI UK, the database aimed at metal detectorists, lists 271 archaeological and historical sites within 10 km of the centre of the village!

Second, over on the other side of the village from the church there’s this new estate being developed ….

Kempsey 3

Note the name, Saxon Meadows.  I bet there’s a new estate near you with a similar name. Being a bit of a cynic I read it as:  “We’re probably destroying archaeology but this name shows we really care”! In the event they found a bit of Roman but no Saxon.  Still, it’s the apparent caring that matters – although some gestures of caring in Kempsey are more obviously genuine than others!


It’s been put about that we country folk all support foxhunting and the like. Don’t you believe it, a lot of us don’t. Personally I’d rather eat my own turnips than support it. So I was shocked that last Sunday at Tisbury, Wiltshire there was a metal detecting day in support of the Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles. Lots of detectorists turned up and many hundreds of pounds were raised.




Hunting hares is illegal these days so they make do with watching rabbits being torn apart (well it’s legal, innit?!) They want the Hunting Act repealed (so they can resume killing hares) and I wonder how much of the metal detecting money will be put towards that noble aim? Not that there’s any point telling the attendees, they obviously don’t mind but that doesn’t mean other people (including the ladies and gentlemen of PAS and the British Museum) might not be affronted by the spectacle of cultural exploiters filling the coffers of wildlife exploiters. PAS was scheduled to attend, thereby legitimising all concerned. I don’t know if they did. I hope they didn’t and that they don’t go next year when the whole sorry, uniquely British spectacle is to be repeated. Uniquely British? Yes, you can travel the world and never come across such a grotesque event.


On the subject of awful, the fragrant Central Searchers are holding their massive annual Summer Rally. today and tomorrow. It ought to be called “The Convenience Rally” because look:
1. Their usual rule applies – if you find something which you alone reckon is worth less than £2,000 you can just pocket it and the farmer can whistle for a share. Very convenient. 2. Dealer John Phippotts will be there to “identify, value and buy any finds, he’s interested in single pieces or whole collections”. Even more convenient. 3. As he says in his adverts, Confidentiality assured. Discreet and professional service “. Yet more convenient! And all for just £44 a ticket.

Are the Archaeological Establishment  looking? How’s the voluntary reporting system going chaps? Really well, with nearly all finds being declared? No need to call for proper regulation? And English Heritage, are you still standing by your stated position: “English Heritage will support the general principle that archaeological material should not be sold for profit” or were you just kidding?


Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow



Like all good blogs, we are always looking to improve, but in order to do that, we need your help!

As originally conceived, the Heritage Journal was aimed at a readership of like minded-individuals. The kind of people that read the Modern Antiquarian, the Megalithic Portal and similar sites, but we were also hoping to pull in others who were maybe not quite so enthusiastic about tramping across desolate moors to look at ‘lumps and bumps’ in the landscape, but who were maybe curious about the ancient remains scattered around the countryside in the British Isles. The idea of raising awareness of such sites was intended to offer them some protection – after all, the more that people know and care about something then the less chance there is of it being lost to development, deliberate damage and desecration or just sheer neglect.

But as time has passed it’s become obvious to us, largely from browsing our Twitter followers list (around 7500 of you at the time of writing!) that our audience has extended far beyond our original target, to embrace many heritage protection professionals, other organisations and more than a few politicians (local and national). Whilst we take this to be a sign that we’re doing something right, it does leave us wondering how many of our readers still fit our initial intended profile. And moving on from that, whether we should change our content to either better fit (and grow!) our current audience or try to regain those we first targetted. After all, as Abraham Lincoln famously said “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

With this in mind, it’s time for a bit of audience participation. We’d like you to peruse the categories below, simply select the most appropriate and click ‘Vote’ to let us know which category best describes you.

The poll will be open for one week only, after which we’ll assess the responses. Thanks for your help!

“The Sentinel”
[ © Denis Martindale. Reproduced with permission. See more of his poems on his blog ]

As if he were a statuette,
The meerkat struck a pose,
Without a frown, without a fret,
Serene with upturned nose…
He was like some superhero,
Cape blowing in the breeze,
While he stood firm, looked high and low,
With no thought to appease…
The meerkat was the Sentinel –
The first to raise alarm,
Called on to be reliable,
So others could stay calm…
He was the Captain in control,
The General standing guard,
The Brigadier whose heart and soul
Kept vigil long and hard.
The Sentinel’s experience
Helped others take their ease
And through maintained resilience,
He stood steadfast for peace.
One meerkat can make the difference!
A hero through and through…
If he can take a noble stance,
Then why on Earth can’t you! ?

NT Sentinel

Osw view

HOOOH Press Release 5th September 2015

Heritage groups ‘slam’ hillfort development in final round of consultation

Shropshire Council’s ‘master plan’ for housing within the historic hinterland of Old Oswestry hillfort has been pulled apart in new criticism by heritage experts.

Proposed guidelines for the 117 houses in Shropshire’s SAMDev local plan have been slated by RESCUE (The British Archaeological Trust) as ambiguous, inappropriate and contrary to national planning policy, and in parts as ‘impossible to implement’ and ‘a nonsense’.

The Prehistoric Society also condemns the proposals, stressing the national significance of the monument and its landscape and the harm that would result from development.

This latest backlash is in response to modifications made by Inspector Claire Sherratt as her examination of the plan comes to a close.

Modifications to the hillfort allocation, known as OSW004, have been taken from a statement of common ground negotiated between Shropshire Council and Historic England (formerly English Heritage). This effectively reframed robust objections by the heritage guardians to the soundness of the site into an agreement to develop subject to a range of master planning conditions.

In its response, campaign group HOOOH has challenged the fairness and transparency of introducing, outside of public consultation, a signed agreement for a highly contentious development aimed at passing Inspector examination.

RESCUE dissects the 300-word policy statement in a detailed representation highlighting points of non-compliance with the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) on heritage setting and sustainable development.

The heritage protection group claims that Shropshire Council has not met its obligation to give great weight to the conservation of heritage assets of the highest significance, which includes scheduled monuments such as Old Oswestry.

It quotes NPPF paragraph 132 stating that significance can be harmed or lost through alteration of the heritage asset or development within its setting. RESCUE concludes that housing would ‘obviously adversely affect the setting of the scheduled Old Oswestry hillfort despite any mitigation proposed.’

Citing the national significance of the hillfort, RESCUE goes on to say that development would be unsustainable since the LPA ‘has not demonstrated that OSW004 is vitally necessary to meet its objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirement.’

Design principles

RESCUE also criticises design principles for delivery of the site, including the ambiguity and inadequacy of master planning which simply states a requirement for ‘high quality design and appropriate integration within the sensitive historic landscape.’  It argues that the principles are highly subjective and impossible to implement impartially without prior exposition and predefined guidance to define and manage them.

Highly critical that a full archaeological investigation is being left to master planning stage, RESCUE continues: ‘It is inappropriate and also contrary to national planning policy to allocate this site for development without the archaeological significance of the site having already been established through appropriate assessment and evaluation.’

The group slates yet another design principle to ‘consider measures to improve the access, interpretation and enjoyment of the hillfort and the wider historic landscape.’

While pointing out that this cannot be implemented without defining the scope and responsibility for such measures, RESCUE asserts: ‘It is simply not possible to envisage any situation whereby a development on this particular site could improve anyone’s enjoyment of the hillfort or the wider historic landscape. The principle is itself a nonsense.’

Moving on to question the proposal for a landscape buffer and screening to ‘create a clear settlement boundary’, RESCUE argues that this is incompatible with the existing character of the hillfort’s open landscape.

The group also criticises the principle of ‘ensuring long distance views to and from the hillfort within its wider setting are conserved’, saying that this contradicts the requirement for screening. It concludes: ‘Conservation of views cannot be maintained if development proceeds on this site, so this principle is impossible to implement.’

Prehistoric Society

In a letter of representation for The Prehistoric Society, president Dr Alex Gibson disputes the same point on preserving long distance views, saying: ‘This cannot be achieved by constructing 117 dwellings within the immediate setting.’

Underlining NPPF guidance on the importance of the setting of designated assets, he also cites Historic England conservation principles for sustaining ‘historic, evidential, aesthetic and communal values’ that contribute to the significance of places.

Dr Gibson writes: ‘The designation of the monument indicates that it has high historic and evidential values, and it is clear from the strong and vocal campaign that the communal value is also extremely significant, both within the local community and further afield. The aesthetic value, of a designed earthwork in a strategic position within a glacial landscape, must also be considered high.’

The Prehistoric Society also questions policy wording requiring that the ‘form, massing, height and roofscape design’ of the development should minimise landscape impact. It argues that the terminology is more suited to urban zones in reference to harmonising with existing architecture, and therefore inappropriate for a rural landscape where there are no pre-existing buildings against which to judge impact.

Stating like RESCUE that OSW004 must be removed from the plan, Dr Gibson sums up: ‘To compromise the setting and impede views both from and to the monument must be considered as significant harm.’

‘Defies reason’

Neil Phillips of HOOOH said: “Between them, these responses completely dismantle the SAMDev policy statement and design principles that supposedly make the hillfort development sound. It defies reason as to how OSW004 can be kept on the plan.”

Meanwhile, Shropshire Council has stated publically that it ‘does not accept that proposed development would result in substantial harm to the significance of the hillfort.’

Described as the ‘Stonehenge of the Iron Age’, the 3,000 year old hillfort is a scheduled monument as is the medieval defence, Wat’s Dyke, which incorporates the hillfort as it crosses north-south through Oswestry .

The Inspector is expected to submit her approved plan to Shropshire Council for adoption this autumn.

Under consultation since 2010, SAMDev will identify land to meet Shropshire’s employment and housing needs to 2026.

OSW004 lies within the most archaeologically significant quadrant of Old Oswestry’s setting, straddling historic farmland that would have sustained centuries of hillfort communities and currently preserves open views to the monument. This area of its landscape fanning east to south cradles evidence of Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman and medieval activity, as well as the footprint of military use during two World Wars linked to the nearby Park Hall Camp.

The housing proposals have been fiercely opposed through several stages of consultation by thousands, including residents of Oswestry and across Shropshire, multiple stakeholder groups, eminent archaeologists and concerned observers around the globe.

You sure?

You sure?

Pc Andy Long, Heritage Crime Officer for Essex, recently tweeted: “Most detectorists follow the Code of practice for responsible metal detecting – nighthawkers don’t!”

Er, no Andy, that’s a gigantic whopper. The police and others are constantly confusing the crime divide – between those who break the law and those who don’t – with the cultural damage divide – between those who keep to the official code and those who don’t. Not being a nighthawk just means you’re  not a criminal, nothing else. It doesn’t mean you’re responsible – and the reality is that most legal detectorists don’t keep to the official code or report all their finds – and because there are so many of them the knowledge loss they cause dwarfs that done by nighthawks. The figures prove it and PAS agrees. It’s not on to tell the public otherwise.

But what about the second policeman? Well, that’s Chief Inspector Mark Harrison, Policing and Crime Advisor to English Heritage and part of the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage. He re-tweeted Andy Long’s untrue statement, thereby apparently endorsing it. It’s crazy. How many more times must we point this out Mark? Don’t take our word for it, take a look at the words of Penny English, Head of Anglia Law School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge: “a disjuncture exists between law (which defines activities that are illegal) and morality (which identifies behaviour that is wrong).”  It is not for the police to avoid mention of  – and indeed misrepresent – “behaviour that is wrong” simply because it isn’t illegal.  To do so is not merely to mislead the public it is also to aid and abet heritage damage. Can the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage please, finally, desist?

So that’s the two policemen we mentioned in the title. What about the detectorist? That’s easy. It’s Pc Andy Long. He’s one.




October 2015
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