In addition to the Stonehenge tunnel debacle the Trust dealt a second blow to its own reputation at the AGM by supporting a quite ludicrous proposition – that Trail hunting on Trust land is acceptable because hounds can be controlled at all times.

Anyone who has a dog will know that’s a lie. Time and again The League Against Cruel Sports has actually shown the Trust examples of where hounds “ignore the rules” and The Trust went to the AGM well aware of that simple fact of animal behaviour. Now it is in an invidious position. Not only has it shredded its own reputation at Stonehenge it has also done so over trail hunting – for every time hounds fail to be controlled the Trust’s position will be seen to be mistaken.

The Trust has staked its reputation on these fellows, not the humans, keeping to the rules! What are the chances?

It took just a few days for the Trust’s argument to be disproved beyond denial. Hounds (and a man on a quad bike) intruded into the Happy Landings Animal Shelter near Shepton Mallet, “terrifying” one of the rescue dogs. As the Shelter said: “This is totally unacceptable and there was no control at all over the hounds! It is not known which hunt was involved but it’s a fact that the National Trust has issued Trail Hunting licences to a number of hunts in that area, including the Minehead Harriers, the Seavington Hunt and the Portman Hunt.

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Firstly, the bad. We’ve previously covered the plans to create a new bridge at Tintagel.

In our view (and that of many others), it will be completely out of keeping with the look and feel of this important area of Cornish Heritage, and will create a health and safety nightmare. The Kernow Matters To Us (KMTU) group posted the following on Facebook after a recent Council Meeting to discuss the planning application:

Tintagel Castle Theme Park to Proceed

A sad day as Cornwall Council has approved plans to build a huge new bridge between the mainland and the historic site of Tintagel Castle.

The vote was 13 for and 2 against.

There has been massive & widespread objection to the expensive scheme including from ‘Kernow Matters’ who were joined by senior Councillors and countless archaeologists in stating that this adds to the ‘Disneyfication’ of one of Cornwall’s treasured archaeological sites.

Critics of the £4m project say it will damage an area of outstanding natural beauty.

But English Heritage says it will help protect the ancient site in the long run and will allow safer and easier access.

In truth, it’s all about money and English Heritage who administer the site on behalf of the Duke of Cornwall view Tintagel as a tourist cash cow.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid MP is believed to be calling the decision in to examine it further following a request made by Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit.

Read more from Cornwall’s increasingly popular news source, ‘Cornish Stuff’

In better news, although the monument at Trethevy Quoit owned by English Heritage has been included in the 2017 Heritage at Risk Register, the 3 acre field in which the monument stands was acquired by the Cornwall Heritage Trust earlier this year, in a bid to preserve the monument setting. As mentioned in the Trust’s Annual Review 2016/17 recently released to members, a full geophysical survey is now planned for the field, along with targeted excavations to further understand and enhance the quoit and it’s position in the landscape.

 

Artefact hunting in Mongolia….

In recent years, Mongolia has instituted “harsh penalties (including prison time) for those convicted of looting or trafficking in antiquities”.

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.Artefact hunting in UK …..

 

In Britain people jailed for looting are as rare as hens teeth, much “looting” has been redefined as acceptable and the digger of this hole said: “The BM and our FLO said we done the best thing by taking out what we could”


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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Detectorists are saying they must be consulted on forthcoming reforms to the Treasure Act and Detecting Code, But why? Why should those who take from the resource advise on conserving it? Isn’t that what caused the current guidelines to be in need of revision? Shouldn’t the rules be made by those who have only Society’s interest in mind? The United Arab Emirates have just signalled so:

> “Antiquities are to be identified as items of national interest and importance and the ownership of both portable and non-portable items are for the nation regardless of who has found it”
> “Anyone in possession of an antiquity who does not properly register it, or who takes action regarding the antiquities without a permit, will face a minimum of two years in jail and/or a fine between £10,300 and £41,200″.

No “negotiating” the rules with artefact hunters there! Only Britain does that. The rest of the world knows that allowing artefact hunters to influence the rules is about as logical as asking the Trump boys to draft rules on big game hunting!

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To celebrate the 99th anniversary of Cecil Chubb giving Stonehenge to the nation, the Heritage Journal’s gift to the world is a game of ‘Stonehenge Snakes & Tunnel’ complete with complementary dice and player pieces. Printed out on two A4 sheets, or on one sheet for a travel version, the game can be laminated.
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See if you can beat the tunnel and tunnel supporters by sneaking a peak at those stones, reversing when you get to square 40 to enjoy a free view without the tunnel no matter what you throw. Enjoy being tunnel free -while you still can!
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[Click the image to embiggen]
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It’s not convincing in global terms is it? Especially as despite massive propaganda efforts by the Trust only 299 more people voted for trail hunting than voted to ban it.

The NT’s Executive must now consider the implications. Might they see the very closeness of the result as a vote of no confidence in their policy? Or might they reflect that with 84% of society opposing all hunting it’s likely that 4.2 million of their 5 million members oppose trail hunting – and if just 2% of them resigned in protest it would mean a revenue loss of £625,000 a year.

Yesterday we suggested the Trust’s support for the Stonehenge short tunnel has severely damaged its reputation. Could it be that continuing to support trail hunting will damage its reputation and its pocket? Watch this space in November. Will the National Trust act in a principled fashion or will it continue to damage itself by acting as a fig leaf for the Government and the Countryside Alliance?

Yesterday those who oppose the short tunnel spoke with great competence, passion and authority causing the chairman to repeatedly appeal to the floor in an undignified manner for contrary opinions “for balance”.
In the end the vote was narrowly lost. However it was notable that

  1. The Trust failed to acknowledge or explain that supporting the short tunnel was against the advice of UNESCO and most prominent archaeologists
  2. The Trust admitted it hasn’t taken advice from international planners.
  3. The Trust failed to admit or explain to Members Britain’s treaty undertaking that Outstanding Universal Value is inviolable and can’t be amended for local convenience.

The Trust’s behaviour during the meeting and those three omissions appear to have damaged both its case and its reputation – with Donald Trump surely being in the minds of many present. It remains to be seen whether it will now reflect on the fact.

Today the National Trust will ask its Members to support massive damage to Stonehenge in defiance of UNESCO’s wishes. Ninety years ago, together with Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay MacDonald, it made a quite different public appeal which included the words

“It is now nine years since Sir Cecil Chubb made the nation the magnificent present of the Stonehenge circle itself; and the great stones are safely in the charge of the Commissioners of Works. The land of the Plain around them, however, is still private property. So long as it remains in private hands, there is an obvious danger that the setting of Stonehenge may be ruined….”

Causes-and good causes- are appealed for every day, and it is evident that not everything worth “saving” can be “saved.” But we have not two Stonehenges, and our generation will be vilified by all posterity if we allow the surroundings of this monument, the frontispiece to English history, to be ruined beyond repair.”

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The appeal was successful, the land was purchased and placed under the guardianship of the National Trust. But today those guardians are calling for you to support massive permanent new damage to the Stonehenge landscape on the highly arrogant grounds that it will be an improvement and therefore justified. Who are they to say that? Please say no, we do not wish to make such a judgement for the convenience of Highways England nor do we wish our generation to be “vilified by all posterity.”

This, by Mike Birkin in December 2014, remains true:

“I was no great fan of the new labour way of doing things. But the current disregard for evidence or rational analysis makes me feel positively nostalgic for it. Politicians and motorist lobbies at Stonehenge this month talked as though none of the debates and learning of the last 30 years had ever happened. It was transport planning through the eyes of a Top Gear presenter. To call it a throwback (which I did) is actually an insult to the 20th century.

Doubly distressing was to see how the leading lights of our Heritage bodies lined up to support the plan for a Stonehenge tunnel. In 2006 the National Trust signed up to a joint statement, along with Friends of the Earth and other members of the Stonehenge Alliance. We were united that any future road plan should avoid impacting on the World Heritage Site (WHS).

We don’t know why they’ve changed their mind, since they didn’t consult the Alliance, but change it they have. The Trust now supports a short tunnel despite the inevitable damage this would inflict on the WHS. There would have to be a mile or so of above-ground big scale road engineering. The Trust seems to believe that some parts of the WHS are expendable and their loss can be offset against the gains in the immediate vicinity of the stones.

It’s an odd position for them to take given that their own archaeologist enthuses over how much wonder and hidden knowledge still resides within the WHS landscape. “The Hidden Landscapes project has reminded us once again that the Stonehenge Landscape is among the most precious places on the planet” he writes. But not so precious, it seems, that bits of it can’t be sacrificed for a political stunt.”

 

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