Transport Minister John Hayes has just been mocked in Parliament for refusing to take interventions from MPs without ties. Much fun ensued, with one female MP subsequently saying she wouldn’t answer anyone who wasn’t wearing a feather boa and another saying she’d only speak to people wearing their pants on their heads. But maybe it’s not so hilarious. Might it be that the Transport Minister feared one of the questions would be about what he thought about UNESCO saying it was not acceptable to say the short tunnel’s benefits outweighed the damage?

English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust have taken a different route. They too have opted to answer no questions from people without ties, or with them, but have issued a joint statement saying they’re “disappointed” by what UNESCO say.

WHY? Since when is protection by a world body disappointing? Will they be “disappointed” if the scheme is cancelled and will they then remain loudly resentful for the next few decades that they’ve been prevented from ripping massive tears across a World Heritage Landscape? What a grotesque stance that would be for conservation bodies to take, but that’s the logical consequence of their current stance.

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is seeking to appoint a new Chair of Trustees from November 2017. There are also vacancies for four Trustees.

Chair

Voluntary and unremunerated: reasonable expenses reimbursed.

Location: Flexible

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is seeking to appoint a new Chair of Trustees from November 2017. The CBA, based in York, is a UK-wide educational charity working to involve people in archaeology and promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment.

Working with the Trustee Board and Executive, the new Chair will make sure that the Council for British Archaeology develops and delivers a new ambitious strategy for change in accordance with its charitable aims and to secure its long-term sustainability. The new Chair will champion the educational objectives of the Council, recognising how access to archaeology can inspire young people across the UK.

The Chair will lead the organisation in the next phase of its development to build the role that a progressive archaeological organisation can play in the twenty-first century, growing its impact, profile and financial sustainability.

The Board is seeking someone with good change and business experience as well as strong ambassadorial skills to work with a wide range of stakeholders. In the new Chair the Board is seeking someone with experience and enthusiasm for heritage or archaeology to provide leadership for the Board along with support and challenge to the Executive.

Commitment up to two days per month, term 3 years, renewable.

Closing date for nominations: Friday 21 July 2017

Trustee vacancies

Following the retirement of a number of existing trustees having completed their full term, there are vacancies for four new trustees for election at the AGM in November 2017. The CBA is particularly seeking trustees with strategic experience in fundraising, marketing and communications, and business management.

All trustee nominations for election at the 2017 AGM must be received by 6 August 2017.

For further details and for an informal conversation about any of the above vacancies please contact Dr Mike Heyworth MBE, CBA Director, director@archaeologyuk.org.

Dear Detectorists,
If you find Treasure you may get a reward. Hurrah! But please be warned: Paragraph 81 of the Treasure Act Code of Practice says you won’t if you’re an archaeologist
or “anyone engaged on an archaeological excavation or investigation”.

That matters. It means you’d better not tell your farmer you’re engaged in an archaeological investigation or anything like it and you’d better ask PAS to stop telling all and sundry that detectorists are “citizen archaeologists” and part of “Britain’s largest community archaeology project “. If you find Treasure while doing anything other than plain artefact hunting for your own benefit you might get no reward at all! 

It’s particularly important you take heed just now – for we’ve heard that some conservation busybodies are planning to approach some Treasure inquests and hearings with overwhelming evidence that certain farmers have been told (by both detectorists and PAS, verbally and in writing) that the people they allowed onto their land to metal detect were actually engaged in an archaeological process.

Hope this helps. We hope you’ll amend what you tell farmers. Urgently.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting

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As predicted, English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust have stonewalled in response to UNESCO’s report on the short tunnel proposal. Here’s their statement in response:

“We’re disappointed that the report largely ignores both the benefits of removing a large stretch of the A303 and the danger of doing nothing at all. We believe that if well-designed and sited with the utmost care for the surrounding archaeology and chalk grassland landscape, the tunnel proposal presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a setting worthy of some of the nation’s most important ancient monuments and will bring huge benefits in terms of public access, nature conservation and protecting the nation’s heritage.”

Yet it’s blatantly clear to all that UNESCO’s report doesn’t ignore the benefits of a short tunnel and doesn’t recommend doing nothing at all, it simply says it is “highly likely to bring adverse impacts” and “it is not considered satisfactory” to suggest the benefits can offset the damage and urges Britain “to explore further options“.

So the English Heritage / Historic England / National Trust statement says far more about them than they intended. To defy UNESCO is bad enough but to misrepresent what UNESCO said is even worse. We feel they would be better employed lobbying Government to take heed of what UNESCO is actually saying.

We’ve spoken many times on the Journal about the lack of sensitivity when it comes to local opinion at heritage sites – Stonehenge being the prime example. And last year we highlighted several issues at Tintagel in Cornwall where the heritage of the site seemed to be taking a back seat to the need for cash generation for English Heritage’s (EH) coffers, and to hell with the history.

Sadly, once again it seems that EH’s need for finance is over-riding any consideration for the actual history and heritage of the site at Tintagel, which was the seat for several kings of Dumnonia in the early medieval period – a fact apparently of no interest to the site’s guardians. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jim Rayner

More information is gleaned each year about how to take the summer solstice forward. The alcohol ban / car parking charges continued and English Heritage filmed some of the event with a static camera and placed the footage online for the first time. Security issues also meant an appearance of armed guards. The crowd of 13,000 who watched the sunrise was slightly up from the 2016 attendance due to a range of factors, such as the good weather and people travelling on to the Glastonbury Festival. Overall the event passed off fairly peacefully, apart from the usual handful of (mainly drug related) arrests.

The event however, is a continuing process of evolution. The ongoing issue about overcrowding in the centre of the circle is yet to be resolved and a gate still hasn’t appeared in the old A344 northern stock boundary fence. The whole point of closing and grassing over the A344 was to open up the Stonehenge landscape, not leave the fence in place without any immediate plan for its removal. Not being able to walk up and down the Avenue is a real detriment to the solstice experience and does little to discourage overcrowding within the centre of the circle. The Avenue needs to be reconnected with the stones in order to provide the space for a more authentic gathering. This could be achieved by placing a small gate in the fence or by simply just having a small roll-back section of fencing which would be manned by security guards for an hour or so at sunrise. This would help spread attendees out over a wider area for the benefit of all concerned.

The live stream was a success, but English Heritage (EH) need to work in conjunction with BBC Wiltshire to produce a short supporting film with interviews with attendees and provide a closer view of the sunrise itself with the use of a thermographic camera. BBC Wilts. Broadcast a radio programme from the stones each year and their live segment really needs to be combined with what EH attempted to do. This would provide a better focus for those watching at home.

Jim’s website is www.stonehengesolstice.org.uk

A MAN found Anglo Saxon jewellery while digging a fence post in his York garden and, inspired by the Treasure Act, was  furious after it was valued at a “paltry” £2,800. He said he had rejected the “disgusting and insulting” offer.

…. and then there’s Eilith who found a bead from a necklace that may be 7,000 years old and, inspired by an old-fashioned pre-Act sense of morality, gave it to her local museum.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the Government, the British Museum and PAS jubilated about people like Eilith and never about her avaricious, unthinking, “sense of entitlement” elders?

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PS …. Any similarity between the case of Eilith and the one of 7 year old Isobel is purely accurate. 8 years ago she found a bronze age arrowhead while helping clear an allotment and promptly donated it to the town museum. We did wonder if PAS would feature her on their website, as an example of proper behaviour but suspected they wouldn’t for fear of offending the “I found it so I want paying for it” brigade. It seems we were right. Maybe they could now feature Eilith?

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It’s now 10 years since Culture Minister David Lammy dubbed metal detectorists “the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage”. It caused astonishment amongst archaeologists at the time as it flew in the face of what was happening in the fields and it makes even less sense now after another 2.3 million bundles of knowledge have been lost to science through blatant non-reporting. Yet PAS has never said he was wrong. Instead they’ve gone quiet about it, dubbing detectorists, variously, as their “partners” and “citizen archaeologists”. Lately they’ve pulled out all the stops to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Treasure Act which is actually a tiny part of detecting but a great success, ergo they claim is a success for them. All this year there are “Treasure20” exhibitions at a host of museums and the public is being invited to vote for “The Nation’s Favourite Find”.

However, the whole jamboree is based on a claim that the Treasure Act “marked a radical change in the fortune of objects found …..allowing thousands of important finds to be acquired by public collections for all to enjoy” But that’s a fib. The Act didn’t “allow” anything. All it did was to start offering your money for your property. The number of detectorists who hand in their Treasure finds has grown greatly for sure, from a derisory number twenty years ago to over a thousand a year now, but neither PAS’s outreach nor the Act have done that. Your money has. Although it’s your treasure Dear Reader you’ve been paying many millions to the finders to ensure they hand your property over instead of doing what they mostly did before – quietly flogging it elsewhere. So although most Treasure is now probably declared there’s no heroism involved, just a ransom. At the same time 98% of non-Treasure items aren’t reported – but you don’t offer a ransom for those.

Not that you’ll see that reality reflected in the many Treasure 20 exhibitions round the country. At those, David Lammy rides again. They’re all about yes, wonderful things (that are yours), heroic finders and praiseworthy PAS. No mention of you paying for your own property or the endless talk on detecting forums about “how much” and “was the valuation too low?” and “are you going to appeal against it?” You should keep all that in mind if you go to look at your property.

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Poland’s environment minister, Jan Szyszko, whom green activists have criticised for allowing large-scale logging in the ancient Białowieża forest, has called for the woodland to be stripped of Unesco’s natural heritage status, banning human intervention.

“This is an attempt by the minister to impose his own narrative,” said activist Katarzyna Kościesza of the ClientEarth environmental group.”

Meanwhile in England, despite what UNESCO has said to them (“It is not considered satisfactory to suggest that the benefits from a 2.9km tunnel to the centre of the property can offset significant damage”) English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust are attempting to impose their own narrative on the Stonehenge Landscape.

 

Libya’s General Tourism Authority has criticized the decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to place five archaeological sites in Libya on the endangered world heritage list!

Imagine that! A country resisting UNESCO’s concern for the preservation of its cultural sites!

And yet…. UNESCO’s statement that Britain’s intention to inflict massive damage on the Stonehenge World Heritage Landscape is not acceptable has so far been met with a wall of silence from English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust. It can be confidently assumed that they are set to fight UNESCO on this issue, every bitter step of the way. (Unless of course the Queen says the too-short tunnel is being dropped this morning in which case they’ll all be saying how damn pleased they are!)

Still, those bodies are not Britain. Please demonstrate that fact by signing the Stonehenge Alliance petition and by writing to UNESCO. By the way, the Government absolutely, categorically doesn’t want you to write to UNESCO direct about this. They say it will “serve no useful purpose” and your concerns “would be better directed to the UK Government, where the facts can be properly addressed and clarified“. Bet they would!

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