“Hot spots” are places where detectorists find loads of finds. Almost every detectorist seeks them – why wouldn’t they, since finds are what they seek? But by their nature they are archaeological sites so you might wonder how many detectorists give full and frank details about them to PAS or local archaeologists? Maybe PAS could clarify, but we suspect its very few.

If so it’s tragic – for as “Henery Iggins” has just pointed out on Twitter, an unreported hot spot means “an archaeological site being progressively and secretly destroyed without trace. The reluctance to give accurate find spots comes from many detectorists, including NCMD, being paranoid that other detectorists or indeed archaeologists will find out where their continuing exploitation of a “hot spot” is going on.”

Thus it seems the unregulated, grabby nature of metal detecting in Britain means that the very places that shouldn’t be secretly and repeatedly harvested to the point of extinction are the very ones that are being deliberately sought out and will suffer that fate. As Henery Iggins further observed: “It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if PAS, HE, Rescue, BAJR et al told the world “hot spot” means “archaeological site being progessively and secretly being destroyed without trace”. We live in hope.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Historic England has just launched a consultation on how lithic scatters should be managed and recorded. But pointedly, (and in line with its other advice documents) they don’t pretend the advice is for detectorists. It’s accepted (though never officially admitted) that a proper standard of conservation behaviour can’t be expected from most detectorists.

Yet PAS has just published a “guide and protocol for recording pottery (and other non-metallic finds) aimed principally at detectorists! (Where is their mandate for that?!) People are entitled to wonder why? Is it a number-boosting stunt, “bring us your non-metallic finds, as many as you can”? It seems so, yet shouldn’t they actually be telling detectorists to leave lithic and pottery scatters exactly where they are?

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How is science served by people being told it can be responsible to cherry pick not just metallic artefacts but also some of, or even the whole of, lithic and pottery scatters?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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It’s looking more and more likely to happen if Highways England and its heritage allies succeed in plans to drive a mile of new dual carriageway over the protected landscape. But no-one – least of all the three heritage protection bodies – is likely to know yet how they’ll spin it to the public.

It will be quite a challenge, for UNESCO will have effectively implied to the world that Britain’s behaviour is uncivilised. We think there are only four possibilities. Which one do YOU think they’ll choose?.


  1. UNESCO is too expensive and rotten to the core. We’re best out of it.
  2. UNESCO doesn’t understand. Making a new road at the cost of converting a complex historic landscape into a bland new parkland is good for everyone! We have loads of likes on Trip Advisor and Top Gear that prove it’s true.
  3. JMW Turner is dead but you can still see his paintings at the Tate, so who needs to see the real thing? Duh!
  4. We’re going to set up a new and far better protection body called (something like) The Stonehenge Protection Trust in which all the bodies and individuals who have been complicit in this unprecedented destruction (and those who’ve opposed it as they’ll now be incapable of preventing it) will be invited to regular, expensive, mainly self-satisfied gatherings to issue periodic positive press releases saying: “We’ll protect the landscape forever, for everyone this time, honest”.

 

Wiltshire Police are launching a new initiative against Heritage Crime (“any offence that harms heritage assets and their settings.”) They specify areas affected by Heritage Crimes:


Listed buildings – like Salisbury Cathedral
Conservation areas
Scheduled monuments
World Heritage sites – like Stonehenge
Registered parks and gardens


….. but that’s misleading. If they wanted to cover all heritage crimes properly they should have included YOUR land. It may not be a conservation area but if you let someone onto it to metal detect and they find recordable archaeology but don’t report it that harms heritage.

It’s not a legal crime in Britain, sadly, but it’s undoubtedly a moral crime as it robs us all of knowledge of our past, in exactly the same way as another selfish scruff who tried to steal Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral last year by wielding a hammer. So please, no metal detecting on your land unless you are 100% sure the person will act properly. Ask PAS or your local archaeologists if they’ll vouch for them. It’s not hard to do your bit for heritage.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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A farmer who damaged just a few yards of Offa’s Dyke has been fined £1,500 with £500 costs and a £150 surcharge on top of the £2,100 he has already spent on remedial works.

Pretty harsh, don’t you think? In comparative terms at least, bearing in mind metal detectorists don’t report hundreds of thousands of archaeological finds a year thereby causing incalculable heritage damage and English Heritage are pushing as hard as they can for 175,000 square yards of new surface damage to be inflicted on Britain’s greatest treasure – and all of them are entirely immune from prosecution!

So, Justice for Farmers! Let them all damage heritage as much as they like, without fear of persecution.

Fair’s fair, isn’t it?!

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Please note, the foregoing is irony. The reality is that unnecessary heritage damage can’t be justified, whoever causes it.


 

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Hopefully, this was the colour of the faces of those in English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust who are lobbying to defy UNESCO by causing a mile of massive new damage to the World Heritage Landscape surrounding Stonehenge, upon hearing that last night Stonehenge was nominated Britain’s Greatest Treasure.

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Update: Yes, they DID mention it!

@EH_Stonehenge
Proud to share that Stonehenge has been voted No.1 in ITV’s Britain’s Greatest National Treasure poll. Obviously we’re biased, but we think Stonehenge is very special and we’re thrilled that the nation agrees.


English Heritage says the best way to do it is like this:

“We want to get more young people engaged in archaeology and history at our amazing sites across the country. This is why we have started the Saturday Archaeology Club at Wrest Park….”

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Bravo!

But consider this: weren’t a large number of the present generation of archaeologists inspired not by digging in a pretend pit but by their first sight of the iconic view of Stonehenge as they went on their summer holidays – you know, the view English Heritage are lobbying to hide from all potential young archaeologists forever!

What unworthy motivation impels present archaeologists to deprive future archaeologists of the transformative childhood thrill which they themselves enjoyed?

Bodies acting as heritage guardians hate accusations that they act in an inconsistent way as it’s the one thing they can’t wriggle out of. So here goes:

1. English Heritage have put Turner’s house on the At Risk Register “because houses like this should go on forever” while lobbying for the Turner vista of Stonehenge to be hidden from tens of millions of travellers forever!

2. The National Trust are calling for the same thing without dropping their “For ever, for Everyone” motto!

3. And no, Historic England, can’t escape the charge. Back in November we pointed out they were supporting the tunnel which would remove the sightlines to Stonehenge while at the same time opposing the Tulip tower in London on the grounds it would interrupt sightlines to the Tower of London.

You might reasonably expect all three would try to explain the inconsistencies to the public, but no, government lapdogs rarely defend lapdoggery. But in the case of Historic England, at least, they’ve been let off the hook – the Mayor of London has said no to the Tulip so they’ll never have to explain their inconsistent position to anyone! Lucky them!

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Phew!

Here is Constable’s painting of Old Sarum in 1829.

Who can deny the surrounding landscape is a vital part of the whole?

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No-one. Yet at Oswestry an equivalent landscape is in peril, purely for money.

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