Have you ever wondered how English Heritage committee members can reconcile their support for the short tunnel with their duty to “care for” ancient monuments?

Surely “massive new damage” and “caring for” are irreconcilable? Well, ten years ago (in Section 6.4.b of the September 2009 minutes of the English Heritage Advisory Committee) they came up with a disreputable suggestion to disguise the damage v caring quandary: “public benefit”, “economic benefit” and “other benefits” should be combined into a single term!

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“Members felt that the phrase ‘public benefits’ should be used with caution, due to the difficulty in defining how public benefit is judged. It was suggested that one single term could possibly be used to cover ‘public benefit’, ‘economic benefit’ and other benefits ….”

Sad and telling, is it not, that a conservation body should have been trying to conflate public benefit with economic benefit and indeed in so doing precluding all talk of negative cultural consequences? Yet now their successors are doing much the same: the short tunnel scheme will deliver massive cultural damage, so much that UNESCO opposes it, but English Heritage blithely confronts that reality by re-branding the damage as cultural “improvement”.

On this day 15 years ago the Speaker invoked the Parliament Act bringing an end to foxhunting in England and Wales yet two members of the Kimberwick Hunt (including their President) have just been convicted of animal cruelty having been filmed pulling a fox out of an artificial earth  by the tail before sending hounds after it. A local said: The footage is sickening and has shown the rest of the country what most of us who live in the Kimblewick hunt’s country already know: so-called ‘trail hunting’ really entails hunting foxes as before the ban”.

On the other hand, the National Trust tells everyone it has imposed controls which preclude cruelty. Really? Are their rangers always there, deep in every wood? It’s to be hoped that at the next AGM in less than a year the Membership will call a halt to this management doublespeak. But in the meantime there’s something else which could be done…

The Countryside Alliance’s has a risk assessment template for hunts saying a vet must attend (presumably in case horses or hounds are hurt). The vets must abide by their own Code of Professional Conduct – to ensure animals have “minimum stress” and to prioritise animal welfare “whatever the circumstances“. But foxes are animals too! Shouldn’t The National Trust insist any foxes “accidentally” hurt in trail hunts on its land will get full veterinary treatment in line with the vet’s own Code of Conduct?

Not to do so would signal they were cruelty-enablers and guilty of hypocrisy on an epic scale. Heaven forfend!

 

This week an article about metal detecting in an Essex newspaper ….

fell into a black hole  – and came out in the early 1950s !.

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A helpful County Council leaflet might well have been issued to every child in case the “wonderful education” resulted in many of them taking up egg collecting (rather than ornithology) when they were older …

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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As you may know, if you allow metal detecting on your land you should follow the official Guidance for Landowners: “Ask to see all finds and ask that all archaeological finds are recorded with the PAS.”

But have you ever wondered if you (and PAS) are being shown everything the detectorists are taking home? The limited number of finds PAS records each year scream loudly that a vast number are going walkies. So YOU may be losing out, big time. Fortunately, it’s very easily checked:

You could buy something on EBay like this “Rare Old Collection of Small Coins” for £19.99, put a distinctive mark on them and bury them 3 inches down, next to a distinctive boulder. If they’re brought back to you, fine. If not, and they’re no longer in the ground, well, it means you’re losing far more than £19.99, and maybe many thousands.

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UPDATE: here’s a relevant discussion from the largest metal detecting forum implying metal detecting rallies and commercial events pose the greatest risk of dishonesty. Swany wrote: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:17 pm Not good, just wondering if these paying peeps will be declaring finds to the landowner and Flo’s. I know where my bet will be going. A good Few £££’s to detect, so finds most likely will go under the radar.
That’s what I think also. If people have paid a lot to detect then there maybe less incentive to declare anything of value they find. Farmers / landowners need to get wise to this, they could be losing out big time in the long run. [Topic speedily deleted, as always!]

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From a recent Oxford County Council meeting:

  • Transport cabinet member Yvonne Constance said councillor Mike Tysoe’s proposal to divert traffic past the ancient site was “doable”.
  • Speaking after the meeting, Mr Tysoe said: “Would our Neolithic ancestors mind too much if we save future generations? I don’t think it will basically damage the site. I’ve been told it probably won’t or there are ways of ensuring that any damage doesn’t happen.”
  • George Lambrick, chairman of the Rollright Trust, said such a scheme would be “bonkers” and would “trash” a “key landmark”.

Mr Tysoe’s suggestion that our Neolithic ancestors wouldn’t mind too much is factually true since they are indeed dead, but morally vacuous for the implication is that nothing from the past needs preserving as the people from the past are all dead!

His remark has the saving grace that it was spoken out of pure ignorance. There is no such excuse for English Heritage, Historic England and The National Trust who are campaigning to wreck the Stonehenge landscape for a road scheme.

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” Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me, those have always
been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Beware of letting someone else cast your vote! 6,700 people did just that at the 2017 National Trust AGM and surprise, surprise the Chairman used their votes to support the short tunnel scheme. He did much the same that day to oppose a ban on Trail Hunting on Trust land.

Now it has happened a third time! At the recent 2019 AGM he used 4,327 discretionary votes to support a continuation of the Trust’s partnership with Cadburys – despite the Cadbury’s Easter Egg scandal – which @NatTrustArch described as “Utterly appalling.” So there’s a clear pattern: like trail hunting and the short tunnel, Cadbury’s has been given undeserved support by the Trust management’s deployment of discretionary votes.

Of such murkiness is the continued existence of the short tunnel project built. The Government has said the Trust’s support for the short tunnel was “pivotal” so if the destruction does go ahead, in the teeth of opposition from UNESCO, it will certainly have been built upon the less than praiseworthy actions of the National Trust management.

With so few days excavating on site every year, seeing an ever richer but changing picture emerge of Blick Mead, it is unsurprising that media reporting of this community project as news can tie itself in knots. This doesn’t, however, explain why the media do not trouble to straighten out knots of their making.
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Just over a week ago the Sunday Telegraph posted an article online suggesting Blick Mead was a ‘city’. It turns out none of the archaeologists involved came up with this fantastic claim, the ‘city’ was the projection of a TV series titled ‘Lost Cities’ about to air on the National Geographic channel.
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Having initially followed the rest of the media flock in regurgitating the Telegraph’s ‘city’ hype, the Salisbury Journal deleted its first account and replaced it without mention of a ‘city’. Well done William Rimell of the Salisbury Journal. Now, why can’t the Telegraph and all the other ‘city’ types do that?
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A mischief-maker has altered a news article about metal detecting by replacing each mention of “treasure” with the phrase “rare egg finds”…

“The county played host to a total of 37 rare egg finds last year, according to figures co-released by the British Museum and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. It is part of a surge of interest in rare egg hunting which has seen more than 1,000 rare eggs discovered across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.

The newfound popularity of rare egg hunting can be traced back to the passage of the Rare Eggs Act in 1996, formalising the ways someone could be paid for their discoveries.”

We understand the British Museum is to join in the fun by holding annual Rare Egg Collecting Conferences at which they will praise the responsibility of the finders and jubilate about the finds, in particular, the very rare ones.

 

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The Council for British Archaeology has just tweeted: “The new book on the Staffordshire Hoard is out today. To celebrate, we have opened up 4 articles from the British Archaeology archives“. So we looked. Four bits stood out:

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As we’ve long said, military-grade detectors were not up to this task. They were Ebex 420H models, in use by UK and US forces to find mines in Afghanistan, with little depth capability (mines being at shallow depth) and not recommended by manufacturers to find very small targets.

Modern hobby machines are vastly superior at finding small pieces of gold deep down; they were designed for it.  Minelab say their GPX 5000 can “easily find small objects at 24 inches” (i.e. more than 2X the depth achieved by the Home Office team), Blisstool’s LTC64 V3 can too and the GPZ “can find gold 40% deeper than that” (so nearly 3X deeper than the Home Office). The use of such machines by detectorists is widespread, including by nighthawks.

The Hoard deserves better than this. Ten years of “intensive conservation and expert research” cannot deliver the full story until a further search is held. When will that be?

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Update, just:

Oh!
The purpose of the search was to recover or prove the absence of finds              “at shallow depth”!


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We have held very many gatherings at Avebury, frequently in front of the old chapel now owned by the National Trust, where we’ve often discussed how those who did most for Avebury are not commemorated at Avebury. So here’s our suggestion for doing so, at a point overlooking the South Circle and what is probably the most significant part of the monument.

William Stukeley recorded the position of the stones in the face of the monument’s destruction and without Lord Avebury purchasing land in order to save the monuments, we may wonder how much of Avebury would have survived.

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