We note the newly appointed Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, has set an unsympathetic deadline of 28th September for responses to 19 densely worded pages from National Highways in connection with the unacceptably damaging A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme – a two week period that includes the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.


Albeit the Heritage Journal has campaigned for so long about the loss of the view of Stonehenge from the A303, should a tunnel be built, we have overlooked the feelings of loss that have just been so succinctly conveyed by an MP. Discussing the impact of hearing of the death of the Queen, Tory MP Simon Hoare has told the Bournemouth Echo: “When I drive up to London I drive past Stonehenge and I think it feels like Stonehenge is gone.”

This chimes with the words of Government ultra-loyalist Jacob Rees Mogg who told the Commons “One of the joys of going on the current A303 is that one gets a glimpse of Stonehenge and I think that is a great benefit and it’s uplifting for people to see”

Loss is unbearable and there is nothing anyone can do to bring back our late Queen, but we can redouble our efforts to preserve the public’s view of Stonehenge.

Dear The English Heritage Trust, Is the view of Stonehenge from the A303 of cultural value? Yours faithfully, N R Swift, Heritage Journal, 13 July

Dear Mr Swift, Thank you for your email on 13 July, in which you asked to know ‘Is the view of Stonehenge from the A303 of cultural value?’ Having considered this for you, I can confirm that this is not a Freedom of Information request. Yours sincerely Frances Gibbons Senior Information Rights Officer

Dear The English Heritage Trust, Thank you for your previous response. I’m sorry you judge that the question was not a Freedom of Information request since it was a request for information. However, you do have an opinion on the importance of the view of Stonehenge may I please re-draft my request? “Since the first line of your page about Stonehenge you opine that Stonehenge is a “must-see monument” is it also your position that the view of Stonehenge from the A303 is of cultural value? Yours faithfully, Nigel Swift 1st September.

Response awaited.

Judging by the huge scale of attendees, traders, and financial takings, yesterday’s Detectival metal detecting rally was a resounding success. We’d like to tell you exactly where it was but that was a secret divulged only to those who paid. We’d also like to show you an aerial image but daren’t as we know we’ll be hit with lawyers’ letters. So instead, here’s an image of a different detecting rally:


Notional farmer Silas Brown’s detecting rally in Shropshire, February 2014. There was no charge and it was organized on the Surrey Council premise: that applicants would be considered to be part of an archaeological survey and be expected to have proven track records in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of the Council.

No one turned up, no doubt because it was a notional event, but Farmer Brown received angry messages from detectorists indicating that even if it hadn’t been they wouldn’t have. The contrast between that rally and the Detectival one, and the reason, must be obvious to every archaeologist (and every politician if told.) It seems pretty dishonorable for a country to tell the general public that the pursuit of personal gain is beneficial in exchange for whatever crumbs fall off a finds table. Who gains from that?

The Premier League, the greediest of all operations, has been suspended this weekend for obvious reasons.

But not the taking.



With the independent facilities soon proving convenient, popular, and relied upon by visitors and passing motorists alike, a cafe appeared in the Stonehenge landscape in 1927. Yet within a month of serving the first teas in July that year, the cafe was apparently targetted for demolition. The catalyst was a land grab in the vicinity of the stones – a public appeal was launched requesting that cheques be made out to the National Trust (Stonehenge Fund).

Now owned by the National Trust this land, which witnessed the opening of the very first dedicated Stonehenge car park in 1935 followed by the demolition of the Stonehenge Cafe, is now promoted by the charity as ‘The Stonehenge Landscape’!

It is currently proposed to spend £2 billion of public money to remove tarmac from this National Trust land alone and introduce a road tunnel that inflicts damaging cuttings on either side within the boundaries of UNESCO’s Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site (WHS).

Should Stonehenge lose its WHS status due to this road tunnel, the National Trust’s ‘Stonehenge Landscape’ is ripe to take centre stage. Within a century of the Stonehenge Café being demolished, the National Trust could even open the charity’s own Stonehenge Visitor Centre complete with a shop and café.

Richard Coles @RevRichardColes

“Still the best view from a British train.”


Nigel Swift @HeneryIggins Replying to @RevRichardColes

“And here’s the best view from a British road, Richard, soon to be lost forever!”

I recommend today’s article by Paul Barford, suggesting that TV programmes that encourage more metal detecting extend the inability of PAS to cope and hence the amount of heritage loss to all of us.

There’s a parallel irony: since 2016 PAS has been appealing to detectorists for financial support and the current total raised is only £1248 – from 27,000 detectorists! That’s 4.5 pence each.

Compare that with the cost of PAS, the payment of Treasure rewards, the rally fees, and profits, the expensive machines, the sales on eBay, the limited reporting of finds, and the inability of PAS to cope already and it’s hard to see how Britain isn’t already having the extreme piss taken out of it. Surely making no more such programmes would make financial, archaeological, and academic sense?

More please, we’re British!

By Nigel Swift

That’s what the most prominent archaeologist has just said to millions of people on the telly.

Well, I thought the CBA said it’s best to leave it to the experts. Or has that changed? Either way, given that it causes far more damage than the amount of knowledge it harvests, I do blame them. Let them join an amateur archaeology club and work within archaeological supervision and parameters, or don’t do it at all.

I’m not an archaeologist but the vast majority of the world’s archaeologists agree with me – yet in very strange Britain I am demonised by both sides for saying such a thing. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make me wrong. Happy September. I wonder how much more of Britain’s cultural knowledge will be lost without record this month?


The bloke who agrees with the vast majority of the world’s archaeologists.
[Published with permission]
A Bronze Age burial mound on Bredon Hill, Worcestershire, with the remains of punishment stocks still in place next to it. During the Anglo-Saxon era ancient barrows, chambers and tombs were regarded as haunted places to be avoided, portals to the underworld where ghosts and elves lurked. This tradition was woven into the work of JRR Tolkien, becoming the “barrow-wights” that attacked the hobbits inside their burial chamber. Such a shame this wasn’t woven into the film adaptation!

Criminals would often be sentenced at a moot or later court leet to be shackled to the stocks and to spend the next couple of nights alone on a barrow, to face whatever supernatural entities were imagined to inhabit the place of dread.

For those interested in reading more about the strange places and events of Bredon Hill I go into a lot of detail in my book The Mystery Of Mercia – available here.


October 2022

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