Synchronicity plays cruel tricks, does it not?
At exactly the time when we’re needlessly trashing our national welfare and international reputation …….

…… we’re  holding a blatantly rigged enquiry in Salisbury in which England’s heritage bodies are advocating that we severely damage our national icon, following which the Secretary of State, one Chris Grayling (!) will undoubtedly grant himself permission to go ahead, thereby trashing the welfare of the World Heritage landscape and our international reputation for conservation.

A worrying question remains: what is it about this place that has attracted so many threats to its setting over the years? One reason is that no-one knows where the setting IS. Back in 2013 the Town Council published an erroneous and damaging diagram purporting to be “an informed and influential guide to developers, setting out what matters most to local people” – which, the diagram implies, is a tiny area with no buffer zone, no hinterland and no protected views.

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Since then it has been made very clear local people DO care about the wider landscape so if Shropshire Council is serious about respecting the monument and the locals let it publish a new “informed and influential guide to developers, setting out what matters most to local people” and let it make clear that no development should take place within the newly defined area (including the orange area, the one remaining live application).

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At the Rescue AGM there’ll be a session on a proposed Institute of Detectorists and whether it would “aid revision of the Treasure Act & implementation of the Valetta Convention”. It might save time if everyone said: “yes, if members complied with Rescue’s recent proposals”.

The panel discussion which follows may be interesting because it includes Tony Howe of Surrey County Council. They have a clear policy on detecting on their land: “An applicant will be considered to be part of an ongoing archaeological survey of SCC properties. Applicants will in particular be expected to have a proven track record in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of Surrey County Council.” That’s awkward. How many Institute members would be happy with “all finds must stay with the landowner”?

Sadly this year for the first time in a while we won’t have a presence at the AGM.  Oh to be a fly on the wall during discussion or indeed when a member of the proposed Institute asks Surrey Council if he can detect on its land!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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No-one can deny PAS has pulled its punches on metal detecting for 20 long, damaging years. Now in its new “Advice to Landowners” it has done it again. It has enabled not just responsible individuals but also heritage-damaging ruffians and plain thieves to get onto the fields. So we’ve un-pulled their punches (in red). The forthcoming discussions on reform of metal detecting should surely ask the simple question:

Why has PAS not properly informed farmers, the ultimate gatekeepers of Britain’s heritage?

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  • Metal-detecting can add value to archaeology but mostly doesn’t, ask PAS!
  • & contribute to our understanding of the past but mostly doesn’t– ask PAS!
  • It is not regulated but should be, ask PAS!
  • So landowners should have written agreement with finders –although that has never prevented stealing from landowners – ask PAS!
  • and should ask that archaeological finds are recorded with the PAS, although most aren’t – ask PAS!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Seven out of eight development targets around Oswestry Hill Fort are no longer up for exploitation. Or so it seems.

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Apparently unless the planning policy changes, it is unlikely the area surrounding the hillfort will be developed for the foreseeable future.

Note though, an eighth target is still live and anyone who has watched the years of shameful behaviour by many in Shropshire Council who’ve been gagging to damage Shropshire’s greatest Iron Age heritage asset, will be less than confident that the new policy WON’T change. The price of heritage, particularly in Shropshire, is going to have to be constant vigilance.

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In the words of Mythical Britain:
Some good news. But, as always, where there’s money to be made, strange things happen in corridors unseen and with opaque public consultation processes designed to ease the process. Councils should safeguard sites like this in perpetuity, no ifs or buts.”


 

“The Thames Tunnel, which dives under London’s central waterway, is a scheduled monument and international landmark, being the oldest tunnel in the oldest underground system in the world It opened to the public on this day in 1843”

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Given that Chris Grayling’s plan for a Stonehenge tunnel is teetering on the edge of oblivion (thanks to Brexit, UNESCO, finances, worldwide criticism and his less than perfect organisational skills) it’s possible that Historic England has been rather tone deaf yet again in highlighting Brunel’s marvellous tunnel at this time. Unkind persons will surely make invidious comparisons!

It’ll take many years to fully achieve but the direction of travel of ruthless developers together with a compliant Council is very clear in the image below.

As early as 2016 we implied there was a long term plan (in an article about the sudden banning of metal detecting from one field, perhaps for fear of important archaeology coming to light). The title said it all about the long-term nature of what’s happening: “Keep off our pension fund!”

 

Yesterday was the 4th Oswestry Hillfort Hug when people from near and far came together to defend their Iron Age Heritage from the depredations of greedy money and philistine authority….

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has just tweeted:
We welcome the withdrawal of & advertising campaign that threatens the safety of our precious heritage that is protected by law. For information on the regulation of metal detecting in Ireland please see

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So both the British Museum and the National Museum of Ireland have welcomed the fact Cadburys has relented.

But there’s a big difference, as Irish archaeologists know well: only Ireland can boast a law which prevents metal detecting threats to “the safety of our precious heritage”. By contrast, how many people will there be, quite legally “doing a Cadburys” in Britain’s fields this weekend?

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UPDATE:
Talking of archaeo-humiliation, today there’s an “Archaeology in Wiltshire” conference in Devizes. Hurrah. But will it be discussing the fact that last year at Wootton Bassett, just 15 miles away, there was a Rotary sponsored Metal Detecting rally, on ridge and furrow pasture (i.e. undisturbed pasture, so in total defiance of archaeological advice)? Probably not. But isn’t the fact that was the twenty second rally in the Wootton Bassett area – yes the twenty second – worth a discussion session?

Perhaps it could be titled: “How the hell have we let Britain’s past be hijacked?”


 

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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