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The stolen Woodhenge plaque (left)
Bruno Clements, Social media and web editor for The Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, reports on the theft of a pair of valuable, historic bronze plaques from Woodhenge in Wiltshire England –
The plaques, which have been stolen in the last two weeks, are inscribed and inlaid with coloured enamel. They date from the late 1920s and were installed by the Ministry of Works soon after excavations of the site led by Maud Cunnington. The site, only two miles from its more famous contemporary Stonehenge, was scheduled by the government as an Ancient Monument in 1928. The plaques describe Woodhenge and show a plan of the site, which was discovered by accident in 1925 by a passing RAF pilot.
Heather Sebire, Curator for English Heritage, which cares for this site, said: “Woodhenge is an incredibly important heritage site and these plaques are a landmark in the history of how the site was discovered, excavated and presented nearly a century ago.
Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Advisor for Historic England, said: “We are appealing to anyone who has any information that may lead the police to identify the suspects in this case, please call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”
More here. See also Mike Pitts’ feature here.

A metal detector in my Christmas stocking. By Roy Goutté.

I have to say that I have longed to own a decent metal detector for some years now. Yes you can buy cheap versions in stores that you would be lucky to find a metal dustbin with just 1” under the soil, but at my age and with time on my hands I am about to have my wish come true, as I am being bought that decent one for Christmas!

It wasn’t what was planned though as the family had asked if I would like to have a quadcopter (drone) as a Christmas gift so that I could take aerial videos of stone circles and the like, being my main hobby these days. Having the whole of Bodmin Moor to ‘fly’ over subject to permission if required, it was very appealing. However, on checking out the prices for the type of one I would prefer, it soon became apparent to me that it would be a very costly purchase for them, so I declined their generous offer but suggested an alternative. ‘Could I have a decent middle-range metal detector instead please?’.

So that’s where I am today and really looking forward to owning one, especially as we have our own field to ‘test drive’ it in. So now, instead of flying above ground, I’ll be digging beneath it for the time being!

My interest in archaeology and the metal detector are not far apart these days and I’m rather hoping the two will go well together when the approved occasion arises. MD’s are widely used by archaeologists today, but by a strict code of practise as I was to discover when I went out of my way to get the low-down on where exactly you could use them.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t use them ANYWHERE without permission,  unless you happen to own your own land and it’s not already protected that is. That was a surprise for a start as I assumed you could still pretty much wonder down to any public beach, park and scrub land and detect away. Not so these days it would seem and for good reason for there would appear to be much going on that is spoiling things for the everyday detectorist out for a quiet and relaxing day in the countryside or beach hoping to discover a few old coins or lost rings instead of the regular flow of ring-pulls, bits of wire and rusty nails associated with metal detecting.

Over more recent years and probably since the introduction of more powerful depth seeking metal detectors, fantastic hoards of gold, jewellery and coins have been discovered along with literally 1,000’s of individual items of antiquity and very often in areas where nothing was ever expected and certainly where archaeologists had no reason to take an interest in!

This has led to a number of those everyday ‘weekender’ detectorists turning to the dark side and purposely targeting these items of great value and not declaring them… an illegal and prisonable offence! Commonly known as ‘Nighthawks’ these thieves are selling off our heritage for personal gain and giving the honest and respectable detectorist who are members of local clubs a bad press. In other words, they are stealing from the nation and whilst doing so bringing honest metal detectorists into disrepute. It has to be stopped.

So how exactly is the law, archaeologists and detectorists working together these days to resolve this situation?

In an article written by Alex Hunt of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and updated in 2011 he explained much of that early history:-

‘A 1995 survey on metal detecting in England, by the Council for British Archaeology, pinpointed some gloomy facts about the impact of the hobby. It concluded that of the hundreds of thousands of artefacts recovered by detectorists every year, only a fraction was being reported to museums.

Even worse, three-quarters of archaeological field units had experienced raids of their excavations by detectorists, and between 1988 and 1995 illicit metal detector users damaged at least 188 scheduled ancient monuments (archaeological sites of national importance, protected under law, where special permission is required to dig or to use metal detectors).

Two particularly high-profile cases of looting were the illegal removal of a hoard of fine Romano-British bronzes from Icklingham in Suffolk in the 1980s, and the plunder of the site of a Roman Temple at Wanborough in Surrey in the 1990s.

This kind of looting appals archaeologists and responsible detectorists alike, because the combined effect of both looting and non-reporting of finds is that crucial information about archaeological sites is being lost’.

He continued :-

‘Archaeology lives and breathes on context. Knowing exactly what comes from where, the soils in which it lies, and the relationships or associations between artefacts, features and other forms of evidence, is critical for interpreting archaeological remains.

An object on its own may tell us quite a lot. For instance, using some of the many scientific techniques available, we might find evidence about the technologies and resources used in its manufacture. Or the form and design of the object, and the way it shows evidence of patterns of wear or repair, might tell us about its function and use. Techniques such as radiocarbon dating also allow us to work out the age of some artefacts. Yet there may be little point in doing this work, if we know nothing of where the object was found.

By contrast, understanding an object in relation to other objects, and to the deposits in which they are found, can allow a much more powerful level of interpretation. An artefact of one type, for instance, which can be dated, can – if looked at in its proper archaeological context – also help date whole layers and features and other kinds of artefacts, which cannot be dated in any other way.

In the light of this, some archaeologists have advocated a much stronger regulation of metal detecting, but others suggest that the best approach is to foster a responsible approach among the detecting community, through better liaison and education’.

Finding common ground:

‘In Norfolk for instance, the late Tony Gregory recognised early on that not all detectorists behave irresponsibly. He set about forming fruitful links with those whose primary interest was in the sense of discovery and a real interest in what they found.

For instance he sought the permission required for a group of detectorists to systematically survey the Roman temple site at Caistor St Edmund. This was to assess the damage being done by groups of treasure-hunting thieves who were regularly working over the monument by cover of dark, and to pre-empt any further damage. Bit by bit Tony and successive archaeologists built a lasting relationship with responsible detectorists across the county, who helped foil this vandalism.

In areas where archaeologists have been constructive in this way, detectorists are much more confident in reporting their finds. And they have been recovering a lot of useful material – metal detected finds have, for instance, significantly contributed to understanding Iron Age coinage, and also the deposition of Bronze Age metal hoards in south-east England. Finds can be reported to Finds Liaison Officers of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and metal detector users continue to contribute to the archaeological process and historical studies’.

Read more here:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) mentioned above, has an interesting history. It is a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funded project to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, not just by metal detectorists, but also by people out walking and even just working in their gardens.

In July 1996, the Treasure Act was passed. The Treasure Act replaced the medieval law of Treasure Trove in England and Wales. This Act gave some protection to certain archaeological finds, acting to encourage their reporting. However, a great many objects were being found by members of the public which were not ‘treasure’, but which were nonetheless important in building up knowledge of the archaeology and history of England and Wales.

In the past, finds such as these were, in some cases, taken to local museums to record. However, many more finds were unrecorded as there were not always systems in place to do so, often due to lack of resources.

A further problem was presented as the removal of an archaeological object from the ground without properly recording the circumstances of the find can lead to loss of knowledge of an object’s context, or provenance. Context is vital in archaeology in order to be able understand past human activity. Archaeology is not simply about studying isolated objects. How these came to be where they were found, their relationship to other objects and stratigraphy (position in the ground), among other factors help build up a picture of the past as a whole. These unrecorded or un-provenanced finds meant a loss to knowledge of the archaeology and history of England and Wales.

The Act has been subject to ‘improvement and change’ since its introduction and it can be read here in full.

So, it is no longer just a matter of driving down to the local park or beach and getting on with it, although by all accounts, some still do. Permissions have to be sought and other rules complied with. And it’s not just about finding the odd 50p or a bit of modern jewellery and having a relaxing day out in the fresh air anymore for some it would seem, but the possible theft of our heritage by those who flout the rules and are in it just for the money gained by not reporting important finds of antiquity and selling them to private collectors or indeed keeping them for their own collections.

Looking at the rules of a local MD club in my area below, their rules are quite clear and I wonder if in the main the protagonists are loners with no connections with clubs whatsoever. It is supposed to be a hobby and certainly for the much greater majority and honest ones it still is, but how do you deal with those who are in it for profit and blatantly disregarding the law without an apparent care in the world?

Typical Metal Detector club rules:

  1. All members will hold a current membership of the NCMD. These will be shown to the club secretary upon joining.
  2. Do not trespass. Obtain permission before venturing on to any land.
  3. Respect the Country Code, leave gates and property as you find them and do not damage crops, frighten animals or disturb nesting birds.
  4. Wherever the site, do not leave a mess or an unsafe surface for those who may follow. Always re-fill your holes, do not leave unwanted finds in your hole remove them from the field.
  5. Membership of the XXXXXXXXXXXXXX will be open to all members of the public interested in metal detecting as a hobby and who are willing to both, support the interests of the club by keeping to its rules and make the payment of the current membership fee(non refundable).
  6. Before being accepted as a member of this club, applicants will be required to declare that they are not already members of any other club. If in the past applicants have held membership of any other club or clubs, they must have given formal notice of resignation to their previous club or clubs before their application will be considered.
  7. Members of this club may not join any other metal detecting club without immediately forfeiting both membership and member’s rights to this club.
  8. If you discover any live ammunition or any lethal object such as an unexploded bomb or mine, do not disturb it. Mark the site carefully and report the find to the local police and landowner.
  9. Help keep Britain tidy. Safely dispose of refuse you come across.
  10. Report any dead or injured livestock to your land owner.
  11. Remember it is illegal for anyone to use a metal detector on a designated area (e.g. scheduled archaeological site, SSSI, or Ministry of Defense property) without permission from the appropriate authority.
  12. Acquaint yourself with the Treasure Act 1996
  13. Remember that when you are out with your metal detector you are an ambassador for our hobby and club. Do nothing that might give us a bad name.
  14. Report all finds assumed older than 300 years to the local F.L.O.
  15. Never miss an opportunity to explain your hobby to anyone who asks about it, you never know, it may lead to new permissions.
  16. All club obtained land will only be detected on via an organized club search and at no other times.
  17. Annual memberships will run from the 1st April to 31st March with an annual fee of £XX
  18. Officers of the club, Chairman, secretary and treasurer shall be elected at the AGM.19. Club search fees shall be £X per member unless stated otherwise and payable on the day

Returning now to my own plans and how I am going about things so that I can enjoy this hobby without falling foul of the law.

My first move is going to be to contact a local MD club and become a member if they have vacancies and will accept me. By doing this I am hoping that I will be able to become really conversant with the accepted and approved rules and legislation in place, and of course to have detecting days out with them learning the ropes. I will only join a club that is registered with a recognised National authority as that has to be the only way forward for a newbie surely. See here for more information.

I have already found out how I go about obtaining permission and a permit to use a MD on the foreshore and by all accounts it is a very simple matter and free… but you must have one!

I am also very fortunate in having many farming friends with hundreds of acres of land that I hope I will be given access to and in time maybe also the club I decide to join. I’m in this for the enjoyment and relaxation and of course that glimmer of hope that one day a magic moment will arrive when something special makes its presence known to me and I can add just that little bit more to our understanding of our past. I see it, as in all aspects of my archaeology research and work, as my chance to put just a little something back in appreciation of our great ancestors gifts from the past, whether it be stone circles, dolmans, long barrows or Saxon gold and jewellery lying tantalisingly close just out of sight beneath our feet.


I don’t feel I can finish an article on metal detecting and its connection with archaeology without mentioning the wonderful BAFTA winning BBC4 television mini-series called Detectorists that is currently on our screens. Wonderful entertainment with superb acting from a brilliant cast all put together and including Mackenzie Crook (Andy).

It centres around detectorist pals Andy and Lance (the brilliant Toby Jones), their local club the Danebury Metal Detecting Club and its members and their love lives (or lack of it in Lance’s case). Adding further to the cast are two members of a rival club affectionately known as Simon and Garfunkel.

They typify the classic hobby detectorists in my book. Out all day in a world of their own finding ring-pulls, rusty wire, bits broken of ploughs and the occasional coin to keep the interest and enthusiasm alive… and all the time in the back of their minds is the possibility of them hitting the jackpot and discovering a Saxon hoard… something that unbeknown to them they have already walked away from being right under their feet at the end of yet another fruitless day!

Andy (right) and Lance (left) in Detectorists

According to Mackenzie, there is some skill involved in the whole exercise, and he’s now one of an astounding 30,000 enthusiasts who practise this hobby in the UK alone. “They’re not anoraks,” Mackenzie insists. “They’re amateur archaeologists.”

If like me, you are, or were contemplating taking up the hobby, do check out this very excellent and informative ‘Beginners guide to metal detecting’.

And finally, this clip from Series One of Detectorists. I loved it when Becky, Andy’s partner, suggests he may have missed a lot whilst he’s been detecting. What follows just about sums up their luck. Superb.

A guest feature by Mohamed Badry and Mohamed Abdalla.

Ancient Memphis (Mit Rahina): Human-induced Impact Assessment, Heritage Impact Assessment was conducted by Mohamed Badry Kamel Basuny and his colleague Mohamed Abdallah under the supervision of their professor, Dr Michael Schmidt and his assistant Mr Mohamed Ravankhah. This short Introduction to their Assessment is a welcome guest feature on the subject. For the complete report please click on the link here.

Encroachment on Kom el-Rabi’ at Mit Rahina
Mohamed Badry (16 January 2014)

Introduction for our case study:

Although the site is included in the list of World Heritage Sites, Memphis and its Necropolis, UNESCO is actually only interested of the Giza plateau site and other neglected sites from Saqqara to Dahshur. ​Mit Rahina is considered an adequate archaeological site for implementing Heritage Impact Assessment methodology providing an example of the Human-induced Impact on such archaeological sites. ​

The researchers used archaeological and Egyptological-related libraries, internet sources etc, together with oral sources obtained when interviewing Mr Mohamed Fathy Mansour of the Mit Rahina Inspectorate, during a fieldtrip conducted on Thursday, 16 January 2014. The visit evaluated the ground cover and potential for buried archaeological materials, as well as recording any standing or obtrusive archaeological and historical features.

This research will assess the current situation of Mit Rahina, the open air museum and the surrounding archaeological components which have been affected by human-induced impacts. It will then provide Heritage Impact assessment procedures, describe the current or proposed changes, and then identify the threats to the site in order to analyze its potential impact. Consequently, it will then suggest some mitigating measures.

Salinization close to archaeological remains at the Hathor Temple, Mit Rahina
Mohamed Badry (16 Jananuary 2014)


We are grateful to our professor Dr Michael Schmidt, Chair of Environmental Planning, BTU- Cottbus, Germany and his assistant Mr Mohamed Ravankhah, Research Assistant in the Department of Environmental Planning in Heritage Studies, for their guidance, encouragement and also, for their continuing support, and comments on the submitted paper. Moreover, we would like to thank Mr Mohamed Fathy Mansour, Mit Rahina Inspectorate, Mit Rahina Inspectorate register, who assisted us in doing direct on-site observations.

We are also grateful to the coordinators of both Helwan University (HU) in Cairo, Egypt and Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) in Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany in selecteding us for this prestigious Joint Master Program Heritage Conservation and Site Management (HCSM).

The authors:

​Mohamed Badry graduated from the Faculty of Arts, History Department, Cairo University (2009) and continued his education by graduating from Guidance Diploma, Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management, Helwan University (2011). He has a Master of Arts in Heritage Conservation and Heritage Site Management held jointly between two prestigious universities – Helwan University (Egypt) and BTU-Cottbus Senftenberg (Germany). His dissertation was in the field of heritage marketing under the title Developing Innovative Marketing Plan to Augment the Visitation of Egyptian World Heritage Sites: A Case Study of Saladin Citadel.

Mohamed Abdalla graduated from the Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management, Guidance Department, Helwan University (2000). He has much experience in the tourism industry through his position as Aviation Manager. He has a Master of Arts in Heritage Conservation and Heritage Site Management jointly between two prestigious universities – Helwan University (Egypt) and BTU-Cottbus Senftenberg (Germany). His dissertation was in the field of heritage marketing under the title Branding World Heritage Sites: Case of Egypt.


Coetan Arthur sub-megalithic tomb. St Davids Head, Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales
The Heritage Trust

Today marks our fourth anniversary. During that time we’ve posted 851 features, attracted 106,656 views and now have 329 followers. So a very big thank you to all who have contributed articles and photos to The Heritage Trust, commented on them, or just read them and hit the ‘like’ button. It’s all very much appreciated.

That’s on the positive side. Sadly, on the negative side, we’ve had to report on the appalling destruction by Daesh vandals of ancient sites and artefacts in the Syrian city of Palmyra, and the senseless beheading of the 82 year-old archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad in the same city. Though nowhere near that level of violence we, and some of our founder members, have been attacked and lampooned on the internet for voicing what we hope is a more balanced view on the subject of metal detecting. Needless to say those attacks will not deter us from discussing the subject of metal detecting in a moderate and informed manner, nor from reporting on heritage vandalism wherever and however it takes place.

The main event for us this year was our relocation from the south to the north of England. And as a result we unfortunately found ourselves unable to host our 2015 Outreach Event in Cornwall. That won’t happen next year, however, when we’re planning to hold something very special. We hope to see some of you then but meanwhile, and once again, a very big thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

The Heritage Trust Team.

The East Grafton Saxon gold coin
The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire England has launched a fund-raising campaign to secure a rare Saxon gold coin for the Nation. The coin was found in April in East Grafton, a village between Burbage and Great Bedwyn in Witshire, south-west England. Struck in what is now modern-day France, sometime between 655ce and 675ce, the coin features a head and cross on one side and a pair of clasping hands on the other. The coin dates to a period of transition from Paganism to Christianity, and shortly after the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Staffordshire Hoard which also contain objects with both Pagan and Christian themes.
This remarkable find brings new light to the vale of Pewsey in the Saxon period. East Grafton was part of the parish of Bedwyn until medieval times. There are a number of pagan Saxon cemeteries nearby and there was an early Saxon Royal manor at the Iron Age hill fort at Chisbury, just to the north of Great Bedwyn. Later in the Saxon period, the focus moved to Great Bedwyn where there was a Royal Manor and an important Minster church. Bedwyn was held by King Alfred and it also had a Saxon mint in the time of King Edward the Confessor soon after 1,000 AD. Bedwyn was very important and it was only with the building of its Norman castle that the focus moved to Marlborough. (Wiltshire Museum).
The coin is being auctioned early next month (2 December) by Spink & Son, Bloomsbury London and is estimated to achieve a sale price of around £12,000. The Wilshire Museum is therefore launching a fundraising campaign to secure this important find for the Museum and the Nation. They will be seeking grant aid but still need help. To make a donation please click on the Wiltshire Museum website here.

Thornborough Henge, North Yorkshire England

Stuart Minting, writing for The Northern Echo, reports on the concerns of Historic England to the proposed plans to site a solar farm close to the Thornborough Henge Scheduled Monument complex –

A GOVERNMENT service which champions England’s heritage has condemned a scheme to site a 960-panel solar farm near the most important ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands.

Historic England said the small-scale renewable energy scheme at East Tanfield, near Ripon, could harm the neighbouring Thornborough Henge Scheduled Monument complex, which featured ritual structures, massive circular ditches and banks dating back 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.

North Yorkshire County Council archaeologist Lucie Hawkins has called for the application to be withdrawn, stating she was disappointed the plan had been submitted to Hambleton District Council without any assessment of the impact on the historic environment.

More here.


The Star Chart on the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound in western Japan
Image credit Yuta Takahashi for the The Asahi Shimbun
The famous Takamatsuzuka Kofun (高松塚古墳) burial mound exhibition closes today (8 November 2015) in Asuka village, Japan. Built during the Asuka Period, between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, it lay unopened until 1972. Excavations of the mound then revealed an interior on whose walls stunning murals of Asuka Period ladies, astrological representations and a golden star chart were found. The gold disks, making up the chart, measure some 0.8 centimetres in diameter and are connected by red lines
Designated as a National Treasure this was the first time the general public were able to view the chart.
More here.
The Hurlers stone circle, Cornwall
The Heritage Trust
The Cornwall Heritage Trust reports 3 November 2015 that the Reading The Hurlers project has received £33,700 from the British Heritage Lottery Fund –
Saltash U3A has recently been awarded £33,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), for an exciting project called Reading the Hurlers.  The community geo-archaeological project focuses on the early Bronze Age site of the Hurlers stone circles, near the village of Minions, Bodmin Moor.  As part of the project, volunteers will undertake a geological survey and produce a profile of the area’s granite resources which will aim to identify the sources of granite which the standing stones of the Hurlers were quarried from.
More here. See also our earlier features on the Hurlers by keying the word into the search box above.
Update on the clearance and re-exposure of the sunken ring stones at Craddock Moor stone circle…
Text and images © Roy Goutté.
Work fully commenced on the circle on the 8th October and to date after three full day sessions only the survey and Field Report remain to be completed.
We chose our days carefully with the weather in mind and to that end we were very successful. Prior to the work commencing, only 15 or 16 recumbent stones appear to have been recorded. We knew by spiking the areas between the wider gaps in the ring setting however that more existed but not how many exactly. Only revealing them would answer that question. By the time we had completed the clearance we had cleared/discovered/found remains of 23 stones in total (no broken pieces included). Only one ‘gap’ was devoid of any signs of a stone or its remains within the ring setting but could have been removed.
5 gaps had stone remains in them under the surface indicating that they had been broken up in situ and removed. Two of the surface stones remaining had been drilled and split and 2 completely new stones within the setting were discovered under the surface.
All were numbered and to the base of Stone (19) we discovered something of interest which will be revealed in the Field Report. We also discovered that Stone 19 is in fact still earth-fast and not recumbent as previously believed, the only stone still standing, albeit badly damaged!
On completion of the Survey and Field Report I will be back with the final update for The Heritage Trust, but for now a few photos showing the ‘before and after’ of a couple of cleared stones, 2 new stones discovered and the remains of a buried stone after destruction are shown
Stone 5 before clearance.
…and afterwards
Stone 7 before…
…and afterwards
Stone 15 before…
 …and afterwards
Remains of Stone 22
Stone 23 newly discovered
An 8th century Anglo-Saxon brooch representing the Christian tree of life
Image credit Department for Culture/PA
The Guardian reports that –

An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it. The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.

An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women. Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.

Full article here.



November 2015
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