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St Andrew’s Church, Normanby, North Yorkshire, England
 
The Heritage Trust is fortunate to have our HQ in a little village in North Yorkshire, England that boasts a thriving pub and a pretty little Norman church. This morning we saw an elderly gentleman take some faltering steps towards the church. He’s a frequent visitor to the village and makes a daily pilgrimage to the church when no-one else is there. He went there this morning before the Easter Service. Why does he go alone you may ask. It’s because the church here is Church of England and he is a Roman Catholic. But he does go, daily when visiting, unlike the majority of those in the village and surrounding area. As the church bells rang out this morning, calling its ever dwindling congregation to attend, the words of Simon Jenkins came to mind; “ I don’t go to church, but I do go to churches.”
 
There are some 16,000 churches in England, many of them architectural gems and places of sanctity and peace. The majority however are poorly attended. The church here has two services a month, with a regular congregation of a dozen or so (most in their seventies and eighties). The rest of the time, other than the occasional wedding, funereal or coffee morning) the church stands open but unused. So what is to be done? Simon Jenkins, in his Guardian article here writes –
 
England’s biggest, most plentiful, most beautiful buildings are its churches. They are also its emptiest. There are some 16,000 churches in total, and every now and then their owner and janitor, the Church of England, utters a howl of pain. This month a church report points out that more than a quarter of churches have fewer than 20 worshippers on a Sunday – fewer than 10 in rural areas. Help, it cries, opening its mind (at last) to a future for local churches as everything from farmers’ markets to digital hubs, and even to naves as “champing” sites.
 
Every few years the church gets itself into a mess over how to use its churches. Like millions of people, I don’t go to church, but I do go to churches – 85% of the public visits a church every year. We regard them as the community’s ritual forum, its museum, its art gallery, its concert hall, its occasional retreat for peace, consolation and meditation. Many in the church view us as freeloaders (though I always leave money) and cannot see why they should give us such delight when their proper business is prayer, not heritage custody.
 
As long as parish churches are seen as shrines belonging to a tiny minority of the community, any hope of wider commitment is pie in the sky. Struggling local churches must be secularised, desanctified. They must be vested in an endowed local trust or parish council that literally owns them, so they become community assets, for whose upkeep local rates can be levied, as with public parks and gardens. There will be many spills along the way. But these buildings cannot be demolished or nationalised. There is simply no alternative.
 
In a nutshell then, our lovely little parish churches must embrace the wider community. They should become places of worship or meditation for people of all faiths as well as for those of none. Places where concerts are performed, exhibitions held, talks on all matters delivered. Most of all they should be places where all are made welcome and do not feel it necessary, like our elderly gentleman above, to feel excluded.
 
Happy Easter to all our readers.
 

French President François Hollande officially launches the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas on the 20 March 2017 at the Louvre in Paris
Image credit Élysée

A new global fund for endangered heritage sites has been launched by France and the United Arab Emirates. Writing in The Art Newspaper, Vincent Noce, reports that –

A new global fund to protect cultural heritage in war zones, spearheaded by France and the United Arab Emirates, has so far raised $75m of a planned $100m. The fund was officially launched [yesterday], 20 March, at the Louvre in Paris by the French President François Hollande and the vice premier minister of the Emirates, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

More here.

 

University of Birmingham
Entrepreneurship in Cultural Heritage Workshop

Organised by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham. In association with the West Midlands Museum Development.

Location: The Old Ikon Gallery, Fazeley Studios, Birmingham, B5 5SE England.
2 February 2017.

Over recent years the heritage sector has been hit by cumulative cut-backs in public sector funding, reductions in visitor spend and increasing competition for visitors. At the same time, a multitude of new opportunities continue to emerge relating to technological innovation, new audiences and communication networks and new management approaches. In the context of this developing landscape for the heritage sector, this workshop explores the increasing need for museums and heritage organisations to become ever more entrepreneurial in their approach in order to increase their resilience to the changing environment and also to identify ways and means to build profile, audiences, income and opportunities to communicate the heritage at their heart.

Through presentations by speakers who, in different ways, are involved with innovative approaches to the heritage and museums sector and through discussion, this workshop aims to identify some of the more entrepreneurial management practices of the heritage sector and to explore challenges and opportunities for future entrepreneurial actions.

Key Themes:

· Working towards resilience

· Partner working outside of the heritage sector

· The role of the creative industries

· Going global

· Building audiences and income

Confirmed speakers include:

* Dr Chris Ferguson (Auckland Castle)
* Traci Dix-Williams (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)
* Colin Chester-Head of Buying, The National Gallery
* Tony Trehy (Director, Bury Art Museum)
* Harvey Edgington (National Trust)
* Elliot Goodger- Birmingham Museums Trust Enterprise Committee

Pre-booking is essential.

To book your place go here.

Early-bird rate of £45 ( by 13 Jan 2017).
Full delegate rate of £55 (by 27 January 2017).

Contact: Jamie Davies, Teaching Fellow in Cultural Heritage
j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk mailto:j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk
0121 414 5616

Staff and volunteers from Accredited Museums or those officially Working towards Accreditation should reserve their place via the events page of the West Midlands Museum Development website: mdwm.org.uk or contact wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk mailto:wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk

 

 
 
First impressions can be deceptive. This is just a scale model of Stonehenge created for the fifth Transformers movie
Image credit Salisbury Journal
 
Writing on his blog Digging Deeper, archaeologist and editor of the British Archaeology magazine Mike Pitts, puts to bed some of the fears and fantasies surrounding the proposed tunnel near Stonehenge. Mike reports that the –
 
Stonehenge Alliance went ballistic on Twitter and Facebook, looking like the archaeological wing of Donald Trump’s social media campaign. They even got Tom Holland in a photo holding up their new leaflet… which features misleading imagery worthy of Putin-supporting trolls. Please, Tom, tell me this was a set-up job?
 
Full article here.

One of the five Stonehenge land trains
©
The Heritage Trust

Just over a year ago we ran a feature here entitled End of the line for the Stonehenge land trains? Then it was a question, now it’s a fact (see Friday’s Western Daily Press’ article here).

To quote from our earlier feature –

According to Historic England (formerly English Heritage), “They [the land trains] have all gone for the moment. They went about a week ago. We do not know when they will be back. The land trains are being serviced and will be offsite for several weeks while we also take the opportunity to look at design improvements.”

According to the Western Daily Press article however (quoting an EH spokeswoman), “Over time it became clear that the land trains were unable to cope with the daily demands of a site as busy as Stonehenge and English Heritage now intends to find new homes for them at other English Heritage sites…”

The Heritage Trust contacted Historic England several times over the last year to ask when the land trains would be back in service, ony to be told, “We do not know.” It’s now patently obvious that when the trains were withdrawn last year Historic England knew full well that they would not be returning so why fob the public off with wishy-washy statements like these (we’ve seen enough of those recently with David Cameron’s statements on his tax affairs!). Such statements do not engender confidence in the public; indeed they generate mistrust and, specifically at Stonehenge with its proposed tunnel plans and new solstice celebration arrangements, plant seeds of doubt in the public’s mind that not all is as transparent as it should be.

What is really sad about the end of the line for the land trains is that, though totally inadequate when it came to transporting hundreds of people from the Visitor Centre to the Monument (and someone should have known that!), they were a load of fun. Children loved them, and the slow pace they travelled at gave people a chance to take in the surrounding landscape. So, why not have both conventional coaches for those in a hurry and the land trains for those who don’t mind waiting for the opportunity to ride them. Far from being a failure the land trains could become an added attraction to those visiting Stonehenge.

See also our feature, The new Stonehenge Visitor Centre: First impressions…

 

Is this heritage?

Kate Chapman, writing for the Spalding Guardian, reports on a new project called Our Lincolnshire. What does heritage mean to you? It’s a question historians and archaeologists from the University of Lincoln, England, are asking through a new online questionnaire designed to examine public attitudes towards heritage across the county and to find out what is seen as important when preserving and enhancing heritage sites and traditions.

More here.

 

Coursing at Stonehenge in 1865
Coursing at Stonehenge in 1865. The Illustrated London News
 
In a recent BBC regional news report, Stonehenge manager Kate Davies is reported as saying an alcohol ban at Stonehenge would, “…help everyone to have a better experience of solstice.” In what way, Ms Davies, would such a ban help people have a better experience? Are you saying that by presently allowing a moderate degree of drinking at solstice time that is somehow adversely affecting people’s enjoyment of the overall solstice event there? If so, do you have details and the statistics to support such a claim? No-one, of course, wants to see drunkenness and rowdiness at Stonehenge but aren’t you perhaps taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut here? Perhaps this is an opportune time to remind you that, just over thirty years ago, a hard-won battle was fought to allow –
 
The Peace Convoy, a convoy of several hundred New Age travellers, from setting up the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival in Wiltshire, England. The police were enforcing a High Court injunction obtained by the authorities prohibiting the 1985 festival from taking place. Around 1300 police officers took part in the operation against approximately 600 travellers.
 
Dozens of travellers were injured, 8 police officers and 16 travellers were hospitalised. 537 travellers were eventually arrested. This represents one of the largest mass arrest of civilians since at least the Second World War, possibly one of the biggest in English legal history.
 
Two years after the event, a Wiltshire police sergeant was found guilty of Actual Bodily Harm as a consequence of injuries incurred by a member of the convoy during the Battle of the Beanfield. Source: the Wikipedia entry on The Battle of the Beanfield.
 
In the same BBC report, Senior Druid King Arthur Pendragon is reported as saying English Heritage was, “…looking for confrontation [and that he will fight] “…the total ban on alcohol. It’s a celebration – not to be sanitized. It does not matter how they dress it up, we will not Pay to Pray.”
 
Well, is there a possible middleway here? The problem really comes down to a minority who spoil the event for everyone else. Would it not be more sensible, therefore, to control the amount of alcohol taken on site (as is now the case) and to restrict access to the actual stones; meanwhile allowing people the freedom to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the event from the perimeter?
 
If King Arthur were to bend just a little, and if English Heritage were to think a little more laterally, could we possibly achieve the best of both worlds? Last year 23,000 people attended the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. If each were to pay just £1 that would achieve £23,000 and would probably cover the cost of providing portaloos, litter pickups etc. Actually, why not go a little further and give people rubbish bags as they arrive on site with, Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site and sacred to many. Please take your litter home with you, printed on them. Why not try to persuade people to be considerate rather than employing what might be seen as profit-motivated, strong-arm tactics against them. Stonehenge has, after all, been a gathering place of one sort or another from the beginning. Let’s not relegate that fact to the rubbish bin through lack of compromise and creative thinking.
 
Heritage, after all, is not just about stones, architecture and artefacts; it’s also about real-time cultural awareness and real-time human interaction.
 
Published by the Sketch 1896 an open-air concert
An open-air concert at Stonehenge. Published by the Sketch 1896
 

Video impression of how Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape would look without traffic
 
Alex Rennie, for the Salisbury Journal, reports on a film that’s been released by three public bodies which are promoting a tunnel for Stonehenge –
 
A YEAR after the Government announced plans to build a 2.9km tunnel under Stonehenge three public bodies have released a film promoting the benefits of burying the A303. Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage hope that construction of the tunnel will improve wildlife and nature at the World Heritage Site.
 
Ian Wilson, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust in Dorset and Wiltshire, said: “We really hope the film brings to life the very real benefits that a tunnel could bring to the Stonehenge Landscape, for people and for wildlife.”
 
More here.
 
Traffic flowing along the A303 in the right of the photo. Clearly visible and audible from the monument
©
The Heritage Trust
 
BBC News Wiltshire reports today that a team of experts from UNESCO and the International Council on Monuments and Sites are to assess the Stonehenge A303 tunnel proposal –
 
The officials were invited for a four-day visit by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and will be given a tour by the National Trust and English Heritage. Ian Wilson, assistant director for the National Trust, said: “This is about getting to know all the changes that have happened in and around the area since the last scheme because we know an awful lot more about the landscape.”
 
More here.
 
Offa’s Dyke descending to the Clun Valley in South Shropshire. This is not the section that was destroyed in 2013
Used with permission
©
Jim Saunders, the Offa’s Dyke Association
 
BBC News Wales reports yesterday on a new bill to protect monuments in the country –
 
The Historic Environment (Wales) Bill will give ministers powers to make owners who damage monuments undertake repairs. It comes after 119 cases of damage to sites between 2006 and 2012 resulted in only one successful prosecution. In 2013, a stretch of the 1,200-year-old Offa’s Dyke, on privately owned land between Chirk and Llangollen, was found flattened.
 
More, with video, here. See also our earlier feature here.
   
 
 
One of the five Stonehenge land trains
©
The Heritage Trust
 
All five of the so called land trains that convey sightseers from the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to the monument itself were withdrawn last week just days before thousands of people were expected to visit the monument over the Easter break. Each train carries about 45 people and is pulled along by a single Land Rover. There have been concerns expressed in the past that there was not enough turning room at the Visitor Centre for the land trains to easily manoeuvre in and also that they would be unable to cope with thousands of sightseers during peak periods. Sightseers are now being transported to the monument by a fleet of buses.
 
According to Historic England (formerly English Heritage), “They [the land trains] have all gone for the moment. They went about a week ago. We do not know when they will be back. The land trains are being serviced and will be offsite for several weeks while we also take the opportunity to look at design improvements.”
 
The land trains were supposed to provide a low environmental impact on the Stonehenge area and if they are now to be replaced by a fleet of buses ploughing backwards and forwards between the Visitor Centre and the monument that objective will have been lost. Historic England’s comments that, “We do not know when they will be back.” and, “…while we also take the opportunity to look at design improvements.” are not encouraging ones but let’s hope we’re wrong and the land trains will be back in service again soon.
 
Update. BBC News reports today (10 April 2015) that, “A 26-space coach park is set to be built at Stonehenge and will operate for two years… English Heritage will convert farmland next to the existing coach park and will include walkways for pedestrians.”
 
 
 
Rievaulx Abbey with Chapter House ruins in foreground
Image credit Antony McCallum. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
English Heritage has set itself a series of ambitious financial targets so that it can become a self-financing organisation in eight years’ time. Its plans were outlined last week ahead of English Heritage splitting into two on 1 April 2015. The English Heritage Trust, a new independent charity, will look after the National Heritage Collection, which comprises more than 400 historic sites across England including Stonehenge, Dover Castle and parts of Hadrian’s Wall. It will retain the English Heritage name. Historic England will be the new name for the public body that champions and protects England’s historic environment.
 
A number of new museums and exhibitions will be developed as part of the new English Heritage Trust’s plans. The art deco Eltham Palace in Greenwich will be restored. And to mark this year’s bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, there will be new exhibitions at those sites associated with the Duke of Wellington: Wellington Arch and Apsley House in London and Walmer Castle in Kent. Next year, a new museum will open to tell the 900-year story of Rievaulx Abbey in north Yorkshire.
 
More here.
    
 
 
The West Kennet Avenue of Standing Stones at Avebury, Wiltshire, England (note road on left)
©
Moss 
 
Following in the footsteps of the closure of the Stonehenge A344 road last year, a road which ran perilously close to Stonehenge’s famous Heelstone and the Monument itself (see our earlier feature The new Stonehenge Visitor Centre: First impressions… ) and which effectively cut the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in two, plans have been revised to do something similar at the Avebury Henge World Heritage Site, some forty miles from Stonehenge and also in Wiltshire.
 
The narrow, one mile-long B4003 follows the West Kennet Avenue of standing stones from the A4 at West Kennet to the Avebury Henge and Avebury Village. In places it actually cuts through the Avenue with standing stones on one side of the road and other stones on the other. At present the road is used mainly by farm vehicles and traffic wanting to take a shortcut to and from Avebury, rather than taking the slightly longer, two-and-a-half mile route via the Beckhampton Roundabout. According to a 2010 report from English Heritage, however, cars passing each other on the West Kennet Avenue road are causing erosion which “could spread into the upper layers of the monument” if it is allowed to continue. Heritage Trust members have frequently seen large 4×4 vehicles parked in the small layby at the bottom of the Avenue or on the grass verges that border it.
 
 
4×4 vehicles parked on the grass verge at the bottom of the Avenue
©
Moss
 
The West Kennet Avenue B4003 road closure proposal would be different to the Stonehenge A344 closure in so much as the road would remain in place for local landowners (the National Trust being one) and farmers, while excluding most other motorised traffic. Provided cyclist, pedestrian and disabled access continues to be allowed, however, the closure of the West Kennet Avenue road would seem like a good idea. It would exclude both commercial and rush-hour traffic and return the surrounding area to a quieter, safer and more pleasant state. The only downside we can see is that by closing the West Kennet Avenue B4003 road an increase in the amount of traffic on the A4 (which runs past Silbury on one side and the West Kennet Long Barrow on the other) would be generated. Given that the A4 is already a very busy road, and practically impossible for pedestrians to use, that increase would seem to make very little difference there but would improve the environment around the Avebury World Heritage Site immeasurably.
 
See also the feature by Peter Davison in the Marlborough News Online.
 

The excavation of Carchemish (1912-13) with Leonard Woolley (right) and T E Lawrence (left)

In an impassioned piece of writing for The Wall Street Journal, Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund, says –

This winter, the film “Monuments Men” told the story of how, over two years, with virtually no resources or support, a ragtag division of 345 volunteers from 17 countries working under the aegis of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program rescued six million stolen artworks from Nazi depots, including some of the world’s most esteemed masterpieces, and saved hundreds of historic buildings, objects and archival collections from destruction in Europe and Asia.

Yet there has been no sequel to the work of the Monuments Men. Time and again, major cultural treasures have been destroyed, museums looted and archaeological sites despoiled during conflicts. Even after civil law was re-established in Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq, the destruction has continued under the noses of authorities. In Syria, cellphones have captured the obliteration of the historic center of Aleppo. The director general of antiquities in Syria reports that 420 monumental sites have been damaged in the two years since the civil war began, many in the cities of Aleppo and Homs. The costs of reconstruction would run to the hundreds of millions of dollars and require highly specialized technical capabilities. Also troubling is the widespread looting that has occurred in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Yemen during the past decade. Estimates of antiquities looting and theft in Egypt and Syria since 2011 run into the billions of dollars; but sadly, we’ll never know its full extent.

Cultural heritage links us to our history and identity through structures, objects and traditions. It gives places meaning through references to the past. It enriches our quality of life, contributes to a community’s economic well-being and is fundamental to a healthy society. People in places under siege are no less concerned about their heritage than those who watch from the outside. But people caught in these circumstances are often powerless to intervene, which is why we need a dedicated effort on their behalf.

This article is well worth reading in full. See also our earlier feature here.

   

 
Pentre Ifan
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales, has announced a six-week consultation period on a new proposal for the Heritage Bill –
 
Between 2006 and 2012, Cadw received reports of 119 cases of unlawful damage to scheduled ancient monuments in Wales. However, there has been only one successful prosecution under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 in the last 25 years.
 
A number of respondents to last year’s consultation on proposals for the historic environment, ‘The future of our past’, expressed concerns about the rarity of successful prosecutions. Some called for changes to the Act’s permitted defence of ignorance of the status or location of a monument to make it easier to secure convictions for illegal damage.
 
Accordingly, the Welsh Government would now like to receive your views on a proposal to amend the offences and defences in the 1979 Act to modify the ‘ignorance defence’.
 
More details on the proposal are contained in a consultation document, which is available, along with a response form, on the consultation pages of the Welsh Government website.
 
More here.
 
NB The Heritage Trust operates a Cared for Ratings accreditation scheme which awards a site a maximum of five stars for how well the site is cared for (see our rating and recommendations for Pentre Ifan here for example). This includes nearby parking facilities, wheelchair access, signage, rest areas, general maintenance etc. If you would like to submit a site for inclusion in the scheme please send details and images to us at info@theheritagetrust.org.
   

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