You're right of course, in the scheme of things climbing is of minimal significance compared with the other agents of damage. But I don't think "other things cause far more damage" is a good reason not to talk about a particular problem (I've heard metal detectorists hide behind that claim a zillion times) and this thread is about the particular issue of climbing after all.
In any case, it's more significant than the damage it actually does and IMO as enthusiasts we have a duty to frown on it. If we don't react against it then who will? Every year we have EH allowing (yes, allowing) the world to see drunks climbing Stonehenge. It's a shame if TMA of all places reinforces their subliminal message that it doesn't really matter. As you say, "Does this mean we should all go and climb up the nearest standing stone to look for cupmarks? Probably not".... then let's say so, not to the self-certifiers that do it but to the public who could do with getting the right message not the one from that lot or EH.
Nigel, i don't think anyone is defending climbing every stone you visit to inspect it for RA, take the Avebury stones for example, there's no need to, do your research first and generally find someone's already given such stones a thorough going over, Professor Terence Meaden for example.
I understand in the case of the DD that there were no photographs of the top of the "capstone" hence validity in climbing it.
I don't believe there is validity in climbing the DD at all. I'm not a professional photographer like you are just a keen amateur, but even I've worked out that if you want an aerial shot of a capstone you can use a pole. I do and it saves all the hassle and controversy.
I don't know where you get the idea but i'm far from being a "professional photographer" Sanctuary, just someone who loves the ancient history of our isles.
I sincerely believe climbing the DD was justified in this case, and as far as i understand it there were 6 people tops there that day, so comparing it to climbing the Avebury stones in front of several tens or even hundreds of people isn't valid in my eyes, i very much doubt any of those present that day would do that.
Also, as many RA aficionados will tell you, there's no substitute for the human eye, look through any ancient sites forum and you'll soon find that RA "experts" are loathe to give any firm opinion without seeing the piece first hand, a photograph is no substitute i'm afraid.
Of course a photo is no substitute but still no excuse to climb the DD IMO. You could have used a pole like I do if you only wanted confirmation then reported your find and if somebody wished to view it first hand then they are at liberty to arrange to do it in a more respectful way. It took me long enough to conform but conform I now have and I believe a better person for it.
Firstly, i wasn't the photographer so "i" couldn't have used a pole. :)
Secondly, have you ever tried to go through "officials channels" in relation to ancient monuments?, i'm guessing not if you think it actually gets you anywhere.
Sorry, I took it that you were the photographer. So you were just there when it was taken right? And yes I have in reply to your question. I asked EH to send out a structural engineer to Trethevy Quoit a few months back as I considered the capstone had moved and he met me there two weeks later. It was the correct thing to do and by doing so I met a gentleman that spends a lot of his time looking at structures that are often abused and become dangerous because of thoughtless people clambering over them.