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Tidying up offerings
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Re: Tidying up offerings
Jun 06, 2010, 06:29
thesweetcheat wrote:
Hi Bucky,

The point about the lack of state owership/guardianship is essentially a moot one. In the UK (and I'm sure in the US) there are thousands and thousands of prehistoric sites. Some are big and well-known, and you can put a fence up and have a gift shop, etc, etc. But these represent a tiny fraction of the sites that remain.

Most sites are on land that is privately owned, but much of that land (especially in upland areas) is open to the public to walk on. Whether this land remained privately owned or if the sites themselves were transferred to state ownership, there is no practical way whatsoever of fencing off or allocating security to any but a few. Most UK sites are "scheduled" and it is an offence to damage them - but how many barrows in fields are ploughed down to non-existence? How many upland barrows are turned into walker's shelters? How many urban sites become areas for fly-tipping? Most of these are scheduled but it doesn't prevent misuse.

It seems to me that the nearest we can get to having cake/eating it (allowing sites to be freely accessed while seeking to prevent them from being misused) is for people to be encouraged and educated to act responsibly and realise the true, irreplaceable value of what is being slowly eroded or destroyed by, in many cases, thoughtless actions. Most sites are not damaged intentionally (although some clearly are, paint spraying being particularly abhorrent), most are destroyed slowly, through lack of understanding. There are guidelines and perfectly reasonable standards published all over the place, not least on notices at some sites and in most guidebooks to visiting the countryside in general as well as sites in particular. They almost always include something along the lines of "take everything home with you that you brought to the countryside", which seems to be a pretty reasonable request.

If those guidelines are not always followed, then unless people like Heritage Action and perhaps some TMAers (yes, us) actually do their bit to keep the sites tidy and free of litter and other assorted "leavings", the importance of the sites quickly becomes diminished and even more prone to damage.

In other words, waiting for the state to intervene or take over is not a practical answer. Personal responsibility is.

This the second superb post I've read on the forum since yesterday (the other being from tiompan). Very well written tsc, you've managed to pull together all the main issues in an intelligent but unconfrontational manner. Contributions like this are the reason I bother to come here ... thanks.
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