OLD MORT’S ALMANACK FOR 2022

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Lead Image: Remarkable leaked security camera footage of the procession for the 2021 Casting of the Trowels. [thePipeLine]

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On Mid-Winter eve 1935 world famous archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the investigator of Lay Lines Alfred Watkins, and occultist, secret agent and self styled “Beast 666”, Aleister Crowley, came together on the summit of the famous Iron Age hill fort of Maiden Castle in Dorset, under the auspices of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Dorset Field Club. 

A secret annex to Wheeler’s diaries records they were there because Wheeler had conceived a fantastical experiment designed to invoke the Genius Loci [the spirit of the place] of the Dorset hill fort and to summon the ghosts of archaeology past, present, and future, in an attempt to predict what would happen in archaeology during the following year.

This would be achieved through what became known as “the Casting of the Trowels”; a champagne fuelled ceremony, created by Crowley, echoing the manner by which the ancient Druids would cast the entrails of a slaughtered chicken upon an alter to divine the future.

With the participants long dead, very few people in the higher echelons of UK archaeology will now admit that the Casting of the Trowels even took place, ascribing it the same place in archaeological mythology as the Jazz and Lemon Drizzle Cake beach parties which allegedly led to a full scale cover up of the activities of the British Museum team at Sutton Hoo in 1939.

However, following a tip off from a highly placed source in the Antiq’s, in 2015, thePipeLine was not only able to reveal the origins of the Ceremony of the Trowels. We were also able to report that Wheeler and his friends had actually performed the ceremony, narrowly avoided an embarrassing Police investigation in the process, and that at every subsequent Midwinter solstice, the ceremony has been repeated, amid conditions of utmost secrecy.

We can now reveal that as a tribute for the services to archaeology of University of Sheffield’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Gill Valentine, the 2021 Casting of the Trowels took place in the Sheffield branch of Aldi.

As in previous years, the ceremony opened with an invocation to the original members of the Time Team, chanted at the four cardinal points of the compass, by a skyclad ritual procession, made up of the most senior officers of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers.

The trowels, donated by the Sheffield branch of Wickes, were then cast in the fruit and veg aisle and, our source claims, the following predictions for Archaeology in 2022 were made.



January

Archaeologists are “baffled” as the Daily Express opens the year by publishing an archaeology story without mentioning Stonehenge in the headline.

The delayed “Levelling Up Bill” is published by the Government. In an attempt at “joined up” policy making the associated “Levelling Up Fund” is combined with the new Planning Bill so that in future Archaeology and Heritage projects will only be funded in, so called, Red Wall seats and other deprived areas of the UK served by Conservative MP’s, such as Surrey.

As the deadline for filing accounts to Her Majesties Revenue and Customs falls due numerous metal detecting rally companies dissolve themselves, explaining that they never actually earned any taxable income because they were only set up to get round the Covid-19 regulations banning metal detecting by individuals as a hobby- and it really is all about the history and not the money [honest].

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers say they will spend 2022 having very important meetings about archaeology, with very important people.


February

A world famous British University announces that it is to close a world famous Archaeology Department. The University justifies the closure by stating that nobody wants to study archaeology anymore because it isn’t cool, and besides, the pay and conditions for archaeologists are so bad that archaeologists never repay their student loans which really annoys the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

They add that the closure is absolutely nothing to do with the multi-million pound cost overrun on a failed IT project and buying the Vice Chancellor a new flat.

A spokesperson for University Archaeology UK responds to the proposed closure by saying,

“Which department? Oh, that’s all right, we will just drop them from the mailing list.”

However, staff and students at the, about to be former, world famous archaeology department tell the University Vice Chancellor and Executive Council they know the price of everything and the value of nothing and they should therefore go forth and multiply themselves.

Tens of thousands of members of the archaeological community and the wider public agree, signing a petition to save the threatened department.

The issue is of utmost concern to the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers who issue a statement saying that they are really sad about the proposed closure, and in fact, thinking about it, they are also rather cross, so they will write a letter to the famous University’s Vice chancellor saying how cross they all are.

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They add that they we will also have meetings with politicians and policy makers, “but the meetings are so sensitive and important that we can’t tell you about them in case the Government get the wrong message.”



March

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces that the controversial A303 Upgrade project on the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, halted by a Judicial Review in 2021, is to be given the go ahead once again.

Historic England welcomes the reboot of the A303 project, saying that the decision to support the scheme, which could see the iconic, internationally important, monument lose its World Heritage Site status, is nothing to do with the fact that the Government controls the organisation’s grant.

Wessex Archaeology and the other companies involved announce that their support for the project, which critics argue is contrary to archaeological ethics, is absolutely nothing to do with the alleged £35 million of archaeological work the project will send their way.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers welcome the project saying the fact archaeology will take place is a tribute to the professionalism and pragmatism of UK archaeological bodies when faced with possible funding cuts, adding,

“Did we tell you we are going to arrange meetings with really important people, to talk about really important archaeological things like Stonehenge, but the things are so important that unfortunately we can’t tell you about them.”

April

A recording is released of the Vice Chancellor of the world famous University telling students at a meeting that, if the university were to expand the archaeology department to increase the university’s income, and the number of home grown archaeologists in a shortage profession, there is a danger teenagers might see archaeology as a viable and rewarding career.

The Stonehenge Alliance crowd fund a further Judicial Review into the A303 Stonehenge project.

After accusations of another internal coup the National Council for Metal Detecting splits yet again forming the National Council for Metal Detecting and the Metal Detecting National Council. Members ask “What have the NCMD and the MDNC ever done for us?”

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers issue a statement saying they would issue a statement about the really important meetings they have been having with really important people in Whitehall, but the meetings are so important that they cannot issue a statement.


May

On the tenth anniversary of David Cameron announcing that there would be a joint UK/Myanmar heritage project to dig up Spitfires alleged to have been buried in Burma by Lord Louis Mountbatten, rumours emerge that a documentary film exposing the hoax has been buried by an international computer gaming company.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps loses the latest Judicial review into the legality of the A303 Stonehenge upgrade project.

Historic England expresses disappointment that the law has again been upheld in the case of the A303 project.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers agree, saying the unlawful project would have been carried out to the highest professional standards and that they might mention this in their next very important meeting with very important politicians and civil servants.

However, they cannot say if such a meeting will take place or not.

It’s too important.


June

The British Museum celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend of the 2nd to the 5th of June by announcing it has converted its entire collection into Non-fungible Tokens.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announces that the Judicial Review rendering the A303 Stonehenge upgrade project unlawful is void because his alter ego Michael Green actually took the decision to green light the project. It follows that the Stonehenge Alliance had actually taken the wrong person to court.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers say they are considering issuing a statement, but it is important that nobody knows what the statement actually is in case it is misunderstood, and the Government receives mixed messages.

Swampy is allegedly sighted hitch hiking along the A303 carrying a shovel and some pit props.


July

The entire collection of the British Museum is destroyed when a member of the IT department spills a can of Pepsi Max into the server storing the Non-fungible Tokens.

The Stonehenge Alliance issue a Letter before Action to Transport Minister Grant Shapps aka Michael Green [and person or persons names unknown], over the allegedly unlawful decision to give the go ahead, yet again, to the A303 Stonehenge upgrade project.

GoFundMe offers the Stonehenge Alliance a frequent user discount.

To mark the annual Festival of British Archaeology, which seeks to promote archaeology and engage the public in archaeological activities, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers work together to prevent members of the public from starting an independent campaign to promote and support archaeology and archaeologists.

A spokesperson for the organisations says,

“Of course we welcome people who aren’t professional archaeologists offering their support to UK archaeology.

We would just prefer it if they talked to us first as people who are not professionals don’t really understand how difficult it is to arrange all those important meetings.”


August

A UK museum issues an expert report confirming that it does not own, and has never owned, a single stolen Benin Bronze.

As the Summer holiday season gets into full swing a private archaeology company which charges participants over £100 per day to wash pottery is hailed as the future of community archaeology.

A metal detectorist challenges the valuation of the British Museum’s Treasure Valuation Committee, stating that the valuation is far too low, emphasising that it is all about the history and nothing at all to do with the money.

Responding to the invitation to talk to the professional bodies the new public campaign to support archaeology and archaeologists reaches out to the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers to discuss how they can all work together. However, all they get is the voicemail because everyone is on holiday.

September

E-mails released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries suggested resolving the legal impasse over the A303 Stonehenge upgrade by delisting the scheduled monument and blowing it up before anyone can do anything about it.

A TV production company pitches a new series about archaeology. The series will be fronted by a well known actor/comedian, and will feature a group of archaeologists who visit various parts of the United Kingdom to conduct excavations in people’s garden’s. The series is commissioned under the name “The Great British Team Time Dig”.

Archaeology Twitter welcomes this bold and original way of communicating archaeology to new audiences.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers call Crime Stoppers and state that they are concerned that there is a public archaeology campaign underway which they have not authorised and that it is asking for small donations to cover its web hosting costs in spite of the fact it has a website.


October

The World famous British University announces that, following discussions with staff and students, it will announce how it will close out its world famous archaeology department, as soon as they have worked out how to do it.

A spokesperson for the University adds that it is most unfortunate that all the records of the decision making process were burnt by mistake when the University Secretary had trouble starting the Senate’s Summer barbeque.

Opening the latest front in the War on Woke, the Daily Telegraph launches a campaign to have the Government’s £250 million Brexit Britain national flagship named the “Sir Edward Colston“.

As part of the government’s levelling up agenda Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announces that staff designations in the heritage sector will be simplified. As part of the reforms metal detectorists will be “levelled up” and will henceforward be referred to as Archaeologists.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers explain they were not available to make a statement about the Government redefining what an archaeologist actually is because they were involved in a very important meeting in Whitehall, which they can’t talk about.


November

The Daily Mirror publishes a story alleging that in 2020 then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden threw a pizza and prosecco party at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in contravention of Covid-19 regulations.

Asked by the Mirror if they attended Mr Dowden’s party The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, issue a statement saying they never comment on contacts they have with Whitehall departments as it is too sensitive and they do not want to put contacts developed over years at risk.

However, asked the same question a Whitehall source tells the Mirror,

“Who?”



December

As the mid winter solstice approaches a leaked letter to Santa is published, signed by the Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology.

The letter asks for a new WHS 4″ 100mm SOFT Grip Archaeology Excavation Forged Digging Trowel, a PS5, and the A303 Stonehenge Upgrade.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers say they cannot confirm whether it is Christmas or not, as it is important that Santa does not get the wrong message.

A poll is released suggesting that more archaeologists believe in Santa than believe in The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the Council for British Archaeology, and the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers.








HAPPY NEW YEAR!












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thePipeLine
thePipeLine is an independent news publication that investigates the place that heritage, politics, and money meet.
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