Sunday, 8 December 2019

UK Artefact Hunting: Pretend Seasonal Generosity Shields Total Lack of Transparency

ebay: how many UK antiquities
sellers actually have title?
Heritage Action have a resident pig-farmer that is not afraid to say what no British archaeologist would even ever suggest ('Metal detecting: Farmer Brown is feeling Christmassy' 8th Dec 2019)
Dear Fellow Landowners,
It’s that time of year when thousands of us will be offered a bottle of whisky to thank us for allowing people to detect for the past year. But before you swoon in a flood of rural gratitude may I suggest you respond by saying:
“How kind! However, it would warm the cockles of my heart far more if, instead, you reveal to me, right now, your eBay trading name.”
(It’s very clear some people are paying a very high price for their whisky!)
Seasons Greetings, Silas Brown [...]
.This refers to the spate of posts we see each year (those of us that watch them, most pro-detecting archies in Britain never do) on metal detecting forumes where artefact hunters boast to each other how 'generous' they are to the landowners that let them loot the archaeological record for collectables. They often buy 'him a bottle of wine and flowers for his wife' , or 'make up a showcase of [cheap duplicate] finds from their land' (this suggests that in giving them back, they took them away without showing the landowner in the first place). Anyway, two metal detectorists this year don't have to bother about what kind of wine they'd buy John Francis Cawley, 4th Baron Cawley and tenant farmer Yvonne Conod as this year they'll be spending Christmas in jail precisely because they walked off with items they did not show the landowner to get title 

Saturday, 7 December 2019

History, Silence and Discourse

Olga Tokarczuk
Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk received the Nobel prize for literature last night. Her acceptance speech was not broadcast live by the state media in her home country. Here's a fragment:
'Something that happens and is not told ceases to exist and dies. Not only historians, but also (and perhaps above all) all sorts of politicians and tyrants know this. Whoever has and tells the story rules' [Olga Tokarczuk, December 7, 2019]*
Certainly not the first time that this has been said, but the silence of part of the media is so eloquent.

*"Coś, co się wydarza, a nie zostaje opowiedziane, przestaje istnieć i umiera. Wiedzą o tym bardzo dobrze nie tylko historycy, ale także (a może przede wszystkim) wszelkiej maści politycy i tyrani. Ten, kto ma i snuje opowieść – rządzi."

Chainsaw-Wielding Detectorist, 'Forbidden to Contact the Man with the Glasses'

Nice bloke, tattoos, metal detector,
loud mouth, aggressive manner,
chainsaw, dangerous driver ((Image: Stuart Abel/ Devon Live)
Armed police were called to a violent incident in Buckfastleigh, Devon, earlier on this year, which ended in court this week. The person involved Graham Chetwynd has featured in this blog before due to the manner in which he chose to participate in discussions on artefact hunting. Like this example:
graham 25/08/2013 at 11:48: Mr barford we will meet soon and then we can have A PROPER CHAT .just me and you see you soon Graham xx
Nigel S 25/08/2013 at 12:07:
Mr Chetwynd, I take it that’s a physical threat, like the late-night telephoned one you delivered to me. Paul isn’t a member of Heritage Action but I’ll pass it on to him.
graham 25/08/2013 at 13:32:
Take it exactly how you want to but its a promise to be honest. 
Nice people, these metal detectorists. He was arrested after the incident (Stuart Abel, 'Man accused of wielding chainsaw in Devon town to face a jury' Devon Live 9th September 2019)
A man accused of wielding a chainsaw outside his home in a Devon town is to face a judge and jury. Graham Chetwynd, aged 50, allegedly threatened people in Buckfastleigh with weapons including the saw and a baseball bat, a court heard. He faced a judge to deny three offences during the incident which saw him arrested by armed police on January 14. Chetwynd, from Glebelands in the town, appeared at Plymouth Crown Court to plead not guilty to affray, or threatening unlawful violence. He also denied driving his Mitsubishi dangerously in his home street. Chetwynd finally pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to a man’s glasses. Judge Timothy Rose set down a trial to last three to four days, starting on December 3. Chetwynd was released on bail on condition he does not contact the man with the glasses.
Rough area, Glebelands, Buckfastleigh (Crown Court Reporter, 'Tantrum teen stabbed neighbour' Mid Devon Advertiser Friday, 12 February 2016):
Cannabis user Connor Beasley got into an argument with his neighbour when he complained about his behaviour and armed himself with a knife. Victim Graham Chetwynd suffered a slash wound to his shoulder during the encounter at his home in Buckfastleigh, Exeter Crown Court was told.[...] Beasley, now aged 19, of Fore Street, Exeter, admitted wounding and possession of an offensive weapon and was jailed for six months, suspended for two years [...] Judge Erik Salomonsen told him: "I have to bear in mind your age at the time of this incident. You lost control of yourself at your home and smashed your guitar and threatened to smash your amplifier. "You went next door where there was an altercation and you went back home to fetch a knife from the kitchen which you used to wound Mr Chetwynd.
That's the Graham Chetwynd that is a member of the Totnes Metal Detecting Club:
...skinny bloke with tatoos...[...] got an e-trac [emoticon] Lovely bloke [emoticon], an e-trac and a chainsaw.
Anyway, the upshot was that his driving's seen as more of a threat than his chainsaw threats:
Stuart Abel, 'Man admits wielding chainsaw outside his Devon home' Devon Live 4th December 2019):
A man has admitted wielding a chainsaw outside his home. Graham Chetwynd, aged 50, brandished the machine as part of a violent confrontation before he was arrested by armed police. Chetwynd was due to face a jury at Plymouth Crown Court after denying affray, dangerous driving and causing criminal damage to a man’s glasses in Buckfastleigh. The defendant, of Glebelands, has now admitted affray and criminal damage. Chetwynd pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of careless driving in his home street – which was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service. His barrister Brian Fitzherbert said he faced a ban from the road under the points system but would argue against disqualification because he would suffer “exceptional hardship”.
He would not be able to go out artefact hunting with his e-trac. And he would not be able to drive across to Poland to have that "PROPER CHAT"...

 TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

Friday, 6 December 2019

Friday Retrospect: Unfulfilled Threat

This video, though promised, never surfaced. I guess that means this was just more of the same usual old artefact collectors' bullshit.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

FLO Filmed Trying to Buy Antiquities?

Metal detectorist Graham Chetwynd  made the following announcement on the Heritage Action Facebook page a while back:
 you do have good and bad in everything i have a FLO on dvd film of my mate's pocket camera offering us under counter deals for his own collection for item's we have found 1 being a palistave axe head and 1 socketed.
Mr Chetwynd claims that "the footage" (surely it would be a digital file, or do metal detectorists have Stone Age video equipment?) "will be seen when it is arranged to have the biggest impact". I would say the eve of "Britain's Secret Treasures" coming out was just such a time if Mr Chetwynd wanted to do the PAS maximum damage.

If the FLO was offering to buy items he knew were stolen (nighthawked, from an unreported hoard) then yes that would be illegal (although how do we know that he did not also have a hidden camera running and this was part of a PAS sting?). If however the two objects were the product of legal metal detecting, then there is in fact nothing illegal about an FLO offering to buy them for a collection. Collecting artefacts is not illegal in England and Wales. That is the whole point of the PAS. I would not be surprised if a number of FLOs had private collections of archaeological artefacts (perhaps the PAS could supply some figures on that). If they have been legally obtained and properly dealt with, there is not even anything in the IFA Code of Practice which says they cannot. So what is the problem, what will this alleged "film" achieve? It might open up the debate about collecting though. Bring it on.

Vignette: caught on camera
What simpletons and liars some artefact hunters are.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Pakistan Detectors Technology Islamabad

This jerk tried to sneak a metal detector advert onto THIS blog through a comment:
A metal detector finds the treasures and gold that society has forgotten about or counted as lost. It can also find weapons that may have been buried deep in the ground.
There's a link that goes to this visually-riveting material note the Urdu for metal detector is "mataldetector", "shaft" and "coilsize" are other calques. Said with a snarl, apparently.

This seems a good subject for an archaeological drinking game, every time you hear the work "goldetector" and/or  "mataldetector", you take another swig of your favourite drink.  As-salāmu `alaykum to you too mate. Tell us again, how deep your machines go...


  Wa ʾantum fa-jazākumu-llāhu khayran, but keep this stuff off my blog please.

Hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins Found on Archaeological Site and Among Human Remains Sells for £90k [UPDATED]

PAS 'in action'
Yet another deposit of Aethelred II coins was found two years ago during collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record and has surfaced (apparently only now) in the news and we are selectively informed about it:
A hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins discovered in a field by an amateur detectorist has fetched £90,000 at auction - three times its original estimate The collection, made up of 99 "silver pennies" thought to be 1,000 years old, was found buried on farmland in Suffolk in March 2017. Among them is a rare "small cross mule" coin, which was sold to a European collector for £13,640 alone. Detectorist Don Crawley said he was "totally amazed" at the outcome. The hoard was found under the remains of a Saxon church believed to have been demolished soon after the Norman conquest in the 11th Century [...].(BBC, 'Suffolk hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins sells for £90k' 04 December 2019)
Then we get the trite de rigeur narrativisation "the coins may have been buried by a pilgrim who was making penitence and feared "the impending apocalypse of the Millennium," the auction house suggested" - which is of course completely at odds with the fundamental tenets of Christianity at the time, so rather than being an 'explanation', such an act would been to be explained. Anyway this Mr Crawley, who reportedly dug through the church remains to get to the coins is a builder from Bucklesham, near Ipswich, who [de rigeur, added human interest element of the trope] "said he made the find on his first visit to the field". Now, we know that a number of older parishes were amalgamated with each other on the Norman Conquest, was Mr Crawley deliberately targeting the central place of one such parish, and is the site of the church (and manor) of this one scheduled? Is that why its name is not revealed? And if it is not scheduled, why isn't it? The article goes on to say 'Excavations carried out in the area later revealed human bones on the site' [while other versions have Mr Crawley finding them while he was digging up coins - if that is so, why according to these texts were the coins reported and not the human remains?]. So why is this ancient site with human remains not protected from hobbyist grave robbing? More human interest blabber quotes the searcher:
"After walking up an incline in the field, my detector gave off a strong signal and within a short space of time I had recovered 93 coins," he said. "The finds officer was called in [afterwards] and they [sic] investigated the site which turned out to be a long-forgotten Saxon church."
But [as de rigeur element number three of the UK media's coverage of this type of heritage destruction ] the state media company goes on about the monetary value of the haul
The entire hoard was originally expected to fetch between £30,000 and £50,000 when it went under the hammer in 84 lots at Dix Noonan Webb auctioneers in London earlier. Antiquities specialist, Nigel Mills, said the sale showed "how the prices realised at auction for a newly-found hoard can exceed everyone's expectations."
There was a mule that sold for 13.6k and a rare coin from the Melton Mowbray mint that fetched £8,400. So why was the treasure disclaimed if the contents contain such rare and informative (?) items? Why are the objects not in public collection where we can all have access to them? Why, if an EXCAVATION was carried out to study the context of deposition of these items, do the coins themselves - from the archaeological context reportedly identified as a result - not form part of the excavation archive - of which they so obviously should be an integral part? Where is the report of this excavation made (by whom?) two years before part of the excavation archive was split up and sold off? Where and when will it appear? What precedent does it set that professional archaeologists carry out a piece of field research and then two years later some of the objects from it turn up on the market in private hands, and sold to scattered collectors? Is that in any way a betrayal by professional archaeologists of the public trust placed in them? I would say so - what does the CIfA say about archaeologists that agree to carry out projects where the end result is a selling off of the finds?

More to the point, what kind of place has the UK reached when the BBC is not asking these questions on behalf of the public interests?

Or, indeed, where a public-funded body set up two decades ago to safeguard those public interests in portable antiquities is not loudly raising these questions in the public forum every time this happens? The PAS is not paid to remain silent, but to agitate for best practice, which they cannot do by sitting on their collective butts on their public-funded office chairs keeping out of sight with their fluffy heads hidden behind the parapet.

UPDATE 6.12.19 More on this story
Sam Blanchard, 'Metal detectorist unearths a stash of 99 immaculately preserved Anglo-Saxon coins worth up to £50,000 dating back to the reign of Ethelred the Unready 1,000 years ago', Mail, 23 September 2019

Jack Elsom, 'Treasure-hunter, 50, who unearthed 99 silver Anglo-Saxon coins in farmer's field in Suffolk is 'amazed' when 1,000-year-old hoard sells for £90,000', Mail, 5 December 2019

 Anon, 'Hoard of silver coins to be sold at auction' express and star Nov 28, 2019 ('Builder and metal detectorist Don Crawley holds a collection of Anglo Saxon silver pennies which form part of a hoard of 99 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies which he unearthed in Suffolk Mr Crawley, who had not visited the site before, also found the remains of human bones')

Ellena Cruse, 'Metal detectorist makes pretty penny after ancient coins he found in Suffolk field sell for £90,000 at auction' 5th December 2019
('The explorer also found the remains of human bones at the farmer’s field').
A display case holds a collection of Anglo Saxon
silver pennies found in Suffolk (PA Wire/PA Images) 
This is how the British Museum handled the coins when recording them? Torn scraps of paper as labels? Wow. 

 Press Association, 'Hoard of silver coins fetches £90,000 at auction' This is Money, 4 December 2019

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Antiquities Dealer Charged With Trafficking In Looted Cambodian Artefacts

Antiquities Dealer Charged With Trafficking In Looted Cambodian Artifacts (U DoJ press release November 27, 2019)
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging antiquities dealer Douglas Latchford, a/k/a “Pakpong Kriangsak”— with wire fraud, smuggling, conspiracy and related charges pertaining to his trafficking in stolen and looted Cambodian antiquities. Latchford remains at large, residing in Thailand. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Latchford built a career out of the smuggling and illicit sale of priceless Cambodian antiquities, often straight from archeological sites, in the international art market. This prosecution sends a clear message to the art market and to those who profit from the illegal trafficking of cultural treasures: the United States and the Southern District of New York will use every legal tool to stop the plundering of cultural heritage.”
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