Where are the retired bank managers, solicitors, local archaeology society members, teetotallers, people with good teeth, people not in combat gear, the Guardian readers and the non-BNP* voters? What other random sample of ten thousand British people would contain almost no half-intelligent, educated, decent citizens?I think he was having a bad day, but anyone who has looked over a metal detecting forum can see that there is some basis for this generalisation. This is not restricted to Britain of course. In the States, the connection between drug (meth) abuse and artefact hunting (pot and arrowhead collecting) is frequently stressed by law enforcement agencies. In many countries there are links between the antiquities trade and other criminal activities, who knows what the money supplied by eager no-questions asked collectors is going to finance? They certainly don't - and don't ask themselves.
US dealers try to cast a veil of respectibility over portable antiquity collecting by suggesting it is a cultural activity practiced exclusively by and engendering home-grown polymaths. They simply ignore that large numbers of people who collect portable antiquities are not the kind of person that I would think they would like to invite to their coctail parties. But then, most of the dealers I have come across don't strike me as the sort of people I'd invite to mine.
* BNP British Nationalist Party.
Photo: some "lads" photographed by a roving photographer out and about in the countryside, but certainly not one of Riohard Lincoln's "detecting" snapshots.