When the Water Newton (Chesterton) was being held under the supervision (sic) of a team of archaeologists the project leader one David Connolly reckoned he'd got the tekkies handing in most of the finds, and on that basis claimed that metal detecting does less damage to the archaeological record than its critics assert. The rally has since gone on without him, and the fourth season has just finished and a detectorist (one Raymo from Middlesborough 232 km from Water Newton) has gone on one of their forums today jubilating about the 'haul' :
hi all,,,got back on sunday night after 10 day's detecting,,,(sort of ,,to much drink)started of at the chesterton rally on the thursday,it was a very good rally for find's, every one i spoke to had 5 to 10 roman bronze,...i had a couple of hammy's, a silver celtic unit,a roman brooch and some bronze roman,...then stoped at a camp site where the owner allowed us to detect for 3 day's,,,i got 3 hammy's,another roman brooch and a potin.,HO,,ALSO FOUND FOOOOUUUR GOOOOLD RING'S,,,(((but that's another storey which i'll post later))..Connolly (2006 p. 9) had 240 finds from 116 finders (roughly two finds each) which he considered was "the majority of those who had found something recordable" (but there were many people there participating, and it is impossible to know how many found things when the archaeologists' backs were turned). So there is more or less Roman finds in the topsoil after three rallies and an unknown amount of 'nighthawking'? I have always suspected Connolly's assessment of his success rate was overoptimistic, if what "Raymo" says is true, it looks like there are grounds for stating this with more certainty.