Dr. Martin Rundkvist ("Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, public speaker, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, and father of two") writes today on his blog ('European Commission Rules Against Swedish Metal-Detector Legislation', 13th October) [ see also here from last week, you read it here first folks]:
Good news for Swedish metal detectorists! And for us Iron Age scholars who want the finds, the sites and the free expert labour these amateurs are eager to provide us. And also for any small-finds nerd who would like to have a labour market (who? me?), communicating with the detectorists and classifying their finds. The European Commission has ruled that the Swedish restrictions on metal-detector use contravenes EU rules for the free mobility of goods. If Sweden doesn't take measures towards legislative reform within two months, the issue will be referred to the EU Court of Justice. As I've argued in Fornvännen and Antiquity, I think metal-detector permits should be handled similarly to licences for hunting rifles. Apply for a licence, take a test to show that you know how to use the machine responsibly, then keep the licence as long as you don't turn out to be a hazard to the interests of others. I'd be happy to volunteer one day for the group that drafts our new rules.Protecting the archaeological heritage from being dug over contravenes EU rules for what? (" the free mobility of goods"). Goods like potatoes, pig iron, German cars and Swedish porn. Dr Runquist is however jubilant, it means he can get amateurs to provide him with the freshly dugup finds, the sites holed like Swiss (not in the EU) cheese, and the "free labour" to dig these holes. Oh, and of course it makes a job for "small-finds nerds" like himself "communicating with the detectorists and classifying their finds". And he reckons he'll land himself a position in the influential group that will draft the new antiquity preservation laws. Here we see the mechanisms of spread of the British disease, by appointing themselves as champions of the "rights" of a repressed minority against an "Other", archaeologists like Rundkvist and a few others back in the UK who I will not name but they Know Who They Are hope to establish a position at the head of a band of loyal supporters, to help them maintain a position of influence.
Look at the picture, Rundkvist is digging in grassland on the edge of a forest, not even looking what he is doing. Buried just to the left of that hole is an important animal bone assemblage, not detected by the tool he has used to "detect" an interesting place to dig a little hole to hoik out the metal object which is an important piece of dating of that assemblage. To the right are important traces of economic activities that took place on that site which he is ignoring too because his machine did not bleep. What kind of investigation is it that looks only at evidence made of one material (that most easily found with the tools used)? What further use is a site where that evidence has already been removed from it totally at random? He has no GPS with him, no tape and no notebook, let alone bags, labels and markers to pack individually pinpointed finds. Wearing his headset over that silly hat he's not going to hear half the signals, so going to miss some of the metal objects the site contains anyway - what kind of a sampling procedure is that? What "rules" does he think he's going to create that will turn artefact hunting into amateur archaeology?
Well, at least he's not wearing wussy thick gloves and kneelers.
No, no, no. What on earth is the EU up to? Promoting tools for the trashing of the archaeological heritage so that "goods" can freely travel is surely NOT what the EU was set up to promote. I hope the rest of Sweden's archaeologists hold out and do not cave in to this blatant interference.
So, I guess it is Ireland's turn next?
What nobody has said yet is who brought this matter before the European Commission.
Free movement of goods - Commission requests Sweden to comply with EU rules as regards metal detectors IP/10/1223 Date: 30/09/2010 "The Swedish Heritage Conservation Act states that metal detectors may neither be used nor carried on the sites of ancient monuments and remains [...] The Commission considers that Sweden's current legislation, that places strict limits on the use and transport of metal detectors, is disproportionate to the public policy objective of protecting archaeological and historical sites,"...
Since the French have made the accusation, I think it would be very helpful if the UK made public their submissions to the body investigating the matter. After all it is in Britain alone that the use of metal detectors on the sites of ancient monuments and remains is seen as a "jolly good thing" and not at all damaging to those sites of ancient monuments and remains, so what part did British delegates and the opinions of British bodies such as the PAS play in arriving at this meddling decision? Perhaps the PAS would like to make a comment on the archaeological aspects of this decision? Somehow, I doubt it.