The creators of the ARCHI database are apparently eager that CDs of their aid to locating archaeological sites are finding their way to Christmas stockings all over the UK. Now they are advertising that they've added another 9000 records of known archaeological sites to their databes. "There are now more than 135,000 records of UK Archaeological Sites available for your research".
Apparently these break down as follows:
More than 10,000 'Stone' Age Sites
More than 20,500 Bronze Age Sites
More than 11,000 Iron Age Sites
More than 25,000 Roman Sites
More than 4,500 Saxon Sites
More than 32,000 Medieval Sites
So if there are (as I have argued elsewhere) 10 000 active metal detectorists in the UK, they could get through the 14 or so sites each in a year or two. In other words, potentially every one of those known sites could have been severely eroded by collecting activity within a few years. So if in some thirteen years of operation the PAS has gathered just 420 000 records (today's figures) and just one database is directing metal detectorists to 135 000 potentially productive sites, to what degree over the past decade or so has the PAS been recording data which come from sites already known in the literature, in other words to an extent merely duplicating information about sites already known?
To what extent has PAS 'outreach' been successful in keeping artefact hunters from targeting known sites? For example where is the PAS statement regarding the way a responsible metal detectorist should be approaching their use?
Those words of course echo down the silent hallways of Bloomsbury, where they are pretending to themselves that nobody reads this blog.
Vignette: The PAS sit in their haven in the Silent Hallways of Bloomsbury and only emerge to liase with their partners the metal detectorists, and really could not care two hoots to answer the questions raised about the very real archaeological and heritage management issues raised by what they do and how they go about it. After all, why should they?