Saturday, 1 January 2011

A YouTube Video About Artefact Hunting

Candice Jarman, among other things, reckons that...
Mr Barford's response shows just how little this self-proclaimed 'expert' (but in reality total ignoramus) knows about metal detecting.
Although I have spent a fair amount of time for several decades trying to understand the various aspects of this hobby and those who do it, there is of course a great deal I would still like to learn straight from their own words.

Artefact hunting with metal detectors is an erosive form of exploitation of the archaeological record which is the common heritage of everybody, not just individuals who want to take bits of it away for private entertainment and profit. It therefore follows that everybody should be fully informed about this type of artefact hunting, who does it, how and why, and more to the point what its actual effects (both positive and negative) on the archaeological record are. To what degree are we informed about that? The metal detecting forums are for the most part closed access, members-only, so one has to register first with them before being able to see what goes on behind their closed doors. What have they got to hide? (Please register with one and see). There are books and promotional videos as well. I'd like to look at one of the latter here, Steve Timewell's Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (2008) which is currently available on YouTube. This purports to cover all the issues. Quite significant however are the parts of the issues surrounding the exploitation of archaeological sites as a source of collectables for private entertainment and profit which they do not cover, can you spot them?

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 1), Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 2),
Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 3) what you can expect to find... [Paul Murawski] 6:39 - "Collection of interesting and valuable finds".

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 4) at 0:25 "95% of metal detecting is based on this kind of item" (sic) - but they are still artefacts aren't they? What is not collectable still may be used as archaeological evidence if we know where it came from and in what relationships with other material, but in most cases this "95%" never gets seen by the PAS FLO. Most of it gets chucked away well before that stage. Then a boring bit on beach detecting - "some people make a living out of it".

I think it is worth noting what Norfolk Wolf says in this segment (at 4:20):
"When I get on the field I'm looking for ... well I'll be hearing nails, I'm looking for pottery, I'm looking for oystershells, this is a sure sign of habitation. Once you've found this pottery and the naily areas, then you can go to town,
Let us consider whether Norfolk Wolf (John Lynne) has a huge collection of ancient nails to rival that which the excavation of that site would produce? Does he have boxes and boxes of pottery and oystershells systematically collected and catalogued from these sites, or did he make a collection by selection ('cherry picking') the archaeological finds, keeping just the most collectable non-ferrous artefacts? This illustrates the point that there is a very clear difference between what can be recorded about a site from what a collector takes from it when looking for geegaws to add to a collection, and what an archaeologist gathers as part of the investigative process. This is a fundamental reason why the data recorded as a result of artefact hunting can in no way be treated as archaeological data and severely restricts their use for archaeological (and many other) purposes.

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 5) Accessories... then (6:43) "legal responsibilities". (8:35, "there's also a code of conduct to protect the reputation of the hobby" - sic!) - NB this is the NCMD and FID codes ! The key point discussed (9:27) is "filling in the holes" (!)

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 6)
0:20 hobby "really rewarding financially"... but then mostly glib PAS fluff. Yuk. This continues on:

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 7) Note that what Trevor Austin says about sites found by artefact hunting and collecting through detector use will NOT be protected from further exploitation appears under the heading (0:29 of the previous part) "it is vital that our heritage is protected..."

Then the obligatory disclaimer, (1:06): "you do get the odd nighthawker [...] these are not detectorists; these are just crooks, they're out for the money and they give the detecting fraternity a bad name. I've got no time for them whatsoever". Then there is "joining a club" and (6:50) Commercial artefact hunting rallies ("on prime sites" - 7:06). [Norman Smith commercial rally organizer who makes no money for himself from this you understand ... 9:01].

Complete Guide to Metal Detecting (part 8) [2:30 - 4:52 Dave Evans about recording on commercial artefact hunting rallies].
Storing and cleaning finds: (6:05) "it won't be long before you are finding all manner of things and some of them could be of considerable value".
(6:12) "You can have your own museum display in your own home". Note that what is shown is Lincoln Museum's cases, not a well-displayed and curated private collection, could they not find one to film? Also I note that they did not add "you could donate the most important of your finds to the museum".

Worth having a look at and a think about, ignore the tiresome muzak and repetitive use of the same settings and shots.


40something said...

Powerful writing, and clearly explained about why extracting stuff for private collections and dumping "the rest" is a tragedy because it destroys our knowledge of our past.

The sadder because it's happening and tolerated in the UK, a country which did so much to pioneer the techniques of scientific excavation. I have on my desk Leonard Woolley, Digging up the Past-- 1943 edition destined for the troops (could be left at any PO when finished)

Paul Barford said...

Thanks, welcome back after a long absence!

yes, I find the lack of proper discussion about this incomprehensible.

heritageaction said...

Mr "Jarman" said

"Mr Barford's response shows just how little this self-proclaimed 'expert' (but in reality total ignoramus) knows about metal detecting."

I seriously don't think your ignorance about metal detecting is the problem. After all, it could be absolute, how would that change the effect it has on the finite resource?

I fear that the real problem with "breaking down the barrier to understanding" as many on both sides go on about is that many on one side have no social conscience. You holding a broom and going beep beep for a few hours won't change that!

Mo said...

Quoting from Jarman's blog.

"which relates to the fact that most finds made by metal detectorists are found on ground disturbed by ploughing, so have no archaeological context anyway"

How can the Staffordshire Hoard (which was found as a result of ploughing deeper than usual) be out of context when the capital of Mercia and the religious centre of Mercia are but a few miles away?

The site is surrounded by villages which all have the ending "Hay" which would have been Anglo Saxon settlements.

Am I missing something?

And whats as all this babble about PHD'S got to do with anything?

Paul Barford said...

No Mo, you are not missing anything, it is Candice who is missing a few scruples.

heritageaction said...

Hmmm, its not delightful to see metal detecting around Broadway Tower. Minute 6.20. I’ve seen that “hump” and have often wondered what it was. Actually, the photo has a foreshortening effect and they’re not detecting right by the Tower but well back from it, along the path towards the road. Which means they are detecting close to a wartime air crash where people died – the exact spot is marked by a stone with a plaque on it, you can see it on the left here

You absolutely can’t miss it, it’s on the path from the road to the tower.

I presume they’re not breaking the law (which they would be if they were right at the spot but they’re certainly breaking the laws of common human decency – imagine how a relative of one of the dead would feel, coming all the way from Canada and seeing that.

The more I see of metal detectorists the more clueless some of them seem to be. There was the recent case of nighthawking in a cemetery in Ludlow you highlighted and there was chatter on one of the forums a while back about one of them detecting in a graveyard accompanied by the vicar. I think we need more than legal regulation, we need Taste and Decency training for such numbskulls.

Mo said...

" I think we need more than legal regulation, we need Taste and Decency training for such numbskulls."

Especially as many people are now choosing natural burials in woodlands etc. using a biodegradable coffin. Are we going to be robbed of our fillings and crowns!

heritageaction said...

The Ludlow scandal WAS in a "green" graveyard - and one that had only been open a few years.

But those weren't detectorists they were "criminals with detectors".

Handy isn't it, to be in a hobby that's incapable of doing wrong because if a member does they instantly change - and the UK Establishment backs up the process. It's not a privilege they extend to archaeologists who, if they murder their grannies, become granny-murdering archaeologists....

Norman and Linda Kennedy said...

As usual Paul Barford tells lies, says he lives in Poland and makes comments of no truth about Metal Detecting
in the UK.
Question should be asked" why do you live in Poland?
Why do you tell constant lies about metal detecting in the UK.
Why do you down talk about the good people of the UK who go metal detecting.
Why do you cause so much trouble.
I am going to ask the polish goverment if you are are wanted in the UK for liable.

Paul Barford said...

That is "lable" isn't it?

I see Mr "personal development" still claims to be a success in Australia,

I suggest people just watch the videos and make their own mind up about whether they present the full picture about this exploitive hobby. Why are so many people so concerned about one bloke (yes, in Poland) indicating that only part of the story is being told by a group of people that are so afraid of open debate they resort to threats and harrassment?

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