Wednesday, 16 February 2011

55% of British Archaeologists Think Metal Detecting Should be Banned?

A wee while ago I discussed what seems to me to be a slanted poll on a forum run by pro-collecting Scottish archaeologist David Connolly. The results however turned out to be rather interesting. Although Connolly's percentages don't add up, calculating them properly suggests that of those polled, 55% of respondents thought metal detecting should be banned. If this is a real index of the trend of opinion, that actually comes as a surprise to me, and I do hope the Portable Antiquities Scheme ("Britain's largest archaeological outreach") saw it too. Their policy of ignoring questions and issues raised from an archaeological viewpoint may be losing them support among archaeologists - which is as it should be. By isolating themselves from ongoing and developing discussion, they cannot hope to remain mainstream and perhaps are doing more to marginalise themselves than they realise.

(Oh and by the way, I do not think "metal detecting" should be banned)


Anonymous said...

For the record, nor do I. I believe it should be compulsorily regulated.

I'm pretty certain that the "Compulsory regulation" option was missed off this poll because Mr Connolly was well aware that's what most of his archaeologist readers would have chosen. In the event, 55% voted to ban it because that was their next best choice.

Here's a suggestion: let him re-run the poll, ensuring only archaeologists (and ones not employed by PAS!) can participate, and asking the simple question:
Should British metal detecting be compulsorily regulated. I reckon there'd be a 99% Yes vote.

Paul Barford said...

Instead of a poll designed as a bit of frenchy-bashing (intended to bolster feelings of national superiority), its originator could have tried to determine opinions of solutions more in keeping with the UK situation. I do not think it would be 99% as obviously some British archaeologists believe firmly in the PAS as the "only way forward", but it would be very high. A more realistic poll too would be archaeologists from England and Wales against archaeologists from Scotland where conditions and problems are different (leaving aside Northern Ireland where effectively it already is).

Anonymous said...

"some British archaeologists believe firmly in the PAS as the only way forward"

Sure. But compulsory regulation and PAS aren't in the least mutually exclusive.

Support PAS by all means. But supporting PAS as a voluntary scheme has been shown to be plain silly as doing so has meant that most finds have gone unreported for fourteen successive years. Which archaeologist would prefer that to compulsory regulation? Mr Connolly, yes. But can you name any others? I can't.

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