Monday, 26 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Awkward Thing, Knowledge

Just over fifteen years ago British archaeologists decided they were going to STOP asking "Stop Taking Our Past" and switch to a message of "Fill Your Boots, But Show Us Some" (Fi-YoB-SuS) otherwise known by the less cumbersome acronym PAS. Since then collector have been filling their boots.

The archaeologists' original idea of Fi-YoB-SuS however was that by inviting collaboration (offering friendly "partnership") and gentle persuasion, artefact hunters could be educated to adopt "best practice". That pretence was long ago dropped, and "outreach" though costing more than ever before, has taken a far less ambitious form. Edukashun is not exactly what artefact-grabbing artefact hunters want ofr are good at.

One individual however has announced that he's going to give it a go. He's going to get some edukashun by doing a "Landscape Archaeology course at my Uni down the road". Now that is wonderful, the pro-tekkie mantras are full of the (false) notion that "doing landscape archaeology" is what metal detectorists hoiking away at the archaeological record in the fields within driving distance of their homes are doing. It is, the spenders of millions of pounds on "outreach and liaison" assure us, a short step from them "studying" the archaeological record in situ and helping preserve it - innit?

If the Portable Antiquities (Fi-YoB-SuS) Scheme  had a forum, I wonder whether the comments of detectorists on hearing that news would be being discussed now? Like for example punctuationally-challenged member "Greggowrex":
“Im wondering if you acquire more knowledge about archaeology... would that stop you digging holes randomly .. If say, you identified roman pottery... would you stop digging and keep the site safe and inform the powers to be ... gaining more knowledge could put a person in an awkward position”
We are all wondering that too. Greggo may "wreck", would an educated detectorist not? Gaining more knowledge could put a UK artefact hunter in the awkward position of seeing the damage artefact hunting does in its present form. Could make Fi-YoBbers uncomfortable. Dangerous stuff for the 'obby, edukashun.

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