Thursday, 29 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: MLO Thread on Possible Seedy Practices

It seems there has been a lot of discussion recently about the seeding of lands used for commercial artefact hunting (rallies and detecting holidays) with stray artefacts. There are those who say it is going on (many metal detectorists) and those who say it is not (organizers of commercial events and their supporters). The discussion is a long-standing one, as is illustrated by a thread from a month ago on the "Minelab [Metal Detector] Owners" forum. The only place where you will not find this being discussed is that there is not a PEEP about any of this on the British archaeology forums. So, it seems appropriate to highlight the opinions expressed on the MLO thread:  Are metal detecting rallys seeded??

Reading down it we read time and time again of suspicions that something is not quite right about the finds coming up at some of these events, that is significant as it involves the voices of observers who actually have a lot of hands-on experience about what the average finder can find in even a concentrated bout of detecting, and what the finds coming out of the ground should look like. There certainly seems to be quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that this has been going on. I have heard from several FLOs that they have at times had doubts about some of the finds brought in for recording at rallies (but very discretely refused to say what happened to that information). As one Minelabs-owner jerrykerry {29-09-2012, 11:42 PM] says:
Rallies are now big business for some - no finds - no business - its not difficult to figure out whats done...... Land is so unpredictable - the best on paper can produce nowt......a hand full of grots and bent hammered with the odd beaut thrown in will secure future bookings......simple business. Everyones happy.....not to say all are but in sure many wool be
Tony Hunt  (
Seeding does go on for sure like Jerry and a few others have mentioned above.We have been around and are not stupid, sometimes its so obvious. Personally I don't do rallies anymore because of it. I have been on rallies in the past where roman coins have suddenly started appearing after lunch where there were non in the morning. Like the others I am not mentioning any names but they know who they are. Basically its fraud, big monies are involved and people get greedy.   
I mentioned earlier the famous "Colchester Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting Holidays" webpage and the issues it arouses. There were a number of opinions expressed specifically about this group by British metal detectorists, which are in stark contrast to what certain US-based detectorists are saying about them. MLO member "Cumbrian Fox" (jon_jn seems to find the critics' arguments convicing and suggests: "perhaps we could invite him here to answer this for us...". Muddy Mick (06-10-2012, 11:56 PM) does some maths and considers that it "stands to reason" that the odd finds ratios are not due to chance. Member fertler (Barrie, 07-10-2012, 12:20 PM ) is disgruntled:
Frankly it stinks, but the Americans either don't understand what's going or they don't care. I've lost one big farm as a result of the amount of cash offered to the farmer, I hadn't detected much of it so far but the finds had been pretty sparse.
So British artefact hunters are losing land to these foreigners - and any finds genuinely from the land are now going abroad. Member geoff (07-10-2012, 06:49 PM) has his own perspective from experience in the region:
I live right next to these 'colchester rallies', my club has lost land to them, funny how some bits of well hunted land suddenly are full of fantastic finds, after being scoured for years by a club....
indeed, funny. Two detectorists pointing out that access to land with "sparse" finds is being rented by the Colchester setup. If true, this suggests that actual find content of the fields is not the primary concern of this commercial unit. The thread seems to have been dominated by people who believe this sort of seeding is going on. It concludes with the following comments:
 Its a shame really that any detectorists whether they are from the US or walls end are decieved in this way and is exploitation for financial gain period, and the sooner this sort of thing is nipped in the bud the better.
That was by Whigsvolt (
im with you dave - ruins detecting in my view and corrupts the history of areas - and hearing that the digs are just for paying americans in the UK is criminal..... its not fair to take their dollars in such a deceitful way either.  im disgusted.

I'd also like to draw attention to the condition of the bulk of the coins coming out of the "Colchester" digs compared to other detected assemblages, almost as if they were the result of some form of negative selection. Why would that be? 

It should be noted that although the suggestion was made on 6th October to invite Chicago Ron to the MLO forum to give his answer to the points raised, no answer was forthcoming.

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