Saturday, 10 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Road Sweepings Preserve Site

Over on a metal detecting near you they are busy deleting the foul language in a thread about "Green waste". One member stuardo76 , is writing (Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:48 pm) about his "Permission ruined by "green waste"...". This might be confusing for those who are unaware that a landowner has given "Stuardo76" permission to go on HIS (ie the landowner's) property to seek for other pieces of his (ie the landowner's) property - the archaeological artefacts that are there. This of course gives "Stuardo76" no other rights to that land - like dictating what the landowner can do to it. The fields do not belong to "Stuardo76". But look at this:

Went on my favourite permission today & it was almost impossible to detect on. There were mounds of leafs (sic) been spread all over the field which I assume have come from a roadsweeper and spread all over the field with it were scores of plastic bottles,crisp and sweet wrappers, drinks cans, random pieces of fabrics and clothing,chunks of Tarmac and tin foils. This is a field next to a scheduled roman site which had turned up some great finds but when all that rubbish is ploughed in next season I think it will be an absolute nightmare and the field is now a write off.
Sad, eh? No more collecting of those "great finds" in a field targeting the margins of a known and protected site. Perhaps there are some readers whose hearts bleed for poor deprived artefact collectors who cannot get their hands on the goodies as easily as previously. Let us note that is all this is about - the time it takes to get the same number of 'great finds' out of the archaeological record and into Stuardo76's finds pouch. Certainly his fellow artefact hoikers sympathise, they want to ban the use of green waste like compost from "their" fields. I think the rest of us consider that possibly at least one more soil assemblage of archaeological finds has been, for the moment at least, protected from exploitation merely as a source of collectables.
 If Stuartdo76 wants to show just what damage this is doing to "our knowledge of the past", let him now (for the detector-deflector-scattered site is now in no danger of being "poached" by other metal detectorists) publish the results of his previous survey and extraction, with drawings and descriptions of the finds, the precise location of their findspots and details of associated material and observations. Just what new information has emerged from sacrificing the preservation in situ of the margins of this known site to the tender mercies of Britain's artefact-hoiking collectors? Perhaps we could have a series of such publications (maybe a series of PAS monographs?) to demonstrate - if that truly is the case - what "damage" tinfoil in the topsoil is doing to our understanding of the British past.

UPDATE 12the Nov 2012 "The requested topic no longer exists".
Nope. Nobody's going to do anything like actually back up what they are saying. The forum thread to which I refer has instead now been deleted. I take that as confirmation that the hoikers think the point I made is a valid one, the tinfoil that is accidentally getting into fields with archaeological sites in them is protecting the archaeological evidence in them from being collected away. Now we all know that the hoikers argue that the aluminium in the soil is in some magical way damaging  - but then perhaps they'd like to propose another solution to the problem that does not involve luminium foil scraps. Like change the law about artefact hunting, maybe?

Vignette: Road sweepers do not always segregate what they collect properly.

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