Monday, 5 November 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Environmental Stewardship in Topsy-Turveyland

Although Detecting Wales member "CelticSpikey" (November 03, 2012, 08:54:29 AM) clearly needs help with his punctuation, the question was clear:
Heres one for you all, can you still detect on ELS/HLS schemes when farmers sign up to them, I lost one farm 7years ago because the farmer thought he can not allow detecting? and he has signed up for 10 years [.]  Another farm seems not to worry?. Look forward to your advice
The acronyms refer to Entry Level Stwewardship  and Higher level Stewardship - subsystems of the British Environmental Stewardship agri-environment scheme. This provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England to deliver effective environmental management. So, what do readers think, is allowing individuals to willy-nilly hoik out unknown quantities of the more collectable and saleable artefacts out of the archaeological sites and assemblages of the British countryside any form of effective historical environmental management? I would have though the answer was obvious. I am sure you'd think that if the government body distributing such funds were to ask heritage management bodies in Britain, and the relevant archaeological bodies (CBA, IfA, ALGAO etc), the answer would be a resounding negative. You'd be wrong. The brits don't think like that; they put milk in their tea, drive on the wrong side of the road and think artefact hoiking is 'conservation'. 

So as cardiffian explains (November 04, 2012, 01:19:05 PM):
I believe when the Stewardship scheme was first started, it was stated that Metal detecting was prohibited. Pursuits such as horse riding, fishing and many more were allowed. Again I believe that the NCMD forced through a reversal. 
"Again"? So, how did the National Committee for Metal Detecting manage to "force" a change of opinion that there was to be no stewardship of the historical environment on  this conservation-subsidy land? (This seems a really interesting topic for Suzie Thomas, intrepid investigator of the archives studying "relations between archaeologists and metal detectorists".)  How did it come about that in Britain artefact hunting is - thanks to the metal-detectorists lobby group - currently seen as no more damaging to the historic environment than horse-riding?

Despite this notable "reversed thinking", Member "JBM" thinks the access artefact hunters currently have to the archaeological record is not good enough. Stewardship schemes "and additional restrictions have spread like a plague across the countryside":
The freedoms that we used to enjoy are being taken away from us by craft and stealth and on the cheap. by paying the farmers less for the restriction. Even at this late hour make yourselves aware of what is happening and don't let the "pimply face young lads from the ministry" (Thats one of my farmers description of the ministry representatives) that call at his farm frighten the other farmers from allowing our hobby taking place on their land. Its to late to stop us wrinklies, but younger detectorists should be on their guard. Jerry. 
Its "to[o] late to stop the wrinklies" from doing what? So let's get this straight, while some artefact hunters say they are doing what they do to "save" history, and "preserve" it (among other things from the destructive effects of non-CSS agriculture, others think they are prevented by conservation schemes from this work of conservation. There is no notion here that both sides are working together to a common aim. Conservationists want to see the exploitation of the landscape managed sustainbly, these artefact hunters apparently want to take away as much as they can get their hands on. They are, in fact, more interested in preservation of what they clearly see as their "right" to indisceriminately hoik than in preservation of finite and fragile artefact assemblages.

If the latter were the case, there would be far more discussion on their forums of what to do in order that the fragile and finite resource (which those "passionately intresid in 'istry" claim to have great respect for), survives better on Environmental Stewardship lands.

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