Wednesday, 21 November 2012

"Metal Detecting: All you Need to Know to Get Started"

"Metal Detecting: All you need to know to get started" by Dave Crisp (235mm x 150mm, 184 pages, £13.50 ISBN 978 1 897738 474), published on Wednesday.
 In the sometimes solitary and occasionally mocked world of metal detecting, he is the David Beckham, the Prince William, the Barack Obama. For when Dave Crisp unearthed one of the most important hoards of Roman coins ever found in Britain, he instantly became a hero to the thousands. And now, with growing interest in the hobby – thanks, in part to Mr Crisp’s jackpot discovery – newcomers to the pastime need a detailed guide about how to be a great metal detector. And who better to write it than the finder of the Frome Hoard?The book, Metal Detecting – all you need to know to get started, took 18 months to write....
'Dave Crisp, 'Frome Hoard find 'the pinnacle' of metal detecting career', Western Daily Press November 19, 2012.
The book covers all you need to know to get started. Topics covered include a history of the hobby, testing basic detectors and information about the organisations involved in metal detecting, as well as where to search and how to get permission. There are useful tips on how to detect and a chapter showing the coins and artefacts that can be found. It also details the procedure to follow to record your finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)
Greenlight publishers, publisher's blurb.

I wonder, with "growing interest in the hobby", yet another book encouraging yet another few thousand people to "get started" taking a growing interest in taking a growing number of archaeological sites into a growing number of ephemeral personal collections, is really what the preservation of britain's archaeological heritage and historical environment need. I note no mention is made in the blurb of any chapter on ethical issues.

Here it is on Amazon,  and using the 'take a look inside' facility, you can see that there is inded no chapter discussing the preservation and ethical issues artefact hunting and collecting raise. It transpires from the acknowledgements that the book was proof-read by a "Sam from the British Museum". It is a shame that instead of a coiney from the BM, the PAS was not asked to review the whole text and make suggestions as to what else in the sphere of "best practice" should be included. That is, I would say, what a truly "responsible" detectorist would do when writing such a book.  Were they invited?

I would also say the depiction of the history of detectorist-archaeologist  co-operation on pages 8-9 is over-simplistic and downright wrong, giving a totally false picture of the role of the NCMD back in the 1980s. Take a look at the NCMD "involvement" in the writing of the CBA/EH (Denison and Dobinson) report to see their attitude to such co-operation - a stance that in fact they've not really shifted from since.

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