Saturday, 1 December 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Enthusiastic Owners of Detecting Machines

There is a new collocation going around these days. The phrase "metal detecting enthusiasts" was apparently concocted by the PAS after there were protests (headed incidentally by grassroots action group Heritage Action rather than representatives of the profession) about the BBC calling artefact hunters "amateur archaeologists".

This term now appears in virtually every press article. Google has 412,000 examples of the phrase "metal detecting enthusiasts"and only 41,500 instances of "amateur archaeologists", showing the damaging extent to which 'outreach' by the PAS is pushing archaeology out of public awareness. Archaeologists sit by with folded hands and look on. Very few examples of calling a spade a spade are evidenced, Google the term "artefact hunters" and you will find only about 6000 hits most of them originating from a single writer and his friends in a certain heritage group.

Readers may remember the case of Darren West and Peter Cox, accused of artefact hunting on a legally protected heritage site in Northamptonshire and whose case is now going through the courts. An article about this case is currently at the top of the Google search for the term  ('Metal detecting enthusiasts allegedly caught stealing artifacts from ancient monument site in Northamptonshire',  Northampton Chronicle and Echo 28 March 2012). There is some discussion of this topic on the metal detecting forums, verging in places on the howlings of a lynch mob*. One of the latest comments is by Tiptree, Essex member detectorist2 who says: 
I Don't like the words ( metal-detecting enthusiasts) being used to describe them [smiley img ="Evil or Very Mad"]
Well, they have metal detectors, and if they have been going out a lot with them, repeatedly visiting certain sites for example, and enthuastically collecting objects from them with the aid of their "four metal detectors, maps, aerial photos, lock knife, trowel, shovels and a compass", why does that not qualify them for the term "enthusiasts"? 

* notable comment: "first of all our legal system is a joke ? the government is a joke ?,the country isn't ours anymore. [...]" 

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