Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Rent-a-Field Artefact Plundering

There is a discussion going on over on a metal detecting forum near you about renting land and then hoiking out any artefacts there may be there. Opinions are divided, some say that it's a bad idea ("it'll give landowners ideas" - about what to do on their own land) while others see it as a viable option. One detectorist from Southend on Sea writes ("Sheddy", Sat Jan 26, 2013):
 I pay for my shooting grounds, I pay when i go fishing so if the whole detecting hobby went down the pay-as-you-go route then I really don't see a problem with it. Since I started detecting some 30 years ago I've benefited by a fair few £££'s. I've always seen my farmers right but I know that there are many detectorists who think nothing of hiding the choice finds and showing the farmer a pile of scrap. Why shouldn't the farmers benefit in some way from the plundering of their land?
Another ( "liamnolan" Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:52 pm ) points out that it could be good business:
If it costs £2000 a year to rent about 25 acres of awkward land that just happens to lie close to recorded history, then divide your costs by a group of ten buddies and you have your own land for £4 a week per person. You would need to have a good chat with your estate agent first and see what is held on file and then see if it has any historical value.
Coming back to the 'P' word, after being asked to consider what would happen should "detractors" see it used, "Sheddy" (Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:20 pm) defends his choice of vocabulary:
What single word descriptive would you use for seqarching a farmers land whilst pocketing the choice gear and showing the scrap? I couldn't care less about our detractors view, especially when they've pretty much hit the nail on the head. i've been in this game for a long time, I've seen the goody-two shoes portrait painted by ourselves on forums, I know what happens in truth. The Twinstead rally was proof of how detectorists really behave - IF any were needed. What would you call what we do?
Plundering the archaeological record for collectables seems about right to me too.

Of course there is a great difference in UK law between being a tenant (a renter of land) and the owner. Renting the field gives no rights to the archaeological finds buried in it - or the landowner's share of any Treasure Award.

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