Thursday, 31 January 2013

Whatever You do, Don't Mention the Counter!!

I thought one passage of Alan Simkins' "Why you might not get to know your FLO" was particularly revealing. Roger Bland's response to an invitation from Heritage Action to his staff to speak to their members reportedly stated that due to "the feelings that our staff have about initiatives such as the Artefact Erosion Counter" it was "unlikely that they would be able to respond". Eh? As Mr Simkins noted:
By the way, our Erosion Counter recently passed the 11.5 million mark! It runs at a rate of one million per 3.4 years whereas the English Heritage/CBA survey suggested one million per 2.4 years would be more accurate. People can choose whichever they wish to believe so long as they then compare their preferred figure with how few finds get reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme – 56K records in the whole of last year. We’re not about to recant over our belief that something is very wrong about current policies and the public is entitled to be alerted to the fact.
Well, obviously the PAS is of a different opininion- but, nota bene, they are "too busy" (with their paltry 56k finds) to enter any public debate about it. I presume that they sincerly believe that if they keep their heads down, bowed over their 56k finds annually, the issue will blow over - those "vexatious" problems will disappear.

Well, they will not. There  is  something very wrong about current policies, and the public is entitled to be alerted to the fact. Furthermore the public is entitled to an answer from the PAS to questions about this - among other things. Are they not? No amount of name-calling will absolve them from that duty - no matter how "vexatious" they find it.

Actually what are those "feelings that the PAS staff have about initiatives such as the Artefact Erosion Counter"? That it's none of anybody's business for example? That it's not - for some reason - worth debating how many recordable artefacts are being removed from the archaeological record of England and Wales? That the only thing that counts are their own "wottalotta stuff we got" numbers? What are they thinking? And why are they self-censoring those thoughts? Is it really just because "they are too busy" to tell anyone what they think? Or is British archaeology's silent generation afraid of the career (and other) consequences of doing so honestly and openly? It really is difficult to get "in the mind of" those that so loyally work with Roger Bland. What are they thinking?

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