Saturday, 9 February 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: "Hands Off the Glemsford Lantern"?

In the thread Re: Pros and Cons of PAS to which I refer in the post above is an interesting exchange of letters between a Essex detectorist, Richard Lincoln of Sarfend on Sea ("Sheddy") and Roger Bland of the PAS. Lincoln claims that this correspondence demonstrates that the PAS staff was "acting outside of their remit after the Glemsford rally in 2009". I see something else. Only one letter is dated, the first (RL to RB: 20th October 2009) introduces the topic, Lincoln is questioning the PAS' handling of two recorded finds made at a recent metal detecting rally held at Glemsford, Suffolk, namely a Roman lantern and an Anglo-Saxon coin.
In both cases, the landowners have been approached directly by the Finds Liaison Officers, an action which (to the best of my understanding) is outside of the remit of the F.L.O’s and the P.A.S.
The approach was to try and secure the deposition of these two items in a public collection. The first point that has to be stated is that (though it obviously should have) the PAS has no legally defined role at all, the PAS does as the PAS does. Any allegations of the organization straying beyond a formal remit is therefore simply a misunderstanding. But then, it becomes clear from the correspondence that Lincoln's aim is trouble-making rather than any actual desire to explore the nature of the "partnership" the PAS offers members of the public finding - or owning - archaeological artefacts. The PAS was NOT set up solely to service metal detectorists. This seems to be the root of this misunderstanding. So, why actually should not the PAS approach the landowner, the owner of the finds appropriated by artefact hunters, to persuade them to donate them to a museum, rather than let a metal detectorist walk off with it, to add it to their personal collection, or flog off on eBay? It is the landowner's right to say what happens to it, and the PAS has the task of outreaching to all members of the public (nota bene a farmer too is one) about portable antiquities issues. The shed-builder signs his letter "Yours without frivolity", and later when asked what his involvement is in this transaction, said:
My enquiry is completely independent of the finders and landowners and should be taken as from a recording detectorist who is extremely concerned that the P.A.S. is seemingly acting beyond it's (sic) remit and authority.
This is very odd since we saw in the thread to which this is a digression, Sheddy says he does not record finds with the PAS. The rest of Sheddy's points seem to be answered pretty fully by Bland, yet he still keeps plugging away:
Is it not correct that in both cases (Lantern and Coin) the Finds Liason (sic) Officers have acted outside of and beyond the authority of their Office?
Have a look at the correspondence before it disappears. It is quite revealing of the tekkie mindset. Who would have thought that when dealing with the "Responsible Detectorists" Britain is supposed to have there would be so many difficulties in getting a simple thing accomplished, like getting a unique Roman lantern in the local museum where it - I am sure most would agree - belongs instead of a private collection. Just what is it that tekkies consider is "best practice" as artefact hunters? ·

Take a good look at this thread. These are the words of the people the PAS want another fifteen or more million to make into archaeology's "partners". Take a look at this and decide for yourself how feasible such an plan actually is and how desirable the outcome.  

Vignette: Unique Romano-British lantern, were the PAS in the wrong trying to secure it for a public collection? Some UK tekkies seem to think so. 

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