Sunday, 24 February 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: What's Behind This?

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Illegal metal detecting is a subject some tekkies obviously find intensely amusing. The website "Findspot: a Nighthawker's guide to the best spots in town!" (http://www.findspot.co.uk/ created 26 October 2011) is apparently a metal detectorist's attempt at humour and social comment. The welcome page proclaims that this is "the UK’s only website dedicated to nighthawking", adding for some reason a photo of archaeologist Francis Pryor (it would be interesting to know who took this image). The website has just three pages, spot the nighthawker ("You won't"), Spot the farmer before he spots you!! (Coming soon, Field test report on night vision). Then there is a blog. The website's author (anonymous of course), besides a photo of Julian Richards, invites readers:
Click here to comment! I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Nighthawking – Right or Wrong?? What about the Dayhawkers??
There are no comments, obviously nobody is concerned to debate whether "nighthawking " (theft) is "right or wrong". The latter category is described by the third page: ‘Spot’ the Dayhawker. This reads:
Question: What is a Dayhawker: Answer: An archaeologist that pockets valuable finds in order to supplement his lousy income. Every year, a growing number of attacks are inflicted on archaeological digs.
[Illustration, pinched from here - no link] Gold coin of Carausius* An extremely rare and valuable gold coin of the Emperor Carausius ‘dayhawked’ from an archaeological dig in Silchester [Calleva Atrebatum] Hampshire.  * image for illustrative purpose only ~ the coin found at Silchester disappeared !!
No source is cited for the information about the alleged theft by the alleged artefact-acquisitive archaeologist or when it was supposed to have taken place. It rather looks like the author is trying to make the point that although "every year, a growing number of attacks are inflicted on archaeological digs", the blame cannot be laid on metal detector using artefact hunters. But then, if an archaeologist steals the artefacts from the archaeological record, what does he become? Nothing but an artefact hunter, and a thieving one at that. I'd be grateful for any more information about this alleged theft.

The final page: "Sell your booty" links to the eBay page of a well-known UK antiquities dealer. Surely the anonymous "Findspot" website owner is not accusing them of contact with illicit antiquities?  Surely not, the director heads the AIDA (Association of International Antiquities Dealers) and obviously the Code of Conduct  of this organization would not allow them to touch items not of verifiable legitimate provenance.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy". 

Vignette: Night hawk.
 

3 comments:

Ronald Pagel said...

It rather looks like the author is trying to make the point that although "every year, a growing number of attacks are inflicted on archaeological digs", the blame cannot be laid on metal detectors.

Paul Barford said...

Well, no, that's not what I said. it is not the tool that is the problem, it is the manner in which people use them that is, so it depends on who is using them for what. Like guns. Have you got a gun Mr Pagel?

Paul Barford said...

This site is still up on 26th July 2013.

 
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