Sunday, 3 February 2013

Heritage Theft "Unavoidable": British archaeologist

British archaeologist is on record responding to Heritage Action's report in much the way one'd expect:
Recent nighthawking activity on the Staffordshire Hoard field. Unavoidable? Pretty much, I'm afraid.
But oddly enough, the hoard managed to "avoid" being thieved in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth (Civil War), eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. And nine years into the next. It survived underground the Vikings, the Normans, the Anarchy, Richard III, a Civil War or two, the Battle of Britain, all of which time it was under the soil. Until a bloke, a PAS-partner on a disability allowance with an electronic gold-seeker (aided by a few mumbo-jumbo gold-seeking charms) stumbled upon it.

In a nutshell, it's the PAS-partnering that is the problem here. If the proliferation of metal detecting under UK policy was matched by a proliferation of funds and legislative mechanisms for properly dealing with the sites it reveals, then the problem we see here disappears. There is only nighthawking going on here because the archaeologists are seen not to have done the job properly. And of course if we are unable to finish the job because we cannot argue for better funds to save this part of the heritage from being despoiled under everyone's noses, then perhaps a cheaper option is to change something at the other end of the problem. Why can't we do the job properly, and if the job cannot be done properly, do something to obviate the need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds annually supporting this hobby? Certainly there will be no change in one or the other while people like Dr Rothwell fold their arms, shrug their shoulders and avert their eyes while they simply dismiss the whole issue as "unavoidable (and thus we are not even going to try to deal with it)", which is exactly what PAS-partnering has been encouraging for the past decade and a half.

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