Sunday, 14 July 2013

UK Archaeologists "Concerned" About Situation of Artefact Collectors in Irish Republic?

On a metal detecting forum near you is one of those threads that now begin mid-thread. Obviously somebody's post has - for some reason - been deleted. So this one's an excursus into history. Of interest in it however (for more reasons than one) is the comment by member "Liamnolan" (Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:27 am). In it he says that he has (for some reason) been tracking the southern Irish "metal detecting laws" (he means archaeological resource protection laws, surely) for a while. In the Irish Republic, hunting for archaeological objects as collectables with metal detectors is not allowed. Nolan (based in Norfolk) claims that:
it looks like there is a healthy concern from the UK archaeologists that southern Ireland is not allowing the use of MD. They point out the great value of the PAS (Portable Antiquities Scheme) finds and how these have identified big opportunities for more targeted digs, thus saving wasted resources on barren sites.[...] The laws may change and I am sure they will as UK archaeologists want their Southern Irish colleagues to have a wider access to recovered artefacts via the MD fraternity and then perhaps extending the Portable Antiquities Scheme to cover southern Ireland. There is always a deal of politics at work and in this situation we are being helped enormously by the UK archaeologists who see the value in co-operation with responsible detecting. 
Instead of (or together with) turning a blind eye towards illegal artefact hunting he means?

Is it even a little bit true that "there is a healthy concern from the UK archaeologists" that the Irish Republic protects its archaeological resource from being exploited as a mine for collectables for entertainment and profit? Even a little tiny bit true? Or is that a tekkie lie? Can Mr Nolan point to a series of articles in Rescue News, the IfA newsletter or any other similar source expressing that "healthy" (in what way?) concern? I bet not. This is tekkie nonsense.

Is it even a little bit true that English and (for the moment) Welsh archaeologists point out the "great value" of PAS records for the identification of "big opportunities for more targeted digs, thus saving wasted resources on barren sites"? Even a little tiny bit true? Or is that a tekkie lie? Can Mr Nolan give us some examples of those "targeted digs" to match the 565,624 records on the PAS database, how many of those targeted digs have there been, and how much did they cost and where did the money come from? Is it not the case, I ask Mr Nolan, that most sites are excavated by archaeologists in England and Wales not as research projects hoping to "find something", but as mitigation projects on sites which are about to be destroyed and at which it is known that significant archaeological evidence exists? That may or may not be due to hobbyist metal detector use on that site. Maybe it is time for the PAS to elicit and then provide some figures here. Until such figures are available, let us place this anecdotal evidence in the "tekkie nonsense" pile.

Is it even a little bit true that UK archaeologists are trying to HELP their partners artefact hunters with metal detectors to persuade the Irish government scrap the archaeological resource protection legislation in order to have the same kind of disgusting and erosive artefactual grabfest free-for-alls as we see in England and Wales? Why would they do that? What are their names? Or is this also another piece of tekkie nonsense.


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