Sunday, 2 March 2014

Difficult to Argue Otherwise

Heritage Action are as concerned as the rest of us about the utter shambles revealed by the hardly-unexpected discovery on a known site near Maidstone of an Anglo-Saxon woman's grave, hoiked out in a hole bigger than my desk from a "mound" because they could think of no way of preventing theoretical "nighthawks" (the usual stand in to explain away all manner of problems with artefact hunting) getting at them overnight. They point out that experience on the metal detecting forums and other accessible sources of information about actual detecting practice shows that "failure to stop digging is actually common (though usually brushed over by PAS)". They also - quite rightly - observe that "PAS saying it’s sometimes OK" is not at all "OK". Please read "Metal detecting and a mess born of professional arrogance" (Heritage Journal 02/03/2014).
The reality is that there are numerous options for protecting artefacts in situ if archaeologists can’t be contacted. It’s hard to credit these finders didn’t know that but since PAS hasn’t listed them on their website they’re free to claim they were unaware – and thus to claim a full Treasure reward despite trashing the site. As amateurs we’re used to PAS ignoring us [my emphasis - PMB] but the grim truth is that we’ve had the precise advice they should have been giving detectorists about this situation on the Heritage Journal for several years!  If they’d not ignored us (I know they’ve seen it) or if they’d given me, a know-nowt extremist obsessive amateur, a couple of column inches on their website there wouldn’t have been a Medway History Finders scandal would there?
Read the advice and its development on HA's site and comment on it, also draw your FLO's attention to this, and ask where the PAS guidelines are.

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