Monday, 3 March 2014

Focus on Metal Detecting: Men of Action

The new heritage blogger, metal detectorist James Warr, explains on the basis of everything he has learnt from his own experience and what the PAS tell detectorists why metal detecting is superior to archaeology and heritage management:
Paul [Barford']s opinion considering metal detecting is naive, considering the large volume of historical finds sitting in our museums that are down to your average metal detectorist, and NOT archeologist. This is a fact. This is a daily occurrence. The problem with Paul and pals, is that they are deeply jealous of this. They pay god-knows how much money to get a Archeology degree, and then do very little, or nothing with it. 
To illustrate his point that archaeology is basically about doing nothing, the author then shows how he thinks an excavation proceeds, but (despite sixteen years of an expensive public outreach programme trying to strengthen links with archaeologists and explain these things to the public) getting it totally wrong. This is followed by:
Detectorists have found thousands of items that help build up the bigger picture concerning our history and heritage. The bigger puzzle is being filled day by day, whilst the Archeologists sit and watch (and moan in Pauls case) and do very little. The man is an envious little toad. That is all. It's simply a case of jealousy, and ignorance. The fact that these people deem themselves the 'educated' ones, and that any person can go and detect a field after finding the relevant permissions does not sit well with them.
Anyone can go and buy a rifle and shoot a rhino, or a can of herbicide and eradicate an entire butterfly population, but "jealousy" is not why conservationists are concerned.

In another text this metal detectorist explains the differences between archaeology and artefact hunting ("Finding history. Detectorists Vs Archeologists"). After once again describing how slow and laborious archaeological investigation is (he says information "gathered via my many years experience in both fields"), the artefact hunter is quicker:
"Find history. Dig out history. Save history. This, is why the brats [ie. conservationists] have a problem with detectorists.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme was last heard telling the press how well their partners are learning about archaeology and preservation issues.

This primarily is the Portable Antiquities Scheme's fault. All along they have been laying stress on the "artefact hunters are finding history which is recorded for everybody's benefit" that this has become the ONLY message that people perceive.  The aim has now become to dig up more and more relics out of their archaeological context and in that decontextualised form present them in themselves as "saved history", rather than fragments of a destroyed archaeologicl context. The PAS really should pay more attention to what is happening to the simplistic messages they are pumping out and correct any misconceptions being spread to the British public. Can they do that? Are they actually bovvered? 

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