Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: "FLO" Mike Trevarthen gets the Tekkie Treatment

Novice blogger, UK metal detectorist James Warr (Mar 4 2014) now switches his attention to "yet another archeologist weighing in on the Saxon hoard discussion", this time his main target is " Mike Trevarthen. Yet again, another ill-informed, rude archeologist." Since obviously (to him) this Mike is the same person as Ciorstaidh ("Kirsty"):
he is a FLO (a finds liaison officer) someone who is supposed to be reaching out, and educating metal detectorists. Let me ask you this: Why would anyone want to communicate with this man, considering his opinion? Again, these people are doing more harm to the preservation of our heritage than good.
These people? FLOs? Actually why would anyone want to listen to the immature and totally uninformed rantings of yet another UK metal detectorist trying to defend the indefensible by attempting to deflect attention from the issues? (This is an attempted 'two-wrongs make a right' pseudojustification).  I assume Mr Warr would adopt the position that the all-smiles-Kent-FLO is far better at "communicating with" artefact hunters who've just trashed an Anglo-Saxon feature on a known site. She's one archaeologist who I think we can be sure will not figure in the anti-archaeological nastiness of Warr's "TonyRobinsonsPants" website.

There is one potentially significant snippet of information to emerge from this, Mr Sweetman may not have been a member of the "Medway History Finders" club at the time he made the discovery. This should come up at the Treasure inquest as it may mean that not only was he not covered by the group's insurance policy, but more importantly it calls into question whether at the time of the search, he was legally empowered to be on the site and receive a Treasure award on the basis of the agreement with the landowner (does the original document refer to club members, or explicitly state the agreement is with club members plus assorted others, including random people invited to 'make up numbers' who are not actually club members)? 
What Mike doesn't understand is that Mr Sweetman wasn't a member of that club that day. He was invited in to fill numbers. He didn't know anyone in the group, so therefore couldn't trust anyone at this stage.
and does he now? If he is not covered by the agreement with the landowner, the latter could be deemed by the Secretary of State to be entitled to the entire reward, without having to share it with a finder who was on the land without his explicit permission.

As for the rhetorical question what Mr Trevarthen would have done, I think, if he bothered to read what this Warr guy wrote about him, Mr Trevarthen (who is NOT an FLO) would say that - like all of us - he would not have hurriedly hoiked the grave goods from a raggedy hole with no recording, but would have arranged to secure the site so it could subsequently be properly investigated. Archaeology is not about hoiking finds, but primarily generating documentation about their context. Not hoiking is also what the two relevant Codes of Practice expect of artefact hunters finding a significant assemblage to do. Why they did not is anybody's guess, but attempts by Mr Warr to distract attention away from that "minor detail" by his aggressive stance and attacks on heritage professionals fall rather flat. But then, Britain's metal detectorists never were very good at any kind of rational discussion.    

Vignette: UK detectorists rarely use reasoned argument and discussion to make their point.

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