Monday, 25 August 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Very Selective Retention

As their fellows attempt to deny there is any truth in the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter, artefact hunters on a metal detecting forum very near you, just one click away, are giving the lowdown on what they do. Member "timesearch" asks other collectors ( Percentage of 'Keepers' - Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:38 am) what is the ratio between the number of "hits" they dig up, and the number of collectable geegaws they actually retain. Member "fusion" from Hertfordshire answers (Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:11 am) "I'd say about 3% on ploughed farmland". The question that comes to mind is what precisely the 97% of hoiked pieces of metal are. Are they really all "ringpulls" and "the foil from a Woodbine's packet", or are there unrecognized pieces of archaeological information among the disregarded items? What actually goes into those "scrap buckets"? Tom Brindle's (2014) study which I quoted earlier leads us to realise that there is a huge amount of material that on an excavation would be collected and form part of the site archive being scrapped. He shows excavated assemblages from even Roman sites differ markedly from collectors' collections, where the latter focus on a very restricted range of artefacts.

It can get worse. Another metal detectorist tells readers out straight. JamieB (Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:03 am) boasts that he's an old hand at finding stuff: 
Depend what you mean by keepers .. When I started detecting any coin, button or artifact was a keeper .. Now I bin anything that isn't a hammered coin or artifact .. Sorry but I have bags of crusty old coins why would I want more crap!?  So my retention rate now is probably 0.01% lol
 The issue is, isn't it, that if we are to see metal detectorists providing us with information as "partners", it is not what these people themselves want to keep and display which should be deciding what is curated and reported, but what provides that information needed to justify tolerating the hobby. A justification the whole hobby rides the back of. Jamie B admits he digs up archaeological evidence and is discarding it along with the 99.9% of finds he makes which are simply binned without any kind of record. Jamie B is building up his personal "hammy" collection at the expense of stealing everybody else's knowledge. That is exactly what the Heritage Action Counter is about, attempting to quantify knowledge theft by metal detectorists in England and Wales.
To be noted: Jamie B posted that comment on the forum on Sunday at 11:03 am. At eleven in the evening, it was not only still there at the bottom of the page, but also NOBODY had responded that what he's doing is irresponsible and unethical. Such is the world of so-called "responsible metal detecting".

UPDATE 25th August 2014, 13:20 pm
Oh 'LOL, LOL, LOL', more than a day later, not a single "responsible detectorist" on that forum has posted a single  comment suggesting that chucking away crusty coins and unwanted artefacts is, 'just a tad, M8', irresponsible behaviour. I guess the PAS never really broaches the subject with them, seeing as it rejects a lot of objects presented for recording itself, giving the impression that they are unimportant. What a total mess.


by Batman » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:42 pm
I SO agree with you JamieB. ::g

and this one by "Fusion" (Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:06 pm)
It's a shame this thread is in General Chat and no one sees it....
yeah what a shame eh? Other wise if it of bin placed in the Forum's "Is this Responsibul detecting M8s?"  section, like, it'd of got 'undreds of hits and lottsa M8s saying, like, JamieB's wrong to chuk stuff away, yeah? Pull the other one Fusey. Nobody is commenting, because you all do exactly the same thing. And the archaeologists of Britain say how good the PAS is for us, close their eyes to the rest, turn away and pretend it's not happening and they know nothing about such things. The truth is just a mouse-click away.

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