Tuesday, 23 September 2014

"Why not Turn a Blind Eye, Like all the Rest"?

In an addendum to the post 'Farmer Brown has something to tell the Portable Antiquities Scheme!', Heritage Action highlight the sort of things artefact hunters are saying on their blogs and forums about the ‘Dunelme hoard’ weekend hoard hoiking event discussed here. One gem is typical:
As predicted, they’ve done it again. “Stop digging” isn’t very complicated. These are not clever people. Just how un-clever is illustrated by the same person who made the silly comments above: “It is said that we should not dig below the plough level because we are digging into undisturbed soil but this is down to personal choice and what you decide is responsible and ethical in your approach to metal detecting". So… they can help themselves to Society’s history and destroy Society’s knowledge as a personal choice based on what they decide is responsible and ethical and then come to Society with their hands out for a massive reward! Hey PAS, EH and CBA, any comment?
No comment from the 'turn-a-blind-eyes' at PAS, EH or CBA of course. I really do not see the decision for totally untrained individuals trashing archaeological deposits as any kind of "responsible" behaviour. Responsible is defined in the 'Code for Responsible metal detecting in England and Wales' which is quite clear about that. This has nothing to do with free choice, one takes a decision to do something in a responsible way or not, beyond that, there is no "responsible alternatively". This is where the intelligence of the majority of people doing metal detecting takes on a significance. in order to be 'partners' and provide archaeologically viable information, they have to understand the way that information is observed, recorded and interpreted (or perhaps that's the other way round). Anyone unable to articulate relatively simple concepts such as 'this is right', 'this is wrong', are not likely to be able to cope with anything more complex such as understanding subtle changes in soil colour and texture in horizontal or vertical section. As an indicator of the cognitive barriers 'partnership' faces in constructing a dialogue, the same detectorist writes disapprovingly of the fact I commented on what we see in those photos on a metal detecting forum, and put it under the title "Shock horror, metal detectorists find hoard!". Another tekkie struggling to find meaning in the concerns raised rationalises it thus
Your (sic) a complete and utter disgrace to human society [...], I believe you are very much in the frame (sic) of jealously as you cannot and did not get your dirty hands on this find and claim to fame for your personal gain.
Neither of these folk sees that the problem which I raised does not concern the 'finding' of the deposit, but the way it was treated by "responsible' detectorists expecting to get rewarded for this. How many other UK detectorists are as confused about what the issue (down in black and white) is?

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