Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Straight from the Horse's Mouth


Metal detector user Derek McLennan who discovered the largest haul of Viking treasure ever found in Britain on Church of Scotland land in Dumfries and Galloway has just been on TV. Asked how often he finds something good, he said he and his mates recently tried to work it out and they reckon 1 hole in 50, one time in 10-15 hours. That means, contrary to what detectorists in denial claim, there is nothing at all improbable in the Heritage Artefact Erosion Counter figures for England and Wales, especially as finds density in southern parts of England is believed to be greater than that in Scotland (going on what is reported by Treasure Hunters to the Scottish Treasure Trove Unit).

This signal was 2 ft down. So well below any plough level. The detectorist uses a deep-seeking Minelab CTX, which he finds is "best for pasture". The Code of Practice for Responsible Detecting says keep off pasture.  

Wouldn't it have been nice if the TV presenter had made that observation in the interview as a result of an effective (seventeen million pounds worth of ) PAS "outreach"? Pigs may fly, more metal detectorists may learn, and the PAS might get more of its message across. Probably about the same time as Hell freezes over.

[For the debate on "finds rates", see also PACHI Wednesday, 17 March 2010, 'Scottish Archaeologist Soothes on Figures of Damage' for some other figures from the same milieu.

Also PACHI Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 'Focus on Metal Detecting: Simpletons', note in 2005 experiment, rate of hole digging once every 4 minutes as opposed to Mr McLennan's one every 18 minutes, and PACHI Tuesday, 17 January 2012, 'Focus on Metal Detecting: 30 000 Hours'; compare with PACHI Monday, 26 April 2010, '"Not About the Money"'].

Vignette: From the horse's mouth

6 comments:

heritageaction said...

"one time in 10-15 hours"....

Yes, a low finds rate area yet a considerably higher finds rate than is assumed by the Artefact Erosion Counter and all three of the surveys it is based upon.

Charles Peters said...

I have to question your maths.

1 interesting find every 10-15 hours as stated by the finder. Lets say 12 hours to find an artefact as an in-between figure.

The HRA shows 227,189 objects this year.

227,189 multiplied by 12 = 2,726,268 hours spent artefact hunting in total.

2,726,268 hours divided by 10,000 artefact hunters = 272.6 hours per artefact hunter from 1st January to Mid October.

If we say each hunting session is 6 hours, the each and every artefact hunter has made 45 hunting sessions over the 42 weeks year to date.

This simply does not add up as I cannot believe that all 10,000 artefact hunters are out every weekend throughout the year. Yes, there will be some fervent hunters who do this but there will be a lot who don't. This figure does not factor in adverse weather and when fields are in crop either?

Paul Barford said...

Yet we can all see exactly what tekkies come in from the fields bringing from one session in the "look what I found today" posts that form the staple of forums. This does not include the material discarded because its significance was not spotted.

What I wrote was that, although there are detectorists that tell you that they and their fellows "find nothing" which explains why the PAS database is so empty - check the two posts about two rallies for another perspective on that shaggy dog story, "there is nothing at all improbable in the Heritage Artefact Erosion Counter figures". The latter refer to recordable artefacts as opposed to what a collector finds "interesting" for the collection.

Fifty fruitless holes in 15 hours is one every eighteen minutes of boredom.

These are not my figures, but Derek McLennan's I suggest you take it up with him.

Go on then, create a rival "Metal detectorists' Artefact Erosion Counter", it's about time one of you did. Lets see how YOU get along.




Charles Peters said...

I am not defending metal detecting, merely pointing out the flaw in the maths when compared to the HAAEC. As you can see, McClennans assertion that he makes 1 find of interest every 10-15 hours is simply not the case, or if it is, then compared to other artefact hunters he is pretty damn patient at what he does! As you say, 18 minutes of boredom between each hole and 15hours to find something of interest.

"Go on then, create a rival "Metal detectorists' Artefact Erosion Counter", it's about time one of you did. Lets see how YOU get along"

"it's about time one of you did?"

Why on earth would I want to create another HAAEC??

heritageaction said...

"Go on then, create a rival "Metal detectorists' Artefact Erosion Counter"

Many have been asked and none has even answered. Et toi Mr Peters?

Better still, save time, just give us your estimate of how many recordable finds are found by detectorists each year.

Paul Barford said...

Better still, save time, just give us your estimate of how many recordable finds are found by detectorists each year.
Better still, ask the PAS, you might be surprised at their answer.

 
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