Reporter Zoe Kleinman goes out with a metal detectorist from John Howland country:
Richard Higham is a treasure-hunter in his spare time, and he is convinced this particular field is a "hotspot" for relics from the past. He points out the visual clues which suggest somebody once called this deserted, exposed spot their home. Burial mounds, pottery shards, flint and overgrown but still distinctive stripes along the slopes of the landscape - the remainder of an ancient farming method [...] Mr Higham ignores most of the machine's many burbles and squeaks - it can differentiate between various metals and most are not worth unearthing. We could be here for some time, he warns. "On a good day you might find eight artefacts. Around 25% of those finds will be any good."Archaeological artefacts provide information whatever metal they are made from, collectors however prefer the shinier objects for their cabinets. This is why the picked over remains of an archaeological assemblage from that cabinet taken to the PAS do not provide any real archaeological information about the site they were hoiked from. Eight artefacts a day, going out just ten times a year is eighty artefacts - how many PAS partners actually report even that number of non-Treasure finds a year? Note the reference to the targeting of an earthwork site (barrows and ridge and furrow).
Zoe Kleinman, ' Meet the metal detectorists saving marriages', BBC 31 October 2014
Hat tip Donna Yates