|Metal detecting kit|
Because he seems not to understand, I need to explain to Mr Rodgers and his readers that lead does not naturally occur in elemental form in the soils of SE England. A hemispherical piece of lead or lead alloy in the soil on a site where other historical material is coming up is what we call an "artefact". It is a very technical term, I know, difficult to understand for some. A lead artefact is a lead artefact and is part of the archaeological/historical record of the site from which it came. The problem is when sites are ripped apart like this by people who cannot understand what they have taken out of the archaeological record and have in their hands. It does not take an intellect the size of a planet to be able to differentiate nineteenth century stoneware bottle sherds with rouletting ("holes") from Roman earthenware with "what looks like Roman numerals". It is impossible for people like this to make a proper record of the surface archaeological patterns and associations of this site they are disrupting when they cannot recognize the nature of the evidence. It is like trying to listen to and understand a Caucasian shepherd's son without knowing what the words mean ("I like the melody"). The issue with cognitive skills is that some people faced with a task comprehend its essence and easily learn how to do it, others lag behind in such abilities, or even the will to apply themselves to learn even simple skills like this.
What I am particularly concerned with is the number of metal detecting artefact hunters and collectors which fall into the second group, which profoundly affects the manner in which we should be approaching the issue of 'outreach' to them in the first place, but also the manner in which we interpret the 'data' produced as a by-product of part of their activities. It seems to me that these are both issues which are ignored in the current broad-brush approach to artefact hunting (basically the PAS public position is that they are all 'responsible enthusiasts' who are all engaged in 'doing the same as us'). Quite clearly the picture is far more nuanced than generally presented to the media, and obviously is not applicable to the whole artefact hunting milieu. My blog raises the (perfectly valid) question to what extent is it untrue of the bulk of the metal detecting community.
I encourage my readers to go and look at online resources such as metal detecting discussion lists, blogs and websites produced by detectorist for detectorists to decide for themselves based on what they see there (a prelminary list can be found here: 'Pointing out Propagandist Fallacy 'Negativity', or the Only Realistic Basis for Discussing an Issue?' PACHI Monday, 1 September 2014). They are all "ambassadors for the hobby".