Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Detectorists on the Ball

Readers who are on the ball will remember that one year ago (Feb 19, 2014) there was the launch of the PAS vanity project "Lost Change" - "an innovative and experimental application that allows coins found within England and Wales and recorded through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), to be visualised on an interactive, dual-mapping interface".Quite what purpose that really serves has never really been demonstrated, but that is beside the point - due to public funding it has bee in the public domain for a year. If you are a metal detectorist focussed on yourself however you may not have noticed what the PAS is doing for the public. On a metal detecting forum near you "Jungle" (Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:59 pm) announces: 'PAS data on coins mapped' - noting it has been "launched without the full data set". "Danzigman " is sure these missing data will be added "after 29 when the update is finished" (want to bet on that?).  Member "f8met" Cambs and Suffolk (Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:34 pm) is focussed on himself, collecting is after all a self-centred activity, and agrees: 
There is a lot missing. None of mine seem to be on there. 
So when is "Lost Change" going to be finished?

Member "Stratman" (Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:18 am) is appalled by the prospect.

 Yes, it might be useful to members of the public who pay for the PAS and who want to know what metal detectorists have taken and from where (for example in their home area). Why should artefact hunters feel they are entitled to have an elitist monopoly on this information about the common archaeological heritage? In any case, the information reported by Stratman is totally false. Those are roads, not field boundaries and the findspotas (as are all PAS data in the public domain) are generalised. As is explained here, if any metal detectorist would like to check before a knee-jerk reaction would find:

While much of the the data is made available for re-use on the PAS website under a Creative Commons licence, some details are closely guarded to prevent illicit activity (for example night-hawking or detecting without landowner permission) and so this application has been developed with these restrictions in mind. An object’s coordinates are only mapped to an Ordnance Survey four-figure National Grid Reference (which equates to a point within a 1km square), and only if the landowner or finder has not requested these to be hidden from the public.
If the PAS cannot rely on their metal detecting "partners" knowing what the Scheme is doing/has done, then how can they expect the rest of the public to whom they outreach to know? How "effective" is that?

1 comment:

heritageaction said...

"If the PAS cannot rely on their metal detecting "partners" knowing what the Scheme is doing/has done, then how can they expect the rest of the public to whom they outreach to know?"

Actually, the grim reality is that because PAS don't outreach to landowners as much as they should most farmers get their information about both PAS and Treasure from detectorists, not PAS. And of course, they often get told what someone who's after their stuff deems tactically prudent (What us? Nah, we're all honest, honestly")

Look how your friend Stratman recently advised a colleague to under- and misinform a farmer here

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