Friday, 27 February 2015

Friday Retrospect: The Cold Brayfield Affair

The winding road to the debate on
UK policy on artefact hunting
A few weeks ago, the Buckinghamshire FLO was moaning to her colleagues "[I] prefer not to have any dealings with PB. I wasted ages explaining myself over the Cold Brayfield Hoard and was ignored and misunderstood!". I am at a loss to know to what she is referring and, quite frankly resent that - if she cannot explain a hole in the ground to a fellow archaeologist, what hope is there that she can explain best practice to artefact hoikers? There was some coverage of this rather disturbing incident on my blog, and just to put Ms Tyrrell's allegations in some sort of context I give here the links to all the posts I made so readers can see just how much time Ros Tyrrell devoted on this blog to "explaining"  this situation to my readers. If you look through the posts, you will find the comment (in the post 'Cold Brayfield Questions that will not go away', 6 November 2008):
I recently addressed these questions to the two FLOs involved (twice). All I received in reply was some generally dismissive statement of "the sort of whispers that accompanies this sort of find".
The inability of the PAS to interact properly with criticism of what is going on in the interstices between policy and practice, hope and reality, has a long history. Now, I do not have anywhere to hand those emails any more (maybe we should do an FOI request for them too to get at what Ms Tyrrell really said to me?) but it does not look to me that even offline she made much of an effort to "explain" anything to me  [She may resend them as a comment here if she contests that]. I think her evoking Cold Brayfield as an excuse not to address the very real issues raised about the Lenborought affair, is just that - an excuse.

It is therefore worth returning to Cold Brayfield as it is quite a symptomatic case, raising a number of issues which are still unresolved today, seven years later. One of the reasons for that is the failure - indeed refusal - of the PAS to discuss these issues openly, as we have seen in the case of Lenborough. I think many of the things I said with regard to Cold Brayfield six and seven years ago can be said today. So what change has the Portable Antiquities Scheme actually achieved on the ground for all those millions of quid of public outreach? Is this why they do not want to engage with the issues that are raised?
'English Detectorists Say They Dug a Metre into Roman Site in the Dark'
Wednesday, 29 October 2008

'The Washington Lawyer and the Metal Detectorists' Thursday, 30 October 2008

'What would the PAS say?' Thursday, 30 October 2008

'Treasure Annual Reports: just "inconvenient"?', Sunday, 2 November 2008 (note comments about a separate Treasure archive - later abandoned, they were added to the PAS database alongside a totally different category of material)

'Cold Brayfield Questions that will not go away', Thursday, 6 November 2008

'Having a Chat with Central Searchers?' Thursday, 6 November 2008 (Secretive metal detectorists - instant ban for Marcus)

Incidental mention here: 'Some Thoughts on Illegal Artefact Hunting in England', Saturday, 8 November 2008

This Coroner is helpful: 'Cold Brayfield Inquest' Wednesday, 12 November 2008

More questions raised, 'The New Treasure Report' Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Incidental mention, 'Welsh Treasure System Failure' Thursday, 8 January 2009

Incidental mention, 'Central Searchers Dislikes Breeches and Will Avoid Them in Future', Wednesday, 9 June 2010.

What is it that Ros Tyrrell, the PAS FLO for the county concerned, wanted to 'explain' to me back in 2008? Did she want to explain something, or explain away something on behalf of the BM's metal-detecting "partners"? Because that, I admit, I would be incapable of "understanding", coming as it would be, from a publicly funded archaeological outreach scheme.

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