The review of the response to my earlier FOI request to the PAS has thrown up three new pieces of information. One of them concerns the Roman lead coffin exhumed by metal detectorists in a ploughed field in the village of Witherley, Leicestershire, (Response, Appendix 2, pp 7-8). There are just two mails revealed. Wendy Scott (FLO for Leicesterhire and Rutland) writes to FLO Julie Cassidy, Ian Richardson, Adam Daubney, Charlotte Burrill, [Redacted], Teresa Gilmore and Mike Lewis on 29th October 2013 "Re Child's Lead coffin". It refers to earlier correspondence about a Roman ring, and admitting "there is very little chance they will bring it to me". She then adds:
Really wish this would go away! Have you seen Barford's badly-written attack on us? He seems to think a lead coffin is a PAS problem!"I suppose the upshot of that is Ms Scott thinks it is not. What is not clear here is what the connection of this ring and the coffin is, and why "this [sh]ould go away". I assume this "badly-written" post is 'Focus on Metal Detecting: Leave it Alone' PACHI Thursday, 24 October 2013. Please read it and consider whether Ms Scott who is mentioned as saying the right thing is being attacked. But yes, the PAS is criticised there for not backing her up by releasing a statement. Yes, that is critical of the PAS, but whether saying what they should be doing as part of their archaeological outreach is an "attack" or my original discussion was "badly-written", I leave that up to the reader to decide.
Yes, artefact hunters digging into undisturbed archaeological deposits and disturbing contexts such as a child's grave, on a known site (and one where it seems there had been access problems) is indeed something the PAS should be using the resources assigned to it to be dealing with. That is precisely what the PAS was set up to do, to outreach on best practice.
Julie Cassidy replies about the ring, but then adds:
I tend not to read Barford. I have enough depressing crap to deal with without looking for more! Good luck with this one everyone.