Wednesday, 20 May 2015


A few weeks ago I wrote: "If I am not mistaken, Ben Paites is the real name of the metal detectorist mentioned on this blog a number of times who hides behind the made-up name of "Alloverrover"..." Allover attracted my attention as a detectorist in the Essex region who (among other things) had written insultingly about a number of things, including me. I am glad to learn that I was mistaken, a Mr Ben Paites has contacted me  and wishes it to be known that he is in fact:
a professional archaeologist who has worked as a volunteer and Headley Trust intern with the PAS since 2013. I came to the scheme on a work placement whilst studying for my Master's at UCL and I have been involved with the scheme ever since. I do not metal detect, nor am I involved in the trade of archaeological material. 
So my apologies if I got that incorrect. Next time I am over in England I will make a point of visiting the Essex FLO in the Resource Centre and apologising personally. I am relieved that at least one archaeology graduate has not taken up metal detecting. Some do. It is not illegal, you know. Neither is selling legally-obtained artefacts.

The problem arose when I was trying to use the information in the public domain from the 'statistics' of PAS data to attempt to get some data which could be used to identify the size and scope of artefact hunters collections. I was attempting to use the information from the self-recorders tabulated in the statistics and then trying to follow the links back to the individual database entries. The trouble is the PAS unhelpfully hide the details under some obfuscating code, and therefore one cannot tell the difference in the public record from a self-recorder going through his own collection and a volunteer recorder doing stuff from a variety of collections. I was trying to get round this by several means. In one case a metal detectorist announced on a forum that he had recorded his finds and provided a link to them. On hindsight it was a mistake to assume correct use of syntax (causative have) in a metal detectorist, but it sounded like he was saying he was one of the new PAS volunteers which they have been so coy about. Following the link from the post produced the information in the PAS database that these finds had been recorded by volunteer Ben Paites. Hence the link which I made between the two. 

The problem was therefore caused, once again, by the lack of transparency of the records produced for public consumption by the PAS, which once again prove to be next to useless in the form in which they are presented for any serious purpose such as following the effects of current heritage policies.

The other problem is of course with metal detectorists engaging in their activities under a variety of pseudonyms. If what they do is so legal, above-board and archaeologically useful, then why can they simply not use their real names when presenting the results of their activities?

Again my apologies if I connected the wrong name with the shadowy pseudonym. Let us see more transparency in British metal detecting. Maybe the real Mr Alloverrover having said what he said will have the courage to come forward and introduce himself to us. Where are you Mr "Hoikski"?

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