Thursday, 12 November 2015

Marlborough College Eduates a new Generation of Artefact Grabbers

  "Metal detecting is a fascinating and enjoyable hobby for young and old alike. It enables participants to exercise and enjoy fresh air whilst finding lost items in the ground using technology. It involves research and developing skills gained through practical participation. You may not find a hoard of treasure, but you could. In reality everything you find is a small treasure".
It is also archaeological evidence, if recorded properly, but if not it's just a geegaw for show-and-tell or flogging off which is how many of the decontextualised items hoiked out end up. We learn that:
"There will also be a guest speaker; possibly someone who has found a large hoard metal detecting, or who is closely associated with archaeology". 
Because they are almost the same, right? Basically, I would say that anyone "closely associated with archaeology" who is not a PAS member of staff should boycott this sort of event, and any PAS bloke that turns up should advise the kids not to take up looting archaeological assemblages for a hobby and warn them and their parents of the sort of thugs one will definitely meet in metal detecting in the UK. The "course" notes are revealing, day two caught my eye:
Day 2 Legislation relation to metal detecting: the Treasure Act: the NCMD and the Code of Conduct: Permission and search agreements: the Portable antiquities scheme (PAS): Finds liaison Officer (FLO): Clubs. 
Then they go out "detecting on college grounds – below the White Horse where Cromwell set up camp", the first of a number of such pieces of "fieldwork". Now of course there is nothing about "ethics" just "legislation" - but then there is much more to that than the Treasure Act, for goodness' sake. This code of Conduct, it's the NCMD one, isn't it? Not the Code of Practice agreed with the archaeological bodies which contains the fundamental definition of what is responsible detecting. So, it would seem from this that Marlborough College is teaching 9-12 years old irresponsible artefact hunting.
About the Tutor David has been metal detecting for over 30 years [...] He is currently chairman of the largest, and longest established Metal Detecting club in Wiltshire.
The Trowbridge blokes? Now, basically this course seems to be "learn how to listen to noises from a machine", "how to dig holes" and "how to target good sites". So basically as the Chairman of Heritage Action is fond of saying: "what a monkey could pick up in five minutes" (though it has to be said that some UK metal detectorists take a bit longer). Was the PAS consulted about and given the opportunity to influence course content?

Marlborough College should hang its head with shame. The programme this year looks like they run some really worthwhile and responsible courses. This is not one of them.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

I do not normally publish anonymous comments, but this one says it all:

"Mr Barford, why do you criticise our game, Lucky Looto Release 2 when PASt Explorers has been running Lucky Looto Release 1 Kids version for years at West Mucking? How are we going to produce enough amateur archaeologists to empty the fields before they become empty if we don't have on line (and real) training courses? Shees! Some people!

Barry Thugwit, Marlborough College Dirt Sharks

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