Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What "Wasted Opportunity"? (1)

Over on the blog of "John Hooker FSA", we read a series of guest posts written by metal detectorist who calls himself "Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni" (sic). One of them allegedly concerns "a story of a wasted opportunity" and is supposed to be a critique on British archaeology. As one commentator suggests:
"Getting some archaeologists, or those who portray themselves as such, to think outside of the box is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling. We are dealing with Luddites, of the kind who have relinquished with their bizarre views any hold over archaeology. These are spent people. Leave them in their academic squalor and move on! [....] Popular public involvement has arrived and they don't like it".
The post is intended to illustrate the point that archaeologists do not "think outside the box" as far as artefact hunting goes, and this is because they in some way resent public involvement. This seems a postulate worth examining more closely as it is typical of the chip-on-the-shoulder anti-establishment views held by many collectors and amateur antiquarians and those who portray themselves as such. Mr Crawford begins
"One of my colleagues has spent most of his life metal detecting the fields around Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, meticulously recording all his finds. Hundreds of his Anglo Saxon finds have greatly enhanced what we know about the area at that time and a massive amount of numismatic information has been gleaned from his coin finds.
That is something that can easily be checked on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database. The results for all Anglo-Saxon finds 410-1066 from the region around Bidford found by every single finder in the area, plus Mr "Living among the Dobunni's" unnamed mate hardly can be numbered in the dozens, let alone "hundreds".

I do not see what "great enhancement" of what we know about the area. The same dots on maps could be produced by plotting Anglo-Saxon place names at much lower cost. So that's the first lie published by the Canadian Antiquary Fellow in his campaign against British archaeology.

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