Sunday, 3 January 2016

More Targeting of Known Sites by UK Artefact Collectors

Digging among the war dead, easy
place to find "Nazi War" relics
Targeting known sites again on a metal detecting forum near you: "Fisher1266X" Thread "The PAST Present, a Hoard of Republican and Early Denarii" Thu Dec 31, 2015 6:46 pm. Images of all the day's pocketed artefacts can be seen here: (and it is quite clear what kind of finds would have been present and not being collected in this "survey"): 
Well, here we are at the end of 2015 with our last survey [sic] of the year![...] Today's survey [sic] couldn't have ended the year any better. A total of twelve denarii (eleven being part of a hoard, with at least three of those Republican), four Roman fibula's (two are stunners!), and another treasure item in the form of a beautiful silver C17th buckle, seven Roman bronzes and three hammered coins to complete the day [...] our target pasture field of which a Roman shrine may exist [...] the first pasture field which has lots of ridge and furrow and earthworks . This field had also been excavated in the past by archaeologists [i.e., there is an archaeological site here]. We recovered a fragment of a Roman headstud fibula and a few Roman bronze coins in super condition. A hammered coin of Edward I was also recovered.[...] arrived at the Roman shrine field [...] With the light fading we stopped the survey [sic] [...] this permission has several acres of history packed into it.
All of which is now being exposed to the danger of being selectively stripped out and pocketed. The account mentions the finding of 35 Roman coins, a small hoard of denarii, four Roman fibulae, a post medieval silver buckle, and three hammered coins. Forty one records of metal objects and some pottery scatters to be entered on the PAS database from a few hours' artefact hunting on a productive and known site in one day.

It remains to be seen what additional information said recording actually adds to existing knowledge of the archaeological potential and content of the site concerned. To what extent is qualitative knowledge increase mitigating the depletion of the archaeological record into these people's pockets? What is this nonsense about "surveying" the sites these people are exploiting for collectables. In what way has the artefact scatter in a complete field site been adequately "surveyed" by walking across the field from one gate to another on the way to the "target site"? Quite obviously, it has not. Such an un-methodology does not even merit the term "sampling". So is it actually true that "metal detecting" (a hunt for pleasing collectable items, discarding the rest) is actually capable of always producing information which is archaeologically usable at a site level? I suggest it is not, and assert that the PAS is pulling wool over people's eyes if it claims otherwise.

1 comment:

heritageaction said...

And that would be different from a load of artefact hunters crawling over the Staffordshire Hoard site for many days how?

I'd like to write to every archaeological body asking if known archaeological sites are fair game for artefact hunting but I know there'll be a profound silence. Ask the same question in Ireland or France and there will be a resounding, unanimous "NO, buried archaeology belongs to everyone not just a few, it's a no brainer!"

It's a bit confusing for we public stakeholders. Are people entitled to exploit our common heritage assets for their own benefit or not? Do the Irish Sea and the Channel change the fundamentals of community owned heritage and conservation?

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