Monday, 21 March 2016

You'll not hear this from the PAS...

Heritage Action are pretty good at awareness raising in areas the PAS fear to tread. This week they are discussing the destructiveness of certain types of dealing with the archaeological record in terms that even the most intellectually obstinate can come to terms with. In the course of this they come on to:
‘Excavation’ undertaken by metal detectorists can be without doubt one of the most damaging activities. Although there may have been some desk-based research prior to hitting the site, there will rarely be a formal methodology to the excavation other than ‘ping’/dig! Some detectorists may advise the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) of any significant (read metallic) finds but often the valuable context of the finds will have been trashed together with associated items (pottery, flints, fibres, animal bone etc) which are often discarded as irrelevant by the detectorist. Recording may comprise at best of a photo (or video) or two of the finds, and a GPS reference which may point to no more than a particular field, or parish. The loss of knowledge in these situations will be immense and of course in the long run means that many of the questions of future generations will go unanswered as a result.
The PAS have nothing to add to that, it's no use even asking them. They might raise their noses from their desks enough to say :"but some recorders give us 10-figure NGRs", and leave it at that, without addressing the two main issues here, that hoiking a few displayable goodies and decontextualising them from the rest is not providing information about the site and oh, "it's voluntry innit?" most finds do not get shown, and for the accuracy (or even truthfulness) of reporting of the findspot, the recorder is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the 'finder'.


felixferal1976 said...

So what do you think a plough does to the archaeology?

Does the plough not smash to bits any context? Almost all finds from ploughed fields are in the topsoil. Saved from damage and destruction by metal detectorists. Would you rather have some finds recorded, or would you rather leave them in the ground to be completely destroyed?

Either way your comments suggest that you know very little about metal detecting.

I don't understand why your so bitter? Is it because you think that only archaeologists should make amazing discoveries? Responsible detecting can often help archaeologists locate sites of interest. We should be working together not against each other.

Paul Barford said...

Mr Feral, I'll take a guess that you are a metal detectorist. That explains why you use a Two Wrongs argument to deflect discussion rather than address the issue raised by this post. I suggest your comment suggest "you know very little about real research done into the effects of ploughing". The Lenborough hoard was NOT in the ploughsoil, and was not "saved" from anything. The Glemsford Lantern, the Witherley lead coffin, the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet were all not from ploughsoil and were hoiked out of their contexts rather than being "saved" from anything.

I actually know quite a bit about artefact hunting, what artefact hunters do and what damage is being done to the archaeological record by them. You mighht like to spend some time reading about it, there's a whole blog full here:

- including refuting your the "plough damage" mantra you parrot,
- including the "jealousy" jibe you parrot, and
- including the 'locate new sites' mantra which you parrot.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been going for nigh on twenty years now, it has gobbled up at least thirteen million pounds - and YOU have the cheek to suggest "we should be working together not against each other". What in the blazes do you think the PAS has been trying to do all this time? Have you not noticed? I guess not, which is why this blog and this blogger say the PAS has FAILED to make any headway and we need to find another way to get artefact hunters working with, rather than against us for the general good. That's not "bitterness", it only makes sense. The social experiment has failed dismally and we need another approach.

Paul Barford said...

In its form, "I don't understand why your so bitter" is a statement not a question. I guess the problem is that you have not made any effort to "understand" anything. Try, it does not hurt.

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