Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The New Face of Metal Detecting


Finder
The artefact hunter who found what a newspaper is (falsely) calling "the biggest Viking treasure haul in Britain" has been moaning about the Crown's handling of the discovery (Metal detectorist who found biggest treasure find 'sidelined' The Herald Friday 13th May, 2016):
Ayrshire businessman Derek McLennan, who unearthed the Galloway Viking Hoard in 2014, said he has been sidelined by the Crown's Treasure Trove Unit and Historic Environment Scotland and so far he has received nothing for the find. [...] He said: "All I ever wanted was for good things to come from this discovery ... unfortunately, I am still waiting." [...] Mr McLennan added: "At the present time the artefacts within the hoard may be getting valued, but I have no idea when, or if, this is indeed taking place."
I guess, wallowing in his feeling of entitlement, he does not really get the idea of the phrase Crown property, or the adjective "discretionary".
Mr McLennan, who runs a not-for-profit company promoting responsible metal detecting [...] wrote an article in The Searcher magazine, said the Crown should live up to its code of practice to "promote and reward the honest, law abiding detectorists who do the right thing".
Wait a second, surely the mantra is that "we detectorists ARE all law-abiding and decent, not like those nighthawking thieves [spit on ground], who are not detectorists and bring the hobby a bad name", isn't it? So McLennan thinks the Crown should "promote and reward" all detectorists? The man is moaning that he was
"sidelined at the unveiling of one artefact. He said: "It was massively disappointing to be excluded from further discovery such as viewing the emptying of the Carolingian vessel and the lack of information being made available to me as the finder."
The emptying took place in a laboratory. I think it is up to the professionals who run the laboratory who they let in - there are security and safety issues involved.
 A Treasure Trove Unit spokesman said: "We are disappointed, given we have been in contact with Mr McLennan in the last few weeks and he did not raise these concerns with us.

5 comments:

heritageaction said...

The Crown should "promote" law abiding detectorists? Where does it say that?

As far as I can see, in England and Wales anyway, the code merely warns that not reporting treasure can get you fined £5,000 or jailed or both. Which is quite sufficient for farmers, amateur archaeologists and children.

Chris Studd said...

I find your opinions impossible to reconcile. One one hand you are criticising people who fail to report and gain financially from detecting finds but on the other you are also condemning someone who has not sought to do either of these things. Equally you seem to be a big proponent of context being maintained but ignore the fact that had it not been for Derek McLennan, this collection would not have been discovered and had he not informed the correct authorities and attempted to extricate the artefacts himself, damage may have occurred and valuable information been lost.

What you have neglected to mention is the finders multiple references to the importance of the artefacts remaining together and being shared with the world. Is it really so unreasonable to expect that having discovered something of this magnitude you might want to see what was inside at the time of opening? Yes labs can be dangerous places (i know because i work in one) but that is what safety inductions are for and as for artefact security, i’m sure that had he wanted to steal the finds, sell them on the black market for a small fortune and do a bunk, he probably wouldn’t have enlisted the help of archaeologists to get it out of the ground. I can completely respect the point about conservators not wanting to be disturbed or distracted, that is indeed their prerogative but i think you have missed the point in that having done everything by the book, barriers were put up to prevent him witnessing the full extent of what he had discovered. If anything you could argue that it was someone from the archeological establishment who had the sense of entitlement in denying his request to witness the unmasking of the hoard and to be privy to the nature of material comprising the organic artefacts.

Your allusion to his having received nothing for the find makes it sound like he is waiting for a financial reward. If you read the article he states that he has not received a receipt or an itemisation of the contents despite the hoard having been in the hands of Historic Environment Scotland since its discovery in 2014. As you are aware, this is not in line with the process that is meant to be followed in treasure cases.

Your reference to his ‘wallowing in his feeling of entitlement’ and not really getting ‘the idea of the phrase Crown property, or the adjective "discretionary"’ makes me wonder if you actually read the article at all? If this were the case, it would be very odd for him to have written the following words (although obviously he did, you can check).

“Finding a significant hoard has a strange effect upon the finder, which i do not think is understood or truly appreciated until it happens to you. From the minute of discovery an emotional bond is created between the finder and the hoard they have unearthed and it goes far beyond any monetary reward or publicity. I suppose it could be likened to a child being born and the emotional attachment you may feel at the moment of birth. All you want is the best for the hoard and for it to be cared for by all and recognised for what it is, and to be given a fair chance to be understood and praised.”

The one thing that stands out in this article for me is the appreciation, excitement and reverence of the finder for this vessel, its contents and the associated history behind it. I don’t think your post is an accurate reflection of the article but is in fact a character assassination designed to further your own agenda and if anything, doing so it only serves to damage your credibility and the case you are trying to make.

Paul Barford said...

>>I find your opinions impossible to reconcile. One one hand you are criticising people who fail to report and gain financially from detecting finds but on the other you are also condemning someone who has not sought to do either of these things. <<

But you start from the assumption that as an archaeologist I accept that promoting artefact hunting is in any way an acceptable way of getting maximum benefit from the archaeological record. Take that away and there is nothing irreconcilable.


>> had it not been for Derek McLennan, this collection would not have been discovered <<
and we would not now have archaeological resources tied up in its unplanned investigation, analysis, conservation and publication. To hear that those forced to take on this task by his artefact hunting hobby are "not doing it quick enough" for him takes the biscuit.

Labs >> that is what safety inductions are for and as for artefact security<<
There is one artefact being worked on at a time in this laboratory? Or have other tasks in progress been put aside to deal with this hoard? A person who reports a body to the Coroner would not I hope be expecting to be stomping around the crime scene to watch the forensic team collect evidence. Though if he's a metal detectorist, I guess he might - but any professional forensic team would I hope refuse as he will only hinder their work.

As I say, in this article and the "Searcher' feature, he comes over as ‘wallowing in his feeling of entitlement’. The case I make is that we should change this, the need for that is reinforced by the tone of your own comment.

heritageaction said...

Mr Studd, you write:
“Your allusion to his having received nothing for the find makes it sound like he is waiting for a financial reward. If you read the article he states that he has not received a receipt or an itemisation of the contents despite the hoard having been in the hands of Historic Environment Scotland since its discovery in 2014. ”

Actually, I have read the article and what it actually says is:
“While he said the reward for finding artefacts is usually 100 per cent of their value shared under agreement with the landowner - which here is the Church of Scotland - he claimed he has yet to receive EVEN a receipt for some of the items.”

Context is all, eh? Paul is quite right, it is you who is wrong.

Chris Studd said...

Hi heritageaction, thanks for pointing out my oversight. Paul, apologies for my factual inaccuracy. It is however still my opinion, and I realise it is one that you do not share, that this was not the tone of the article as a whole.

 
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