Tuesday, 16 October 2018

IronheartedGog's Axe-Field Video Apparently the Only Documentation of a Puzzling Find

Ironhearted Gog and Andy
A metal detectorist has contacted me about a recent video posted on Youtube and asked me if in my opinion it has been 'staged' to improve its entertainment value, or whether it is reliable documentation of a find. What do you think?

The first thing to note is that the farmer had already found an axe at 'the other end' of that same field (note it is presented as 'the' one found), with an odd shiny patina (and a bronze disease outbreak on one side) - how did the farmer clean that? Was this the reason there two were searching the field that day? it seems they'd been there before because the narrator (Gordon Heritage) says he knows there was 'archaeology' in that field.

Published on YouTube by IronheartedGog 6 Sept 2018
"Here's a video showing the recovery of a hoard of Bronze age axes. they date to around 1000BC. There are 47 axes (17 Palstave and 30 socketed) and 5 fragments of an ingot. The hoard has been report[ed] to PAS, and we hope to return and film any excavations on-site in the future".

The video  (after the - apparently obligatory in detecting films - 'OK guys') starts off with the finding of a really clean looking socketed axe on the surface. This is dramatised however as - instead of just filming the object lying on the field surface - the filmmaker films himself walking towards the spot where (we may presume) he'd already found the axe. This seems a bit unnecessary and immediately looks a bit suspicious. The second axe likewise is found half-protruding from the side of a shallow hole dug through the loose ploughsoil. It is difficult to imagine that hole being spade-dug without dislodging the axe and it seems likely that the finding of this axe was 'staged' here by sticking it back in the hole to film taking it out later. This sort of manipulation may make a better film, but is not documentation of what was done on (and to) a site by these two artefact hunters.

The finding of the third axe is informative, we see it being taken from another shallow hole (one one-handed spade thrust deep). The first thing that is noticeable is that (having found two socketed axes), GH says 'this is the first palstave axe', that sounds rather like he already knows that his film is going to show other palstaves being found (there were 17 in all). Secondly he says for some reason 'there's (sic) signals all around' and 'they're all over the place' - yet up to that point, they'd only had four signals, hardly 'all around', or all over the place I would have thought. There is also speculation at this point already 'it's going to be a hell of a day'. Whence such unbridled optimism?

Another point worth noting, neither 'Ironhearted Gog' or Andy seem to have any instruments on them to plot the findspots with respect to each other. No GPS, no measuring tapes. No notebook or drawing board. The objects from distant findspots are first dumped on the ground in the middle of the field (six axes qualifies for 'coming up thick and fast'). The pile (now 13 objects) was then moved to the edge of the field near the car on the south side of the field (I am assuming the long shadows are from the early morning sun).  No labels accompany the loose finds, so even if they were plotting the finds, potential for a mixup exists. But I do not think there is evidence from this record of the recovery that they plotted the findspots at all. At this stage however they should certainly have been thinking about stopping trashing this site and how responsibly to recover these items and the associated information and get professional advice and help.

The film-maker stresses that the finds are all coming from the topsoil and were shallow. This has a bearing on the question of whether this is being 'staged', because if they'd wanted to film deeper recovery, they'd first have to dig a hole to rebury the axes deeper and then that disturbance would be visible before they started redigging. Again there is a reference to the 'lots and lots of signals around' and their being scattered. Then the film-maker suggests that they'd been dumped on the field when the hedge (and ditch) were dug.

He says that 'usually with Bronze Age, you'd expect there to be a big concentration, but they are all scattered around this slight depression in the field' . This is a consequence of a narrow object-centred view of prehistory. For 'Ironhearted Gog', Bronze Age axes are frequently found by detectorists as parts of hoards. But of course the objects were not made purely to be deposited in hoards. There are a number of reasons why deposits of single whole axeheads could have been made over a number of years or decades in the general vicinity of that 'slight depression' (an infilled feature such as a major ditch? A small ancient pond?) And that is why these finders should have been plotting each findspot and bagging each find separately with a label indicating what was found where.

All the more so as at one stage they are ostentatiously showing one signal (did you hear it?) not being dug .. 'Y'know what? That's too deep to dig, [...] don't want to get into the archaeology, because there is archaeology on this site' (i.e., these two know full well that they are targeting an archaeological site with their artefact hunting) 'it's worth leaving it for the experts'. Again, though, there is no evidence that they've plotted this findspot for later examination or with reference to the other findspots of related material. It is worth noting that this hole is no deeper than any of the other the same detectorist is shown digging in another You Tube video on sites, including one that looks to be exactly the same soil as this axe-field.

The whole (?) group of axes are seen in the form of the second pile here with a bit of show-and-tell (to here) Most of these objects we did not see coming out of the ground, the film-maker explains he'd gone out that day to make a film, but forgot to charge the batteries... So there is not even the scantest documentation of their context of discovery. The whole group is shown and also visible is their typological variety, probably as displayed for the landowner in the back of their truck. Although 'Ironhearted Gog' notes that the one the farmer found may not be part of this group, it is shown lying with the rest  - perhaps the farmer decided he'd like a Treasure reward for that one too.

This group of objects was recovered - apparenly - in one day. There was no time for reflection on research questions the distribution and nature of this material could have been used to address (and therefore the best methods to apply to obtain that information). The finders seem not really to know much about the archaeology of the Bronze Age. In any case, they seem from this video to have simply decided - on no evidence at all - that this was material dug out  of a ditch in modern times and scattered on the field. They do not seem to question that assumption and do not consider that it is worth using more nuanced techniques to find, document and recover the material (and even to test their own hypothesis). What the video shows is just crude accumulation-driven hoiking.

The axes are all in a very odd state of preservation, there is a thin smooth patina on all the ones where this can be seen, and there is packed clay adhering to many of them (but this has fallen out of the sockets of the palstaves before they were filmed at the end). Sometimes when the film-maker rotates a find, one can almost see the glint of metal where the patina has rubbed off. Is this normal patina for this area? What has happened to the axes that - despite, if the finder is correct, they've been rolling about in the topsoil for a good while - they are all preserved in such a state?

  The finders add that the  hoard (sic) has been reported to the PAS, 'and we hope to return and film any excavations on-site in the future'. The problem is that they were twice recorded saying that they intended to remove all the metal objects in the group from the field. Whether or not they achieved that can only be determined by further searching. If they removed 97% of the material without record, then there really is not much point of searching at all. If they got half of the metal objects in that field, maybe there would be a point getting more from the point of view of getting a better sample of the typological range, but even if the material they removed was only recovered from the topsoil, the interpretation of any spatial patterning will be rendered unreliable (or even impossible) through the activities of these artefact hunters, half of the evidence is already missing, and there is no way of knowing how the missing information relates to that which later gets recorded. The site has been trashed by these artefact (Treasure) hunters and we have it on video. Again, there seems little point in financing a resource-consuming project to salvage what the artefact hunters left behind. We will now not be able to properly understand the site. Even if the two artefact hunters are right and the present disposition of material in the field is the result of subsoil scattering from a modern ditch-cleaning operation, plotting the distribution of material in the topsoil (both sides of the ditch) would be an essential first step in determining where the material had originated. 

The person who sent me the link asked if it was my personal opinion that this video had been staged. It seems pretty obvious (see above) that to some extent that is the case, the actual extent and nature of that however is in doubt. It could be nothing worse than just an attempt to create a better artistic (I use the term loosely) effect. Or it could be worse. I noted how many times at the beginning of the search as portrayed, the film-maker seemed to be talking of a larger assemblage of objects than had in fact been shown as having been found at that stage (see above), it is all a bit unnatural. This inevitably raises the question of whether the film actually takes a lot more artistic licence with this find, it begs the question whether, when the film starts, they had in fact already found many more items (perhaps in part of the field, for example, which has some buildings near it which would make the findspot easily identifiable, so they took the decision to show their 'finding' in another part of the field facing the opposite direction to avoid this problem?). Without any proper supporting documentation made during the search, how can the sequence of events shown in the video be verified at all? Perhaps the finders feel there is no need, but then, the fact that there are a number of strange features about the video, perhaps this is something they should have taken more care over. In any case, from whatever point of view it is seen, what the film shows is not any form of "citizen archaeology" worthy of such a name.

Given that we do not see the finders making any kind of record of what came from where, at no stage seem to have stopped to reflect whether they are doing the right thing by carrying on blindly hoiking instead of getting informed  advice or help that fact that this video also seems to be 'staged' for effect, rather than providing a record of what was found, how and where, is very much to be regretted. I would suggest that this video should be presented at the Coroner's Inquest as evidence, and the most useful response to what it shows would be to withold any Treasure reward here for both the finders and the landowner who allowed this to happen to a Treasure findspot on his property

Monday, 15 October 2018

Increasing Pressures on Archaeology Officers in England

The latest report on the number of historic environment specialists employed to advise local authorities in England and the amount of cases they are handling. Since 2006 the number of conservation specialists has fallen by 35%, and the number of archaeological specialists advising local authorities in England has fallen by 35%. But the number of artefact hunters has gone up, probably exponentially.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Digging Up Upton

Tattooed men take your past and tekkies' money
On the Upton Parish Noticeboard, Paul Howard (of Let's Go Digging inc.) has posted this:
EARN BETWEEN £200 AND £1000 CASH per day Metal detecting club looking for land to search for a 1 day visit for my club . I pay £10 cash for each member who attends and we are looking for cultivated / Ploughed / Drilled / pasture fields. If you have between 30 and 50 acres we do midweek smaller events where we bring between 10 and 40 members If you have between 50 and 100 acres you can earn from £400 to £1000 cash a day for a visit on a Saturday or Sunday. We will travel anywhere nationwide but the land must be free of any green waste tipping and also MUST be undetected by any group in the past. The better your area for history the better for members being interested. They keep all finds and record any treasure trove items to British museum . Fully insured club Any find if found valued at £500 gets split 50/50 between land owner and the finder . We can’t do SSI Land or any land that is scheduled .
The annual membership to LGD is £20.00 and participation in each rally costs £15.00. Note, only "Treasure Trove" (sic) will be reported...

A Good Time for British Archaeology to Face up to the Truth About Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Resource

Heritage Action write of 'The moment of truth for British Archaeology?' (Heritage Journal blog 14/10/2018) drawing attention to the implications of RESCUE's new 'policies for the future', which include two points on artefact hunting and the antiquities market.
Their central assertion, the absolute game changer, is that “Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource”. Their message couldn’t be clearer: unregulated metal detecting isn’t sustainable so Britain shouldn’t tolerate it.
They point out that this
seems like a concept whose time has come, but only if the CBA gets on board too. But why wouldn’t it? Here are some more things Rescue said that we’re virtually certain CBA agrees with:
We have concluded that the current system for regulating the recovery of archaeological evidence by non-professionals in the UK is inadequate.

The PAS has been unable to sufficiently advocate for archaeological methodologies and rigorous survey practices to underpin artefact collecting

Rescue calls for a national investigation into the feasibility of a licensing system for all archaeological work, including metal detecting.

We will advocate for all metal detecting, fieldwalking, excavation and other intrusive survey to be subject to prior authorisation

Rescue will also advocate for the introduction of legally enforceable compulsory reporting of all recovered archaeological material

We will support the creation of antiquities legislation for England that requires all artefacts offered for sale to be fully and legitimately provenanced….
It’s to be hoped the CBA will confirm that it DOES indeed agree with all that Rescue has said on this matter because for the Council for British Archaeology to be at odds with the Council of The British Archaeological Trust would surely be an intolerable situation for British archaeology?

Council for British Archaeology and Artefact Hunting

"Our vision is Archaeology for all: 

by 2020 everyone will know how they 
can enjoy, understand and care for the
environment – and why it matters".

The CBA is an archaeological body which basically is concerned with the public face of the disipline in order to enable people to protect and celebrate their archaeological heritage. They's published the CBA Strategic Objectives 2016–19  that 'presents objectives to take us towards 2020 – Archaeology for all'. The preamble is about 'Making Archaeology Matter' to the public and discussing the 'Scope' of the  and the role of the CBA is caring for historic remains and using them to 'reveal new stories' . The objectives of the Strategic Plan fall into three main groups:
Enhancing the protection and stewardship of the UK’s archaeological heritage 
Increasing the range and diversity of public participation in archaeology 
Increasing public awareness and knowledge of the UK’s archaeological heritage
In the light of Issues 10 and 11 of Rescue'e recently-revised policy statement, it is worth noting where Collection-Driven Exploitation (CDE) of the archaeological record would fit in with this.
-  It is not in any way or form 'Archaeology for All' unless you see archaeology as 'just digging up old things' - which I would suggest it is not.
- CDE is not a form of public participation in archaeology but collecting - which is something totally different.
- CDE is not any form of community archaeology or a form of public engagement with archaeology , or active involvement in archaeology
- CDE does not 'protect' the archaeological heritage - hoiking finds out of assemblages just to add to a personal collection trashes the sites and assemblages exploited,
- CDE and the building of scattered ephemeral personal artefact collections are not promoting the enhancement of appropriate levels of curation for archaeological material in museum collections with appropriate public access to encourage use,
- CDE is thus not any form of enhancing the protection, undrstanding or stewardship of the UK’s archaeological heritage,
- fostering CDE is not empowering local engagement with advocacy associated with the protection and stewardship of the UK’s archaeological heritage
- promoting CDE is not facilitating and empowering enhanced public stewardship of the UK’s archaeological heritage based on increased local understanding of the historic environment
- promoting CDE is not helping increase public awareness and knowledge of the UK’s archaeological heritage 
- Promoting CDE will not help promoting the protection and appreciation of the UK’s archaeological heritage on land and under the sea to politicians and key decision makers across the UK and abroad
- promoting CDE is not a 'sustainable way' to achieve any of the CBA's objectives
The strategy refers specificallly to artefact hunting in the bit on
'Supporting ambitions to encourage all finders to act responsibly when they discover archaeological material and encouraging greater public understanding of the value of portable antiquities to our growing knowledge of the UK’s archaeological heritage'
It does not stress the difference between chance finders and artefact hunters who deliberately seek out sites and assemblages to make their selection from and pocket the artefacts in them for their own private uses. Does the CBA consider that this manner of treatment of the archaeological record (with or without a PAS set up to try and gain some benefits from it) is one that a responsible opinion-forming body such as the CBA should condone or condemn? Would the CBA agree or disagree with the RESCUE statement "unregulated hobby detecting [...] does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource"?

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Cycladic Figure Found in Situ on Santorini

The looters did not get here first at least. Excavations at Akrotiri on Santorin  have revealed a place apparently involved in ritual activity, very close to Xesti 3, an important public building with rich fresco decorations on the southern boundary of the settlement (Philip Chrysopoulos, 'Santorini Excavation Brings to Light Impressive New Findings' Greek Reporter Oct 12, 2018). These excavations, executed under the aegis of the Archaeological Society of Athens and the direction of Professor Emeritus Christos Doumas, with a sponsorship by the Kaspesky Lab, are generating new information about the ideology and possibly the religion of prehistoric Aegean society.
n the interior of an important building, probably a public building known by the conventional name “House of the Thrania” — where the famous golden goat was found in 1999, now exhibited at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera — a clay urn was found, next to a set of horns. There are also several amphorae and small rectangular clay shrines. After the gradual excavation and cleaning of a small shrine in the NW corner of the area, archaeologists found a marble protocycladic female figurine placed diagonally in the bottom of the clay shrine. From the group of clay shrines found in the SE corner of the site, three were fully recovered containing oval clay vessels and two marble pre-Cycladic vessels, a marble vessel and an alabaster vessel.
The marble figure at least will not be a fake, like very many that are currently on the market...


British Army forms Cultural Property Protection Unit

A former Gulf War tank commander is recruiting experts to form a specialist unit that will protect cultural heritage in war zones. The formation of the unit is a response to Britain’s decision, last year, to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on protecting cultural property during military conflict. (Nick Squires, 'British Army starts recruiting for revived Monuments Men unit to protect art and archaeology in war' Telegraph, 11th Oct 2018).  The Cultural Property Protection Unit will be commanded by Lt Colonel Tim Purbrick, who is now attempting to assemble a group of specialists,  and will start interviewing potential recruits next week.
The new unit will draw on members of the Army, Navy, RAF and Royal Marines. Civilians who want to join will have to enlist in the Army Reserves. Once up and running, the 15-strong unit will be sent into war zones where art and archeological sites are at risk from fighting. [...]   The CPPU will be tasked with protecting art and archeology, investigating looting, bringing smuggling gangs to justice and informing allied forces about the location of cultural heritage sites.  “The idea will be to identify sites so that we don’t drop bombs on them or park tanks on top of them,” said Lt Col Purbrick, who left the regular army after 10 years to become a reservist.

Treasure Trickery Allegations [Updated]

Tricky Treasure Hunters?
Interesting piece of gossip from the horse's mouth (that is, allegedly from a metal detectorist) , can anyone shed any light on this? An FLO perhaps? From some recent correspondence (author's name withheld):
"On an unrelated matter, one of my tame detectorists mentioned a case where PAS are involved with a case of 'hoard salting', ie they have discovered a 'finder' has found a hoard that had [objects in it that had] apparently been cleaned prior to finding. It's not one I've seen, but then as a rule I don't use facebook. He could not give me details and I don't remember noticing you refer to it. I presume an FOI request to PAS may be the best way to find out what they are up to in this respect. It would be interesting in seeing just how many 'prosecutions' they get involved with. Sadly I suspect few or one".
Actually PAS cannot get involved in any prosecutions for false reporting of Treasure finds for the very simple reason that they are not supposed (according to the current wording of the 1996 Treasure Act) to be involved at all, the finder reports potential Treasure to the Coroner.  There was a Treasure inquest some years back when - as I remember it - two UK finders appeared in a Coroner's inquest to describe how they'd found a ring in a field, and then it was revealed that the ring had been sold on Austrian eBay a few weeks earlier, but this seems to have been a prank played on them. Then we had the brooch David Williams discovered was a Danubian type found on a UK rally. Then there was an Anglo-Saxon coin which some guy came to the PAS with, saying he'd found it on a rally, but in fact it had been stolen from a museum showcase just days earlier. Also readers might remember the metal detectorist who was turning out fake Anglo-Saxon gold coins and claiming he'd found them with his detector (that one did jail time).   I am sure there are a lot of these 'out of place' artefacts being laundered through the PAS and other online recording schemes (CCI, EMC, UKDFD).   How many Treasure finds have been embellished by the addition of objects (or some items found not reported and handed over)? 

UPDATE 14th October

I have just received this from a correspondent:
hi Paul i have also heard this story in the past few days. According to the bloke what told me its an hoard of prehistoric metal objects reportedly from a field somewhere in the middle of England. I heard it was apparently offered to at least one dealer who refused to touch it. It was then 'rediscovered' and the bloke made a video showing it coming out of the ground and gave the stuff to PAS. I havn't any reason not to believe the person what told me this. It seems the objects were nice and clean when they were shown to the dealer and then 'uncleaned' for the video. Thanks Paul - would prefer not to be named if you use it. By for now [...]
So, is this in-hobby jealousy, or have the PAS been handed with a dodgy group of finds?  and if they have, will they simply record it to avoid making waves and arouse distrust among the artefcact hunting community (which will affect those all-important recording figures) or will they be alerting the police to the possibility of the landowner making a false claim? 

FLO Reads "Treasure Island" at PAS15 Puff-conf

At the PAS15 Puff-conference at the British Museum, FLO Adam Daubney apparently started his talk on PAS-storytelling by reading the beginning of RLStevenson's 'Treasure Island'. Here is the beginning of that book:
“Squire Trelawney, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.”
But PAS isn't about Treasure, it was set up (and paid for) to deal with the items found by members of the public (and so not just Treasure hunters with their metal detectors) that do not fall under the 1996 Treasure Act

Those eighteenth century pirate treasures of course werre composed primarily of gold taken through colonial oppression of native populations by western European imperialists. So pretty appropriate then that this was being recalled during a reading in the British Museum - the epitome of British colonialism and imperialistic ambitions.  The fact the bearings of the island were withheld was because there were so many thieving pirates circling the island. 

Collector Faces Jail

Daniel the egg snatcher
Going out in camo-gear and collecting a renewable resource can get you into trouble in the UK it seems:
A man who illegally collected more than 5,000 rare bird eggs has been warned he faces jail. Daniel Lingham, 65, was spotted "head-to-toe in camouflage gear" picking eggs up off the ground at Cawston Heath in Norfolk. Norwich Magistrates' Court heard he was searched by police, who then visited his home and found thousands of eggs. Officers found a total of 5,266 eggs of species including nightingales, nightjars, turtle doves, chiffchaffs, little-ringed plovers, woodlarks and kingfishers at his home. They searched his home and found tubs containing eggs under his bed and in the kitchen and living room. Lingham was convicted of similar offences in 2005 when he was jailed for 12 weeks for illegally collecting 3,603 eggs, the court heard. He pleaded guilty on Friday to taking nine linnet eggs at Cawston Heath, having 75 wild bird eggs from species which are in decline, and possessing 4,070 ordinarily protected wild bird eggs (Source: Jamie Merrill, 'Britain's most prolific bird egg thief single-handedly put the future of nightjars and turtle doves at risk, RSPB says after court case' Telegraph, 12 October 2018).
Britain's most prolific artefact hunters and knowledge thieves single-handedly put our future ability to understand the past at risk, but nobody gives a tinkers, least of all many UK archaeologists - as long as they can get their hands on some of the stuff pocketed. Lingham has been referred to a mental health team and is being treated for obsessive compulsive disorder.

Lingham's eggs were at least properly ordered and labelled,
which is more than one can say for many personal artefact
collections of UK metal detectorists. The collection
is nonetheless not only illegal in terms of current,
legislation but may be judged amoral and despicable

Another Museum Fire

Soon after the devastating fire in Brazil's national museum, the museum world was faced with the news of another one, this time in western Europe (Catherine Hinckley, 'Fire consumes depot at Deutsches Museum' The Art Newspaper 11th October 2018)
A fire at a depot of the Munich-based Deutsches Museum, one of the biggest technology museums in the world, has wreaked heavy damage on museum artefacts [...] The blaze late on 10 October in Ingolstadt, a town north of Munich, raged through a depot storing 8,000 artefacts, [...]  the cause of the fire has not so far been determined.

Heritage Action on PAS15 Puff-Conference Fluff

Adam Dabuney says PAS is about "storty telling"
Photo Ben Woodward via Twitter
Heritage Action has the same impression as me about the PAS15 Puff-conference and its self-gratulatory fluff , that it was the same old stuff that they've been burbling on about for many many years ('Sustainable metal detecting: what did Dr Mike Heyworth say yesterday?'):
Yesterday PAS held its annual symposium. I’d have loved to go but age, infirmity and a conspicuous lack of an invitation precluded it. The most memorable bit, for me, was reading that a FLO had said “it will take time to change culture – it’s gradual.” I nearly fell off my peacock throne for I remember the early days of PAS, 15 or 20 years ago and a thing called the PAS Forum (all records of which have now disappeared) in which that very same FLO said that very same thing to me weekly, over and over and over. Now there are as many or more non-reporting ignorami stealing knowledge as then so “gradual” has turned out to be a word not a process, as Rescue has finally come to see. It would be good if the proceedings are published soon but neither I nor the stakeholding public should hold our breath on that.
 The stakeholding public that have paid millions for these folk to sit in offices and pat artefact hunters on the head when they bring them stuff to fondle.

PAS15 Conference, What DID CBA Director Have to Say About Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record?

Heritage Action comments on the 'PAS15' puff-conference in London ('Sustainable metal detecting: what did Dr Mike Heyworth say yesterday?'). Nigel Swift says that it would be good if the proceedings were to be published soon, although we all know that up to now the proceedings of these expensive* puff-meetings rarely are, but HA suggest that since Mike Heyworth of the CBA was there, maybe he’d publish whatever he said.
I’d love that, for I recall that in November 2011 in British Archaeology, he called for ….
“more research to be carried out on the damage to archaeological sites and lost knowledge due to rallies, to provide a counter-weight to arguments put forward by the vested interests of rally organisers. If CBA members and readers of British Archaeology hear of any examples of “treasure hunting” or detecting rallies causing damage to archaeological sites, then please contact the CBA director in York. It is helpful to build up a portfolio of examples across the country to present to the government when future opportunities allow.“
Well that’s something we can help him with! How many rallies cause damage? All of them surely (and there have been hundreds since he asked the question) – unless of course he can name a single one where the participants all reported all their finds and we bet he can’t. Wouldn’t it be great if it turns out he told the symposium that CBA supports what Rescue has just said about unregulated metal detecting (simply that it doesn’t yield enough knowledge to justify the damage).
This has long been the position of Heritage Action and myself. In particular commercial artefact hunting rallies (whether ostensibly for "charity" or not)
are never best practice, never responsible, never harmless, never sustainable, can never be rendered otherwise by the attendance of PAS, and also that it’s a national disgrace that the biggest rally this year had a majority of foreign attendees. 
It would be great - and in fact only right - if the Director of the CBA said all that, and that rallies should (along with other aspects of how collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record are being done today under the lax watch of the PAS and its regional 'officers') be legislated into the dustbin of history – and that he intends to say so in the next British Archaeology. As Heritage Action point out: 'at a time when Rescue has just come out so clearly in favour of action it’s surely not sensible for the CBA not to do the same'. Unless the CBA can show that the mounting evidence that the overall and longterm effects of British policies on artefact hunting are just "story-telling" of the wrong kind and "fake news", which seems to be the position of some in the PAS. Can they, when the PAS has not actually done a proper review of the overall situation that would provide basis for such claims? That by the way seems not to have been one of the topics discussed in the PAS15-puff-conf.
* (travel expenses for c. 40 PAS staff and other speakers, probably met by local authority 'partners')

Friday, 12 October 2018

'Metal detecting: how much can you make?'

Is it lucrative? While some
do it for the love of the craft
 others have made lucrative gains 

Treasure hunting in the UK is governed by the Treasure Act 1996 (The Week, 'Metal detecting: how much can you make? ', Jul 20, 2018).
The hobby of metal detecting hasn’t always had the best reputation, thanks in part to shows like The Detectorists that depict enthusiasts as social misfits. But joining detectorists to uncover hidden treasure “could mean potentially profiting from long summer days”, says The Guardian. Here’s what you need to know: [...]  If you're serious about unearthing something of value, research a site first. [...]  any apparently unremarkable field could quite easily be hiding a metaphorical goldmine.

The Treasure Found in a Field

From Facebook

For those who do not know, the reference is Matthew 13:44,

Reconstructing the PAS Conference

A readinv from 'Treasure Island' from
 A. D at PAS Conference
Treasure Registrar via Twitter
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at the PAS conference in the BM today - the release of the RESCUE policy document seems to have been deliberately timed to afford delegates the opportunity to discuss it. The PAS15 conference was celebrating the fact that though it has existed for 20 years, the PAS has now been a publicly funded national scheme for 15 years . The format of these meetings is fairly firmly established, some pep-talks, some of the Great and Good come to give the proceedings splendour, usually it's ministers, this year it seems to have just been Barry Cunliffe. There were the usual displays of narrativised but decontextualised'interesting stuff found this year'.

Conservation advice contains the C-word, p 20 
There were apparently four sessions, plus the launch of the  promote the new Conservation advice that seems in some way to be connected with Drakon Heritage . Like all the other conferences of this type (apart from one that was temporarily available online for a few years - now gone) the proceedings most likely will not be published (which is a shame as they would provide a revealing cross section of how the Scheme and thought about it have developed over the years)‏. The skeleton can however be reconstructed from the live-tweeting provided by some of the delegates (apologies if I've missed some, most of the 36 PASFLOs have a problem with transparency and blocked me from seeing their twitter feeds, bless them).

Basically, however, from what can be seen there, the PAS15 puff-conf  looks as if it were more of a social occasion than anything likely to provoke any deep reflection. The topics discussed followed the usual time-worn PAS-paths, and to some extent duplicated the same old information that attendees could probably garner el;sewhere - were they particularly interested.

The whole meeting was opened by BM director Hartwig Fischer, who introduced the Museum's efforts at 'Recording Britain(sic)'s Past' (that is the bits that are not Scotland and N Ireland and of course that is not the only thing the PAS was set up and publicly financed to do).

The first session was led by Tom Brindle 'talking about the contribution of PAS data to archaeological research, based on his own PhD research'. Tom Brindle's PhD was submitted in 2011 and actually published in book form in 2014. One would have hoped therefore for something that was a bit more topical than a presentation of seven-year old data (!). Anyhow the evidence from Northamptonshire (? Brindle 2014, p. 119, tab 59) seems to have been what was discussed in detail in at least part of the talk. Here we have the issue of the targeting of known sites by artefact hunters and collectors. At an earlier PAS conference (the one that had bits of it was online), Brindle quoted other figures. Now we have the values that appeared in the book (discussed by me elsewhere); 'analysis of Roman PAS data aided in the identification of at least 391 discrete sites [in N'hants], 240 of which were previously unknown'. So that means that the 'data' from 151 of those findspots (just under half) were from collection-driven exploitation targeting known sites presumably without any properly formulated research agenda. There is not much of a record in the material to which I have access of any useful discussion there may have been after that.

Examples of 'Platinum' practice by 
finders and self recorders (screenshot by 
Ben Woodward Durham FLO)  
This was followed by a session on 'Best Practice' led by Kevin Leahy, National Finds Adviser for PAS. He was apparently 'talking about best practice in searching for and recording archaeological finds, providing excellent examples of the work (sic) of detectorists in Lincolnshire'. The topics covered here would be interesting to know about, the PAS is object-centred and seems to have a pretty skimpy idea of best practice vis a vis those desirable from the pointy of view of other aspects of archaeological practice. This shows the disadvantage of these incestuous meetings where the main participants seem drawn from the 'finds' world and metal detectorists. Apparently Leahy - despite 'misgivings in the early days of PAS that it might be just 'stamp collecting' - suggests that now the organization has 'moved well beyond that and are in a new era of material culture/object biography, with data that can be statistically interrogated'. I would dispute that personally. I think a lot of what passes for 'modern archaeological research' in and around the PAS is a specific retro-archaeology and naked artefactology that would be recognizable to Gustav Kossinna.

The example of 'platinum practice' for example, showing (I guess) that artefact hunters can, if they want, plot where they have hoiked metal objects from and they form patterns (duh) really means nothing at all, except that's where somebody dugg a signal and found something they thought worth plotting. No amount of 'statistical analysis' will produce anything from that (apart from the fact there IS a discrete or amorphous pattern of dots on a map) in the absence of other data input - like the associated non-metallic evidence that was ignored by the metal detector and the metal detectorist. Such maps map collecting activity and not archaeological evidence. In the discussion there was reference to the progress of change in practice among finders (I am guessing this was focussed on artefact hunters). Adam Daubney explainedthat 'it will take time to change culture '- it's gradual. Angie Bolton agrees but anecdotally suggested that changes in attitudes take place (referring to 'the change from now and her first club visit, where detectorists didn't want to be known as having spoken to an archaeologist' as 'impressive'). Adam Daubney agrees and says that we can't change the law but we can change the culture (to make non-recording of finds and non-professional excavation of in situ hoards distasteful to all detectorists) by sharing knowledge'. Apart from these comments, there is not much of a record in the material to which I have access of any useful discussion there may have been after that session either.  

The afternoon sessions begin with Adam Daubney talking about Sharing Knowledge. It seems from the live tweets that he made two main points that through sharing knowledge PAS is 'communicating our key values as an organisation' and that archaeology is 'storytelling', which is fundamental to what PAS does and it seems that he began his talk by reading to the gathering 'the opening lines from Treasure Island' (!). He argued that the purpose of recording finds was so that people may learn more about the past, and the archaeology and history of their local area' (referring to one of the PAS strategic objectives).

Among the FLOs, I have a lot of respect for Adam Daubney who is one of the few that I have come across in the 20-year history of the organization that actually reflects about what the PAS does. What is reported here however seemns to sugest that what he said referred less to archaeological outreach per se, but a Scheme-focussed (and thus object-focussed) narrativisation of decontextualised artefacts. I hope I am wrong about what he said. There is a difference between storytelling of the sort PAS sometimes fobs the press and public off with and archaeological inference. The mere telling of stories as a means to 'share knowledge' referred to in one of the tweets is merely dumbdown. Again, there is not much of a record in the material to which I have access of any useful discussion there may have been of those aspects of his presentation.

The last panel session 'PAS, Treasure, and museums' was introduced by Andrew Woods talking about treasure acquisition and the collections at York Museums. In the material to which I have access, there is not much evidence that anybody was very much interested in what was said or discussed. Not surprisingly, as PAS of course was set up to deal with evidence that does not fall under the 1996 Treasure Act.

The final session consisted of  Michael Lewis, head of PAS rounding up the day, and presenting 'Looking to the Future'. In the absence of much evidence that the participants thought much of what he was saying was of much interest to anybody outside the room. But there are some screenshots of slides:

The Plan for 2020 (Photo Durham FLO Ben Westwood)
The strategy is different from the aims already published, the Scheme seems to change its aims every few years. Note that the last is a return to the fifth aim of 2003 that was allegedly 'achieved' in 2006...
to define the nature and scope of a Scheme for recording Portable Antiquities in the longer term, to assess the likely costs and to identify resources to enable it to be put into practice.
That was not true of course, it was just convenient to delete it when ad hoc funding was available. This problem was discussed in the 2018 DCReview of the Scheme, but not publicised at the time - can one imagine that it was the subject of discussion today?

Among the 'recent developments' discussed by Mr Lewis were 'new guidelines on prioritising finds recording', in other words missing even more finds out than before. Bangor's Raimund Karl has told us that he has ascertained that already an unbelievable only 'one in ten' finds reported to FLOs are actually recorded by them, now the number will drop further? What's the point of having a PAS if that is all it is capable of giving?

Recent developments in PAS (Photo Durham FLO Ben Westwood)
And there are going to be new protocols for recording the pottery and lithics brought in by finders.

And there is no evidence from the material available to me that the Rescue policy document was even mentioned.

Finally, on a cultural note, Rob Webley waxes poetical about the PAS:
It was fifteen years ago this year,
That we started logging all this gear.
Take a look, come back later –
There’s gonna be loads more data.
So let us introduce to you, the buckles, coins and balance beams:
It’s the Port-able An-tiquities Scheme!

More Stereotypical Thinking on Metal Detector Use, This Time From Holland

Unhelpful stereotypes
Here we go again: Jef van der Schriek & Max van der Schriek 'Metal Detecting: Friend or Foe of Conflict Archaeology? Investigation, Preservation and Destruction on WWII sites in the Netherlands', Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 1:3, 228-244,
[...] Metal detecting is a hobby that has traditionally been vilified by many archaeologists as an uncontrollable threat to the proper study of the past. This paper will discuss whether an effective cooperation is possible between archaeologists and metal detectorists concerning this fragile heritage.
Is that the hobby conventionally referred to as "Metal Detecting" (= artefact hunting/ collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological resource) OR "metal detector use"? These are two different things, we really need more precise terminology, otherwise rational discussion is severely hampered.

Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record Damages Sites Even Underwater

In the Fournoi survey project (directed by Dr. Peter Campbell of the RPM Nautical Foundation and Dr. George Koutsouflakis from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities) :
Archaeologists in Greece have discovered at least 58 shipwrecks, many laden with antiquities, in what they say may be the largest concentration of ancient wrecks ever found in the Aegean and possibly the whole of the Mediterranean. The wrecks lie in the small island archipelago of Fournoi, in the Eastern Aegean, and span a huge period from ancient Greece right through to the 20th century. Most are dated to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras. 
[Reuters Ancient shipwrecks found in Greek waters tell tale of trade routes October 11, 2018]  The survey team discovered the shipwrecks from sightings by local sponge divers and fishermen. The objects found in the wrecks, and documenting their relations with each other is providing information about the navigational routes that connected the ancient Mediterranean,
The vessels and their contents paint a picture of ships carrying goods on routes from the Black Sea, Greece, Asia Minor, Italy, Spain, Sicily, Cyprus, the Levant, Egypt and north Africa. The team has raised more than 300 antiquities from the shipwrecks, particularly amphorae, giving archaeologists rare insight into where goods were being transported around the Mediterranean. 
 Unfortunately, the archaeologists are hampered in understanding some of the sites as surface evidence has been removed .
The condition of the shipwrecks vary. Some are well preserved, others are in pieces after the ships crashed on the rocks. “We have wrecks that are completely virgin. We feel we were the first ones to find them, but they are in very deep waters – at a depth of 60 meters. Usually from 40 meters and below we have wrecks in good condition. Anything above 40 meters has either lost its consistency or has been badly looted in the past,” said Koutsouflakis.

U.S. And Kazakhstan Sign Agreement On Cultural Heritage

Kazakhstan is one of the over 120 countries whose cltural heritage is not in any way protected by the US under their selective facadist CCPIA, but now:
Paul Packer, Chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, and Arystanbek Muhamediuly, Minister of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed a memorandum of understanding on the preservation of cultural heritage sites in Kazakhstan of significance to Americans and their ancestors.
Foreign cultural heritage sites of significance to Americans and their ancestors.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

One in the Eye for the Ixelles Six/Helsinki Gang

The six academics that wrote a lazy text on the alleged 'benefits' of adopting a laissez faire approach to the Collection-Driven exploitation of the archaeological record like the one embodied in the English legal system got a bloodied nose today.
Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource, 
I really would like to see  Pieterjan Deckers, Suzie Thomas, Natasha Ferguson, Andres Dobat, Stijn Heeren and Michael Lewis answer that. I doubt they will, though.

A Bit Awkward for Artefact Collectors

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has long given collectors of decontextualised ancient artefacts succour and a hope that one day the 'restrictive' (= protective) legislation of most of the source countries for the artefacts they covet would be replaced by a laissez faire and unenforced legislation like in England and Wales:
"Advocates of collectors' rights point to the cultural property laws prevailing in the United Kingdom as being the most effective approach yet devised for effectively reconciling the many disparate, often conflicting goals, interests and concerns of all those interested in discovery and ownership of antiquities" (Dave Welsh). 
The problem is they offer little protection to sites preventing their collection-driven exploitation as a source for collectables for foreign dealers like Mr Welsh to sell and private collectors to accumulate. Supporters of the PAS have over the years come out with a lot of spun nonsense arguments suggesting that it's almost the next-best thing to sliced bread. That however is cutting no mustard with RESCUE, who are arguing precisely what I and Nigel Swift (among others) have been insisting a long while now:
Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource

It's Not Just Metal Detectors

It's not just metal detectors, collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record can take many forms. Here is a (closed) FB page devoted to: 'ancient pottery sherds found uk' [capitalisation as in original]
hear (sic) you can show your ancient pottery shards (sic) that you have found in the uk. or ask for help in identifying them. please only pottery found in the UK and nothing post medieval.
170 members Administrator: Robert Mee, created 11th July 2018
This prejudice is interesting. Arfefact hunting is usually presented by its supporters as ordinary citizens trying to learn about the 'history' of the places they live in - and the post-medieval artefactual material in the fields (as well as old maps, iconographic material and documents from the period)  are not only an integral part of the history, but precisely the element that links the distant past with the lived-in present. 

Post Medieval pottery is discussed by other artefact hunters such as Julia (Mudlarking on the Thames, London) and 'Shane (Thames Mudlarking: CatalogueThames Mudlarking: Finds and Thoughts)

    RESCUE Has Clarified its Policies, Passed by the Council

    This is very welcome, from one of the major British archaeological bodies:
    "Rescue Council felt that it would be helpful to put together our policy on key issues relating to archaeology and the historic environment. We hope that this will clarify where we stand and provide a basis for future actions. The document begins with a summary of our commitments, cross-referenced to the relevant sections of the full set of policies."
    The document is here, it is dated January 2018

    There is a lot here to think about and discuss and it covers a whole range of concerns. This blog however is concerned with just one set of issues raised, related to the collection of archaeological artefacts. I was therefore pleased to see that this got quite a bit of coverage (two secctions of sixteen) and much of it in a form I would myself see as 'right-minded' as behoves an organization that had its origins in conservation concerns.

    The preamble discusses 'The Purpose of Archaeology' which I hope will be read by all. It is difficult not to get the impression from a lot that they write that some British archaeologists see the discipline primarily as simply "digging up things [for me to write about]".

    Page 1: This introduces the sixteen items of policy. The first that caught my eye is something I have always supported:
    As the historic environment comes under increasing pressure we will:[...] • Advocate for the conditions of Article iii of the Valetta Convention to be applied to all metal detecting and other intrusive fieldwork and for the compulsory reporting of all recovered archaeological material. We will press for a national investigation into the feasibility of a licensing system for all archaeological work. [10]
    Bravo, should have done that twenty years ago. Implementing it is going to be a problem. But it's good the discussion is given a new footing by this.

    This is expanded on below, on page 13:
    Issue 10: [...] Rescue recognizes the contribution amateur and community survey and excavation can make to the overall record: for example metal detecting can provide a good indication of the ongoing destruction of archaeology in arable areas. However, Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource, in particular by detecting on non-arable land, by poor recording of find locations and by inadequate postexcavation reporting. Of the suite of amateur techniques, only the recovery of finds, mainly through metal-detecting (because it is the most widely practiced and has the potential for making lucrative discoveries) has been subject to any state intervention in the form of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Whilst this has been successful in recording significant numbers of de-contextualised finds, the PAS has been unable to sufficiently advocate for archaeological methodologies and rigorous survey practices to underpin artefact collecting and this results in archaeological material being removed from the landscape without appropriate recording. The voluntary nature of the PAS means that hobby detectorists are not obliged to adhere to the principles of the scheme nor to record the material they are recovering. Furthermore, funding for the scheme is no longer guaranteed. There are no arrangements in place to govern any form of archaeological fieldwork outside the protection of Scheduled Monument status or the planning framework. Rescue does not believe that these arrangements correspond to the requirements or the spirit of Article 3 of the 1992 Valetta Convention which they were designed to address, and therefore we have concluded that the current system for regulating the recovery of archaeological evidence by non-professionals in the UK is inadequate.
    The remedy is discussed further on page 13:
    Rescue Policy
    Rescue supports the provisions of Article 3 of the Valetta Convention and welcomes discussions and further debate on the subject of how best to bring the UK into line with the requirements it sets out. Rescue calls for a national investigation into the feasibility of a licensing system for all archaeological work, including metal detecting. In the meantime we will advocate for all metal detecting, fieldwalking, excavation and other intrusive survey to be subject to prior authorisation on a case-by-case basis, supported by appropriate pre-commencement documentation. Rescue will also advocate for the introduction of legally enforceable compulsory reporting of all recovered archaeological material supported by adequate resourcing of procedures for authorisation and supervision.
    Good. And of course that could be a new role for the PAS, actually placing it on a proper legal footing as part of the heritage management system. Again, that is something I and Nigel Swift have been saying for a long time now. Strengthening the PAS will allow it to speak out more fi=orcibly against bad practice, like the recent fiasco at Bellingham.

    It gets better: Page 14
    Issue 11: Archaeological antiquities
    The law in England and Wales allows the sale of archaeological objects and as a result they acquire a financial value that distorts behaviour in respect of them. Artefacts considered under the Treasure Act 1996 are assigned a financial value that museums wishing to display them have to raise, rather than the automatic acquisition of these objects for public benefit and enjoyment. The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 and the UK ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property prevents museums and galleries purchasing objects that have been acquired illegally from any historic site or monument or that have been imported illegally, but it does not apply to archaeological finds made legally in this country. Antiquities law is very variable across the world, but England, has some of the least prescriptive regulation; Scotland has a different system which offer more protection to archaeological finds. The Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Unit has recently been suspended but is due to re-open; however it is always subject to the uncertainties of public spending budgets.

    RESCUE policy
    We will support and encourage the better identification of the source of artefacts coming into British auction houses from international markets. We will support the creation of antiquities legislation for England that requires all archaeological objects offered for sale to be fully and legitimately provenanced, will discourage the sale of UK archaeological artefacts, and which takes a similar line to the Scottish system whereby any objects found by chance or through activities such as metal-detecting, field-walking, or archaeological excavation, for which the original owner is unknown, automatically become the property of the state.
    So, collection-driven exploitation of teh archaeological resource will become a thing of the past like wild bird egg collecting. What RESCUE do not mention here (and the analogy with the bird eggs is a useful one - especially with regard to the issue of 'burden of proof' - nota bene), what happens to undocumented (unpapered) artefacts from old collections - for example of 'metal detectorists'?

    I wonder who that's for?

    RESCUE have just posted their policies update on their Facebook page. Just under it is this:
    Chris Cumberpatch Administrator ·2 godz.  
    RESCUE welcomes all relevant contributions to this page but we ask contributors to consider the following statement by the RESCUE Committee when posting comments:
    "Archaeology and heritage are very powerful parts of society, and have a strong influence on people’s identity, values and judgement. There are many contested and disputed areas of archaeology, which RESCUE believes should be openly and transparently discussed and debated. RESCUE welcomes these discussions online and occasionally highlights topics that continue to be unresolved and heavily disputed. During these dialogues, it is asked that those posting refrain from harassment, intimidation or threat when these discussions are taking place within our platforms. RESCUE’s policy statements outline what we as a registered charity support and campaign towards. Any other areas which are discussed on RESCUE’s platforms should not be seen as representing our official position nor seen as an endorsement."
    Could they be expecting some comments from the "Only in it fer th' 'istry' mob and their claquers? The final comment might be an answer to a trolling FLO supporting his metal detecting mates.

    All Cleaned up, Collection-Driven Exploitation of the UK's Early Medieval Heritage

    "Brilliant couple of hours out"

    While William Kennedy thinks this is a "very nice find", Rich Hikins says "Really annoys me, so many people are detecting for the wrong reasons [emoticon]". It would be interesting what Mr Hikins thinks the majority of the (probably) 27000 metal detectorists in the UK actually do go out in the muddy fields for if it is not in the hope of hoiking some "nice finds" like this out of the ground willy-nilly and into their pockets.

    As for the guy who admonishes:
    Do hope the guy who appears to have found a Anglo Saxon burial gets in touch with his FLO very soon. Please please please let your local FLO know,
    is that for real, or is it for defensive show when something like this appears online raising questions about the long-term archaeological effects of the activities of these hobbyists?

    Is it intended to provoke the thought among the archaeological supporters of the PAS-approach and the many fence-sitting jobsworths: "oh it's probably all OK, there are some 'responsible' guys in among those 27000"?

    Tuesday, 9 October 2018

    Antiquities Trade at Oxford

    Oxford Art Online has a newly updated, free resource collection on the art market, with sections on art law and cultural heritage as well as the market for antiquities (by Erin Thompson).

    Monday, 8 October 2018

    Bellingham Hoard Trashers Hide From Public

    Time is up for the Bellingham Hoard trashers, on the 8th October, the 14 days allowed by the Treasure Act section 8 for reporting any coin removed by finders from the vicinity of the #BellinghamHoard are now up. We were treated to  a very optimistic prognosis by a local FLO that the finds could all be gathered in for handing over and reporting to the Coroner, how well has the Treasure Process progressed in this case? I asked
    Can we have some transparency please, since the PAS have assured us everything is under control now? Is it? Will we see another attempt to cover up like in the case of the Twinstead Hoard fiasco?  Whose purposes did that serve?

    And, lo and behold, the tekkies directly involved in the Hoard trashing reveal what they think of public accountability  and transparency: The North Of The Tyne Detecting has now become a 'closed group'. That way, you cannot see what they are getting up to with your archaeological heritage. That too makes a mockery of the idea of responsible detecting and the 'partnership' between this group of 'finders' and public-funded archaeological outreach groups like the PAS.

    The Clandestine 'Northern Tinies' Facebook page
     with its PAS-partnership logo
    And I do wonder whether, in the same was as 'Scotty Bea' let on that in fact it was the FLO that suggested that it 'might' be a good idea to take down the video that so graphically showed the way PAS-partners treat archaeologicaal deposits and call it 'responsible', would one of the local FLOs also be behind the decision to make teh Facebook resource a 'closed group'? Was it? And if so why?

    Vignette: Who was putting what into their pocket at Bellingham, and how will we know if what was not properly recorded being taken out of the ground 14 days ago has in fact been reported?

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