Monday, 5 February 2018

Gain Without Pain: Corner Cutting Ripping the Heart out of a Surface Site

Metal detectorist Easylife boasts that he has got a Deus V4.1, 11" coil, 9" HF coil, 2nd Garrett Carrot. On Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:25 am, he wrote about 'Exciting times maybe':
About 2 years ago I researched an area of land which is about 2 miles away from my current permission that looked like a detectorists dream come true but I had no idea who owned it. Through historical aerial photography of that particular site archaeologists have determined various crop markings attributed to possible Prehistoric, Iron age, Bronze Age and Roman features such as ancient trackways, barrows and ditched enclosures etc. [...] Well, today my farmer informs me that he has an 8 acre paddock [...] smack in that very same location and would I be interested in detecting it? [emoticon] Well, It is 400 metres from a Neolithic henge, 30 metres from a ploughed out barrow, contains the intersection of late prehistoric or Roman droveways, a pit alignment and a couple of rectangular enclosures. Oh, and it has never been detected before as it has been owned by the same family since 1970. [...]  knowing what could be there I plan to dig every target regardless.  
Regardless of the fact this is the kind of site that real 'citizen archaeology' (real archaeology) would require a better investigation methodology than 'going around the edges first' and searching mainly for coins. They will not tell anyone anything much about the pit alignment or the environs of the Neolithic henge. Simply ripping out selected material is destroying the information potential of that site. It is knowledge theft pure and simple. Mr Easylife is not bothered by any of that, has probably never read 'Our Portable Past' and is just carrying on regardless, for the sake of his easy life. Gain without pain.

I cannot be the only one reading the above who concludes that under term 'research' is in fact nothing more complex than pulling out the online version of the HER and using it to target (loot) known sites. This would not be so bad if during the exploitation of the site as a source of collectables, there was a methodology in place that took its lead from what was known about the site and its research potential and had at its aim observation and documentation of evidence adding to that. But what is happening here is just using the archaeological evidence to locate a site where Mr Easy Life can 'satisfy his curiosity' and fill his pockets.

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