Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Our Pocketed Portable PASt

Historic England's revised version of Our Portable Past is just out today:
This statement sets out Historic England’s approach to surface-collected portable antiquities in the context of our own archaeological projects. Historic England also recommends the statement as a suitable model to follow for organisations that fund or authorise archaeological projects, and for land managers and individuals involved in giving consent for archaeological projects whatever the legal status of the site or sites involved. It is also statement of good practice for portable antiquities/surface collected material in the context of field archaeology and survey programmes (including the use of metal detectors).
We've come a long way from that first edition when they pretended that none of this applied to 'matal detectoriusts'. OK, artefact hunters, now read it and put it into (best) practice. PAS, how far are you going to go to promote its message among your pocketing 'partners'? I note:
Although Section 42 licences are only required for geophysical surveys and metal detecting on protected places, Historic England believes that the same principles and standards set out in the section above (‘Appropriate context for metal detecting (nationally important and designated sites)’) should apply to metal detecting on all previously recognised and important archaeological sites recorded in the Historic England Archive or in Local Authority Historic Environment Records, and on areas protected by other (non-archaeological) designations (eg SSSIs). The principles also provide a template for projects intended to discover, locate or characterise sites. Historic England advises all those planning metal- detecting surveys to consult the appropriate Local Authority Historic Environment Record and inform the Local Authority Archaeologist and local Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer (or Receiver of Wreck for underwater sites) before commencing their fieldwork. [...]  Particular issues arise from metal-detecting rallies. The potential loss of archaeological information through non-recording and the export without record of finds pose serious problems [...]
Note that the text does not say the holding of commercial collection-driven exploitation rallies is  problem in itself, just if the looted objects disappear. 

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