Thursday, 18 October 2018

Transparency/ Accountability and The Kiss of Death for Discussion of Best Practice in UK Metal Detecting

re: Bardney Area Siliqua Hoard Forum Thread Censored by Facadists (below)

Well, "what a surprise", now if you click on the links I gave in my discussion of current ideas of artefact hunting best practice in a Lincolnshire field (the recovery of the 'Bardney Area' hoard) to the posts on a metal detecting forum near you I quote in order to justify what I had written (and why), they've all been disappeared - even the ones urging the artefact hunters busily emptying the site to exercise best practice... Who would'a thunk it eh? All those responsible detectorists not wanting us to see how actually 'responsible' they are? Now, why would that be Mr Rix? 

He was complaining the other day that one of his members had posted a link to the Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog on the forum, which gave me 'publicity', I post lots of links on my blog that, by the same token, gives his niche forum a lot of publicity - people go over to look at what interesting topics they are talking about there.  I wonder why M.Rix does not think that people looking at his forum and thinking about what they find there is actually good publicity for his forum and hobby? Stupid defensive people protecting their 'rights' to clandestinely empty the archaeological record into their pockets. Shame on them. Shame on those that support this.

 And this is where the PAS "storytelling" gets us.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Bardney Area Siliqua Hoard Forum Thread Censored by Facadists

The Metal Detectorist  and the Truth
To maintain the 'responsible detecting - never done wrong' facade of UK artefact hunting takes a lot of work. You see, artefact hunting there in general is not being done in any way that can actually be regarded as 'responsible', and it is difficult to make a sow's ear somehow look like a silk purse. But M.Rix listowner of a metal detecting forum near you is having a go, by deleting some of the posts I referred to in my own report on what I saw there about a siliqua hoard before he began deleting his own members' honest words:
Re: Hoard! Update 12/10/18 - A few more!  Post by mrix » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:01 pm
jcmaloney wrote: ↑Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:43 pm So a post about the consequences of doing things "wrong" gets removed.......... yet one advising "get a ditching bucket" stays?? Don`t know why I bother at times.
I am not sure if you have heard the expression all publicity is good publicity, all posts related to anti metal detecting blogs will be removed here at the MDF as its only creating far more awareness for these sites and simply promoting them [emoticon] [emoticon] To be honest I am a little shocked you posted a link to one of these blogs [emoticon] [emoticon]
Despite what chattering monkeys may assert, this blog is not an 'anti metal detecting blog', its name is Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues, and it discusses Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record as a heritage issue. One would have thought that responsible artefact hunters would be reflecting on precisely the same kind ofissues raised here. Of course, they would not if the term 'RD' was just a facade, intended to fob off as much critical comment of IRresponsible behaviour for as long as possible. What in fact this 'site' is creating awareness of is the gap between what some people say about UK artefact hunting and what artefact hunters actually do and try to hide from the rest of us. No amount of internal censorship in the artefact hunting community will alter the fact of that huge gap. Tekkies may pretend to themselves that there is no gap, the world is flat and pigs will fly. the rest of us can see that delusion for what it actually is.

I think there is also an element of Animal Farm here isn't there? M.Rix feels he can visit this blog and remain untarnished by the experience (like the pigs in Mr Jones' house), but the lesser mortals under him (like the sheep) cannot be allowed to even know there is something here and must be kept away as much as possible. Orwell would be disturbed by Mr Rix's attempts to censor what his flock read, by his lack of trust in their ability to sort out by referring to many sources of opinion, what really IS a 'responsible' approach to the archaeological record, and what is primarily just selfish greed and ignorance. 

So, the metal detectorists will not be aware of what Rescue is saying about their hobby and the PAS then...? Mr Rix hopes to keep it that way. 

The Ball is in the Archaeologists' Court

In relation to another post on this PACHI blog, Nigel Swift has drawn my attention to a revealing and still all-too-relevant text on Heritage Action's blog: 'Mr Lincoln’s two opposite views of metal detecting (Heritage Journal 24/10/2015). I was re-reading that and then came to one of my own comments below it, when I remarked three years ago:
The quiet is I think the lead up to the next change which should be “what should we do?”. The obvious answer is change the law and change public attitudes to the pilfering of the archaeological record for private entertainment and profit. Have Britain’s archaeologists got the guts for it?
Well RESCUE have, what about the rest of them? The CBA for example

Vignette: balls in their court

The 'Bardney Area' Siliqua Hoard

Detecting at the end of the
 rainbow (photo Crldnll's
father in law) 
On a metal detecting forum near you, detectorist 'crldnll' from Lincolnshire wrote last year about finding a siliqua hoard: 'Hoard! Update 12/10/18 - A few more!' (thread started Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:08 am) 
Morning all, An absolutely cracking week for me and the father in law - we've been lucky to find some beautiful items over the last 5 years but we've blown them out of the water with the most recent... absolute once in a lifetime!  [...]  Out of the mud popped a beautifully crisp Silver Roman Siliqua - every part of it was as clear as the day it was minted. We spent a few minutes thinking wow and then both simultaneously looked at each other and said 'there could be more'... [...] and we both hopped back over to the find spot and began searching in all directions. Then it began... he found 4 in quick succession, followed by another 4 by me... it was constant, all in a very small area, every few steps, every signal we came across was the same crisp sound (80's on the deus) most of which were only 2-3 inches deep, and each find brought the same 'Can this be happening' stare across to each other. It got to the stage where we knew what we were going to find prior to digging ... the strangest but most fantastic feeling - we couldn't believe what was happening - it really didn't feel real.
Yet, somehow they did not decide to call in help.
All in all, we found 24 between us on the first day - we'd started quite late (3pm), so had to drag ourselves off before the sun went down - so hard to do this, as we knew there could be so many more. Got home, and surprisingly the wife and mother in law were interested for once... had a lovely look at them all and then made the plan to go back first thing in the morning. Got in touch with the local flo - and being the brilliant chap he is... he replied at 10pm on the Sunday evening agreeing to meet us there the next day. Monday morning, we headed back to the site, this time armed with some red and white tape, garden canes and a full pack of McVities ginger nuts... We headed straight to the find spot and marked all 4 corners of the outermost coins - we ended up with an area around 25m x 30m and then set out to go back through this area to collect any more. Almost immediately, it started again, silver after silver, every dig we made gave the sale result - yet more Silver Roman Siliqua - and strangely, absolutely nothing else... gone were the cartridges and tiny slithers of lead. Afternoon came and the Flo arrived - by this time we had 35 in total - he was over the moon, loved the coins, identified most of them and discussed the find spot at length - gave us the advice we needed and advised it is very likely there could be a pot bursting at the rim just a few inches down. He told us to keep going and update him as and when things come up. The day ended, we were absolutely shattered and gasping for a cuppa! 
He seems to have misinterpreted in a somewhat whimsical manner something the FLO (is this Adam Daubney?) had said on site to produce some ahistorical folksy narrativisation of their own:
[...] these coins are either deposited by the Romans prior to the collapse of the Empire or by the Saxons - and the way of telling which was down to whether the coins were heavily clipped. If not clipped, it is most likely by the Romans, if clipped, then most likely by the Saxons who would've clipped to sceat size and used as currency.
Except the sceattas of England, Frisia and Jutland are dated to the 680s onwards (to replace the thrymsas 630s+) - leaving a more-or-less 270 year gap between the one and the other... This is how much detectorists like this are 'learning about 'istry' from digging up lots of artefacts they do not really understand the background of. The finder and his live-in Dad add:
Advice please.... We are planning to hire/purchase a 'hoard hunting machine' or surveying equipment in hope of giving some insight as to whether or not something else lies below. Another option is we scrape back the surface (from flos advice) so fingers crossed the landowner is up for it. Either way, I cannot wait... It has been absolutely fantastic to have gone through this... it really is the stuff of dreams! 
Further down the thread we see this:
Re: Hoard!Post by cammann » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:13 pm Amazing finds and responsible recovery. You're a credit to the hobby.
No mention is made of any documentation made of the distribution of the signals. Let's see their documentation, how credit-worthy that is. One scatter or more? [It is not in the thread, but apparently they used a GPS to plot the coins]

Some of the coins (imageshack)

The thread peters out Mon Oct 16, 2017 but then is taken up again almost exactly a year later (no mention of the Treasure process in the interim):  Re: Hoard! Update 13/10 - New pics of all! Post by crldnll » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:19 pm
 Managed to convince my father in law to pop out on the hoard field today before the rain came and boy was he glad! Also probably be the last time as the crops on it's way up. [...] Bang smack in the middle of the hoard site, my father in laws first signal [...] and a crazy 10-12 inches down, out popped a Roman Siliqua - an absolute stunner too! [...]  he found another 2 [...]  I was amazed at the depth we were getting as none of the other setups picked anything up - we'd have walked straight over them. Admittedly we have obviously been doing this area more thoroughly over the last 2 years given previous finds - but just goes to show what the machine can do and if you're ears are listening out for the right sounds. There has to be a pot somewhere - having a meeting with the landowner when he gets back of holiday to discuss options - Excited! So I think we're now at 70 of these...
By now, there's no mention of the FLO being involved. Anyhow, he's got his 'mates', the 'guys', who have lots of advice how to get the lot out without any interferemnce. Allectus from Essex suggests (Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:10 pm):
Has the farmer got a machine with a ditching bucket to take the top 6" or so off? If not and the farmers ok with it, the hire per day on the small machines is not that terrible [emoticon] Stay lucky [emoticon]
The reply? (crldnll Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:51 pm)
Thats the plan - Luckily got a few builder friends - one has all sorts of machines and has already given the thumbs up to use... meeting landowner this coming week so fingers crossed!  
But then a 'Fred" (father-in-law?) adds:
Re: Hoard! Update 12/10/18 - A few more!Post by fred » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:24 pm: [...] Yeah. Our hoard is relatively small so we are doing it by hand - very, very slowly! [emotican] So far nothing deeper down except a single silver ingot so it might just be a small ploughed out one though.
And so the hoard findspot trashing enthusiasm goes on until two posts currently at the end of the thread:
Re: Hoard! Update 12/10/18 - A few more!Post by f8met (Cambs and Suffolk) Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:57 pm:  You could always speak to your FLO and see if they have any suggestions as if there is a deep hoard they may want to help dig it. Dave Deus, 9" and 11" black coil 2018 49 Hammered 
Re: Hoard! Update 12/10/18 - A few more!Post by jcmaloney Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:44 am:
 Just a note before anyone "goes in with a ditching bucket" it would be prudent to contact your FLO and get advice.
If you go in "gung ho" with a digger and bucket you can easily remove any context even if the initial finds are scattered.
Such "bad practice " is currently making far too many headlines for the hobby.
 Proceed with thought and caution.
Making headlines for the hobby sounds more like an endorsement for heritage bloggers like myself and Heritage Action, as the PAS tend to keep very quiet about the whole thing when things go wrong... It gets in the way of the patronising head patting and comradely back-slapping.  I would point critics of our acvtivities to statements like that on the detecting forum, tekkies are very aware of the critical eyes cast upon them and sensitive about somebody in their number giving the game away, thus we find tekkies themselves spreading awareness. Jobsworth tekkie-headpatting archies will forgive me for pointing out that the PAS was set up twenty expensive years ago precisely to be making 'best practice' headlines from day one. Only now are the tekkies being made aware of this issue? And is it only because of the bad press heritage bloggers give what they do wrong? Perhaps we need more, not less, heritage blogging.

This seems to be the hoard Record ID: LIN-CDD02A.  Discovery dates: Sunday 1st October 2017 - Saturday 21st October 2017 Treasure case number: 2017T909. No pot. More to the point, no ingot. No context of deposition reported. What does this all mean?

Advice to the Bardney Hoard Finders from Mr Malony

With regard to the British Treasure process, John Maloney remarks:
Re: Hoard! Update 13/10 - New pics of all!Post by jcmaloney » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:52 pm
Good luck. Make sure you have decent pictures of each coin as the system has been known to "cherry pick" from hoards and some [siliquae] can be remarkably rare [emoticon].
The 'system'? What kind of talk is that? Has he any hard evidence of this? Has this been reported to the public prosecutor?

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cultural Heritage and Climate Change

Buy unpapered artefacts, endanger
the future of humanity?
An article in the Conversation explores the relationship between our heritage and the changing global climate:
More powerful storms, flooding, desertification and even the melting of permafrost are already destroying important sites at an alarming rate. While we race to preserve or record these places before they are lost forever, it is also the case that some sites – especially those that are or have been highly adaptable and flexible – can also be assets in understanding adaptation strategies more generally. (Cathy Daly, Jane Downes and William Megarry, 'Cultural heritage has a lot to teach us about climate change' The Conversation, October 16, 2018)
The authors are exploring how global heritage can be used not only to stress urgency about the dangers and risks of climate change, but also as an asset to enforce community resilience and develop adaptation strategies for the future. The article discusses threat to the material heritage (and I'd stress that) resulting from climate change using as examples melting permafrost and rising water levels.They then give an optimistic view of how 'heritage' can teach us a lot about communities’ response to threat which they present as 'a study of climate change resilience', how - for example - 'globally, coastal and river communities have been living with (and adapting to) similar events for centuries'. They quote an example from an island cultural landscape proposed WHS  in the Brahmaputra River in Assam, India, where communities and their monuments simply move each time a site is threatened by flooding.
Over hundreds of years, communities on Majuli have developed modular and portable building techniques using local materials including building on stilts. The river and its annual flooding have become part of the everyday experience of living on Majuli and is a part of the local worldview. [...]These places and their associated cultural heritage have evolved to be portable, a valuable skill in a landscape which changes regularly. 
the authors suggest that by understanding places like this river island 'we will learn much about resilience and adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change'. Will we? I do not think simply moving human settlements and getting used to this is going to solve anything. We cannot move Venice for example or the historic waterfront of any Medieval port town (like Gdańsk). But climate change affects more than just buildings close to the water's edge, but whole ecosystems - and adaptation to changes in those ecosystems will mean cultural change. And the whole mood of our times, the alt-right included is a reaction against cultural mutation/adaptation ('threats' sic to 'our culture'). If you GoogleEarth the island to which Daly, Downes and Megarry refer, it is closely covered by swamp and fields, if the swamps increase, there is no room for more fields to feed the population of that island/region. One assumes that this population will not decrease, so what will happen when the limits of adaptability of subsistence systems to adapt to falling crop yields is reached? It's no use following Daly, Downes and Megarry's suggestion that 'mobility is the key', because desertification and other processes will be leading to  reduction of area and huge shifts n the location of farming land. Irrigation will require more energy input and use up resources. Even moving to another planet would mean consuming huge amounts of resources of this planet to keep even a small human colony alive up there on Mars, or wherever. I think what archaeology tells us is that in fact, human communities do not survive, something tipped the balance and the Western Roman Empire collapsed (despite major cultural realignments from the middle part of the fourth century - on top of those happening in the previous three). Even collectors can see this effect, those for example who buy the lithic tools from North Africa from the so-called Green Sahara of the Neolithic - but their buying of stuff encourages Collection-Driven exploitation of the sites, sites which arguably have the potential of showing how those communities reacted and - at first - adapted to the climate change - but ultimately failed and disappeared.

Comment on your Museum's Presentation

I assume these smug comment cards (found on Twitter) are produced for museum trips by schools and colleges, they could be slightly more polite and less curt, but the idea is good. I'd have liked to see a space for the name, group represented and date because then, preserved in the museum archives they could give future scholars of museology a cross section of viewer reactions to the exhibits and the way they are presented. There is no space for 'lacks proper presentation of licit provenance/collecting history'.

It would be fun for a group of opinionated folk to go through the BM with some of these cards. I wonder what the results would be? And what about MOB?

Exporting Antiquities from A Little Green Offshore Island

Anyone visiting metal detecting forums on the eve of the Brexit referendum and reading the comments there would be left in no doubt which way the majority of metal detectorists would vote. Now as a result of a rapidly disastrous looming No Deal Brexit, certain metal detectorists are reminding their mates how such an arrangement at least makes exporting detected loot much easier.

Comments on Adam Daubney's Remarks on 'Storytelling' at PAS15

Dr Adam Daubney @ajdaubney has published in the form of a Twitter thread the gist of his talk at PAS15 (see here too). Here it is:
On the 12th October we had our annual PAS conference ("Recording Britain's Past)". My talk was on 'Sharing Knowledge', which is one of PAS's Strategic Objectives. For those interested in my paper but who weren't able to make it to the conference, here is an overview: I began by reading the opening paragraphs from Stevensons' #treasureisland. The story is hailed as one of the greatest adventure stories written, and is one which of course revolved around buried treasure. Artefacts, it seems, hold a special place in storytelling, regardless of whether the story is one being told to the general public, or one being told in academic journals. I would argue that all of the many ways in which we share knowledge with others is a form of storytelling. When we share knowledge, two things happen: first, we help people to learn about the past. Second, tell people what our values are; that finds are important, and that people have a right to knowledge, even if the law favours private ownership of finds. But, it is important to reflect on what exactly it is that we are trying to say, and also how our messages are being heard. Long John Silver's treasure is a lot of fun, but we still struggle to dislodge those sorts of connotations from the public's mind. England and Wales differs from most other European countries when it comes to heritage legislation; we have one of the most permissive systems in the world regarding the private ownership of antiquities. Many finds don't get reported, but at the same time we have one of the largest databases of public finds in the world. It is within this tension that I think the Scheme has its voice when it shares knowledge. There are many who would like to see greater regulation of metal detecting, including some metal detectorists themselves. If the law is unlikely to change, how do we ensure that we share knowledge in way that changes the culture to one in which non-reporting is seen as unethical? We tell stories. Naturally, some of our stories will confront bad practice, and will bring our ethics into conflict with those held by some individuals or organisations. The PAS is, of course, a pragmatic scheme, but being pragmatic doesn't mean we must compromise on our values We must ensure our stories are underpinned by our value. In ethics, 'value' denotes the "degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live. In essence, our values reflect what we think "ought to be"." We must take time to reflect on our values. Lasting cultural change will come when the general public understands the importance and ethics of a pro-recording culture. The stories we tell to the public should highlight our successes, but they must also call out the issues. And we do this for one simple reason – as is stated in our strategy – 'so that people might learn about the past, and the archaeology and history of their local area'. End.
That is a useful summary, and it would be great if  other papers presented at PAS15 were published, even if in summary form. I have a few comments, which are not so much a criticism of Adam Daubney (in my opinion one of the more reflective and responsive of all the FLOs when I have had a query) but an expansion, and attempt at discussion.

The Significance of Artefacts
As an archaeologist (and one who was for a while employed as a finds specialist), I am not so sure about the sentiment that artefacts hold such a special place in archaeological storytelling as a whole. In most project (excavation, survey) reports, they tend to appear in appendices, where they are used to substantiate the story told, which is based on the site and its stratigraphy/spatial characteristics. For me, that - establishing sequences of events in spatial terms and then going from that to social/cultural mechanisms behind them - is the 'story' that archaeology reveals. No? Even in syntheses of the story of a period or region, artefacts tend to appear as decoration, some bits of everyday life or 'art' to liven up the text and make the book marketable.

The Historical Narrative
I think we can all agree that the many ways in which we share knowledge with others is a form of storytelling, as historiography defines what is, and is created from, historical evidence. The problem is that the story must be founded in a full appreciation of the evidence, and when we have decontextualised evidence (like loose finds), that story must be compromised - even if we are dealing with 'addressed sources'. Here I think Elizabeth Marlowe's concept of 'grounding' needs to become more of a focus of attention among those who feel mere talking (storytelling/ narrativisation) about the artefacts is in itself a form of archaeology. I have reservations about treating it as such.

In any case, the stories the FLOs produce in their social media use tend to be of the lazy "on this day..." type soundbites illustrated by a coin (or in the Christmas season a calling bird and 'five gold rings'). Mrs Deidre Harris at 44 Myrtle Close can find the same information on Wikipedia. The BM Press Department is little better, tossing out easily digested dumbdown factoids to 'make archaeology relevant'.

Including Archaeological Values in the Story
What I think is important that Adam Daubney brought up in this context the issue of values. "when we share knowledge [...], we tell people what our values are" and "it is important to reflect on what exactly it is that we are trying to say". I would add "and how". I would, however, argue that this is an issue that - from the way we see it reflected in the attitudes and candid responses in many sectors of the PAS's audience - is simply not getting through to any useful degree. I am sure may of Dr Daubney's listers have the same reflection. It is not reaching the media (and the PAS do not help with this by dumbdown like 'Britains's Secret Treasures' and all that populist crap), it is not reaching finders (including/especially artefact hunters), artefact collectors (of any kind) and the general public. Adam Daubney says as much. After twenty years of PAS activity, still: "it is important to reflect [on] how our messages are being heard. Long John Silver's treasure is a lot of fun, but we still struggle to dislodge those sorts of connotations from the public's mind". Too true, and what, precisely, have the PAS actually done to dispell that? The focus on 'things', on little and big 'treasures' found can so easily simply reinforce the impression that archaeology is just about 'digging things up'. It obviously requires a lot of skill to use the sort of material PAS has to hand to present another picture - and the question is whether PAS has (or acquired) those skills.

Using the Narrative to Encourage the Protection of the Archaeological Record 
I like this bit, it sounds good doesn't it?
how do we ensure that we share knowledge in way that changes the culture to one in which non-reporting is seen as unethical? We tell stories. Naturally, some of our stories will confront bad practice, and will bring our ethics into conflict with those held by some individuals or organisations. [...] The PAS is, of course, a pragmatic scheme, but being pragmatic doesn't mean we must compromise on our values We must ensure our stories are underpinned by our value. [...] The stories we tell to the public should highlight our successes, but they must also call out the issues
I have many times argued that the way 'we' confront any of the issues should not consist largely of head-patting and saying cooing words of encouragement, for example (to pick out some of the most memorable in recent years) - the Kent FLO's reported "you done right" at Hollingbourne, the FLO being photographed getting her head down a narrow hole and herself scooping the loot into a carrier bag at Lenborough, the mouthy Durham FLO reporting on twitter how he'd just come back from backslapping the Bellingham hoard trashers. These may be represented by supporters as 'isolated mistakes - stuff happens', but as a long-term, avid and attentive PAS-watcher I sincerely doubt there is very much 'calling out of issues' by FLOs either privately, and certainly not in the social media. For this reason, we see time and time again (for example on MD forums), that PAS-partners (artefact hunters or not) have not the foggiest what the issues actually are. Some of them do not even seem aware there are issues beyond a puerile 'those (nasty) archaeologists dont like us and so we dont like them either'.

The Multi-Audience
The latter type of comment, frequently met, brings us to the issue of the lack of intellectual maturity and articulacy in much of the artefact hunting/collecting milieu (under a labour government it was OK to point out that a lot of them were from C2 and D and 'challenged by formal education'). This, because it is regarded as un-pc to draw attention to this factor, is underestimated by many supporters of the PAS-approach. It is, however, a huge hindrance to getting any more complex message across to certain segments of the public. In those cases, the stories cannot be too complicated, with 'too many words', or they'll not sink in in certain milieus. So how much can be achieved anyway through simply telling stories and hoping that the moral will be drawn? Mrs Harris, the history book club subscribing accountant from 44 Myrtle Close may get it, Gazza the metal detecting car mechanic from the Bellingham Road housing estate actually will not.

This shows the complication of the PAs situation, it deals with portable antiquities issues in the face of at least three completely separate (and even opposing) audiences. The first, and most numerous, are the general public (like Mrs Deidre Harris of Myrtle Close)  who actually pay for it. The stories they need are quite separate ones from Gazza with his girlie wall-calendars, metal detector and collection of hammies and denarii, who represents a minority of British society. And another (smaller?) minority are the archaeologists (including [real] amateur ones), academics, heritage professionals. Obviously the stories cannot at the moment be phrased in the same way for all three groups - but it is worth reflecting on why that is, and whether it should be like that. Surely if there (really) are 'responsible detectorists' (truly responsible), then the story they are told should in no way have to differ from those told to the other two groups. No? So the fact that most FLOs are afraid to say 'boo' to the ("responsible" metal detectorists should be telling us something, and I think that is a tellingly important something about the whole policy of appeasement. I doubt we'll see the PAS actually discussing this point.

I think in fact there is a fourth, even smaller group. I think we mighht do well to give some attention to the stories (miostly hidden away) that the PAs staff tell themselves and each other. I had a glance at this when i did a FOI request to see parts of their internal forum, I discussed what I found here a while ago, the superficial nature of what I saw was, in the circumstances, pretty shocking.

One of the Audiences, One of the Issues
Yes, whatever the law says, archaeological ethics are totally against trashing archaeological sites just to get a few collectable thingies out to pocket. How is that reflected in the stories FLOs tell the general public (most of whom are not collectors)?  Dr Daubney asks 'how do we ensure that we share knowledge in way that changes the culture to one in which non-reporting is seen as unethical? [...] Lasting cultural change will come when the general public understands the importance and ethics of a pro-recording culture'. I would ask why there is not a step further towards actually questioning the morals and ethics of pocketing of archaeological evidence by private collectors for their personal entertainment and profit in the first place and affecting public opinion as a way of curbing it (like wearing furs, drink driving and wild bird egg collecting)? Altering public perceptions and opinions are a step towards changing the law. The law will not change if nobody shows that it is important to do so. This, surely is the way to deal with the plague of collection-driven exploitation of sites all round the world. Why take just the insular view, why not put it in a wider context? Rescue has taken a good step forward, who will follow them?

As I said, fluff talk costs nothing, at the PAS15 conference nice words were said, maybe even discussed and reflected on, the question is how close do these desiderata, these fine words, match actual practice on the ground, both past and present - and what of the future? In this tension' does in fact the PAS 'find a voice'? Or are they aftraid that, if they said what they really should, a lot of artefact hunters would walk away and not bring them their pocketed stuff to record to boost their database? Is that what we call 'responsible artefact hunting'? Responsible in what way? Responsive to what?

The Need for a More Balanced and Honest Story
That is a story I have not ever heard the PAS telling us - for we too deserve to hear the PAS-story about those values and ethics. All the time we, and lawmakers, are told a simple quasi-archaeological fairy story, 'we done good this year', 'wotta lotta good stuff we got', now 'one million three hundred'... 'everything is super, we've got this more or less under control, just keep giving us the cash' (and 'if you wait, we can do even better if you give us more cash'). That's the fairy story we've been hearing now twenty years. Some of us have been questioning whether that version is the whole story, whether there is not a darker tale of spin and despair beneath the bright happy-happy facade. Of course, we are the spoil-sports, out to ruin a good story with out "fake news" (sic). Yet, surely the true story, warts and all, is what we need to decide if this is what we want. Because surely THIS is the space (the 'tension') where an archaeological scheme like the PAS should be finding its voice. Adam Daubney has made a good start. Who is going to pick up the discussion he has started? What stories, about what and for whom by 2020?

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

Ironhearted Gog and Andy
A metal detectorist contacted me this morning 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  [group] 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 [objects have] 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 this group of objects 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

Time is Running Out for the
Archaeological Record in the UK
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 historic environment – and why it matters". CBA

The CBA is an archaeological body that basically is concerned with the public face of the discipline in order to enable people to protect and celebrate their archaeological heritage. They've 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 specifically 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

Soldiers at Ur in Iraq invasion
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 were 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')

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