Sunday, 16 December 2018

Swedish Artefact Hunters Tired of Getting Permits

Tired of the permit system
There's a yellow jacket protest going on in Sweden too, they are petitioning for change ( Sveriges Metallsökarförening (SMF) 'Bring fair metal detecting laws to Sweden') So far 1,074 have signed. Artefact hunting is not illegal in Sweden, but you have to have a permit (issued to a named person for a specified site and period), and some metal detectorists think this is 'unfair'. In a country that has no driving licences, that would perhaps make (some) sense, but it seems to me that  in a country not run on anarchistic principles that adjective seems over-used here. The problem is that Swedish artefact hunters can see that in other countries (where anarchy and stupidity are rampant) there are no such systems in place and artefact hunting is a free-for-all grabfest. There are no prizes for guessing which country is their idol.

SMF claims that there are problems with this permit system because in Sweden there is currently 'little budget for an established system for recording finds' ,
This results in many artifacts declared being forgotten in a drawer, or worse still - sent for recycling! [...] Swedish authorities claim that their strict rules are there to protect history, but it's clear for all to see that they have the opposite effect entirely and, for the most part, encourage finds to go unreported. This is not what we want.[...] Swedish politicians [are] doing [...] a disservice by giving little budget to metal detecting [...]
Somehow they think that a country that has no budget for this can suddenly find the money, paradoxically by scrapping the revenue that comes from processing these applications for permits. Hmm. Tekkies always did want something on a plate - but paid for by others. Sweden, they say, needs to:
Budget for and the creation of an organisation tasked with researching and recording finds. This is one of the biggest issues we face. Swedish authorities have given a figure of 15m Kronor (£1.3m or $1.7 USD) needed to organise this. It is a drop in the ocean of tax paid in this country. This money must be put forward for the creation of such an organisation. [emphasis in original]
Some people are already refusing to work within the system, and here we get the 'celebrity argument' (Bill Wyman, Mackenzie Crook and now a Norwegian athlete):
The urge to search and save this history is so strong for many detectorists in Sweden that they risk prosecution just so they can do the thing they love. Upstanding people like gold medal winning athlete Jimmy Nordin, who currently faces a potential prison sentence for finding a silver coin from the 1700s and writing about it on his blog.
 Jimmy Nordin was characterised by SMF as "brave". Other adjectives come to my mind.

 According to SMF 'The Solution' is:

1) giving landowners the right to give permission for others to detect on their property except registereed monuments ("These areas would be respected as off limits with a 2m (sic!) perimeter"). Here they refer to

"Ref. Scheduled Monuments - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
So basically scrapping any existing heritage laws en masse, the whole lot, and adopt a copy of the British legal system, to suit the Collection-Driven Exploiters. 

2) Instituting a "Treasure Act" requiring reporting of only "objects which constitute a legally defined term of treasure" within 14 days of discovery and then "the finder and land owner sharing a monetary reward (matching market value) as an incentive to report the find". Reference? No surprises:
Ref. Treasure Act 1996 - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
So, again a wholesale replacement of the existing legislation - again to suit the artefact hunters. 

3) Then they need to "budget for and the creation of an organisation tasked with researching and recording finds" - it unclear whether these are the same finds as in point two, or some other finds and if so, which ones and why. ("This would also provide employment opportunities for the many Swedish archaeologists forced to work part time between digs" - as if that was the only thing archaeologists do). And the reference to that (see a pattern?)

 Ref. The Portable Antiques Scheme (PAS) and Finds Liason Officers (FLO) - England, Wales and Northern Ireland PAS - FLO - 
[FLOs do not operate in Northern Ireland, whichn has a diferent system] They also suggest that the cut off date for finds that must be reported should be lowered from the current 1850 to 1535, "matching that of Danish law". "This would also relieve pressure on any organisation tasked with recording finds, plus reduce its budget requirements and workload". That's nice of them, eh, to think of all the work they are creating by their enjoyment of their exploitive hobby that somebody else "must" pay for. All nice and dandy, except it would also mean that artefact hunters' research on and metal detecting of sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century would not be available to enable research on the history of the Swedish cultural landscape in the past half millennium. That rather conflicts with the stated desire to use their detecting to discover and 'save history' in their country, but in the case of that of the most immediate (and formative) centuries of Swedish history, from Vasa times onwards, they apparently want the law to give them the right to pocket all themselves. I presume that post-medieval archaeology does not have a very high position in the publc consciousness in Sweden. 

Their fifth suggestion is that the current specific permit system should be replaced by a generalist one (a bit like a dog licence)
5) A metal detecting licence with a fee to cover the administrative costs involved. This permanent licence, which could simply be a quotable reference number logged in a database, would be available to anyone and involve no tests. However, it would include a mail out upon application with reading material outlining the law, metal detecting code of conduct and information written by qualified archaeologists on how to best extract, clean your finds and/or preserve finds for handing over to museums. 
I think the qualified archaeologist would surely say that the best way to extract detected individual finds from an archaeological context or assemblage is "not to".  Note no mention on documentation. I guess that too is supposed to be done by "someone else". Perhaps the museum staff would prefer to do their own cleaning. Note that here there is no limit on where once issued ("to anyone with no tests") this licence can be used - so basically a totally meaningless document. 

Then the sixth proposed "solution" is just laughable: 
6) General Discussion, compromise and understanding between Länsstyrelsen, The Department of Culture, Swedish archaeologists and patrons of Swedish metal detecting from Sveriges Metallsökarförening (SMF).
The link they give for their organization goes to an article "Sweden joins ECMD!". I suspect from reading the above that there is pretty little chance of getting any "understanding" from folk who have so little knowledge of what they are talking about that they cite wikipedia and the PAS as sources on anything - and especially how so far everybody has "got everything wrong", hownd detectorists are 'victims' and 'misunderstood'. We've seen this pattern time and time again. Once again collectors are alienating themselves from a discussion before they have even started. I think this is deliberate, they claim they are the ones that want to initiate a discussion (on their terms) and then criticise those (archaeologists, lawmakers - this petition is directed to the Minister of Culture)  whop see no point in taking part in talking about what "they" "must" do to accomodate the exploitive hobby. 

This petition goes to show how utterly damaging the PAS is, not only to British archaeology, but its pernicious influence is spreading across Europe. The sooner we kick Britain out so it can nop longer influence thought in the EU, the better from the point of view of the preservation of the archaeological record on the continent. Let us see the insular point of view on 'partnership' for what it is, a totally narrow and insular view.

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