Tuesday, 20 October 2020

From a UK Metal Detectorist's Facebook Page

Checking out a few of the commercial artefact hunting organisers' webpages the other day, I found this (right) proudly displayed, I can't make out the second flag. It is difficult to say whether I am more surprised seeing such a thing from a British metal detectorist trying to get people to come to their pay-to-dig rallies, or whether I am not at all surprised to see such a thing from a British metal detectorist.

Gaia Getting Angry about Looting?

Anselm Feuerbach, Gaia

Gaia is fed up with waiting for the Portable Antiquities Scheme to speak out about collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record hidden in the earth. She's fed up with waiting for artefact hunters to wake up and start acting responsibly. Coronavirus is not having much of an effect, the looters go out anyway. Maybe the changing climate will make them start thinking about more than just themselves?  
Wilsford Rally Cancelled:
This event has just been cancelled by our farmer due to heavy rain yesterday and overnight, We thought it might dry up a bit but fields are very wet and the field we was (sic) parking in just won’t take the volume of cars in and out without vehicles getting stuck unfortunately so we have no option on this one. It to cancel to be re arranged for another date, apologies in advance but it’s again out of our hands .
Indeed, the landowner has the right to decide who comes onto their property and when. "Our famer" indeed!


Polish Metal Detectorist Arrested as Result of Tip-off from Concerned Member of Public


Polish police protects heritage from
damage by metal detectorists

Ed Whelan, 'Hundreds Of Illegal Historical Artifacts Recently Recovered By The Polish Police!' ancient-origins.net 19th Ocober, 2020 

Recently in Poland, authorities have recovered hundreds of stolen historical artifacts in a targeted police operation [...], the cache of illegal historical artifacts was found in Andrychów, in the south of Poland [...] A local man had been on the police’s “radar for some time,” reports The First News. It seems that a tipoff led them to search the suspect's property. Officers “received information that one of the inhabitants of Andrychów may be in possession of prohibited objects,” reports Wadowice Online. This led to officers from the regional police headquarters, based in Kraków, and local police to raid the home of a 40-year-old man. [...] What the authorities found was a treasure trove of stolen historical artifacts. Hundreds of items were found in cardboard boxes all over the property. [...]  The owner of the illegal historical artifacts was arrested, and a file is being prepared in the local prosecutors’ office in relation to the case. The police believe that the objects were excavated illegally, and this is contrary to the Protection of Monuments and the Care of Monuments laws in Poland. [...] It seems that most of the artifacts were obtained by “illegal searches using a metal detector around Poland, without the necessary permission,” reports The First News. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

A Reminder, "Metal Detecting" is About Digging BLIND Into Archaeology

A plug for a spade that you can buy on a metal detecting forum near you. It's a reminder that what is euphemistically called "metal detecting" is often about blindly hacking out collectable archaelogical artefacts out of archaeological contexts - trashing them. It's not about a "love of history" but a consumerist "love of HAVING". As you can see, this spade has got a nasty serrated edge for "cuttin'fru those roots" and anything else that's there. Of course if you are following the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales and keeping off pasture and out of undisturbed woodland etc, then you'll not need that. It looks pretty dangerous to me. 

Archaeologists and Detectorists, the Same?

Left, what detectorists find,
right: what archaeologists are looking for

The headline: "Metal Detectorists strike gold on Crete":
[...] At the end of the day the two were about to give up, but on the way back to the car, one last signal kept them on the site until dusk fell...[...] Because of the spikey brush, Kostas and his 11-year old son had difficulty digging down to locate the source of the signal, the ground was very rocky, so they had to dig a few hours to find the gold pieces that were mixed up with rocks, charcoal and pottery fragments. When they reported the find the archaeologists at the museum were baffled about what they were...:
The alternative headline: Iota Sykka ' Archaeologists strike gold on Crete' Ekathimerini 19.10.2020 :
Everything indicates that an early sanctuary operated there, which the later inhabitants respected and did not strip of its gold. They built a stone altar on top, where the 200 ceramic items were found. As the excavator explains, in the room where they located the xoanon, animal and human figurines were discovered, like those usually found at the most important sanctuaries.


It really beats me how real archaeologists, the ones that have been to university, gained qualifications in the subject and even teach it, can say that artefact hunting is a form of "citizen archaeology". Digging down blind into archaeological deposits because an electronic box detects "there's metal down below" produces decontextualised artefacts, and not only does not recover archaeological information (which the Ixelles Six/Helsinki gang characterises as "zero gain"), but actually trashes it by removing the items from that context - wherever they are. 


"Sovereign Rally" Cancelled

The health benefits of outdoor exercise
Heritage Action are reporting that they have been told that the commercial rally due to be held near a scheduled Roman villa site in Shropshire was called off, not on conservation grounds but because it could not show it was exempt from complying with health regulations currently in place (and that raises questions about the business status of this organization and its accounting procedures):
That makes two rallies banned recently (Pink Wellies and Sovereign) and one shut down by police halfway through (Let’s Go Digging) but one allowed to go ahead and more than one rally per week scheduled for the rest of the year by Let’s Go Digging (consider the takings, health implications and possible unreported heritage that implies). Is it too much to hope that the archaeological bodies should get round a table with the police and DCMS and sort this out before next week? (Lest PAS are frit to offend detectorists we suggest they ask around and check the detecting forums for once. All detectorists other than the attendees appear to despise the existence of pay-to-dig rallies, so why the blue blazes are they still allowed to happen?)
We need regulation of the despicable and irresponsible commercialisation of collection-driven exploitation of the achaeological record by metal detectorists, and the time to do that is through emergancy legislation during this pandemic.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

UK's Shambolic Commercial Cash-in-Hand "Metal Detecting Rallyz"


Charles Lloyd in
a fetching anorak

The collocation sovereign together with rallies has bad connotations, regardless this group with the deliberately misspelled name revels in the notoriety:  Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys (private Facebook page). It was founded on 13th April 2019 and already has 1,4000 members (one in 19 metal detectorists of the Hardy estimate)* If you want to join they ask you right away: "Are you a member of NCMD or FID? With valid insurance? This is compulsory to attend events. Please send proof to admins or you risk being removed as a member. Happy digging.". Once you've done that, you have to agree to the Rules of the Group:

Members agree to abide by these rules:

1 Green Waste. A problem.
Please know measures are taken to reduce this risk. It can happen in spite of this. Please understand it is not deliberate and the risk we take. Please know measures are taken to reduce this risk. It can happen in spite of this. Please understand it is not deliberate and the risk we take. Dig the rubbish and there’s still rewards :)
2 Attending Events.
Please advise if not attending at earliest opportunity. Allowances can be made for emergencies. But failure to attend can result in a double charge for next attending event.
3 Maybe’s ... please do not click this option.
Maybe is not an automatic reserve. We kindly ask that you either click going or not going in order to arrange numbers efficiently. Thankyou.
4 Advertising and selling.
Please do not advertise or sell on the group page unless prior request of permission from Charles Lloyd. Posts will be removed without this courtesy.
5 Be kind and courteous
We're all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let's treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.
Respect everyone's privacy
Being part of this group requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussions make groups great, but may also be sensitive and private. What's shared in the group should stay in the group.
7 Insurance.
This is compulsory to attend all events.
8 Filling holes.
Please dig neat holes and fill accordingly. Failure to do so will result in being removed from the event and blocked from the group.
9 Refunds.
Time and effort is put into all areas to avoid green waste but can happen in spite of this. Just as much as ‘good finds’ are not assured. Refunds do not apply as genuine attempts are made to avoid.
It looks like they've had complaints from members for the amount of contaminated green waste on the fields. Also it looks like they've had problems with the landowner seeing on the Group's page (or he would if it were not hidden) how many people will attend and demanding payment accordingly, but some participants did not turn up with the cash in hand payment in an unmarked envelope so the landowner did not get as much as they expected. I wonder why they don't just get people paying online before, everything easy and transparent, like? "Being part of this group requires mutual trust", what does that mean, and why the secrecy? What goes on on this closed antiquities hunters Facebook page? This is like all those looting pages on Facebook that the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project are investigating. Perhaps somebody needs to investigate the secret underworld of British pay-to-loot organisations too. Like the taxman. Are the farmers declaring the income from the selling off of antiquities to these people? What about the money raised by participants by selling off the material found and removed, either now or at a later date? How is the cash paid to landowners and how (and where) are the business accounts kept by Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys, where are the invoices? WHY are British archaeologists not investigating this already?

Note that the Group Rules make no explicit mention of
- Following any health and safety guidelines or regulations,
- Adherence to the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales,
- Adherence to the requirements of national laws (such as the Treasure Act), if you don't fill your holes in nicely, you'll get chucked off the dig, pocket a Bronze Age gold bracelet and ... nothing, but "what happens in teh group stays in the group"
There is no mention here of any upper limit to the value of finds you can walk off with without checking with the landowner fiirst, let alone any requirement to show all and anything to the landowner when you leave their property to get documentation of title.
No mention of making available any health situation risk assessments to members before they travel. Although contaminated land figures prominently in the Group Rules, there is no mention of the liability of Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys taking money from people to place them on such contaminated land to carry out the activity they paid for ('time and effort to avoid...trust us', is not enough, and NCMD insurance does not cover this). So basically, to judge from what can be seen on their public profile, this group with already 1400 members seems to be a total shambles and unprofessional amateurishness.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

* It's beginning to look to me like Hardy's estimate of 27000 is now too low, this is a new and small group, and yet one in 19 detectorists already belong to it?

UK Tekkies Blame Illegal Artefact Hunting on the CV-Lockdown

Artefact hunting on pasture
Over on a metal detecting forum just near you  that currently has 12264 members, just under half what is thought to have been the number of metal detectorists in England and Wales they are discussing a sudden increase in numbers. Just look at this:

Am I imaging it or has there been an upsurge in the hobby? by coinhunter2018 (Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:52 pm)

I'm on several other groups besides this forum, social media etc. In the past six months since the virus got loose, there seems to be an upsurge in the number of people new to the hobby. Is it because the virus has limited other hobbies and other activities such as travel abroad? Just seems to be the case from my perspective, some guys at work are interested too, in fact one of them bought a machine two weeks since and he can hardly walk! Baffled me that one.
It seems he's not alone: Phil2401 (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:02 pm)
Interesting question that - I've also noticed a significant recent upsurge in 'Hi I'm a newbie' posts on this forum alone and also 'thanks for adding me' on various club / pay-to-dig sites... possible COVID effect, possible increase in publicity of hoard finds and wide-eyed potential treasure hunters thinking they'll be the next, a general growth in the industry of manufacturing / advertising metal detectors.... will be interesting to see others' views.
Or 'pay-to-dig' looting. So, who has been doing all this publicity of hoard finds, if not the PAS? Mikeb (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:08 pm)
I think the hobby has been growing significantly since well before lockdown, over the last two years or so. I never use to see others detecting in fields, or very rarely, and you do now. Just look at the number of newbies saying hello on here. And this is no bad thing apart from over demand for limited permissions.
Too bad though that the number of finds being recorded was not increasing in the same two year period before lockdown, and now in lockdown, it is a trickle - just as these forum members are reporting a rise of new people going out, and needing outreach. MDF Forum member Dave The Slave (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:10 pm) also think it is PAS publicity that's leading to this:
Think some of it is down to publicity of the Big finds. People thinking it is the norm and a get rich quick scheme [...] The pandemic has highlighted the above, more time on hands due to furlough perhaps or job loss, something to do with a possibility of a few pounds
So, it's just crude Treasure Hunting, or maybe we can call it subsistence looting like some do in the Third World? The UK now has third world economic looters egged on by false folk tales of hidden wealth? Muddyknee (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:19 pm) is sceptical about their get-rich-quick hopes:
I wonder how many will be around once they realise they need land.
Phil2401 (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:24 pm) is pragmatic, his observations lead him to suggest that if artefact hunters eager to get their hands on the loot cant get land legally: 
They turn into hawks.....
coinhunter2018 (Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:30 pm) reiterates
I think the last six months has seen a definite increase. Not just on here but on the social media groups too, however I've also seen a few offloading their detectors on those groups after three months. Whether they are buying another detector or selling up is anyone's guess [...]

 So if in 2017, Sam Hardy calculate 27000 site trashing artefact pocketers and 3 full years later observers on the ground are suggesting the numbers are still going up, how many are there now?  

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Looting and the (Whole) Market

On social media today there is some discussion of an article from The New Indian Express, 'When the buying by museums stops, the looting stops' (by S Vijay Kumar, 17th October 2020). 

This is only true up to a point, this would be the case were it not for the existence of a whole load of greedy, self-centred private collectors, and a whole bunch of established dealers that will do what they can to stay in business. And what do you do about people that go out with metal detectors to find their own antiquities by looting sites? The constant focus on the 'high end' segment of the market and shoulder-shrugging towards the 'low end' obscures the nature of the problem. We have to challenge attitudes to the commodification of all ancient artefacts (potential archaeological evidence)* and arouse public interest in protecting ALL of the evidence from the past, not just the expensive gallery/trophy items. Why are we failing? 

The UK long ago became a state party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. And who in the UK gives any consideration to the contents of Article 10? Remember that one? 

Article 10
The States Parties to this Convention undertake:
(a) To restrict by education, information and vigilance, movement of cultural property illegally removed from any State Party to this Convention and, as appropriate for each country, oblige antique dealers, subject to penal or administrative sanctions, to maintain a register recording the origin of each item of cultural property, names and addresses of the supplier, description and price of each item sold and to inform the purchaser of the cultural property of the export prohibition to which such property may be subject;
(b) to endeavour by educational means to create and develop in the public mind a realization of the value of cultural property and the threat to the cultural heritage created by theft, clandestine excavations and illicit exports.
Which particular UK state-supported institution fulfils this task today? The PAS that pats artefact hunters on the head as they trash site after site in search of collectable artefacts to pocket? If not them, then who else?

*Surely the principle of "Responsible Collecting" (PAS please note) should be to restrict collecting to artefacts that can be verified as not constituting archaeological evidence. The fact is that the PAS record shows that what people are collecting is above all former archaeological evidence - the record is there to salvage what information they can. 

Sovereign Metal Detecting Rally Event in Shropshire

These commercial metal detecting groups seem to be springing up all over the UK. There's a lot of money to be made from them, and they are a self-propelling phenomenon, the more farmers learn that they can get big cash payouts for allowing events to take place on land that they can claim has "never before been detected", the less likely they are to allow individual tekkies on their land on a search-and-take agreement for which they get no cash (but a few duplicate finds stuck in a shadow-frame bought in a craft shop and a bottle of cheap wine at Christmas). So if tekkies cannot get on land for free, they have to join one of these organisations and pay the organisers that give the landowner a cash-in-hand payment (taxman please note) and often pocket the rest. One ( Let's Go Digging Nationwide Metal Detecting Events has 13,300 members, that's about half the number of tekkies believed to be in England and Wales! 

Anyway some bloke called Charles Lloyd has founded a group, "Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys" (sic) and is looking for land and paying clients. But he's finding things are not that easy (The Pipeline,  Fears for Tiers over Shropshire Metal Detecting Rally Close to Scheduled Roman Villa  October 17, 2020).

The fate of a proposed metal detecting rally, due to be held this Sunday [18 October 2020] close to the site of a scheduled Roman villa near Shrewsbury on the Welsh border, hangs in the balance.  [...] Mr Lloyd initially invited up to forty “connoisseurs” to take part in the privately organised rally. However, subsequent posts increased the number of potential attendees to more than sixty, thus increasing the chance of locating important archaeology [...]. The publicity states that the event is due to cost £25 per detector meaning that, even if only the initial forty detectorists attend, the event will still raise £1000. 

Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys claim to have done a Covid-19 risk assessment, but it is unclear whether that takes into account the new regulations and the introduction of the three tier system of classifying lockdown rules by the Government just this week

Even so adding to the concern over the rally, thePipeLine can also confirm that of detectorists declaring they are going to attend on Sunday a number appear to come from areas with high rates of Covid-19 infection. This includes attendees from [...] areas which either are, or are about to be, subject to the most severe, Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions. These restrictions include Government guidance not to travel into, or out of, a Tier 3 area. [...] [on the rally,] the Covid precautions as a whole appear to be somewhat of an afterthought. It should be added also that none of these precautions deal with the most significant potential issue. That of the sheer number of people who might be attending a single event.

A spokesperson for West Mercia Police appeared to confirm that the event could be illegal under Covid-19 regulations, adding that there were severe penalties for organisers and attendees of  unauthorised gatherings. As was the case of the Pink Wellies Rally shut down by the Police on October 4th, there is no evidence that Sovereign Metal Detecting Rallys  is eligible for an exemption. Pipeline conclude: 

However, even if the rally does turn out to be allowable under the Coronavirus Act the question would remain that, while it might be legal, is it responsible to put metal detecting for artefacts over the risk to the health of people coming from a wide area, including those coming from areas with the high Coronavirus infection rates and where restrictions on travel are advised? In those circumstances any metal detecting rally would be at risk of becoming a, so called superspreader event, with severe consequences for the individuals affected and perhaps also for the reputation of metal detecting as a legitimate hobby?

Of course it also has implications for the people that live in the area too. If people cannot exercise self-restraint and act responsibly (which they demonstrably cannot), it is time to STOP this free-for-all and regulate metal detecting in the UK.

UK Detectorists Stubbornly Endangering the Public Spreading Germs [UPDATED]


Grubby-handed grabby UK metal detectorists can't be bothered with providing clean lavatories in their events, now they are having difficulty following Boris's new Covid regulations. Although Weekend Wanderers' next two commercial rallies, in Oxfordshire and Hampshire, are in medium risk areas (tier 1) many of their members come from London etc (tier 2) so they have canceled them. By contrast, Let's Go Digging Nationwide Metal Detecting Events [13,300 members] commercial rallies tomorrow (Gloucestershire) and next week (Return to Wilsford, Wiltshire) both tier 1 presumably, are still on, with just a warning not to come if you're in Tier 3 (only Liverpool and Lancashire), no mention of London (tier 2), Birmingham (tier 2) etc. I suppose they've got to make money somehow. Will there be police there checking numberplates and IDs? Metal detecting in England and Wales needs regulating, now. 

Update 17th October 2020

These rallies do seem to be getting more contentious and attracting the attention of law enforcement too (barely literate heritage grabbers seem an easy target):  Sovereign Metal Detecting Rally Event in Shropshire. Have a look at the first comment below too, last line. Metal detecting in England and Wales needs regulating, now. 

Friday, 16 October 2020

Friday Retrospect: Finds Rescue by Hoiking

 I was googling this evening for examples of archaeologists repeating the justifiction used by metal detectorists for hoiking willy-nilly because they are "rescuing finds" (and see yesterday's Broken Brooch Fallacy post). That the tekkies do it is one thing, that the archaeologists join in without citing any much evidence is another. So the PAS have been doing it since page 8 of the 2000-01 annual report (and the 2001/2-2002/3 one has it as many as three times, pp 848, 53), The Helsinki Gang do it too. I was surprised to come across this text that I could not recall having seen before, then I realised it was one of my own... It must have taken quite a bit of time to do it, but I have no recollection of it - but there are a lot of posts here. I seem to have had a lot of fun doing it too. But despite the light tone, it makes some points that are worth thinking about. So, how many people did and then commented? Hmm? And how many since then have been trotting out the same old same old arguments regardless? 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Tekkie Myth of Finds 'Rescue'

The sockpuppet "K.P.Volkswagen" responds on Andy Baines' blog to David Knell's "(the danger posed by chemical fertilisers appears to be largely an urban myth)" with a remarkable text:
maybe you read some articles on the effects of acidification or corrosive properties on metalic (sic) objects due to chemicla (sic) nitrate fertilizers, funny how finds do not come out of the ground perfectly preserved and some seem to suffer from surface degration (sic) including Victorian/modern finds. Anway you forgot about the result of damage caused by mechanization, broken parts of the same item.
Acidification. Maybe "KPVW" would like to read up about corrosion processes of metals in soils. As one may imagine, there is a lot of it, both dealing with archaeological material in the soil as well as commercial objects (for example buried pipelines).

The result of corrosion mechanisms - both chemical and biologically induced is the production of hydrogen ions, the result of putting a non-passivating metal object in the soil is an automatic increase in hydrogen ions (an acidic halo) around it. This is why organic materials are sometimes preserved in the immediate vicinity of iron for example.  So basically those buried Roman metal objects have been sitting in an acid bath of their own making two thousand years. The problem is where there is oxygen available, the hydrogen ions form water and then more of them are produced to keep the equilibrium, that's why iron objects from sandy coil have thicker crud crusts than those from clayey soils, its the degree to which the oxygen gets down to them. So KPVW just saying "acidification" explains nothing.

Soil pH (click to enlarge)
What I think has misled this milieu is a lot of literature that was being produced back in the 1970s (a lot of it by Scandinavians) about the effects of acid rain on architectural monuments, corroding the stonework and the metal roofs of buildings (but in the case of the metals, that is a different, fully aerobic, corrosion process). This was aimed, sad to say, at the chemical industries of central Europe, the chimney emissions of which at that time were not filtered, and blew right across the Baltic and killed their forests. There were some Danish and Swedish archaeologists who jumped onto that band-wagon and tried to show the same thing was happening to buried archaeological metals. To cut a long story short, the case is far from proven, and the rate of research in this particular area has slowed down in past decades. Air quality in the UK is now vastly better than it was a few decades ago.

Main distribution of Bronze Age to early
medieval PAS-recorded finds over
PAS affordances surface.

So to come back to ground, the ground in PASlandia... the colourful picture to the right is a map of soil pH in England and Wales. Red and orange are acidic, blue is alkaline, a pH of 4.5 and lower (orange and red on the map) is regarded in corrosion science as corrosive. As for the "Tekkies to the rescue" model, on the left is a map showing where PAS-recorded finds (many from metal detecting) are coming from. It will come as no surprise that there is a huge gap between what detectorists say they do, and what they do. Most of the PAS finds are coming from the regions of the country with alkaline and neutral soils, and not from the areas where finds are "threatened" according to the "acid" evoked by "K.P.Volkswagen".

Chemical nitrate fertilizers
The first thing that needs saying is that as we all learnt at school (Nitrogen cycle) soils naturally contain nitrates. Without them, a soil will not support any plant growth. The problem for farmers is that with intensive cropping, they remove more than the atmosphere and biological agents can put back, so they add some themselves. There is of course zero difference between a nitrate molecule produced naturally, or one produced in a factory. Animal excreta, spread on the fields as manure contains exactly the same nitrate molecules as white powder scattered from the back of a tractor. This "artificial fertiliser" phobia is simply that, an irrational phobia - jolly helpful for those who want to make profits from "Organic food" (and if it worries you, buy Polish vegetables to spite Putin and also consume less chemicals see here).

All chemical nitrate fertilisers cost money, growers therefore use them economically, applying only as much as is necessary to get good crop growth. What is needed is taken up by the plant (that which is not lost to denitrification). In good farming practices there should be little surplus, nitrate levels in the soils should not rise more than their natural levels and there are in the UK (and EU generally) strict controls on farming practices to control the amount of (highly soluble) nitrates entering streams and groundwater. Nitrate fertilisers are being gradually replaced by organic nitrogen containing compounds, most commonly Urea (carbamide CO(NH2)2). I would have thought metal detectorists being great mates with find-donating farmers would know this. Anyway, what role do nitrates have in corrosion of buried metals? For a starter in industry they are used as corrosion inhibitors, but of course in the soil, it is far more complex than that. Soil acidity and aeration are both effects that will affect the rate at which nitrates react with copper alloys, as is the buildup of a protective corrosion product layer on the object, and its coherence. Of course once again, the Roman coins and nails have been sitting in a dynamic soil solution chock-a-block full of nitrates(and much else) for two thousand years, why suddenly there should be a need to hoik them all out now beats me.

"Finds do not come out of the ground perfectly preserved Funny that. Drop a wrought iron nail in the ground and it corrodes. Fancy that. Copper clad coins too. Jumping Jehosophats, who'd have thought it? ("KPVW" might be interested to know that this is the first topic of lesson one of archaeology 101 just in case there are any students in the first year who'd not realised that. It's page two of the reading stage four 'Ladybird Book of Archaeology'). This of course has nothing to do with agriculture, corrosion happens almost everywhere except the desert and Outer Space.

"some seem to suffer from surface degredation"
("including Victorian/modern finds"). Well, fancy that too !! That surface that is in contact with corrosive environment is the one that corrodes! Amazing. And things that have been in the ground any time, why, fancy them coming out looking different from when they were put in. What amazing stuff you can "learn" when you take up metal detecting, all those things that seemed so difficulty in school suddenly, when you've got a rusty nail, there in yer 'and, all come to life! Queen Victoria died in 1902, one hundred years ago. A kinky pink Volkswagen buried in a field a hundred years (or even thirty) would "seem to have" have a pretty degraded surface when dug up. Believe me. This again is nothing to do with agriculture or artificial fertilisers.

Well, let's have a look at some of those objects with "degraded surfaces" - like a few taken randomly from the PAS blog feed about Archaeology Day. Well, true, these copper alloy objects have lost their brassy glint, so in that sense they are "degraded" if you are a collector that wants nice shiny baubles in the display case. As an archaeologist (and one with a background precisely in metals), I'd say they are not in bad nick.  Like the many hundreds of thousands of objects from metal detecting on the PAS database, like an equally large number of metal detecting finds that never made it to the PAS but are emptied from the archaeological record straight onto EBay.

I think archaeologists and collectors/dealers look at objects in a different way. I see a heavily corroded metal object, and it's a decision whether for the report it needs cleaning, or maybe just an X-ray, or whether we can get the information needed from it without either, followed by preventive conservation. I might wonder why this one has thick grey lumpy crud on it, while another three from the same context have blue-green smooth crud. Has there been a change in burial environment, and if so, what?  A collector is interested in how nice it will look on the photo he posts bragging about it in the 'Metal Detecting R Us' forum, or in the display case doubling as a glass-topped coffee table in the living room. My 'thick-grey-crud-which-could-be-taphonomic-information'  is for him disfiguring and most likely has the collector reaching for the coca-cola or Harpic to strip it down to the bright shiny metal which is more displayable. I am pretty sure that a lot of this collector-talk about "degraded surfaces" and "bad condition" is due to looking with a collector's eye for what would be considered a "nice patina" (or failing that, 'cabuinet toning' of a metallic surface).

Also we should remember that today's metal detectors are capable of finding more than would be spotted by an eyes-only digger in the old days. I have seen it myself on-site, they can find metal objects corroded beyond all visual recognition (lead and pewter finds in particular). Artefact hunters and archaeologists with metal detectors are finding objects corroded far beyond what people were picking up a few decades ago. That does not mean that this corrosion is necessarily happening now.

 "Damage caused by mechanization, broken parts of the same item". Firstly, horse drawn ploughs were quite capable of breaking artefacts, we have flints from ancient buried soils in Roman lynchets on the Downs showing this, the problem is not "mechanization" and its not new. Again, many Roman objects in the ploughsoil were dropped in ancient fields and have been in the ploughsoil several centuries, yet survive.

In reality, small compact objects in soil (like pebbles and bits of stick) are not invariably sliced through every time a plough comes near them. Unless blocked from moving by something bigger and firmly seated, most will, like the soil itself, 'flow' around the share as it moves through the soil. That's what many of the artefacts we recover now have been doing once, twice or more a year since they were dropped in fields centuries ago. If what collectors are saying was true, there should be zero undamaged artefacts in fields older than King George V for metal detectorists to find, and any fool can see that this is quite simply not the situation.

I think this case is (a) overstated and (b) misunderstood. If you look at reports of rally finds (the first Water Newton one for example), you see hundreds of artefacts illustrated which are NOT plough damaged and a small percentage which seem to be, but then when that damage occurred (in fields which have been under plough since the eighteenth century at the very latest), cannot be determined. This is no argument for hoiking all finds (and just the collectable metal ones) out now.

We should move away from object-centred arguments. A coin with a big nick in the edge or a wide fresh plough scratch on one face is still a coin of Edward I of moneyer "Fred on Lond" - it is less collectable, but its the same piece of archaeological information. This knife is the same piece of information if found whole (it was) or in pieces (as I've photoshopped it here). You can still argue if that really is a Roman knife, or an early Medieval one, even when its in pieces, and even if some of the bits are missing. Again, not as nice as a collectable (not that many artefact hunters collect utilitarian iron artefacts, they throw them away or discriminate them out), but again, this "threat" is seen mainly from a collector's point of view, not that of archaeological information.

I am of course not saying finds in ploughsoil are not in any danger at all (or that the problems mentioned by metal detectorist "KPVW" are the only factors we need to be discussing). I believe, however, that a cold look at the claims that are made by artefact collectors and their supporters in favour of hoiking it all out now - of which this one is typical - are vastly overstated. They are not only shallow and utterly unconvincing, but they are also object-centred rather than taking a wider look. Furthermore, they are self-serving arguments wholly subservient to the interests of the collector.

Finally, if the archaeological evidential values of stuff ARE being damaged on sites by changes in pH, chemical properties, mechanical movement or whatever (including metal detecting hoiking), then simply hoiking random collectables out and scattering them in personal collections, some of which may be recorded, is not the only option. Once a responsible metal detectorist has identified a threat to a field or part of a farm with which he or she is familiar, we could adopt three tactics :
1) Recover all of the evidence by means of a proper survey (including metal detectorists) using the methodology clearly outlined in Our Portable Past with the results properly archived, curated and written up,
2) Monitor such sites to  decide at what stage intervention is necessary, but until then preventing it from being altered by random private depletion,
3) Attempt to mitigate the problem, for example by inducing changes in the farming regimes, but again there is no point in doing this if the site is saved (at somebody's expense) from one type of depletion, but subjected to another (random artefact hunting for  private entertainment and profit). 

No comments:

Lenborough. "Weekend Wanders" Came to "Responsibly Plunder" the Site, Left only Holes


This is pretty shocking. I'm writing something and needed a "good bad example" of metal detecting mispractice... this blog is full of them, but that Lenborough sticks in my mind. I'll remind readers that its a site under old  grassland, with earthworks all over it, a DMV and field system, some ponds(?) too. Certainly NOT the place anyone even half "responsible" would hold a commercial rally and think they can get away without criticism. So Pete Welch of the Weekend Wanderers did not bother too much about that and went ahead and did it. The weekend rally was attended by approximately one hundred people. 

The rally took place 20-21st December 2014. So for my piece I wanted to show how the other finds from the medieval ploughsoil over the hoard relate to it, to build up at least a partial picture of the history of the site. Ahem... So, let's look at the PAS database. Well, here's the hoard (TPQ 1035)  and here are all of the finds that the database says have ever come from a place called Lenborough in Bucks over the past decade or so of metal detecting there. A paltry 23.  Twenty three from a rally attended by 100 people! Now look at the dates.  The hoard was found on 21st December 2014. The record was made on the 22nd - but nothing else. It looks very much like nothing else from that Weekend Wanderers Rally got onto the database. The next find was a ring recorded on 24th July 2015 from a different area of the parish entirely. No wonder the FLOs have stopped going to rallies. There is a group of four finds from Lenborough that the FLO recorded on the previous Wednesday, I assume because she knew she'd meet the finder there at the rally and they'd ask for them back.  

So one hundred weekend wanderers came from all over the place to LOOT the archaeology of the otherwise unthreatened earthwork site under old pasture site at Lenborough and according to the PAS database not a single one of them thought that the decent and responsible thing to do was get a single one of them reported? Scandalous. And that is why I do not believe all this claptrap about "responsible detecting".  

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Snarling Rixy the Pasture-Digger

We all know what the Code of Best Practice for Responsible metal Detecting in England and Wales says about digging sites under grass, but some metal detectorists from the MDF forum don't give a monkey's about setting a good example. Look over these people's shoulders at what they are digging into. And they are even filming themselves doing it...

MRix shows here how he has mastered the art of simultaneously speaking and snarling contemptuously. This bit, here. Does the person digging this hole understand the potential significance of the stones, and yet continues digging? Have a look at Marky Mark's shirt (OK, have a look at Marky Mark too, a fine figure of a UK metal detectorist), he's boasting about emptying whole swathes of the sites he searches. On pasture. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Tasting History, Not just one way to "Access the PASt"


       Sensory homunculus
James Slater, possibly pseudonymous detectorist, seems to be under the impression that none of my readers will have heard these arguments about "touching history" before. Let's have a look at them and the mindset behind them. He posted them as a comment to an earlier post, trying to deflect the discussion there from the treatment of a hoard documented in a video. Here it is with its original spelling and punctuation:

Most of the hoards in the British museum's have been found by detectorists, some of the best Celtic, Roman, Saxon and medieval artifacts have also been found by detectorists, handed in sometimes free of charge. People can visit those museums and view the many artifacts and hoards of treasure. Can I ask you a question? Lets say there was a Saxon gold hoard in a field and detecting wasn't allowed, how long would it take the farm machinery to smash those artifacts beyond recognition? Many artifacts such as Roman brooches come out of the soil smashed to pieces by power harrows and other farm implements. If we have an opportunity to recover thousands of long lost artifacts and coins and save them from certain destruction then we should take it providing of course it is done in the right way.

Many detectorists including myself have handed many rare coins and artifacts free of charge to local museums and also schools. I myself donated five Roman coins and five medieval coins to my local primary school but I did it under one condition, that the children were allowed to examine the coins and handle them.

I did that because our children are never allowed to feel and touch their own history but that's not how it should be. I donated five rare medieval coins to my local farmer which I found on his land. Why? Because the farmer should be allowed to hold and touch the coins that his ancestors touched over 800 years ago. History is not about locking artifacts and coins in cupboards and museum basements, it is about allowing others to experience and touch their own history. The history of common people. I've given the vast majority of everything I found away to friends and family who appreciate their heritage. I know many detectorists who do the same and I think you are being unfair to the hobby, it's not full of people who are in it for the money like you think it is, it's full of people that are genuinely interested in recovering history from the ground that otherwise would have been lost forever or destroyed by farm equipment. Would you rather see a ten year old child hold a 2000 year old Roman coin in her hand or would you rather that coin be lost forever? History is under our feet, people need to see it, feel it and touch it because it was their own ancestors who lost it.
First of all, let us note the use of the personal pronoun, like artefact hunting and collecting, it's all about "me, me, me".

1) "Most of the hoards..." most of the hoards that we have more than just a heap of loose objects from, but actual information about their internal structure and external context were excavated by archaeologists. That's what the post he's trying to avoid discussing was about, this one was trashed because carelessly dug up like potatoes by artefact hunters. 

2) "a Saxon gold hoard in a field" object-centred. What does "beyond recognition" mean? An item remains recognisable long after it has become of little interest to an antiquities collector. Also what about the majority of Anglo-Saxon hoards that are on unploughed land, or below plough level" This hoard was, until some oiks came along and hoiked it roughly out.

3) "Roman brooches come out of the soil smashed to pieces" Object-centred. I answer this separately below.  "providing of course it is done in the right way" and there is teh crux of the matter, after 24 years of expensive outreach detailing the "right way", the tekkies can't actually do that (Kirk Smeaton Hoard a striking case in point). Left to themselves, they just trash a lot of what they dig into - and again it is NOT about just getting loose objects ("before the plough gets them").

4) Schools are not places to curate "rare coins and artifacts" (sic). What's the idea of handling them? You do realise that corrosion products on objects dug out of the soil (and especially if you've benzatriazoled them too) are toxic? Look at the dermatitis visible on detectorists' hands on almost any UK metal detecting video. Do the parents know about the health risks? 

5) "I did that because our children are never allowed to feel and touch their own history but that's not how it should be". There are five senses. Taste is an important one too, but I'd not recommend putting freshly dug up metal objects on your tongue. Touching is not the same as getting to know about. Groping a newly-met girl in a nightclub is not the same as getting to know her, Mr Slater. 

6) "I donated five rare medieval coins to my local farmer which I found on his land". What? What entitlement there! In Britain, the rare coins belong to the landowner Mr Slater. And don't you forget it.
[More about touching here].

7) Mr Slater confuses "history" with objects, and groping coins and artefacts with "experiencing [our] own history" [time for my NCMD 15th century Union Flag vignette] 

8) "I've given the vast majority of everything I found away to friends and family who appreciate their heritage. I know many detectorists who do the same", what happens to them after that? Where do they go? What about the documentation? Why do you dig up stuff you do not need? Or what "need" does giving them away fulfil psychologically? What does the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting say about that? Personally, I'd not consider accepting gifts of loose artefacts hoiked by a detectorist who can't be bothered to look after them properly himself any form of "appreciating [and respecting] the heritage". For me its just the same as those that buy ivory knickknacks and cheap phones that "fell off the back of a lorry", but hey they are your friends.   

9) "I think you are being unfair to the hobby, it's not full of people who are in it for the money like you think it is" WHAT?  I very clearly and very consistently call the problem I am discussing here "collection-driven exploitation" not "commercial-driven exploitation", I think you are muddling me up with somebody else - or muddling me with the same stereotype as Suzie and Bonnie in that dozy and lazy article

10) "History is under our feet, people need to see it, feel it and touch it because it was their own ancestors who lost it".
Hmm. One can also experience history by visiting a Gothic cathedral, watch the evening light reflected from the footworn floor, touch the columns, look for medieval graffiti. Under your feet you can walk along hundreds of kilometres of real Roman roads, or drive down them, considering why there is a bend just there. You can observe and trace out with your eye the humps and bumps of a medieval field system in the mists of an autumn morning. You can download a digitised old map of a village onto your phone and walk around the village with your kids, maybe at dusk, seeing where things were and imagining how it was. Stand outside where the smithy, the tavern were, read the old graves in the churchyard. The same goes for any medieval town where you do your shopping, the street plan. There are trees standing in the landscape that were once parts of the structure of parks belonging to the old house that once stood on the hill, what other traces of that park remain in the modern landscape?  That big stone at the corner of the field, was it once a standing stone, or just an erratic pulled there by a steam plough?  

Show the kids how to find that. In the area around their homes, far more immediate than some old Roman emperor. 

In a country like Britain, there are literally millions of places where you can experience history without trashing it. To experience some of them however, you will have to read up about them, maybe that's the problem?

As for "holding history". That bit of pegmatite used to make a kerbstone by the newsagents (stroke it) crystallised 230 million years ago, deep in the earth's crust, and aeons of movement and erosion brought it close enough to the surface that it could be quarried. The toolmarks on it show how. These ones came to the town in the 1920s, and it's reused here, the rest are in the road by the church. That's a story too. The flint gravel in your drive or in the beach where you went on holiday formed from siliceous goo in a warm sea  more that 66 million years ago. Some of it will have fossils in it - our ancestors too. 

Artefact hunting destroys more evidence than it allegedly "preserves", and people like you can get your historical kicks other ways, just by using a bit more imagination.  

There is history all around us, and you HAVE often unrestricted "access" to it. So why do you allege you are being "denied access" if we say we don't want artefact hunters digging up stuff, trashing sites, so they can "touch" or give away and impress kids and their friends with the lose bits of archaeological evidence they carelessly hoik out of the ground? 

The Broken Brooch Fallacy

           Current arable intensity (Nature)
James Slater, detectorist, in a  comment to an earlier post here seems to be under the impression that he's telling us something we do not know, but in fact has not first himself checked out his 'facts'. I'd say that was a pretty unintelligent thing to do (especially when trying to deal with the arguments of a guy it say over to the left in the sidebar has been studying artefact hunting and related issues since the 1970s).  Among the mantras he's heard others chanting and decided to parrot here on my blog, we find this one: 
Many artifacts (sic) such as Roman brooches come out of the soil smashed to pieces by power harrows and other farm implements. If we have an opportunity to recover thousands of long lost artifacts (sic) and coins and save them from certain destruction then we should take it [...].

Well, this is an object-centred argument because those brooches are not in fields in a vacuum, and this blog is about archaeological evidence being trashed. 

But above all, I'd like to see that 'statement of fact' documented. This is quite important, because this argument is so frequently trotted out by those who've only got anecdotal evidence at best to support it. Now, I am aware of papers where it has been shown that pins (hairpins, clothes fasteners), long, thin inherently fragile, especially when corroded, get broken in the ploughsoil as opposed to excavated examples (I'm not going to go into it here, but in one of the most frequently quoted there's a rather awkward methodological flaw). But the tekkie (and tekkie-supporting archaeologists) argument is that "all" artefacts suffer this (so the mantra is "better out than in"). Roman brooches are an ideal test case, they've often got a long thinnish 'body', with at one end a protruding catchplate and at the other a strongly protruding headplate with the spring and all the other gubbins to create friction in movement.  Ideal for testing what happens when a plough moves them around. I'm glad Mr Slater mentioned it.

Let Mr Slater take all the Roman brooches sold by British sellers on eBay (the ones artefact hunters don't want for their own collections - and ignoring the many fakes there) and all the Roman brooches on the PAS and UKDFD databases and (if he likes) all the ones displayed today on the metal detecting forums and facebook pages, and lets see the figures. Together there will be a sizeable sample of several tens of thousands. 

A cursory look shows that most are relatively undamaged, but since Mr Slater insists, we'd like to see figures for: 
Complete or near complete (ignoring the pin, these usually break anyway) n=??
Fractured - ancient fractures n =??, and  
fractured, fresh breaks that do not affect just the pin n=??. 
We would like to see some numbers to back up this statement, please. Then we can talk about facts and not mantras. 

Since I very seriously doubt that any metal detectorist will ever produce an argument they can back up with actual evidence, instead of anecdote or appealing to 'common sense', I'll give readers a clue. Roman brooches on the PAS database , total quantity: 32,568. BUT  the ones that mention "plough" in the full description made by the FLOs is... just 528.

What that means is only one in 62 is in some way described by the PAS (who also use this same argument as Mr Slater) as affected by the plough. 

But then look at the actual fibulae in that group, they are not broken, many of the descriptions claim they are somehow "eroded" by the plough. And looking more closely at the photos of a selection of those objects, one is prompted to ask just how many hours training in soil and corrosion chemistry FLOs get before they start work... 

Now look at the map of them. There is something wrong here... obviously. There are a couple of FLOs that say in their descriptions they see this effect,* and about thirty more that don't. Yet those that don't are those that actually operate in the areas of England and Wales with the most intensive ploughing (and these patterns are probably going to change soon anyway, when broken brooches will be the least of the problems). 

For the record, the total for "agricultural machinery" is... 2. (and just for good measure "artificial fertiliser" another common argument - zero).

So, Mr Slater, and ll those that want to parrot the same mantra, either produce some proper figures, or please stop trying to use this false argument to justify artefact hunting. 

* It's worth noting this. Just taking the top five (they tend to cluster chronologically - sadly the records are now anonymised so we cannot see which archaeologists are noting this effect): 

  • Grant to Help Set Up New Body to Support UK Metal Detectorists

                           Which way for British artefact hunting now?

     A £50,000 grant from Historic England is a step forward towards the setting up of a new organisation to support and train metal detectorists in the UK. Working with archaeologists and others in the heritage sector, the ‘Institute of Detectorists’ aims to provide training opportunities to promote responsible metal detecting [...] the feasibility study has the support of national bodies such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Council for British Archaeology and Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. The detecting community will be consulted on a business plan which outlines the role of the Institute, the membership structure and the framework for the training programme which will be focused on heritage and conservation.
    Well, it seems that there will be no official body from the detecting community to ask as the National Council for Metal Detectorists has refused to co-operate. Their loss.

    So, which way will British artefact hunting turn as it reaches a crisis, towards beneficial co-operation in achieving the aims it has always claimed for itself, to preserve the past, or the harmful, self-centred antagonistic geriatric isolationism of the NCMD and its allies? 

    No Real Representatives for British Artefact Hunters


    British detectorists Oldartefact (Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:36 pm ) talks about the state of metal detecting today over on a metal detecting forum near you:
    It seems that the hobby is in a bit of a quandary with nobody representing anybody .. The archis will talk to the IoD.. The NCMD wont cooperate with the FID, and they wont talk to either the Archis or the IoD ... its all becoming a bit of a political and communications mess .. meanwhile Youtube is speaking to everybody..
    Indeed. We can all see how much the policy of liaison is working... or not. And it is worth considering the reason why the NCMD is no longer being considered as representatives on "responsible detecting", they've worked hard to get to that situation. Now its members need to stop paying their subscriptions and supporting a group of cantankerous buffoons that have become an albatross round the hobby's neck dragging it down deeper.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2020

    How it Works Now: PAS in Lockdown (North and East Yorkshire)

    Taking precautions
    I wrote to the Yorkshire FLO to thank her for answering a query I had sent and got back this automated reply, and thought several aspects were of interest:

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the extended closure of the Yorkshire Museum I am currently working from home. I will respond to your message as soon as I can, but this may take longer than usual.

    Finds Recording

    Though PAS is continuing to work as much as possible, we cannot currently meet with finders either to accept new finds for recording or to return finds already in our care. All events have also been cancelled until April 2021.

    Please keep hold of any finds you would like to have recorded, individually bagged and labelled with the minimum 8-figure grid reference and date of discovery, for full recording at a later date in accordance with the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal-Detecting in England and Wales.

    Finds Identification

    I am unable to record finds from e-mailed images at present. If you would like a brief identification of an object, and to know if it is eligible for recording with the Portable Antiquities Scheme at a future date, please send:

    ·        Digital images of the front, back and side of the object with a scale bar or ruler

    ·        The grid reference of the find spot (minimum 8-figure NGR)

    ·        The date of discovery


    Finds of potential Treasure must still be reported within 14 days in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996. We are working to deal with finds of potential Treasure remotely so that we can keep the process moving as much as possible. In order to help with this, if you have an object which you believe may constitute potential Treasure, please send the following details by e-mail, and await further instruction.

    ·        The name, postal address and e-mail address of the finder

    ·        The full name, postal address and e-mail address of the landowner and occupier (in cases of tenanted land)

    ·        A minimum 8-figure National Grid Reference (NGR) for where the find was made (see guide)

    ·        The depth at which the object was discovered

    ·        The type of land on which it was found (i.e. cultivated or pasture)

    ·        Date of discovery

    ·        Weights and measurements

    ·        Digital photographs (see guide)

    Your initial e-mail will satisfy the 14 day notification period required under the Treasure Act.

    The necessary precautions mean there may be delays in the Treasure process and many of the staff involved with Treasure at the British Museum are on furlough leave.

    Further Information

    The DCMS has published updated guidance for members of the public on searching for archaeological finds in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read it and follow the advice: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-searching-for-archaeological-finds-in-england-during-covid-19

    More information on the way PAS is working in Yorkshire at the moment can be found on the Yorkshire County Pages: https://finds.org.uk/counties/yorkshire/artefacts-and-coins/ and on the PAS Yorkshire Facebook page in the pinned post: https://www.facebook.com/YorkshirePAS/. Do check back for updates.

    Thank you for your understanding, patience and cooperation during this time.

    Best wishes,

    Rebecca Griffiths

    Finds Liaison Officer for North and East Yorkshire

    First of all, those national guidelines are from before the summer, in Britain, the regulations of what you can and cannot do in certain areas have become more complicated, yet the guidelines have not been updated to reflect that. So referring local enquirers to that without comment is a bit awkward. It remains to be seen whether the pandemic will have been dissipated in Yorkshire (or anywhere in Bonkers Britain) by "April 2021". 

    Note, the whole emphasis here is on "us recording your finds", it seems that this is what the PAS has become now. No mention of answering public enquiries or supplying any other kind of information as per the original aims of the Scheme. 

    Note three "services" provided, recording your finds (later), identifying your finds (I'll do it now, but supply me the same information - thank goodness they are not asked to weigh stuff) and dealing with your treasure (yay! We'll do it as soon as possible). I would say that, given the actual text of sections 8 and 9 of the Treasure Act, and the fact that the matter is complicated if the objects were found and then reported in different administrative districts, giving the statement "Your initial e-mail will satisfy the 14 day notification period required under the Treasure Act" without citing its actual legal basis (the Order referred to in the Act) is incorrect administrative practice.  And here, they do want the weight... 

    Note that only in the latter case is any interest shown in establishing the ownership of the items presented. Why? In any case, suppose the landowner lent the finder the artefacts for responsible recording but wants them back. There is also no mention here of self-recording/self-recorders, why? 

    There is going to be a huge backlog if in however-many-weeks-from-now, people start producing all over the country the tens of thousands of artefacts they are finding now and keeping back alongside what they will be finding in the future. 

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