Saturday, 24 January 2009

"We will be seeking legal advice about this posting on Monday."

The Portable Antiquities Scheme threatens, "We will be seeking legal advice about this posting on Monday." The PAS standing at the awkward interface between archaeology and portable antiquity collecting is no stranger to controversy. There are a few archaeologists who publicly question some of the things it is doing, the way it reports them and their long term effects on public perceptions of the discipline. There are many more however in the artefact hunting mileu who strongly criticise the Scheme and individual members of its staff, and make various allegations on the "metal detecting" forums. Sometimes justly, most of the time not, but always spitefully, often in the most abusive of terms; on these forums Roger Bland and the Scheme he runs really are libelled outrageously on a regular basis. I do not recall however ever seeing in all of its eleven years activity any public message from the Head of the Scheme addressed to any "metal detectorist" on a metal detecting forum that the PAS intends to "seek legal advice" about any of those comments made by artefact hunters and portable antiquity collectors (I am sure Dr Bland will correct me if I missed one).

If the disturbing Malmesbury coin affair was misreported by the British media, it surely is not my fault. I can only draw the same conclusions as everybody who read this piece of reporting. If Mr Bland is unhappy about what I wrote here on the basis of what I read in the British media, then he only has to fill in the missing facts to set the record straight.
What is it about the entire pro-collecting lobby that they apparently cannot face critical comments and awkward questions on the difficult issues from those whose prime concern is the preservation of the archaeological record with anything other than threats, aggression and name-calling?

Vignette: "Off with their heads!" (Sir John Tenniel)

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