Monday 8 February 2010

January Comment on Rescue

Oh dear, this email came while I was away and requires dealing with:
Dear Paul,
I have tried to post the following comment on your weblog ( Unfortunately it seems to be rejected each time I try, 'moderation' having been enabled. I would be most grateful if you could post the text below. We remain keen to review your book on this subject as and when (or if) it appears. We would have been happy to respond to your comments and to provide a piece for inclusion in your item concerning the website and the use of the image, had you given us an opportunity. It seems that you are perhaps not so committed to the open exchange of views as you would have us believe.

Well, two things, the comments sent for moderation are held in an archive in "Blogger" whether I am at the keyboard or not. The archives for the period I was away are intact, and there is absolutely no trace of any from RESCUE or Chris Cumberpatch under any name or form. He must have sent his earlier remarks elsewhere, but certainly not to this blog. So this is why the comments did not appear, not through me suppressing them. Secondly this blog is not for any "open exchange of views"; it is my blog and expresses my views (that is what blogs are for)... not that I am at all averse to having them challenged. So here following is the text Mr Cumberpatch was trying to post as a comment to my post. Let us recall that this referred to the use by Rescue on their website of the controversial Staffordshire hoard - about which I have already expressed my views and reservations in this blog. I considered it regrettable that the image - and thus the treasure hunt associations - was being used at the top of the webpage by Rescue in this context.

"The next edition of RESCUE NEWS will contain further discussion of the issues around the discovery and subsequent treatment of the hoard in question which I believe will make a useful contribution to the wider debate and may well address some of Mr Barford's concerns, raised above.

We have carried numerous pieces in RESCUE NEWS on various aspects of the debate over metal detecting and artefact hunting, including an article by Mr Barford and given this record we regret the tone of Mr Barford's comments above. The use of the image reproduced by Mr Barford is most certainly not an endorsement of artefact hunting or the uncontrolled use of metal detectors for hobby or related purposes and there was no intention in its use to indicate anything to the contrary.

On the other matters mentioned by Mr Barford - RESCUE's clain to be independent is based upon the fact that we are dependent solely on the contributions of our members in order to carry out our work -we receive no funding from government either directly or via quangos and are grant aided only in respect of individual publications.

As to our commitment to archaeology as a discipline, it rests on our wider record. In addition to covering aspects of the debate over looting and the antiquities trade we are active in lobbying politicians at all levels regarding the legislation around heritage protection in the UK (including matters relating to looting and the use of metal detectors). We took a leading role in safeguarding the future of Verulamium in respect of the cessation of ploughing on the site. We actively campaign for protection for archaeological sites and landscape throughout the UK and further afield and are currently engaged in a number of such campaigns both alone and in concert with other concerned groups both local and national.

In practical terms we have arranged for the translation of out joint publication (with ithe Institrute of Conservation)'First Aid for Finds' into a number of languages including Georgian, Macedonian, Japanese and Greek - making the translated text available free of charge to heritage professionals in Macedonia and Georgia where little such guidance was available previously and where wages often preclude the easy acquisition of such material.

We remain extremely concerned about looting and the antiquities trade but we recognise that this is but one of the many and varied threats to the archaeological record. While we shall be sad to lose Mr Barford's support, we shall continue our work on all fronts and welcome new members to help us in this enormous task.

Chris Cumberpatch
RESCUE - The British Archaeological Trust"
Whatever the next issue of Rescue News says about the Staffoirdshire hoard, it seems perfectly legitimate of me to question its use to signify "archaeology" on a public website by an organization concerned with preservation of the archaeological resource. I note that Cumberpatch does not refer to my earlier comment about RESCUE's official statement on the "metal detecting" issue, which accompanied the article of mine which they published in Rescue News 99. It is indeed extremely wishy washy and disappointingly conciliatory. ("RESCUE and metal detecting" Rescue News 98, page 2). It would be nice to see it made more widely available online as part of that "debate debate over looting and the antiquities trade" and an indication in which way RESCUE's lobbying of politicians is going.

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