Monday 29 March 2010

A Visitor's View, English Archaeologists: "Elitist Idiots"

In the comments section to another post one anonymous "David" (profile inaccessible) states: "After visiting England many times it is my opinion that UK archeologists are an elitist bunch of idiots. Hmm. Are they? I think, though I would not label them as such personally, as a whole they currently have a totally idiotic approach to artefact hunting and collecting. In contrast to what anonymous foreign visitor "David" thinks, this is precisely because many of them are trying not to be elitists, they see this (misguidedly in my opinion) as a way of allowing "everyone" to "engage with the past". In support of his assertion "David" alleges without giving any proper details:
I once witnessed a state funded excavation in the north of England where the top three feet of soil was trucked off to the local rubbish dump. The local metal detectorists went to the dump and found several thousand coins and artifacts. One find was a bronze bust of Mars. All of these finds were turnd in to the local museum. The director of the dig tried to ban the detectorists from the rubbish dump. A court order stopped this from happening. After the dig the director was pictured in the national press holding the bust of Mars. Go figure!!!
So this is a metre of stratified archaeological deposits, or a metre of mixed overburden with redeposited Roman and other finds? What was the name of the site "David"? When was this? What is the name of the director involved? Also what is meant by the phrase "statefunded"? This was an English heritage funded research project perhaps? Finally I really do not understand by what elements of English law the archaeologist (unless he was also the owner of the landfill site itself) could seek to "ban the detectorists from the rubbish dump" 9and more to the point how a "court order" could force te landowner to allow artefact hunters to search there against his will). In short this is typical of the sort of anonymous metal detectorist archaeological hate-tale that is put about to try to justify the current state of artefact hunting. Basically there really is no real "elitism" among archaeologists in England towards metal detectorists, whom the community as a whole (to their shame I would personally say) treats as their "partners". Hate tales like this however serve the metal detectorists to justify why, after so many years and so many millions of quid of public money spent on "liaison" and entering into "partnership", a large number of artefact hunters in the UK 9as a whole, not just England and Wales) are refusing to report more than the absolute legal minimum of their finds to the relevant authorities, and sometimes not even that.

What are the actual details behind this story, anyone know?

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