Thursday 27 January 2011

Metal Detecting Vacations (UK)

Metal Detecting Vacations (UK) ("come and discover a piece of England" [and take it away with you after paying me lots of cash]) is run by an American immigrant called Tony Golden, now based in Sale. He has been in England five years and sees a business opportunity exploiting the country's lax heritage laws. So how would that look if Mexicans moved in to the US to dig up and export all the remains of America's past?

If that was not bad enough, one of the things his punters are paying for is for Metal Detecting Vacations (UK) to take them along to the PAS to legitimise the activity. But what are they told to do? After having spent a week or so being driven around to various sites in Cheshire (my emphasis):
After the detecting tour has ended you are required to place all your finds identified over 50 years old in a finds bag with the finders details clearly marked upon it.
That is the name of the finder, not the precise findspots of each of the objects in the bag. It is worth pointing out that if the organizers manage one 'tour' a month (Aug to April) this one firm supplies perhaps 40-80 people to boost PAS "number of people involved" statistics. Of course then it looks as if PAS is doing far more outreach to the 10 000 indigenous metal detectorists than it is. A more significant point is what worth is the record of those mixed finds to anyone? But actually providing information to mitigate the commercial destruction is NOT the idea, look what Mr Golden then promises:
MDV (UK) will then work with (sic) the local find liaison officer in recording the finds. If any of the artefact's (sic) are found to be of historical importance they will be recorded by the portable antiquities scheme where experts will ID and record the item giving you a greater depth of information.
Who pays for that? The punters have paid Mr Golden for this service, but the PAS do this for free. Well, not really for free is it? This is done from public funds. The British public are paying archaeologists to provide nice reports for the clients of firms like Mr Golden's commercial operation engaged in the digging up and export of bits of Britain's archaeological record for cash. We've come a long way from the PAS being involved in instilling best practice (this kind of exploitation of the archaeological record is not by any stretch of the imagination "best practice") and we've come a long way from the notion that by working with artefact hunters there is some kind of engagement with the past of people who are investigating the history of the area they live in. The FLOs do not even meet Mr Golden's clients, just see a jumbled bag of their finds and produce reports for them free of charge. Do the PAS support organizations such as Metal Detecting Vacations (UK)? Should they not be making this clear? Is this what the PAS consider "responsible detecting" (ie responsible use of the finite archaeological record)? Should the PAS not be making a charge for their services when they are exploited by commercial organizations like this? Should not British archaeologists be doing more to try and stop this kind of thing?

A Deep Bloomsburian silence will ensue I am in no doubt. But I hope the purse string holders will hear the echo of this silence and wonder just what is going on. PAS is supposed to be doing outreach, isn't it? How can it do that by remaining silent?

[The hyperlinks on Mr Golden's website do not seem to work very well, but perseverance will get you to the important bits - like how much it earns him per client]


Tvpresenter4history said...

Hi Paul, Many thanks for your recent comment posted about myself .... Here is my answer to your inaccurate interpretation....

Many thanks for your comments Paul, and yes i always answer my critics !! you are entitled to your opinion no matter how inaccurate they are. I am indeed Director Presenter & producer of Historic Media Productions founded in 1999. I am regularly commissioned to write & produce documentaries covering archaeology and history some even funded by the Lottery Heritage Council.
Your description as a detectorist is woefully short of the truth. I trained in archeology from the age of 15 and spent 10 years carrying out field archaeology. I have excavated with the University of Manchester archaeological unit at several of my sites and worked closely with Dr Micheal Nevell. I have also worked on several heritage projects closely with eminent archaeologist Tim Strickland having written and produced all of the Heritage documentaries for Middlewich over the past 10 years.
I resent your reference to karaoke with a video camera and a metal detector, this shows ignorance. My film equipment alone would require a small mortgage to purchase and all of my productions are of Broadcast quality standard, many examples of my footage have been aired both on BBC and Itv Granada over the past few years.
I am highly proficient and professional in the work that i do. I noticed you make many references to information that you have taken from my linkedIn account, but you make no mention of the professional endorsements of my media work made by my peers in broadcasting ?

As for getting myself on TV? I am regularly approached by TV Broadcasters asking me to appear in programmes as they find my work interesting as do those who view it. I make no secret of my ambition to work in television in the future. I have a well respected and well known agent who represents me & some of the top names on UK Television and I am also on the talent database of Archaeologist Nigel Hetherington !!!!

Many thanks for your comments Paul, i wish you well in the future.

James Balme

Paul Barford said...

Hmm, Mr Balme seems to have posted his comment under the wrong post. I guess he meant it to go here:

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