Sunday, 3 July 2011

More from the Wrexham "Heritage Society"

I got an irate message from a metal detecting organization which calls itself a "heritage society" based in Wrexam so decided to take a look at their website again. They've revamped it, it no longer says on the front page that they are "supported by the PAS" which is a relief. I am sure that the PAS does not actively support the collecting away of the archaeological record for entertainment and sale.

Further on in, there is the usual apostrophe abuse ("Metal detectorist's" what, "Landowner's" what?) and on one of the inner pages we find they think its OK what they do, because they take their metal detecting seriously (sic) and "Every member has third party insurance and are also a member of the National Council for Metal Detecting and bound to its code of practice for responsible metal detectorists". Not the official one agreed with heritage bodies then - which the NCMD does not (despite earlier promises) require its members to apply to their "serious" artefact hunting.

There are some interesting videos on their website, one showing twenty members in a hall somewhere - note the military style drill with the shovel, maybe this old bloke fancies himself as one of the UK Minutemen? The group goes on about their preserving the things they find from environmental hazards, so note the very carefully controlled environment these fragile metal objects are displayed in. They do not seem to be labelled with findspot either, do they? Note the sorry apology for weekend entertainment - sitting in the corner of a field at a "fair" - is enlivened with a "PIRATE Treasure hunt" (at 1:26 mins). Some other videos posted by Steve Morris on the WHS website include the usual ones by Norfolk Wolf, the hand-waving Mr Brun explaining archaeological sampling techniques for the heritage society's members, and my favourite metal detecting video star, Mike Pegg (is he a WHS member?).

The inappropriately-apostrophied "members' photo gallery" page includes a very notable section: C.P.A.T. Gallery :
"This section of our Gallery has been created for our local Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust team to place artefacts of interest, and give you, the viewer a brief history of the items".
Eh? All very nice, but the archaeologist members of the WHS do not include a mention of a single FINDSPOT for any of the objects. Note the same gallery passes as the PAS gallery. This is just naked artefactology, not archaeology. So I don't know what the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (presumably those who are reported as bad-mouthing me) are up to here. Apparently, if what the WHO member says is true, the Clwyd Powys archaeological mob can curry favours with the artefact hunters by attacking people who disagree with this manner of treating the archaeological record merely as a mine for collectables, but I bet they can't come on here and justify with archaeological arguments what they are doing to our faces. I dare you.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you'll get a response Paul. The archaeological "support" is largely wishful thinking. The claim that the PAS and the National Museum of Wales support what they are doing on the basis of their Code of Practice is utterly false. Where is the direct statement of support for them and their Code of Practice from either? Or indeed from ANY archaeologist?

Paul Barford said...

A bit unlikely isn't it? British archaeologists seem to shy away from talking about the nitty gritty of their "support" for this kind of thing. The few that do demonstrate they've not really thought their arguments through either bottom up from the fundamental issues, nor top-down. In fact they mostly mouth the same platitudes as the artefact hunters themselves.

So, no, I'm not really expecting intelligent debate from the name-callers. But I think the main point is that the public (whose heritage it is) should be asking themselves why the archaeological "experts" have no answers to questions which it is entirely reasonable to ask and simply dodge the questions.

Paul Barford said...

"i will report this blog to google .... its getting very tedious"
Says an irate guy from Wrexham. So I'm not going to post his comment in which he shows not an inkling of what I am talking about. Seems fair enough.

Come back when you feel like actually discussing "heritage" issues instead of offering threats.

Paul Barford said...

Google must be wondering by now why it is that this particular group of hobbyists has so many difficulties with their hobby being discussed. Do you think they get as much trouble from hang gliding enthusiasts or hockey players?

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