Wednesday 30 November 2011

Metal Detecting Under the Microscope: Gold Coins at Twinstead

A heritage grabfest commercial artefact hunting rally was held in Twinstead, Near Sudbury in Essex, on Sunday 27th November (announced here by "Skunky Paul"). The heritage was being plundered to "raise funds for the Castle Hedingham Scout Group". Some gold coins were found; rather a lot in fact, 100 or according to some 200 (or "hundreds") sovereigns of Victoria and Edward VII. In metal detecting circles there are tales of the finders "not showing them to the organisers, but just disappearing with pockets full in some cases, [...] last I heard only 2 had appeared in the showcase". Another reporter says: "I heard of one [person] finding 10 in a roll / original wax paper, some pe[ople] are thinking it might of (sic!) been a robbery". The story from Detecting Wales ("Jeb"):
A single lad found one sov, and instead of saying nothing and carrying on detecting around the spot, he held it up and let them all around him know he`d just found a Soverign , then amazingly enough he walked away from the spot. Well the rest zoomed in on the spot and from then on the continuation of finds of Soverigns carried on. So the initiall finder got just one . I was there I saw it . It was Gold fever at its worst . I didn`t get involved with it ,although I was there nearby when only the SECOND soverign was found. I watched from about thirty feet away as at the time ,around thirty "vultures" picked at the carcass of land . Thirty or more or on a piece of ground no bigger than 20 -30 feet square. They were like people detecting in a lift , it was amazing spectacle to watch, I walked away eventually and that was at 10.45 or 11am ish. The finding carried on and on. The same amount roughly were STILL there at around 4 PM.
They were only in it for the "history" of course. Another part of the story from the rally UK site:
“Within 20 mins there were about 30 people in that small patch and all pulling up gold sovereigns! There was a jovial atmosphere with people kissing the coins as they came up and others cheering and congratulating them on their finds.The most asked question doing the rounds today was "How many have you got now?" and the replies kept rising.” I did show my coins to the organisers and they were photographed for a 2nd time. I asked the organiser about what happens now (re declaring them etc ) and was told that we were entitled to keep them. The scouts were happy that they had raised the amount that they were hoping for.
And the landowner, was he formally approached and asked? Did nobody think (including the rally organizers) that these coins should have been declared? Of course many artefact hunters think its very much a matter of finders keepers, one "Wayno" who it appears had travelled over to deepest Essex from the Wild West back on the "Detecting Wales" forum expresses it like this:
"As we are paying the farmer I didnt realise that we were in shares with him. If the farmer allowed you on free then I realise we would be on shares but we are paying this is not made clear as yet. The farmer to which the rally was held in question with the soverigns if there was 200 that approx 200X£240 scrap value for the coins so he will [be] entitled to £24000 of the organisers then."
And not from those individuals who actually benefited and made off with them (including those who concluded they "might of bin from a robbery"? The Scottish detectorists are interested too (Wild scenes at "Gold rush" on English rally).
The English based forums are full of it with claims of some detectorists fleeing the scene with 20 or more sovereigns each and the field being left like a lunar landscape. There is now talk of police involvement and criminal charges being made.
The French too are talking of it and wondering at it all. So the farmer appears to have been ripped off by GUESTS on his land, it seems inherently likely (paper still on the coins in a Suffolk field) that this was the result of the recent burial of thieved loot which was thieved again by thieving metal detectorists (so possible evidence of a crime was obliterated instead of being responsibly reported). Two hundred sovereigns buried in the reign of Edward VIII even if buried just after their date of issue can conceivably be traced to a known individual who has an heir. There are certainly grounds for disquiet here, and open and frank discussions how the contract between commercial rally organizers and landowners should be drafted to make sure this thing cannot happen again. Will such a discussion take place on any English metal detecting forums? Not very likely. Have a look and see what their concerns were:
what I suggest---- you make this bit of the forum disappear as soon as pos ----- WHY because all your excuses smart remarks and information will be twisted and used against you and put our hobby in disrepute and make us look like the bad boy ----- some of you have notice from you smart remarks a lot of the forums are closing down on this subject or deleting this is because they dont want the hassle or the embarrassment of showing our hobby in a bad light think about it the less peeps know the less they can hurt us.
Just keep it quiet lads, keep it out of the public eye and that way nobody will be questioning current British policies on artefact hunting and collecting. The Minelabs thread has apparently been deleted for the same reason, the Scottish detectorists are also worried about the negative effects for the all important "image of the hobby". And what image of the hobby does that, in itself, project? Frankly, in order to provide all the evidence that one needs that all is not at all what it is made out by its supporters to be in the world of artefact hunting in the UK, one does not need to "twist" anything these people say candidly. Their words speak volumes for themselves of just what lies below the carefully maintained facade. When are we going to hear it like it is?

Vignette: Boy Scouts learning how to raise funds by metal detecting (for their "heritage plunderer" badge no doubt) Photo: rally in progress photo by "Regis".


cmp10n said...

"Will such a discussion take place on any English metal detecting forums? Not very likely. Have a look and see what their concerns were:"

How utterly judgemental and opinionated.

Paul Barford said...

but is that not why, precisely, they keep their discussions shut away from the sight of the general public, that they will be judged and people will form their own opinions on what they see there?

And, yes, in case you were wondering, this is a blog where I express my own opinions of artefact hunters, collectors and dealers, and events/actions or situations in which they are involved, take it or leave it, nobody forces you to read it.

cmp10n said...

I've worked in IT years for 28 years and the ability to blog publically is one of the best inventions of the c21st and a perfect way to express opinion. i do it myself. Of course your welcome to voice your opinions as we all are.

I know I don't have to read what you say but I do because I find what you say interesting but at the same time I find it offensive to the law abiding detectorists who (in the majority) abide by the law and take a keen interest in history and preserving heritage as I do.

This is the true reflection of "Skunky" I believe, having read some of his posts and no, I have never ever met the guy in my life.

Read this:

Yes, in any sphere of life you will have bad apples; metal detecting is no exception but your blog post tars everyone with the same brush and it's not only inaccurate and offensive, it's wrong.

Paul Barford said...

You know, all along on this blog I have been saying that members of the public, including those reading my stuff, should register with the detecting forums and have a look for themselves, let them be the judge of what goes on there, what detectorists say (and what they are careful not to). That's the way for them to find out whether what they say is "inaccurate". As for "offensive", well they can see there what the tekkies write about me.

In fact why are they mostly shut off from public view, Rally UK for example? What is written there about rallies that the general public should not see? What is being hidden if not precisely the kind of thing we are talking about? And WHY "should" it be hidden? Do not the public have a right to know what is happening? Do not landowners have a right to know?

So of course the link you gie so that we can all see what "Skunky" represents goes to this: "The board requires you to be registered and logged in to view this forum". Why? What are they hiding that you can't even VIEW it?

I do not "tar detectorists with the same brush", I divide them into three groups, the white, grey and black. Look at my posts on the subject. That's more than tekkies themselves do, they see ythe good guys ("law abiding") and the ["minority of"] black sheep. The "Nighthawks". I put a large group in between them. [in the book, there are five].

A car driver who obeys the law is a law-abiding driver, That is the starting point and not the be all and end all. It does in itself not make him a good driver, a thoughtful driver or even a safe driver.

Likewise merely obeying the law is a LONG way from that "best practice" the PAS have gobbled up thirteen million quid to instil, thirteen million quid and they can't even get tekkies to agree to use the Code of practice instead of the old NCMD 'shut the gate' one.

Is it wrong to expect higher standards after thirteen years of highly expensive outreach and a whole gut-load of damaging pro-collecting propaganda? I do not think so, and am profoundly disappointed when I look at the milieu as a whole. Aren't you? And what is the milieu doing about it?

I wish I had a penny for every time over the past fifteen or more years I've heard "in any sphere of life you will have bad apples" from collectors, how do you define tekkyish bad appledom? "Not obeying the law", or some more stringent measure?

I've tried to register on the metal detecting forum you mentioned...

cmp10n said...

The comment that initiated this discussion and what I found judgemental and offensive was this:

"Will such a discussion take place on any English metal detecting forums? Not very likely."

LOTS of discussions take place across a myriad of blogs, wikis and forum.

ALL of the sites mentioned are free to register on. they're NOT "hidden". I have registered on lots of sites and not paid a penny. The primary reason these sites require people to register is not to prevent access or to "hide" things from the general public, it's so that there is an element of account management - ie. Creating a username, validating an email address to stop robot spamming and allowing people to register a profile so they can discuss aspects of the hobby with likeminded people.

Why does Google ask you to register, Microsoft - Hotmail, Yahoo - they're not "hiding" things. It's account management and
registration just as YOU have to register or create an account to use Blogger.

Your comment "Will such a discussion take place on any English metal detecting forums? Not very likely." is exactly what you say it is not - judging the whole by the actions of a minority.

Trust me, I would be the first to report anyone who didn't report a find from a hoard such as Twinstead. Landowners are consulted and agreements set by organisers of the said rallies. They're not left in the dark.

As it happens, respectible people who many members of the archeological arena denounce as thieves and heritage vandals are trying to rectify the damage - potential damage - done by a very small minority as in the Twinstead story.

I stand by my original comment that the original piece was judgemental but I will agree to disagree.

There is no excuse for ignorance but it exists and it's for us to educate others - not by lambasting them and tarring groups with a broad brush but to lead by example - and that includes articles such as yours and responses such as mine.

My point stands. Not all

Paul Barford said...

Mr cmp, what I wrote was:

"There are certainly grounds for disquiet here, and open and frank discussions how the contract between commercial rally organizers and landowners should be drafted to make sure this thing cannot happen again".

That's what I wrote, I'd be grateful if you could give the link to such a discussion - how to stop rally members walking off with valuable finds (not just gold) found while a GUEST on somebody else's property.

I am not "judging the whole by the actions of a minority" since a forum is by its nature the expression of the views of the majority of its members. Individuals may say this or that, and others may choose to answer in support or opposition to what they said, others may not feel moved to join in. The form of a forum is an expression of the majority view of its members (the minorities get shouted down or kicked off, or go away and start their own forums as happened recently in the UK). So looking at what is on the forums, what gets a "hear, hear M8" and what gets a "Scraggy, you are utterly wrong" gives an insight into the way this group of tekkies are thinking. An insight available due to the Internet; when I wanted to do this in the seventies and eighties, I had to physically go to MD club meetings (and I did). It is for this reason, the archives of these forums are not openly available.

"lots of discussions" do take place, but as I said the primary emphasis on the forums in reaction to this sad affair is what damage it will do THE IMAGE of metal detecting and lots of people talking about the "law" rather than the ethics of what went on and has been going on. That is the sort of discussion missing from the UK metal detecting forums.

A registered profile is needed on many forums on other topics to POST there, not view. I'm talking about allowing outsiders to READ what is on the forums. To see what tekkies are saying about things, things like this Twinstead affair for example. "Transparency" as the US collectors say. Yes, I have to register to run this blog (and you to comment), but nobody does to read it, it is here for anyone who wants to to have a look and see what the "other side of the coin" looks like from one guy's point of view. I see no reason to hide my thoughts and opinions. I shut it down briefly because a group of tekkies were planning to attack it. I rather think they did more damage to the image of detecting than achieve anything good by this action.

I beg to differ that
"many members of the archeological arena denounce as thieves and heritage vandals" That is CERTAINLY not true of the UK. You will (because the "greys" - who are - predominate in the hobby)hear those words from the likes of me, but not "many" of my would-not-say-boo-to-a-goose colleagues over there. They love detectorists, the BM is in "partnership" with them. Time for tekkies to stop playing the victim. Time for them (all of them, you too) to actively take responsibility for the hobby, how it is done, not merely how it is PRESENTED and talked-about.

Paul Barford said...

It seems the list moderator of the forum cmp mentioned does not "approve"(of) me, so I guess I'll never know what a sweet guy that SkunkyPaul is.

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