Sunday, 1 January 2012

Portable Antics in 2011

Statistical analysis of the database for Saturday 1st January 2011 until Sunday 1st January 2012 Total records from artefact hunting: 50,032 (66067 objects).

The Heritage Action Artefact Erosion counter indicated that at a minimum (because I now feel the number of active "detectorists" used in the algorithm is several thousand short) 265,350 reportable finds were removed from the archaeological record in 2011. I think there is every reason to accept that this is indeed a reasonably reliable indicator of the scale of the depletion of the archaeological record due to artefact hunting, indeed I feel for a number of reasons it is an even more conservative estimate than it was when the counter was set off ticking back in 2005.

That would mean that four in five instances of recordable objects discovered in England and Wales with a metal detector in 2011 were dug up, and disposed of one way or another with no public record being made to mitigate the erosion. If in the UK, the hospital system was able to treat only one in five cancer patients, the welfare authorities were able to save only one in five children in serious danger from abuse, only one in five young married couples could find a home of their own, one in five school leavers find a job, the conservation services and planning system save one in five grade one listed buildings from demolition, nobody in their right mind would be saying that British policies are a "success".

After coming up to fourteen years of liaison and partnership, the Portable Antiquities Scheme is still a pathetic temporary "better than nothing" knee-jerk, ad hoc reaction to a problem which it can increasingly clearly be seen needs resolving another way.

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