Tuesday 7 February 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: Dragging Along the Rear

A few days ago I mentioned here Heritage Action's campaign of reviving the STOP campaign which Britain's emasculated limp-wristed archies abandoned the moment tekkies started getting bolshy. They hold out for supporting ONLY that type of artehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giffact hunting that enriches public knowledge, "no recording, then no taking". They concluded the article with “If you’re a history lover, archaeologist or ethical detectorist please spread the word. Why wouldn’t you?” But they now report:

Yet so far we have seen zero support for nSTOP from detectorists. Which is quite a low number out of eight thousand. All we’ve seen is three detectorists (two in our Comments plus Mr Rear) clearly trying to undermine the nCampaign.
They see this however as a positive result. The reason for this is that the Portable Antiquities Scheme has existed on the basis that "things will get ever-better". On the other hand, Heritage Action, like myself, has been saying that this is not the case and ceiling has been reached, which they beliee the statistics show.
But this is the worst bit: responsible, “ethical” detectorists display a clan loyalty towards their non-reporting colleagues that makes them unwilling to support serious action to improve things – even such entirely harmless, entirely beneficial initiatives such as this. So that’s why we claim a second boost. The value of the nCampaign is being illustrated by the lack of support it is attracting from detectorists, indicating in our view a reality that The Establishment hasn’t been publicly acknowledging but which it now has to confront: a lot of (most?) detectorists will NEVER properly co-operate if at all, however harmless the request (such as this one) – and in addition those who DO believe in recording seem to rank group solidarity and the freedom of their colleagues not to do so above the interests of archaeology. Irrational yes, you can’t support recording AND support non-recording by others, but how else can their silence be interpreted? The mantra “it will get better in time” hasn’t been heard in official circles for a long time now so maybe the truth HAS dawned, but has yet to be admitted?
Admitting it is one thing, taking action is another. Let us scrap the Welsh PAS, save the British Museum and the good folk of Wales a lot of money, and let's see if the sky falls. What great difference would it make? Would the responsible detectorists stop being responsible and finding a way to report their finds? Would it make smidgen of difference to the hundreds who are out there in Wales tekking away and have never of their own volition reported as much as a single lace tag?

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