Thursday 12 April 2012

Focus on Treasure Hunting: Call us "Metal Detector Enthusiasts"

The British media seem a bit confused about who is finding what. This effusive press report speaks of treasure having been found by "a metal detector enthusiast group". That's like an ornithological club being called "binocular enthusiast group" isn't it? That sounds stupid does it not? The explanation for this verbal oddity is simple, the people concerned have persuaded the newspaper to change the description of themselves to something less incriminating. They were anxious not to be called "treasure hunters" before the article was written and annoyed that the reporter had ignored them - as they indicate on a forum here
Sue has spoken to numerous reporters about this I spoke to this particular one, I stated please do not call us treasure hunters we are a group of metal detectorists OK she said,she then asked how much the coins were worth I said I didn't know but we would find out at a later date once they had gone through the treasure process [...] The coins will be going off soon as we have 14 days to actually hand them in, the farmer wanted to see them it's the least we could do.
Poor reporter. It's an easy mistake to make. It's Treasure. They looked for it, found it, took it away, haven't even shown it to the landowner (wait a minute, are they used to just taking everything they find without clearing it with him first?), and are now wanting a reward no doubt. In fact, on that basis, it wasn't a mistake at all. Hunting treasure is treasure hunting in the School of Journalism.

But then, the forum in question is UKDN where fibs are a way of life (note in the comments to the linked thread the lack of any kind of answer to my question down the bottom).

The journalist says right at the bottom that you too can chat to a whole club of artefact hunters, "for more information about Amber’s Digs, which has some 65 members, visit" and I invite all members of my blog to do precisely that. Register with a metal detecting forum or two and see just what it is they get up to and ask a pertinent question or two. See what reception you get. 

Rachel Wearmouth, 'Durham group unearth 13th Century silver coins', The Journal Apr 11 2012

UPDATE 11th April 2011: Oh dear, not long after I wrote that, this comment was sent to the newspaper. Look at this!
johnkarl 4:51 PM on 11/4/2012 First of all the group of people who found the Sutton bank hoard were NOT treasure hunters they were members of a detecting club. The metal detectorists who are all responsible people acted in the correct manor (sic) and all protocol was observed, we go out every week looking to save a bit of history that would otherwise be lost to the world, and it is a private club so you just can't log on, you must be a member to gain entry to the forum , and to be a member you have to be recommended by someone in the club, this keeps out the undesirables, hope this throws a bit more truth to the situation---Karl
Oh yes, Karl, it certainly does. You don't want people looking over your shoulders, that would be "undesirable". Amber's Digs, folks, the private artefact hunting club, pocketing your archaeological heritage and they don't want you watching.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

My reply on the "Journal" to "JohnKarl's" remarks on the detecting club and its forum:

"They found Treasure though, so why can they not legitimately be called treasure hunters (like the magazine in WH Smiths)?

Could you explain to the other readers what the difference is between a "metal detectorist" (who goes out looking for metal buried in the ground) and a treasure hunter who goes out with a metal detector looking for metal buried in the ground? I have difficulty seeing the distinction. What is in a name?

You say they are all "responsible". How many objects did all the members of Amber's digs (60 members from across the country, hunting for collectable artefacts on land across the North-East and North Yorkshire each week) report to the Portable Antiquities Scheme since it began operating in 2011? Do you know? Can we find out?

Finally are you saying that your group takes bits of the common (ie everybody's) heritage out of the ground for your own personal use (and does what with them?) and yet you prevent members of the general public (whose buried heritage it is) from seeing what is going on over on your 'private' forum? Why would it be "undesirable" for us to see what you are doing? I think we could make quite a good case for a lot more transparency being very desirable. What 'private secrets' have you got to hide over there?

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