Wednesday 18 July 2012

Even More SECRET Treasures: The Future for Artefact Hunters in the UK

An observer with contacts in "the industry" tells me that he has heard that as a result of "Britain's Secret Treasures" detector sales are already going up. The procession of "interesting and valuable finds" and  the seemingly vast amounts of money associated with some of them as shown in the "Britain's Treasure-filled Fields" on ITV is going to have serious repercussions for the historic record and environment. There is rumoured to be another TV series of the same ilk in production in the UK, but I am not at liberty to discuss it.

Whatever the case, it is obvious that one problem that has been emerging over the past few years is about to get worse. There are likely to be massive issues with permission for searching land for these new Treasure Hunters. They will very soon find that vast tracts of land (those once-productive sites that have not already been "hammered" to barrenness) are already taken up by the clubs or individuals. The newcomers will be forced to detect illegally and the easiest sites to find are going to be those known from the archaeological literature, whether or not they are Scheduled will make no difference. Metal detecting clubs are already full, new ones will find it harder to get land, these newcomers to the hobby of artefact hunting will find it more difficult to find established groups of responsible detectorists to join. And if the PAS can barely cope each year to record the portion of finds existing detectorists show, what will happen if there are many more?

How many more? As I noted earlier, 3.9 million people watched the programme. If just half a percent of them decide to have a go at metal detecting, that is a staggering 19500 new detectorists the PAS will need to reach, that's more than there currently are in the UK (10-16000).

It seems that given such problems, there are going to be a lot of unreported finds floating around over the next few years. More SECRET Treasures.

Britain's Secret Treasures, ITV 1 16th-22nd July 2012

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