Sunday 29 July 2012

Seen it on TV, Can't be Much to it, Eh?

PAS partner artefact hunters claim they really wannabe archaeologists, just they never had the opportunity. Now PAS aims to help them out, giving them a chance to join in. Over in "Northwest" England, Steve "Slow-and-Low" has discovered what he thinks might be "Saxon" (that'd be Anglian I guess) Buriel (sic) Ground lumps"
 these 2 mounds which are fairly even in design they do not look natural and seem to be built by man.[...] They both come out from the top edge of a field on a downward slope but they are flat on the top. One is bigger than the other [...] small one round the corner tucked away. Both mounds come off out of the banking of the higher part of this field which is the last field before a big river. Though they don't seem to have been formed by errosion of land. They big one is Flat on the top [...].
Member (sic) Morgans big organ gives the advice that "Mounds come in many shapes and forms. Burial mounds, Pillow mounds, Spoil Mounds, Prospect mounds to name but a few [...]  have you checked to see if they have already been recorded as monuments[?]". Slow-and-low admits "never heard of some of these other types" and thinks these mounds are not scheduled monuments. Anyway, he plans to do "some detecting on them then ask farmer for permission to do a small excavation maybe". I am sure he believes that it cannot be difficult for anyone who has not the foggiest idea what a pillow mound or prospect mound are to just dig a hole in an archaeological monument (mound). After all we've all seen it on Time Team. Just dig a hole and pull out some old stuff. And make sure to "fill the hole in", jus' like metal detecting but deeper?

This is yet another byproduct of the PAS outreach which basically tells people that archaeology is about getting a few diagnostic artefacts out of the ground and nothing much else. "Anyone with a metal detector can do it". And then everybody is surprised when blokes set out and attack earthworks with spades searching for more artefacts, rather than information gained from observing and interpreting the stratigraphy and the associations of the contained material.

Is the PAS going to try and reason with "Slow and Low"? After all they claim they do their outreach these days through metal detecting forums (because archaeologists began posting archaeological stuff to the PAS forum). Well, let us see how closely the NorthWest FLO is keeping an eye on what happens in her region.  Watch the PAS involvement in this thread (last post currently Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:41 pm).

UPDATE 30.07.12
I see that the digging has started. Another thread also has been started, more carefully written.  No PAS involvement in either.
the Farmer [...]  is going to show me the Geographical Survey he has done on his land when time permits. I have just taken about 10 inches out on the top by 2ft long but thats not a excavation i just dug to see what the earth was under the turf. If on any impression I see anything I would stop and report this to both the Farmer and relevent people ASAP Even if there was a load of Gold I would leave it there though covered up.[capitalisation original]
So, a land surveyor has been over the mounds and that is grounds for digging it. Ten inches taken out of pasture ("under the turf") is not what most of us would call "not excavation". It's a far cry from "only six to eight inches in disturbed ploughsoil innit?". The digger says he'd stop if he saw "anything" but then would the guy recognize an archaeologically important anything (ie soilmark) as opposed to "a load of Gold"? What HAVE these people learnt from 15 years of PAS outreach? That archaeology is "loads of Gold"? There's fifteen million quid down the drain then.

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