Saturday 29 December 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: What PAS Means in Trowbridge

The "mission statement" of the Trowbridge and District Metal Detecting Club ("Saving Wiltshire's History")  is really awfully revealing - though more in what it does not say than what it does.
"As a metal detecting club we support and encourage (sic) the following organisations, codes of practice, and the relevant laws of the land..."
Now that obviously is not a statement of what a metal detecting club is FOR, so pretty poor showing as a mission statement.
N C M D The club is a active member of the Western Region of the National Council for Metal Detecting, and accept in full the code of conduct laid down by our elected representatives on the NCMD.
Treasure Act All members must report items that fall under the Treasure Act 1996, and any changes as they become law.
PAS As a club we encourage all members to use the Portable Antiquities Scheme, (PAS) to report, and record finds with the Wiltshire Finds Liaison Officer.
Country Code We recognise and accept the Country code, as good practice, especially on the farms where we have permission as a club to detect, and require all our members to conform to this code. 
There is no mention of the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales  which has been agreed with other bodies, the Trowbridge lot stress that they adhere to a different one: "the code of conduct laid down by our elected representatives on the NCMD", this of course omits several things vital to the notion of "best practice" which it is the whole purpose of the PAS to instill in "finders". For Trowbridge artefact collectors the notion of "best practice" involves following the Country Code ("especially on the farms where we have permission as a club to detect"). The PAS is there only to be "used" rather than acting as any kind of partner in a collaborative effort to interpret local history.   [Both the Treasure Act and the Country Code are mentioned in the NCMD Code of Practice.]
As a club we are supported by our local Finds Liason Officer who regularly attends our meetings. She will receive anything unusual found and take it away to research the item and record it if appropriate for the Personal Antiquities Scheme (PAS). 
This "supportive" Finds Liaison Officer is Katie Hinds (whose contact address since November 2012 is incorrectly given on the club website). The Trowbridge detectorists may be supported in their archaeological erosion by the PAS, but they cannot get the name right. It is "portable" (meaning you can carry it away and deprive the record of it) rather than "personal" (meaning you can lock it away and keep it for yourself and deprive the record of it). 

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