Saturday 9 February 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: The PAS is "Anti Metal-Detecting"?

This thread is locked, may well disappear, which is a shame. I've not laughed so loudly or long in a good while. According to some folk, the PAS is an anti-detecting organization intended to put an end to the current form of the hobby (!). Readers will know that there are those of us who have quite the opposite opinion, it is an organization which has adopted a blatant pro-collecting stance to curry favour with those it counts as its "partners" and is having the effect not only of legitimising artefact hunting and collecting both at home and beyond, but is encouraging the spread of the hobby, whether unwittingly or not is open to debate. The PAS however will not countenance debate, and is endemically and openly hostile to those who question the ethos behind artefact hunting, collecting and the antiquities trade as a whole.

 The entertainment begins with the hapless tekkie who, unaffected by fifteen million quid's worth of "outreach" asks if "the PAS" is something you do in addition to meeting the local FLO... The Tekkie-Myth-makers are represented in the thread by member by "lordofthecoils" who writes (Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:26 am):
im not such a fool [...] to think that the eventual banning of detecting in the british isles,is not on the ajenda of some of the esablishment . and i also have ears and eyes and know that much tighter controls on detecting will come [...] i will do anything to keep this hobby from going to the wall and if it means recording finds and trying to look holier than thou so be it [...] i believe there is a slow acceptance that amateur detectorists have a real worth in assembeling a new view of the past through historical metalic items found with a detector. so as long as there are people who want to appear in a good light and promote our hobby as a positive movement [...] we may have a chance.
Richard Lincoln ("Sheddy") is of a different opinion, he sees this recording with the PAS as something sinister. The PAS is, he now believes "creating a database that would prove the damage being done to the archaeological record by metal detecting". The reasons for this belief (Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:02 am) are some early discussion about artefact hunting on sites where construction work was ongoing (Sheddy skips the legal issues here), the Countryside Stewardship (Conservation) Schemes (funny that he should expect artefact hunting to go on unaffected by a site being taken under a subsidy scheme to protect it) and some correspondence he had with Roger Bland about donating finds to museums (the correspondence itself is posted in full online - I see nothing wrong in what Bland is writing here). "Sheddy" admits that he has not been denied access to land because it has archaeologically significant remains in it (Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:52 pm)
it's only fair to say that I am one who hasn't lost any permissions .... but then again I don't record! 
The thread has a number of statements like this one (kopparberg, Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:27 pm):
i know of a metal detectorist that has had land taken away from him because of the finds he was making on it and reporting them to the PAS. he is a member of a club that i am in [...] now that land has been put down to pasture for 10 years with no detecting or farming allowed and is under there stewardship .
So, basically as it should be if recording the results of artefact hunting are revealing archaeologically significant sites which need protection. that is precisely what the PAS was set up to achieve, locate new information, including about sites about which there was previously little information, and that this is justified among other things by stressing that this provides information for archaeological heritage management.

I suppose the whole thread - and this bit of it in particular - raise the pertinent question, what do these self-labelled "Responsible" detectorists understand by the notion "best practice"? Is it not precisely (among other things) selecting suitable places to do that searching, agreeing to keep off significant and protected sites, and donating finds deemed necessary for museum storage and display to the appropriate institution? "Sheddy" goes further in his accusations (Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:54 am):
If the archaeologists do want the hobby banned then the first thing that they would need to do is to evidence their claim. [...] The PAS database is the ideal way for the archaeologists to collect the information they would need to substantiate their claim. if that theory is correct then it would explain why the PAS refused to work with the UKDFD in creating an holistic record, it would pollute their database and render it inadmissible as evidence. My opinion is that by recording with the PAS you are actually assisting in bringing a detecting ban into force - if there is one to come. One thing that is for sure is that if the archaeologists are to attempt in having legislation passed to ban the hobby then that will need to be evidenced and the evidence will have to come from a reliable source. it's the thing that was missing from the STOP campaign. the PAS datatbase fills that void. 
Hilarious. First of all, if the PAS would reinstate their hidden forum with the archived posts, it would be clear that the UKDFD was formed in opposition to the PAS, it was not the PAS which refused to "work with the UKDFD" but the UKDFD which turned its back on the PAS. And "Sheddy" was in it right from the start. Mr Lincoln was very active in trying by means fair and foul to get the PAS to close down their Forum on behalf of the UKDFD (there was discussion of it in the staffroom of the UKDFD forum when it was set up). The initial aggro was precisely over the PAS' refusal to get overly involved in campaigning against the CSS measures (shades of the current "Ban the Green Waste" campaign). It's all in the archives of the PAS forum. Of course actually the best evidence in favour of placing some kind of controls or regulation of the hobby is not how many objects are in the PAS database, it is how many objects are being lost from the archaeological record and not finding themselves in any kind of record, neither the PAS database or the UKDFD pirate "database". So it is significant that at the end of the thread, we find "Alloverover" (Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:11 pm) stating that he considers that:
people should be a bit aware as to what can and has happened and maybe be a bit selective (as the FLOs now are ) about WHAT they record, especially if its all coming off the same field I have recorded many items, most i have to say, ive not given even the parish of finding, but... its all logged and all the info will be passed on... when i dont need it anymore, when i dont detect any more for whatever reason which will proberbly be DEATH. I have told a succession of FLOs this and funnily enough they have all said they look forward to receiving the information as soon as possible.
With attitudes like that, I bet they do. When Alloverrover does die, it will be interesting to see in what form those ("logged") data are passed on to the public record, whether it will be possible to marry them with the original individual vague records already in the database and who will do the physical work (and who will pay for re-entering the same data twice, especially if they come from this person's rovings with a metal detector "All Over" the British Isles). But why actually do we have to wait for these people selfishly sitting on data about finds already in the public domain to die? In fact of courser there is no guarantee that whatever post-mortem mechanism All Over Rover foresees will actually operate the way he planned.

As for Sheddy, his parting shot is (Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:42 pm ):
If you want to show the world that your a great guy by making the right noises about recording, you go for it. I'll carry on calling things as I see them and for the most part, detectorists are hypocrites. They spew forth the mantra of showing the farmers everything they find, but they are selective in what they show the farmer. they spew forth the mantra of recording, but they are selective in what they record. if you think that they way forward is to promote hypocrisy then you have my pity.
Take a good look at this thread. These are the words of the people the PAS want another fifteen or more million to make into archaeology's "partners". Take a look at this and decide for yourself how feasible such an plan actually is and how desirable the outcome.  

UPDATE 12.02.13:

It seems the tekkies do not want people looking at what they are saying about the nature of the PAS, the thread has been hidden from prying eyes. So much for public debate and presenting both sides of an argument.  

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