Wednesday 24 April 2013

Myths and UK Metal Detecting

It seems that the British heritage community has conned itself (and the British public) into thinking that it is a "responsible" thing to do to take a metal detector and a spade to an archaeological site and mine it for a few displayable geegaw collectables - though in the process ruining the site as a resource for future study and interpretation. In my experience, challenging them to say why that is a responsible way of managing the heritage tends to produce an embarrassed silence and foot shuffling, or a suddenly-remembered appointment to take the dog to the manicurist. You will search the literature (even that of the PAS) in vain for any discussion whatsoever setting out the reasons for this way of thinking. In other words, you'd get about the same sort of answer if you ask a heritage professional searching questions like that as you would if you corner a metal detectorist. "It's legal innit?" is probably the best either of them will offer. Followed of course by "cor, whata-lotta-stuff-we-get-from-it!" and some mumbled mantras about "better out than in". The moment you start to show an interest in discussing the pros and cons of that in more detail, they're off like a shot again. Pathetic.

Then there are the myths. You've got to have myths to defend the indefensible. So the bulk of the metal detectorists are "responsible". That is, however, if you define that term in a specific way (not open to discussion either?) and shut your eyes to the fact that there is quite a lot of evidence that the bulk of them do not even fit that definition. So you have to add another myth. Those who say it ain't so are wrong, wrong-headed, mere trouble-making trolls. People not worth paying attention to. Why, "NOBODY who knows anything" will pay attention to such arguments will they? Just ignore them, they'll go away.

Sticks and stones and all that, but the issues however will not go away.

[See post below]

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