Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting, With "Friends" like these, 'the Detectorist that Never Was'

There have now been quite a few reports about the Tipperary artefact thefts case:
'National Museum unveils haul of ‘looted’ artefacts'
'Treasure trove of looted artefacts found'
'Nowhere safe as treasure hunters plunder our heritage sites for profit'
'Irish treasure hunter's loot tracked down in England'
and not a single one mentions the name of the "enthusiast" who found (and took) history in Ireland ("a UK chap who lived in Tipperary"), nor his mate in Norfolk who received the finds he made. If the former was acting illegally, why can he not be named and shamed? If the latter was doing something illegal, then why has he (apparently) not been charged, if he was not doing anything illegal, but responsibly helping the authorities bring this transmaritime culture crime to light, then why can we all not learn his name?

Its a bit of a mystery isn't it? There are - we are told -  all those "responsible" metal detectorists out there, and not a single one noticed this was going on? It took the BM, looking in on a metal detecting forum (by accident, policing it, or did they get a tip-off?) to report these dodgy doings to the authorities. Nobody else did? What kind of "responsibility" is that?

I remember when a certain UK detectorist passed away almost exactly a year ago, his family sent a message to a metal detecting forum near you where he'd been exhibiting his finds (apparently a lot of hammered coins), how gratified they were to know that he had found such friendship on the forum. Such good mates. There was a whole thread about this guy, the forum's "detectorist of the month" a little over a year ago, where members were expressing their shock and grief at his passing, that all his posts had been helpful and informative and a joy to read. Yet today, every single post he made to that forum has been deleted. Every one of them. All those helpful and informative posts, gone. Several old threads now begin incongruously with a text obviously answering a post from this guy, but above the reply what he'd written is invisible.  He is apparently the detectorist of the month that never was. Such good mates, they have erased from the forum everything (?) written by a formerly highly valued member. Highly valued because he found a lot of stuff and could identify objects ("he was my own private FLO"). Found a lot of stuff. That is how much the friendship of a UK metal detectorist is worth, thick and thin. Best for th' 'obby to pretend the guy never existed. Shhhh.

If anyone cares to look, it's probably not really a very big step from that to working out who the detectorist who one might suspect was found in possession of the thieved artefacts from Tipperary (go on, have a go). You might find, for example that somebody would be giving an account of his own detecting on "[...]'s permissions", and describing finding some finds there himself. He might even turn out to be a "highly valued" member of at least one metal detecting forum near you. One where there is a curious silence about the whole Tipperary artefact theft case. Of course then any responsible detectorists who considers they know who this person was has a dilemma, whether to continue to interact with such a person on a "responsible detectorists' forum", or whether he should be asked to leave, lest the rest of us think that this facade of "responsibility" is in fact precisely that, a shallow, worthless facade.   

Check it out for yourselves, and draw your own conclusions. TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".    

Vignette: "Industry and Idleness", plate IX (detail, Tom Idle consorting with his associates)

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