Saturday 20 July 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: More Eastern Europeans Digging Archaeological Evidence up as Collectables

Thanks to Heritage Action for the link:

Poszukiwanie bez Granic 5 [Detecting Without Borders]. According to a post on UK Detector Net, on 12th-16th September the Polish Historical Exploration Club THESAURUS will be descending on around 700 acres mostly undetected land in a great location near Luton, on the border between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire to hold another commercial artefact hunting rally (see here for some comments on previous ones).
Our recent rallies in the area has produced gold and silver Celtic and Roman coins, lots of hamerred and a range of fantastic artefacts, including seal matrixes, crotal bells, rings etc. [...] The rally starts 12 September and lasts until 16 so is also the longest rally in Britain! On Sunday 15 September, we will be visited by a Finds Liason Officer, who will record our finds. [...] Cost of the full five day rally 12-16 September is only 50 pounds. You can also choose to pay 17 pounds per day of detecting. 
Unless you are Polish, when you pay 35 quid for five days' detecting in Britain alongside natives who've paid fifty quid for the privilege of  joining the Polish commercial artefact grabfest exploiting the British archaeological record and British laws.
So far about a hundred people  (possibly mostly Poles) have signed up.  I expect it will be Julian Watters again (described in the Polish blurb as the "archeolog okręgowy", which he is not) who'll turn up and have to go through all those finds from the "longest rally" in a single working day - a Sunday (nota bene not the last day of detecting). Still, it'll boost PAS recording figures, so his bosses will be happy.   Here's the last lot of finds, just 37 of them recorded with the PAS.

Then they'll be applying for all those export licences to cart the whole lot off back to Poland or wherever. You'd think though that these guys would actually know the rules about this. They say that "any dugup artefact "over 300 years old" needs an export licence [Znajdowane przedmioty, starsze niż 300 lat, muszą przed ich wywiezieniem uzyskać licencję eksportową]. Of course that is actually not the case and if that is what they have been applying, they've previously only been getting export licences for part of the material which requires it by law (here's the Arts Council "Guidance to Exporters of Archaeological Objects" to clarify).

Finally, what about insurance? NCMD membership allegedly supplies third party insurance for its members, but does not if they are non-UK residents. This is a very important issue if somebody is organizing a rally involving about a hundred people which "will include detectorists from Poland as well as other European countries". What insurance (including medical) have the organizers and/or participants taken out? They do not say anywhere in the blurb. 

The poster invites Polish artefact hunters to "come and see what detecting looks like in a country with normal laws". That rather misses the point about what is in fact wholly abnormal about British antiquity protection legislation. It allows something like this to go on. 
hat tip to Heritage Action

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