Saturday, 24 August 2013

"Worlingworth Local History Group" Organizes Commercial Artefact-Hunting Grabfest

Unattributed photo, apparently of Worlingworth
Local History Group in action, doing local history,
not a metal detector or camo trousers in sight (WLHS website)
The Worlingworth Local History Group seems to be a typical example of the genre, they have their meetings, their walks around the village, the people that study the archives, write about the local church and churchyard. Everything as it should be, in the long-standing British tradition of interest in and care for the local heritage by amateurs. Not like your average exploitive history-hoiking artefact hunters and collector. Until now. The PAS has a lot to answer for, telling decent folk like the ones in the photos on their website that artefact hunting is a kosher thing to do to the village's archaeological record. Does Suffolk have no archaeological outreach to groups like this explaining the difference?
Worlingworth Local History Group are pleased to host a metal detecting day in Worlingworth, Suffolk, on Sunday, 29 September 2013. We have written permission to explore a fifty-three acre field, not previously detected. The land will have been ploughed and disked by September 29 and so it should be in good condition for detecting. [...]  Proceeds will be shared between the History Group and the Church Restoration Fund. We shall make every effort to make your day a happy one! Participants must undertake to report all finds of any value or historical importance, both on the day and to the appropriate authorities afterwards[...].  Entry: Metal detectorists £15.00. Field walkers £5. 
Then on the Rally.UK site we find this:
SUFFOLK - Worlingworth Inaugural Rally Sept 29th 2013 [...] We have a written agreement with our landowner to hold the rally on a 53 acre field, within a mile of Worlingworth Church. The field has a number of interesting features; a map of 1606 shows the field beautifully divided into cultivated strips, a small tithe barn once stood in the center and also a German bomber crashed in it in WW2 so good prospects for some interesting finds [...]  Limited to 100.
A hundred time fifteen quid is £1500 for the group, for selling off the local history. They'd do more good writing books about the history and selling them than ripping up unwritten history and selling it off to all and sundry. In any case 100 tekkies on 53 acres seems rather cramped, most rallies allow an acre per participant to avoid interference with searching from nearby machines. No mention whatsoever is made here of any arrangement for third-party insurance (NCMD and FID), so it looks as if the event is open to non-insured hunters, an ideal opportunity for them, but potentially problematic for the event organizers should something go wrong. Again, we find a group doing fieldwork on a WW2 aircraft crash site with no mention of having checked the requirements for permits, let alone obtaining any. We learn that participants are/will be required to "undertake to report all finds of any value or historical importance" (the old problem what value, and who decides what is and what is not of historical importance"?). This report is required to be made "on the day" (to whom, in what form and why?)  as well as subsequently "to the appropriate authorities". And who would the latter be? The PAS? What about UKDFD "reporting" of non-Treasure finds, does that count? And who are these "field walkers", what will they be doing there?

Maybe the Suffolk PAS could pay this group a visit and tell them just what is what and field questions about why what is called "looting" when done in other countries is presented by the Bloomsbury boys and their local outposts as "good for history".  Or would such a Group not listen anyway?

What next?  Inviting collectors in to scour the permanent pastures for rare plants to dig up and take away? Or the rare butterflies next summer? What's that? "None left in Worlingworth"? I am not surprised.


Unknown said...

We are going to install Airport type walk through metal detectors at our next Rally so all those that attend will prior to leaving have to go through them, and declare any items metallic found in there pockets or person for further scrutiny ..

Paul Barford said...

You are a facetious git aren't you? I'm not surprised you will not reveal your name or who "we" are supposed to mean.

What's the point of sending a moronic comment like that? To highlight that many metal detectorists are flippant morons? Don't bother, we already know that.

So, just so you cannot play the 'victim' card, when Baz Thugwit beeps as he goes through your "airport type walk through metal detectors", who's going to ask him to drop his trousers in case he's got a cut quarter tucked down the front of his Y-fronts?
And Shanna Thugwit beeps and tells you she has "piercings" in her nether parts are you going to check? Have you obtained written permission from every participant to do such body scans and body searches?

What about the person who refuses to walk through, you are going to call the police? On what grounds?

Declare them to whom? You? On what grounds and on whose authority?

Reggie said...

Barford, what a typical, narrow minded holier than thou attitude.
Many detectorists finds have enhanced our knowledge of history and would have remained hidden in the ground, left to rot or destroyed by the plough had it not been for the many hours of hard and enthusiastic work put in by metal detectorists.
I abhor your attitude. The general public look up to people like you for guidance. How sad then that you have such a one sided biast opinion of such an inoffensive hobby and its practitioners.
I would love to see you Sunday at the Worlingworth rally and continue this discussion in person.
yours sincerly. Reg Waghorn

Paul Barford said...

The general public look up to people like you for guidance

Good. I'll tell them that current policies on metal detecting are not a good thing for the archaeological record.

"such an inoffensive hobby and its practitioners"

well it is not is it? In other countries exactly the same thing is called looting and is considered very damaging to the archaeological heritage. In fact it is a criminal activity precisely because of that.

Neither would I consider many of its "practitioners" to be inoffensive. Many of them behave in a most offensive manner. Like beginning a comment on my personal blog "Barford" as you did. Hardly polite, is it?

My opinion is not "biased", I have spent many years looking at this issue, listening to artefact hunters and collectors presentng their "evidence" that no harm is being done. After listening and discussing it with them, I have come to the conclusion that the evidence is that the opposite is the case. Which is what this blog is communicating.

You see Mr Waghorn, if you read this blog, you'd discover that I don't believe a word of the myth-making you people engage in.

While "Many detectorists(') finds have enhanced our knowledge of history" (if we accept hoiking out loose stuff actually enhances knowledge), MANY MORE do not. Archaeological evidence is destroyed and that damage is not mitigated.

The idea of preservation of rhinos is not to shoot them all so you can stick their heads on spikes, we try to keep the rhinos in the field. In the same way archaeological preservation is not hoiking everything out of the ground and sticking it on a metal detectorist's shed shelf. Is it?

Can you document that destruction by plough? Where is it happening, where is it not? If not, how can you use this as a justification for willy-nilly hoiking?

But then that is not the point I am making, which is about a local history society trashing the archaeological record to raise money. And then being totally rude when somebody attempts to discuss it with them.

No, I do not think you would like to see me there.

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