Wednesday 25 September 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Sticking in flags

Observers of the growth of co-operation between archaeologists and artefact hunters in England and (for the moment) Wales almost certainly will have heard of a certain rally run by a North England metal detecting club in which a detectorist-ultra-friendly archaeologist tried to help these hobbyists show that their activities could be used to benefit our knowledge of the past - indeed enhance it. He went to a lot of trouble to set up a joint project at a commercial artefact hunting rally dangerously close to a prime archaeological site where he wanted to plot all the finds accurately. He got a lot of flak from me (for the dodgy premises underlying the project) and Heritage Action (who went along to peer over their shoulders), the guy then reportedly had some nasty problems with an archaeological professional organization best passed over in silence. But to his credit he got a report out fairly soon after the rally finished and made a lot of the information value of the accurate plots of all the different kind of finds. The report and the rally are discussed in several posts on this blog. In his report the archaeologist fulsomely praised his tekkie buddies who'd made the event (in his eyes anyway) a resounding success and showed the way forward for an even closer partnership and recognition of the hobby.

It is therefore with some consternation that I came across this old post on a metal detecting discussion list by one of the site's administrators no less (digger john from Lanarkshire, Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:35 pm). He is agreeing with another detectorist who's just announced what he thinks of archaeologists (guess):
I also agree with you on your stance [thumbs-up smiley]. I once attended a detecting rally, run in conjunction with archaeologists, and they wanted us to bag ou[r] finds and put flags where we made the find. It really cheered me up to see most folk just stick flags in willy nilly and just carry on detecting as normal... [giggly-guffawing smiley] [giggly-guffawing smiley]  
Could it be the same rally we are talking about here? Even if it's not, can one really - reading that - rule out malicious or uncomprehending sabotage of the aims of such a project by giggling tekkies out to have a larf at the expense of the archaeologists and thus the integrity of a joint project like this?

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