Sunday 27 October 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Selfish? Stupid? Step this way… "The most irresponsible metal detecting events in the Universe".

I have commented earlier here on Central Searchers who organize a lot of commercial artefact-hunting "digs" for their members. Heritage Action have similar opinions about their activities. Their latest post declares "The most irresponsible metal detecting events in the universe" (27/10/2013). Central Searchers, HA maintains, hold rallies wherever they can, irrespective of whether they should.
The latest (at Pertenhall) was to be on top of many recent archaeological evaluation trenches. Archaeologists were outraged and it was prevented fortunately but they have reacted not with shame or an apology but a bellicose announcement that future venues will be kept secret to avoid “trouble-making“ – i.e. to avoid archaeologists being able to ask farmers to say no to rallies on vulnerable archaeology. Wrongdoing by detectorists is always portrayed as confined to “a tiny minority” but the fact Central Searchers rallies are constantly promoted and praised (to the skies!) in the hobby press and always attract hundreds of eager customers with neither the wit nor decency to stay away makes total nonsense of the claim. Who can deny that large-scale wrong-doing of this sort ought to be publicly exposed and stopped? No-one. Yet officialdom is silent.
Or perhaps officialdom considers targeting known archaeological sites and emptying them of anything collectable to be perfectly "responsible" artefact hunting and wholly in accord with their ideas of "best practice"? It would be "nice" after fifteen years of liaison with the "partners" such as Central Searchers and fifteen million quid expenditure to see an official public statement about that best practice and recent efforts to promote it. Lest the public (who PAY for the PAS) get confused.

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