Sunday 17 November 2013

Focus on Metal Detecting: Overheard in a Pub

Farmer Silas Brown met Heritage Action's Nigel Swift in a Shropshire pub to talk over portable antiquities issues. The discussion was frank (Farmer Brown: “Heritage bloke admits he’s a bore!” Heritage Journal 17/11/2013) and Brown reports Swift as saying:
“Despite what they think, I don’t mind abuse from artefact hunters. What DOES upset me are those two falsehoods by professionals appearing in thousands of press articles. Sometimes it’s lack of homework, sometimes it’s done knowingly in defence of the policy and its institutions but either way it’s a fact that a large group of British archaeologists are the only ones in the world who facilitate unnecessary heritage damage by misinforming landowners [...] today you farmers allowed the removal of another 800 bits of history most of which won’t be reported and Britain’s archaeologists know that but won’t tell you. So why wouldn’t I go on? Tomorrow it’ll happen again.”
and those two falsehoods?
1. “The vast majority of detectorists are responsible and report all they find”. Yet no-one can possibly see how people behave when alone in a field! All that’s known is PAS figures show most of them don’t report all their finds.
2. “The vast majority of detectorists have no interest in money”. Yet tens of thousands of UK detecting finds get sold on EBay and not one detecting club forbids it and not one finds agreement says “we’ll pay you for the finds” or “we’ll leave them here for you to get independent valuations”.
The majority of metal detectorists in Britain seem to simply ignore the implications of British law and assume that if they found something on somebody else's land (by their recreational "work"), that somehow gives them exclusive rights to it.

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