Saturday 23 November 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Hoards from Pasture

One of the main principles established between the Portable Antiquities Scheme, CBA and all the other interested bodies when they compiled the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales was stay off pasture. Here archaeological sites and assemblages have a chance of surviving in better condition than on land being ploughed now. In some of these sites (like the Crosby Garrett helmet findspot), the archaeological layers may begin just under the turf. Although responsible detecting is part of the deal, and is supposed to be going on everywhere the beep-beep boys go out, the truth is somewhat different as any visitor to a metal detecting forum will quickly learn. Take for example the thread started by forum member "Targets" (Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:50 pm): "How many hoards from Pasture /how many from ploughed?" ("my mates always on about finding a hoard but he wont do pasture ! so i say to him more hoards have been dug from pasture and scrubby areas than ploughed. so is that right [?]"). Then other members start sharing their pasture-hunting stories: "oneProducer" (Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:36 pm): "I managed to find 113 more pennies in 4 days! 56 in the first 4 hours[.] All the coins were at exactly the same depth (8-10 inches) and I think they just settled at a level where they could physically not sink any more". There is obvious from this thread a total lack of understanding about the context of deposition of the objects being hoiked out of the archaeological record for personal entertainment, gratification and profit and the detectorists concentrate on the context of discovery aspects, which rather undermines the notion that these people really are (as the PAS insists is their purpose) "learning about the past" from their hoiking.

Member Tony Hunt by Tony Hunt (Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:40 pm) tells of a hoard on the cover of a well-known hobby magazine this month which was found on pasture ("so have some of my best Roman finds as well"):
 Never underestimate Pasture, stuff is down there waiting to pick up, very slow and low is the order of the day on pasture. To get the best on pasture you need a deeper than normal seeking detector with a larger coil fitted also. Normal run around flat out and beep on rally fields detectors are pretty useless on the deep stuff below 6-8 inches. Ive had four hoards on pasture now [...] The recent stater ones were 10-12" 
That's the deepseeker site-wrecker metal detectors are what these people are using on pasture sites, just to get those finds lying in the undisturbed layers created by many decades of natural worm-sinkage.  Just hoiked out blind with not a thought for the subtle patterning within the site.  Obviously the use of such tools on such sites does even more 'blind' damage to the buried archaeological record than machines with more shallow penetration which also should not be being used on such sites by truly responsible metal detectorists to avoid damage. That is part of what "best practice" is really all about - whatever the dumbing-down and passive PAS may say otherwise.

 TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.