Monday 11 November 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Passionately Interested in the Past - well, not all of it

UK Metal detectorist Andy Baines has a personal question for me, he accuses me of "turning my back on Britain" (how so?) and then - assuming he has proven his point - asks by what right I therefore sit in Poland writing about heritage protection in Britain, asking "how is this so"?

I assume that Mr Baines is one of those who will glibly assert that they do what they do because of a "passionate interest in the remains of the past" and a desire to help "preserve them" (no?). I wonder then in his reading of my blog over the weekend whether he caught sight of the texts - typical of the range covered on this blog since summer 2008 - on:
the Peru exhibition in Seatle (USA)
North Carolina Forests
Iraq Jewish archive
Perge sarcophagus in Geneva
Gospel of Judas going back to Egypt
the Chinese collector's death
and the smuggled Syrian artefacts in Lebanon?
If he missed them, I'd suggest Mr Baines has only a blinkered view of my activity and its wider context and therefore hardly in a position to judge.  Does Mr Baines think somebody from Poland "passionately interested in preserving remains of the past" has no right blogging news and their thoughts on those topics too? Were they being discussed on the forums of those UK metal-detectorised seekers of the past he frequents? Or would any (hypothetical)* metal detectorist who really IS passionately interested in wider rather than narrower discussions of preserving the archaeological remains of the past have to come over to places like the Barford Blog rather than look for it on metal detectorists' resources and the PAS website?

Whatever my insular colleagues and opponents think, I am of the opinion that there is only ONE, global, archaeological record which is part of a global and common cultural heritage of the human past. I think it behoves us to study it having the holistic nature of that record (and the need to preserve it) in mind. You can approach neither its study nor conservation in a selective and fragmentary manner. I have an opinion on aspects of heritage management and the archaeology of the various countries I discuss on this blog. I try to ensure, by reading around the subject where I can, that they may be considered informed comment, while having no pretensions that they are in any way definitive. My expression of them is my personal attempt to contribute to the global debate, nothing else. It is a debate that I am convinced is sorely needed, and one in which it is clear not all sides are adequately represented.

Certainly, however, I consider I have a far greater "right" to express opinions on these topics than metal detectorists and allied groups such as coin dealers have for some of the unjustifiable things they write about me (not what I say, but about me personally), and their twisty-turny ways intended to deflect discussion away from important topics, and it is the façade they construct which disturbs me and which I do my best to help tear down to expose what is behind it.

I am reminded here of a text I wrote when a metal detectorist wrote something about me, and then when I drew attention to it, deleted it in the usual fashion (this was in the "Renewed Focus on UK Metal Detecting" initiated by a certain detectorist's attacks on this blog and blogger - the attacks continue as will in the meantime the focus):
UK (and US) metal detectorists - like antiquity collectors in general - apparently think they are entitled in a special way to do basically what they like, say basically what they like and go through life with both being unchallenged. Faced with the real world where people articulate other opinions about what they say, they are capable only of sulking or rage - leading to the sort of cowardly personal attacks that are so prevalent at the moment. What we never see is them actually engaging in a sensible and sustained way with what was said.
In fact the situation has developed since even March this year, the name-calling that is now so prevalent ("The Troll", "Warsaw Wally", "Heritage Harry", "the Taliking ****hole" etc etc) was to a large degree absent then.

I would suggest that UK metal detectorists, instead of simply slagging me off or ignoring me because in a portion of the posts here I do not write of their hobby (or their friends in the dug-up ancient coin trade) as they would prefer, take a look at the other texts here. I'd like to know whether, as ("responsible") collectors,  they are all against the position they represent too.

Vignette: For some, problems of heritage protection outside the UK (or US) is just the foreign land where the Other "does things differently". 

* I say 'hypothetical' because it is a notable fact that - in contrast to what they say about their concerns - almost every single computer identifiable as belonging to a metal detectorist in the UK and the USA each time they visit this blog reads only those pages here where I discuss metal detecting and completely bypass the rest. More than a half of these spend less than a few minutes reading a post (I doubt they even get down to the bottom) and unlike other groups of readers never clicking on the hyperlinks which take the reader to supporting material, their reading habits are wholly superficial.  


P2Pinvested said...

I take it your not going to allow the last reply I sent, does it not fit in to your views

Paul Barford said...

It is not on topic, just you moaning about how hard done-by you are. That's not what the text above is about, and you do not address the points I made.

NEITHER is it true that I hold the view you there ascribe to me: "In your perfect world I would not be allowed to detect", which is rubbish. You seem not to have read many of the posts on this blog, so by what right do you claim to be able to represent what "my view" is?

Stick to the topic please or just go and moan on one of your own forums, if moaning and posturing is all you want to do.

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