Sunday 12 January 2014

Focus on Metal Detecting: Record Number of Treasure Hoikings

Just before the Christmas holidays in 2013 the number of Treasure items hoiked out of their archaeological context reached 964 - two more than in 2012. Hooray says the Treasure Registrar on Twitter, "964 is highest number yet of Treasure finds from England in a calendar year". The statistics we do NOT get is how many of the findspots of those nationally important objects were archaeologically examined in the same calendar year (and not like the Crosby Garrett helmet several years later) how many of those excavations were of a sufficient scale and degree of subtlety to say anything, how many were reported, how much that all cost in resources, how much money will now have to be raised from that potentially available for other areas of heritage to "save" these 946 groups of decontextualised items from being flogged off by their finders. I'd also like to know whether the evidence shows that the number of treasure cases is going up as fast as the number of new metal detectorists entering the hobby, or whether it is dropping relative to that increase. That is a vitally important statistic Bloomsbury is keeping very quiet about. Why?

No, all England's Treasure Registrar can do is tweet about it as though this was some kind of a success instead of a huge heritage management disaster. When are we going to see these problems addressed and have a decent bash at revising the Treasure Act so that it protects the buried archaeological heritage, not leads to its erosion and ultimately utter destruction?

Vignette: FLO Julie thinks it's wonderful, won't talk about it though. 

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