Friday, 14 March 2014

Metal Detecting Treasure Hunters Destroying Ancient Moorland: Detectorists in Denial

Staines Moor
Conservationists at Spelthorne Borough Council are raising the alarm about the effects of treasure hunting by metal detectorist damaging ancient moorland (Chris Caulfield, 'Metal detecting treasure hunters destroying ancient moorland' Get Surrey 23 Jan 2014). In Surrey a popular conservation area, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), is being dug up by artefact hunters, which is not only affecting the buried archaeological remains  but is changing the vegetation cover (this is not ploughed land) by making bare soil patches which are then colonised by nettles and weeds.
David Hicks, parks and countryside officer at Spelthorne Borough Council, said: “Because it is SSSI land, we can’t really be disturbing the soil. “It’s fine to use the moor, to walk around and enjoy it but the problem with metal detectors is that people then dig the ground. [...] we don’t want people to dig up SSSI land – that is the guidance from Natural England. It is becoming a more common problem. “We get the same issues in our parks.[...] We tell people we don’t allow metal detectors on our land.” [...] When you disturb soil on the moor, you create opportunities for weeds you don’t want on the site as they can take over from rare plants that grow there.” Mr Hicks added: “We spend a lot of time and effort trying to minimise these plants to achieve the goals that are set by Rural England.” 
As may be expected, Britain's so-called "responsible metal detectorists" are not having any of that. As we've seen before they try to put the blame on anyone but members of their own group. There are a number of telling comments. One person (who has perhaps has never heard of dog owners picking up after their pet has made a mess) suggests that dog walkers are to blame "Dogs dig Dogs defecate" . Another proffers the explanation that  "moles and badgers disturb the ground and produce the ideal growing conditions for invasive weed species". This repeats the same excuses offered in that fuss over a cricket pitch near a historic town with Treasure associations  a while back and the 'It was gophers wot dunnit' excuse elsewhere. Another pours contempt on the journalists and the conservation officer "What complete garbage, obviously not much news about so some numpty makes up contentious rubbish to sell a local rag. Mr Hicks is viewing for a job at the daily moan I think!"(Pete Harbour 8:05 AM on 5/2/2014). Our old friend David Hutchings has much the same sort of attitude (1:36 AM on 28/1/2014): "what a load of utter rubbish .who the hell make this C***P up ?". Another metal detectorist who is inordinately fond of labelling a 'liar' anyone who says about artefact hunting something he cannot accept, Norm Kennedy (11:58 AM on 27/1/2014) is of course also in denial, it's all about "control" and denial of "rights" you see:
First of all I think Mr Hicks and the write up is biased as there is no solid proof of metal detectorist causing any problem. SSSi was a way of banning people on public land most of the time it's about control. Lets see we have Walkers. Dogs. sheep. hares. Rabbits. Moles. and wild animals all do it a bit of digging scratching. Metal detector users thought to be responsible"What"I think it's all B/S Be careful of these councilors not knowing what they talk about. 
Amazing punctuation. Actually I think Mr Hicks has a good deal more knowledge about this site than Mr Kennedy.  Finally, the "goody-goody let's be nice to each other approach". From across the ocean, Scott Clark (7:24 PM on 23/1/2014 - oblivious to the fact we've had seventeen years of reaching out about best practice and a Code of Responsibility which says 'responsible detectorists keep off SSSI') suggests aimiably:
Reach out to the area detecting community for help in communicating this amongst their own and perhaps even monitoring. The ethical detecting community are trustworthy and keen on preserving our good faith with communities, archaeologists and land management authorities. 
The problem is there is no "responsible detecting" without detectorists accepting responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Above we see exactly what the effects are of reaching out and perfectly calmly and matter-of-factly explaining what the problem is. To you and I the logic seems clear, and it seems clear from what is said what any responsible person going onto Staines Moor should refrain from doing (and letting their dog do). Not so if you are a metal detectorist. words like "refrain" do not enter the vocabulary of many of them.  Their first thought is to disclaim responsibility for themselves and their fellows. Then apply the two-wrongs argument ("moles and rabbits dig, so we should be allowed to too"). There is absolutely no conservation ethic involved here at all. 

 What, actually, is the problem these people have in acknowledging that there is a problem with illegal and irresponsible artefact hunting even in the UK? Simply denying the problem exists is not helping to find a way to deal with it. 

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".


Brett said...

What is your problem ? Did a bad old (literaly)MD kick sand in your face.

Paul Barford said...

I presume you can read. Can you? "Metal Detecting Treasure Hunters Destroying Ancient Moorland: Detectorists in Denial" is what it says and your comment, bringing it down to personal level is wholly true to form.

That is what the problem is, smug, superficial, flippant empty headed people with metal detectors ripping up the historical landscape, with an unquestioning feeling of entitlement, not caring a damn about what other people think about it. Got it now. Brett?

Paul Barford said...

de Cesari specialises in sending rude comments to this blog but without making any real point. This one shows the same attitude of entitlement.

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