Thursday 3 April 2014

Metal Detecting Complaint

Metal detectorist DeepdiggingDan (Daniel Holdsworth) is well known for his comic turns with hand grenades, lasagne and Nazi Castles, the latest of his  200+ You Tube videos, "Metal Detectorists V Archaeologists" was so-suitably published on April Fool's Day. In it in his desire to play the victim, he cluelessly trots out all the staple arguments and totally misses several important points. Within a day, his video had received more than a hundred comments, mostly from fellow metal detectorists for the most part echoing the sentiments (though many of them are phrased as if they were written by equally clueless mentally-retarded fourteen year olds). This individual has as many as 47000 followers on his metal detecting channel, that's quite something if one bears in mind that there are currently thought to be between ten and sixteen thousand metal detectorists in the UK, that means not only that a very large proportion of them is a follower of this self-appointed spokesman, but also the number of comments disagreeing with what DeepDiggerDan says will be a measure of the proportion of metal detectorists in the English-speaking world (including in the UK) agree with him. There were few voices of dissent:

Metal Detectorists V Archaeologists by " Deep Digger Dan" 

The main arguments offered are:
1) The author of the video suspects that archaeologists are being taught wrongly at universities and his big hope is that university lecturers will see his video and show it in the classroom, to put the metal detectorist's views over. Archaeologists need their head banging to knock some sense into them.

2) The majority of archaeologists hate metal detectorists, but "its just not fair". He's not tarring all archaeologists with the same brush, some archaeologists are actually OK, they watch his videos.

3)  Metal detectorists are not all nighthawks, looking at the facts "all the bad metal detectorists that's probably only 0.2%" are nighthawks. Don't call all metal detectorists "nighthawkers".
4) On top of that, the criticisms by archaeologists is all "sly", they don't comment under DeepdiggerDan's videos, they don't talk to metal detectorists at all, "just talk among yourselves, put us down, go on forums, put us down, go to the press, put us down - everything we read is nastiness towards metal detectorists". Metal detectorists don't put archaeologists down, they just stick up for themselves. Archaeologist should start looking around them [paraphrase].

5)  "Metal detectorists are not idiots",

Archaeologists are "too shallow minded to open their eyes and and to wake up",

It's professional jealousy and a desire to control. They don't like it that they've been "knocked off their perch" by metal detectorists who "find more history". "They've got anger problems, they've got something wrong with them up here, they're not happy, they're miserable in life and just want to hit out...." but they are picking on the wrong people.

"By pushing us away, what you are doin' is you're actually destroying history yourself" because when metal detectorists find things they ought to report, they will not. 

Archaeologists should STOP saying bad things about metal detectorists, "work with us, that's what you need to do".

10) "
it's all the fault of the archaeologists".   


Ad 1) I would love to see this video presented in a university classroom, I really would. I am not sure though that this would have the effect DDD is anticipating. There are here no real arguments in this video that would convince anyone of anything. It is just an extended and ill-informed moan about victimisation.

Ad 2) It is quiet simply not true that the majority of archaeologists hate metal detectorists, the problem is that DDD probably does not read the type of archaeological literature where a pro-detecting position is adopted, he probably does not read much archaeological literature at all, but  just concentrates on the places (like this blog) where that view is opposed.

Ad 3) That "metal detectorists are not all nighthawks" is not at all the point. Proposing a simple dichotomy responsible detectorist/nighthawk is a favourite straw man argument without any merit at all, and ignores what the critics actually say.

One of DeepDiggerDan's pals seeking archaeological
"respect" by digging a hole in pasture down below plough level. The
concerns here for the safety of the archaeological record in the hands
of such people has nothing whatsoever to do with
"professional jealousy". This is damaging sites,
not "working together".
 Ad 4-5) That archaeologists don't waste time trying to discuss featherbrain notions like the above with under-informed individuals like this need surprise nobody. When the detectorists as a whole stop faffing about with pseudo-justifications and get some real arguments to discuss, then it might be worth discussing them. While the discussion is dominated by totally uninformed chip-on-the-shoulder notions like those presented in this video, there is no point at all. That is not a "put down" but a simple fact.

Neither do I accept that the metal detectorists attacking archaeology and its aims and methods without any real understanding of either are "defending themselves". They crave group solidarity and are attempting to create one by attacking an Other.

Ad 6-7) Demonizing archaeologists and trying to ascribe their concerns to personal failings and personal traits serves to sidestep the need to actually address the real concerns archaeologists have with artefact collecting. There is no point in discussing anything with anyone who is only capable of such a level of non-reasoning.

Ad 8) The old "recording strike" argument. That may scare the PAS, but it's exactly what is needed for those who suggest that the current form of voluntary recording is not effective to demonstrate their point. Of course it is not the archaeologist who criticises artefact hunters for not recording properly who is "destroying history", but the artefact hunter who hoiks with no intention to record.

Ad 9) As for "working with artefact hunters is what you need to do", DDD seems completely oblivious to the fact that this is exactly what in the UK, where he lives, archaeologists started doing in 1997. More than sixteen million quid have been spent on trying to achieve this aim, hundreds of people have worked in archaeology towards this aim since 1997, and DDD says we need to "start". Where has this man been for the past seventeen years?

Ad 10) Blaming on archaeologists the slow rate of takeup of the PAS and that some metal detectorists seem to think that seventeen years is not enough of a "start"  is a cop-out. The reality is that there is a large "Fortress detecting" core in the community, hell-bent on maintaining a group identity of "the hobby" by opposing conservation measures (labelled by them "archaeology") and the notion of a more general public benefit instead of selfish interests. These people do not give a damn for anyone or anything and they are not a bit interested in hearing any arguments that contradict the pseudo-arguments they use to uphold what they see as their "rights".

For there to be any kind of progress together, that hard core of naysayers has to be rooted out. DDD is doing absolutely nothing to address that internal problem of the hobby which he sees only as needing "defending from the archaeologists", while missing the point of what it is that the "grey" detectorists are accused of. For such a simplistic and wholly superficial approach to the issues as exhibited here by Deep Digger Dan, metal detectorists (the ones who want to be called "responsible") will indeed be criticised by those who want to see us working towards a common aim.

Such collaboration cannot involve just ten or twenty percent of English and Welsh detectorists actively participating and the larger part of the rest simply tagging along. Let us see those "responsible" detectorists take some responsibility for their fellows, take some responsibility for the shape of the hobby as a whole. For if they do not, who will?


Unknown said...

life is to short,why does every one wont to bitch

Unknown said...

bit of a dick really arent you paul lol

Unknown said...

Well i must say after reading your blog on Deep Digger Dan you certainly do not want to find a common ground on which all can benefit. For someone of your Background to resort to name calling and slander does not paint a pretty picture of your ethics. The pot calling the kettle black in my opinion.

Unknown said...

So to prove him wrong you write a blog to further drive a wedge between the two sides here? Calling DDD stupid, making fun of his accent and video's and his fan's. Take a moral and intellectual high ground to look down your nose at anyone with an opinion other then your own. What could have been by contacting DDD to discuss the issues at hand and help bridge the gap.

Paul Barford said...

Mr Bard, where do you see "name calling and slander"? Mr Andrw B where do you see any reference to this bloke's (rather notable you must admit) "accent"?

I think we have here another two of DDD's chip on the shoulder brigade out to flaunt their prejudices. How about addressing some of the points I made in reply to DDD, rather than criticising me for answering him?

Unknown said...

Paul, you're acting like a bellend!

Unknown said...

Paul, I hope you won't mind my responding to your comments on Dan's latest rant re archaeologists and metal detecting. I'm an archaeologist who subscribes to Dans' videos as I enjoy them and no, I'm not in the first flush of youth, very much the opposite! I believe that you shouldn't label those of us who watch his videos by any sort of global comment on our mental status. Such generalisation demeans and destroys the highbrow position you seem to have taken on this and also commenting on the way people have replied when your own english structure isn't perfect just adds fuel to the fire! None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes and it is to no ones benefit to talk down to others or attempt to belittle them.
You clearly watched/listened to the video many times to be able to quote it in such depth, so why did you do that and then only add it to your personal blog? Why not send it to Dan and ask him to comment and reply? I would hope that you did make some comment on it (as I did), but I don't see your name anywhere.
This latest "rant" of Dans, was deliberately phrased to stimulate thought and discussion, which it seems to have done. The picture you showed in your blog wasn't even taken in this country and shouldn't be regarded as a being a representation of how Dan behaves, unless you feel that he is guilty by association? I've worked on sites which have been plundered during the night by idiots with detectors and I have had the assistance of detectorists working with me on my sites with great effect and I know which I prefer. I don't however confuse the two types. I've also seen archaeologists both in this country and abroad whose behaviour was equally appalling. Right and wrong in both camps. Folk using metal detectors find things which, in the main, would have been lost for all time without them. Such items truly are "out of context" and are rarely indicative of important sites worthy of excavation. Those which are, MAY lead to the site being excavated or further scanned with geophysics. Bioturbation as well as deep ploughing can create false information or even destroy these sites particularly where the soil structure is shallow and overlies chalk or limestone.
As an aside, have you by any chance seen Dan's video, shot when he was in Berlin, where he travelled some distance at his own expense to find a wedding ring lost by a newly married gentleman? He didn't have to do it but he did, which was a nice gesture on his part. Check out some of the other detectorists videos from around the world who have done much the same sort of things. Nice, genuine folk who have a chance to do something kind and do it.
So Paul, express your opinions how and where you like, because they are your opinions and this is your blog. If this guy offends you then simply don't watch his videos. Better still, set up your own video channel on U Tube and put your message out for others to comment or criticise.

Paul Barford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Paul, you are an idiot. You are just jeaslous

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