Tuesday 22 April 2014

More from UK's Detectorists on PAS' Selectivity in Recording

I pointed out a comment the other day about the PAS FLO not recording certain items brought to them by metal detectorists, despite their eligibility for inclusion on the PAS database. It seems this notion does not fit with the cosy world view of academics who support the PAS, so somebody [who later turned out to be Philippa Walton] wrote back disgruntled that I was giving such comments an airing on my blog. It seems to me however that the voice of finders seeing what happens to the objects they bring in for recording really should not be ignored, for two reasons. The first the obvious one, they are the only ones who know what they've found and what they took in for reporting, and what then happened. The second reason is that if untrue information is being spread among the metal detecting community as fact, it should be a task of PAS outreach to investigate the claims, verify the facts and then rectify and clarify. None of which will they, of course, actually do.

One of the people who knows this is the member of a metal detecting near all of us (Dr Philippa Walton too)  "Alloverover" (Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:40 pm ), who writes:
PAS used to record anything you took to them over 300 years old, small bits of buckle, a broken brooch etc, the smallest thing as long as it could be ID,ed, [...] They (in my recent experience) have now totally changed their ethos due to lack of money, resources time and interest of FLO's ( the standard of whom seem to have dropped considerably, not surprising considering the remuneration on offer ). In my most recent attempt to record finds via an FLO, i was told that they have to now prioritize what they record, so of 9 or 10 items i wanted to record 5 or 6 were deemed unworthy of the effort, these items of insufficient interest included a couple of celtic units, i dont even think the young lady realized what they were until she was told.
and this is before the introduction of the karaoke FLOs. As All-over says "good grief", appalling. Then a little later we hear the same thing again from "Chris D" (Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:20 am): 
Yes quiet agree about the PAS scheme [...] Recently i get the impresion that they are only really interested in recording treasure cases, hoards or something significant they can put there name to, rather than the buckles, buttons,single hammered coins, iron medieval horse shoes etc which all help to build up the bigger picture
Member "Geoman" has a more detailed explanation of how this is happening and why (Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:12 pm):
The FLO's seem to have been advised by their local ? managers to be selective in what they record which begs the question why are some items of more interest than others ? Remember all FLO's have local managers who are frequently based in the County Archaeological Dept and will have their own agendas as to what the FLO is to do. The London PAS office has a very limited input to FLO management. I would assume that they wish to have details of older archaeological material which once passed onto the County HER can be used to feed into the many Higher Level Stewardship applications. 
Geoman has a well-known fixation with HLS agreements and has a conspiracy theory as to why selective recording is happening. If the PAS is selecting material due to lack of time and funding to get through the masses of material brought in and lying around their offices for months on end unrecorded (another frequent topic on the detecting forums which anyone going there will be aware of), there must be an internal policy document setting out nationally-standardised guidelines for this. What does it say? What are the statistics of this?

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