Monday 12 May 2014

The Sorry Tale of the Surrey Searchers and the FLO

Cliff (Tate)
Readers might remember that a few days ago, I received a somewhat irate message from one "Jennifer Petard" who was complaining about my coverage of the Surrey Searchers:
"Did yu read my message yesterday? You appear to have missed the point! The FLO can't record for SS because he has been banned from the club!" 
I suggested it would be nice if an SS-man, or maybe an ex-SS-man could come on here and explain why (I also suggested that "Ms Petard" repeat their other queries about SS standards of best practice, but that never materialised). Meanwhile, somebody who had witnessed the fallout between the SS and their FLO sent me some details, but said that even though he was no longer a member of the club "for obvious reasons" he'd like me to not reveal their identity.  He confirmed that what Petard said was to the best of his knowledge broadly true.

It seems that the Surrey FLO had pretty regularly visited this club at Wallington every month  for some years. About a year ago, while the FLO was present at a meeting, the club chairman (Cliff Tate) informed everybody that he was going to take the club onto land which contained a known Roman site which "had had Time Team involvement some years back". The FLO courageously spoke out at the meeting to challenge this intent (how could any archaeologist do otherwise?), and that seems to have "miffed", as my informant put it, the club chairperson. In the end, the club never got permission to hunt for collectables on this site or anywhere around. The club chairman suspected that the FLO had been behind that. I'm personally not convinced that this was the case, as far as we know it has rarely happened before (the issue is not considered to be within the remit of either FLOs or the Head Office). Neither has it happened when the PAS should have objected - instead they've gone along  themselves. As a result of these suspicions/allegations, it seems from what I was told that the club chairman (and possibly other members too) then began an unpleasant personal campaign against the FLO, which ended in him being permanently banned from Surrey Searcher club meetings.  It is even rumoured that the club chairman had told the club of his resolve to get the FLO fired from his post (for what?). A most unpleasant affair, by all accounts.

My informant suggests that other responsible people then left the club, rather than attempt to stand up to the others. Most of them were able to join other clubs in the region that continue to have a good relationship with the PAS. Presumably then, no finds made by Surrey Searcher members in the past year or so will be found on the PAS database. For example, I was told an anecdote which suggests that on a club dig last year several siliquae were discovered. The finders were bullied by the club chairman into not recording them. It seems that he convinced them that if they did, the site would be scheduled and the club would be no longer welcome there. There are no such coins on the PAS database.


kyri said...

nice to see the "partnership"is working than.all those ,millions not going to waste.

Paul Barford said...

I wonder what, after all those millions, Cliff Tate and his members consider "best practice" and just what it is that legitimises their practice of and benefiting from the hobby of collecting archaeological objects?

P2Pinvested said...

I have been waiting for you to follow up the post where this started, it truly is a sorry state of affairs. Its sounds like the mentioned flo has had a rough ride, however it is good to hear members of the club left to show they were not happy with the situation.

Paul Barford said...

What is even sadder is this particular FLO seems to me from a certain point of view one of PAS' best.

Anonymous said...

Well I'd like to say the worst FLO is infinitely preferable to the likes of Mr Tate. I'm often very critical of them but I'm perfectly well aware that they are good people caught between a ludicrous political imperative and some utter blockheads. Not an easy place to be.

I'd be happy for my daughter (or son) to marry one - or be one - whereas I wish I lived in a country where people like Mr Tate (if the accounts of his behaviour are true) weren't outreached to but were just locked up, like in lots of countries. ;)

But why, why, why aren't the forums totally bursting with people condemning such behaviour? Detectorists are always craving respect yet they act in a way that makes it impossible.

Unknown said...

This is all true. What should be clarified is that the club mistakenly believed the Roman site to be on the farm that they had applied to. It was not, it was across the road on a different farm. As there was no possibility of them getting permission to detect on the Roman site there was no point in my contacting the laandowner, or any landowner for that matter.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks David for that. Welcome to the blog, it's not often I get FLOs here.

As somebody who's been at the receiving end of a lot of tekkie crap for saying what I think about what's going on, I can sympathise with your position. I am sorry that you got all this unpleasantness from these metal detectorists because they suspected you'd done what anybody knowing of a threat to an archaeological site ("responsible metal detectorists" too) would have done. The fact that you reveal that they'd got it completely round their necks where this site was only adds insult to injury. What an utter shambles.

There were other accusations, but I did not put them into my post. Is it not bonkers that there is absolutely no way to bring these people to account? If being nice to them does not work, should there not be better regulation?

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