Sunday 22 June 2014

UK Detectorists and their Home Goal

Heritage Action today discusses the announcement that English Heritage is setting up a study of “the rates, reasons for and conservation implications of metal artefact decay in the ploughsoil“.
Metal detectorists will be hoping it will validate their claim that they are engaged in rescue archaeology (“saving artefacts before they rot”). I suspect they’ll be disappointed.[...] artefact corrosion is always in direct proportion to the strength of factors causing it so it’s bound to vary greatly from place to place. That being so, this new study may well finally show, definitively, that detecting, since it takes place not just where there’s an urgent conservation need but anywhere and everywhere permission can be gained, is not rescue archaeology.
Indeed in Tom Brindle's survey of motivations for detectorists' choice of site, which I am going through today, the degree to which it is being eroded by ploughing is nowhere in the responses to his survey of artefact hunters.

Vignette: add anions and stir


Anonymous said...

A survey of motivations for detectorists' choice of site?

Ummm, finds rate, surely?

Is there another?

Paul Barford said...

Well, I will be reviewing it here later, but there are a number of problems with it as a piece of academic writing. he sets out to show "how" PAS data can be used for doing archaeology - not "whether". The approach is apologetic throughout. Never once does he discuss that detectorists are COLLECTORS as though that is irrelevant to what they collect and what they then report of that. But then that is typical of all of them (Chester-Kadwell, Robbins, Walton too). They are all taking what turns out to be a very superficial view of the fundamental issue, all the more disappointing here as Brindle actually worked as a FLO.

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