Thursday 18 September 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: World War Two in my Conservatory

Detecting for World War militaria with dirty conservatory full of tat, t-dropping and an upward inflection. Dan Mackay posted his first rambling incoherent detecting video from his 'workroom' (dirty conservatory) in November 2012.

ERH Video 1 (Relic Room Introduction)

We see all the artefacts laid out and in boxes and on the floor. "Most of these bits are from a local airfield" he says. "Lots of German Prisoner of War Camp finds", "there is just stuff on shelves everywhere". Not a single item is accompanied by any kind of labelling of findspots which means by his hoiking, he is not only emptying historical sites of evidence, but he is turning that taken evidence into geegaws for his selfish pleasure and here, his five-minute-of-fame 'show and tell'.There is material on those shelves that would be difficult to explain as UK finds. In the comments he mentions in an off-hand way "Its weird the way they turn up in odd places. The first time I found one was in Normandy..". Note the comments about two fellow detectorists in the course of the short presentation. He is ungrammatically miffed that "I take over an entire room and fill it full of rust and the kids then put there bikes/scooters in...". But he gets some supportive messages from fellow 'War Digging' Deep Digger Dan who we've met before on this blog. There is a closeup of explosive extraction tools at 71s, suggesting he does this with bravado just at the back of the house. He also mentions material lying around the conservator "waiting to be cleaned and emptied".

The second film in the series )(above) shows him on another military site ("obviously I won't mention where it is, but it was a US Army hospital camp") which soon produced "a old penny" (dermatitis alert) before they were thrown off the site by somebody (so, did they have written permission and when they were told to leave, did they keep the finds, or hand them over?). In connection with that There is a typical indication of tekkie attitudes of entitlement at the end of the video.

In video three - the self-labelled "Extreme relic hunters" visit two PoW camps... and in the course of it hoik out an unsnapped German dogtag and a load of other items. At the end you see him in a woolly hat in his conservatory full of items he'd taken from other sites, showing how he'd "made the explosives safe" himself (in the conseratory?) by drilling and cutting into them. What a tonker.  At the end of the film he blithely announces that the next trip is to hoik stuff in Belgium. 

There seems to be no video of that, but the comments under the other three videos reveal that:
Well after returning from Belgium my wife informs me that some [...] who watched my videos on youtube phone the police and reported me having 'dangerous' items. So they come round and visit, quiz my wife and they left. I'm 99% certain who called them, as this sad pathetic individual is very jealous of my and my teams ability to be able to find nicer items in two years that he has been doing in much longer. Sad pathetic jealous little man, poor you.
No, I think anyone who goes artefact hunting abroad, in France and Belgium, comes back with historical artefacts (how did they enter the country?) and stores items of potentially unstable military hardware in their conservatory where he "empties" them with hand tools deserves to be reported and at least visited by the police.

We are reminded of the comment by HAPPAH about the plague of British metal detectorists coming over to the continent and plundering World War One and World War Two sites and walking off with the stuff. It seems we have here a not-so-contrite confession of one of these artefact hunters. How do these people go about arranging permissions in France and Belgium? Are the UK police sufficiently informed of the laws of neighbouring countries on metal detecting in order to recognize when a crime has been committed by a British citizen abroad? And what about French and Belgian export legislation concerning cultural property? In the light of episodes of 'Artefacthuntery tourism', maybe the PAS should be among those informing the UK public and law enforcement of these legislative niceties?

Hat tip to Nigel Swift for the links

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