Friday, 3 October 2014

Metal Detecting in Real Life

Andy and Lance 'research' a site (BBC).
In "Detectorists", Lance shows Andy a set of parchmarks he'd spotted which he thought indicated the location of an archaeological site. He feels that if they target it, they'd find some collectables items. The targeting of sites in this manner might perhaps be acceptable if the erosion of the record was mitigated by top-rate observation and recording of the context of discovery and deposition, but many metal detector searches never reach that level of best practice. Most are like the scene when the comedy duo go into the field where they feel sure is a Saxon ship burial - Andy suggests setting up a grid and doing a proper survey, Lance just turns his machine on and starts digging. In the case of the parchmarks, how many metal detectorists would report their discovery to the HER before going there and digging holes in it? How many ask the SMR officer what kind of information he/she should be gathering at that particular spot if there had been a site there before sticking spade in ground in order to enhance any existing records of the site? How, otherwise, can it be claimed these people are generating archaeological information from their digging and taking?

From the outset it is clear that the archaeological record is only going to be considered in this series as something to be quarried for personal gain, including that great find, the hoard that's going to make the finders rich. All the rest of the junk finds are just a distraction from this one aim, and increase the suspense of the wait.

I believe the PAS will be setting up a public information page in reaction to this programme to counteract the possibly damaging effects of the publicity it will generate. It will most likely be available here:

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