Monday, 10 November 2014

Derby: "positive inspiration for metal detectorists everywhere"

The forum of the ultra-environmentally-concerned metal detecting club Making Derbyshire Safer Metal Detecting Association makes interesting reading. They paint a horrific picture of the school playgrounds of England awash to 'epidemic proportions' with used hypodermic syringes  and sharp objects left by self-harming children.  I bet "Russia Today" would like to do a report on that; thank goodness that we do not have such problems here in Poland.

The group's aim is to "promote [...] our lovely hobby positively with the public [...]  to show that Metal Detecting  has positive benefits for people wildlife and the environment". They do this by removing "a lot of syringes, junk from Derbyshire"and (incidentally, we are asked to believe) "saved a few casual loss relics and coins from the ever increasing environmental pollution", (which I presume they keep for themselves- for "safekeeping" I guess). They apparently have machines capable of finding 'syranges' with no needles fitted. (Are Minelab developing a plastic detector for when the archaeological sites of some countries denuded of metal objects?) They also watch out for "negative web experiences" of their members, and promote artefact hunting and collecting among schoolchildren.

I must say though that some of the membership requirements and vetting procedures ("if we find an existing member using a machine or pinpointer not listed on their membership card, then we will have to inform the police") sound more like those of a Fascist Party that a recreational group. Anyhow they are cuddlier-sounding on their "Our Common Beliefs and Practices" page:
We are a small collection of individual metal detectorists,(sic) who make Derbyshire safer for people and animals by removing hypodermics, sharp objects and rubbish from the ground, plus we mange to save the occasional old coin and relic too from damaging modern environmental corrosion.
They say they decided to set up their website (for which they gushingly thank Wordpress for providing a platform) because they were "very concerned about the way our lovely hobby is heading". Their aim is to "positively promote" metal detecting activities in Derbyshire and provide inspiration for others to use similar methods to organize themselves to promote and preserve "this lovely pastime". They seem to feel it is in some way threatened by environmental concerns (or alternatively behind the scene conspiracy involving "some very powerful individuals and investment organisations [who] are set to benefit from the introduction of blanket banning of metal detecting" - Monsanto perhaps? OMG)

Mention is made of "the Pre-search Guest Detectorist Agreement" but its text is nowhere to be seen. It looks like it is basically saying that when a tekkie gets "permission", it means he can treat the land as his own and invite anyone he likes onto the land and this agreement is to avoid taking personal responsibility for any consequences (like we saw depicted in Crook's "Detectorists" and which was treated by metal detecting forum members as a totally normal thing to happen). Obviously any such agreement, to be in any way legally binding, has to be between any 'guest' and the landowner or his agent (and a metal detectorist with a "permission" is not a landowner's agent). Note also the phrase "report all appropriate finds to the PAS" - what does appropriate actually mean here? It is not defined.

For all their environmental (declared or sincere) awareness, it is odd that these folk do not appreciate  (and certainly do nothing to address) the arguments raised and concerns about random hunting and collecting of elements of the unique, finite and fragile archaeological resource, they talk about "churning up river beds" by other hobbyists, but don't bat an eyelid about churning up archaeological sites in the hunt for those "casual loss relics and coins" to "save" in their pockets. Instead conservationists raising these concerns and calling for public debate are "unscrupulous organisations" who on perceiving an issue simply "distort" it "to the detriment and future of our lovely hobby". So they are busy promoting an image of the hobby as wholly environment friendly, and those who see an historical environment faced with damage are merely "distorting" the picture? A prime case of such blinkered and uninformed thinking by this group is the bit right at the beginning about filling in holes properly:
We also agree not to leave earth stains on the grass, so if we do dig soil it will be placed on a cloth etc so as not to mark the grass. Maintain a balance between safely saving the item and making the minimum excavation possible. By doing this we can never be accused by certain individuals of Hoiking !.
You people really have no idea, do you?

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