Saturday 27 December 2014

Focus on UK metal detecting: "It does not matter how far you dig"

Metal detectorists keep the
intellectual flag flying
In the thread 'Re: Somewhere over the rainbow... Roman lead coffin' about a find hoiked up on a known Roman site from great depth (and without the permission of the landowner being obtained). Begrudgingly one of the finders ("bangbustours" (sic) Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:38 am ) admits "Yes there is an argument to say we dug too deep" but then triumphantly adds "a find is a find and it doesnt matter how far you dig as long as its still beeping when u get to the bottom". Member "Oldartefact" (Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:43 pm)  responds:
I am a complete novice ... but the arguments for digging too deep surely only apply to known cemetaries and ordnance sites... assuming that neither were prior indicated, then I assume its dig away! 
No "responsible detectorist" corrected him pointing out what the arguments about digging deep refer to (or the fact that the artefact hunters were on a known Roman cemetery site). Indeed there are no arguments about digging deep in detecting circles, even self-declared "responsible" ones. Member Nailman adds (Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:26 pm):
English Heritage say that modern farming is threatening archaeology ... story.pdf/ So if the finders hadn't dug down and found the coffin it could have been destroyed by the plough in 2-3 yrs. This is a typical rescue archaeology case, the bread and butter of most archaeology units. The coffin has been saved.
The vision of the top tens of centimetres of Britain's fields being ploughed off annually is a disturbing one. One might ask how long Nailman thinks it will be before the entire land has been ploughed down to sea-level, and then what with rising sea-levels and all that, the UK's metal detecting problem will at last be solved.


Rantman said...

What is your view on how much damage ploughing does to archeology ?

Paul Barford said...

My view is that ploughing was not a threat to that coffin "within two or three years".

Now if the club 'dig' was a rescue project, when and where can we expect to see the publication, detailing all the information they saved about the artefacts they "saved" and their contexts within the cemetery - related to what was already known with a breakdown of the project's research design?

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