Sunday 28 December 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting Gormlessness: Unfounded Accusations Again

At the end of November last year Michael Lewis, Deputy Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum published a fluffy blog post ‘When a find is recorded, it is truly discovered’: metal-detecting and its contribution to archaeology'.

I discussed some of the issues raised by the original text a couple of times (PACHI Sunday, 15 December 2013, 'PAS's Michael Lewis on "Metal-detecting and its Contribution to Archaeology", PACHI Monday, 16 December 2013, 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Jan 2014 Issues of "Treasure Hunting" and "The Searcher"' and 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: What the PAS Say and What the two Hobby Magazines Tell us', together with: 'Gustaf Kossinna Haunts Bloomsbury').

This text was also noted on a detecting forum near you and a thread was started 'Detecting and its contribution to Archaeology ' (from Thu Nov 28, 2013), the same day as the original appeared. There was nothing much for me to comment on in the tekkies' evident pleasure that Lewis had mentioned them and gone through some of the pluses and none of the minuses, so I did not pay much attention at first. As the thread developed, however, there were some comments which diverged from the rest and I discussed what I saw as their implications (PACHI Wednesday, 10 December 2014, 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Carrying on Despoiling for Own Gratification' ; PACHI Sunday, 14 December 2014, 'Detecting and its Non-contribution to Archaeology').

Now I note that in that thread, an update has been added (between 14th Dec and 28th Dec) to the post of 'Geoman" (Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:33 am) to which I referred: 
Update - it seems that the detractors have been using this thread to bolster their anti detecting campaign to the extent that they have claimed that the "PAS says they want all recordable finds brought to them". Now i am sure members of this Forum know that this is not a true situation when recording with the PAS. However as this thread has been made invisible to the detractors, they are making their usual exagerated  (sic) claims on the back of it. It is unfortunate that those outside the hobby looking at their comments, are unable to see what has originally been posted here so they can be fully aware what the detractors get up to and how they selectively present comments made by others and basically lie to suit their own ends. I wonder if it was a wise move to hide the thread.
How nice to be publicly labelled (once again) a "liar" by somebody hiding their real name behind an assumed identity. Mr "Geoman" (sic), if you want to make allegations like that then at least have the balls to sign them with your real name.

First let "Geoman" not attempt to put words into my mouth: as should be clear from what is being discussed, any 'campaign' conducted here is for increased best practice in antiquities collection and is anti thoughtless and irresponsible behaviour, this blog is not "anti-collecting" per se.

Readers of this blog are ALWAYS encouraged to check what I say against the original, to which in most cases I give direct links. What usually happens is that they are prevented from doing that because (although no metal detectorist anywhere in the UK will admit to having ever read my blog), very soon after I provide a direct link, the metal detectorists in particular hide the threads (or videos) to which I refer. They do this to avoid outsiders seeing that what I write is what they are in fact presenting.  I am all for the metal detectorists of the UK all following "Geoman's" advice, make the material available, let people see, let people judge for themselves what they think about it! Do it!

In general, I have alwys stresed that anyone interested in these issues must register with the metal detecting forums which hide their discussions from the general public. That is the only way to judge what is going on, not listening just to PAS and media spin and/or the preservationsts' own presentations of the way they see it. Public opinion on heritage matters should be about making one's own mind up and then speaking out about you have decided is wrong, and not just going with the flow.

Finally, what on earth would the point be of creating a database for professional use which only consists  of material selected for showing by totally untrained and often severely underinformed members of the public who happen to have bits of artefacts in their pockets? The PAS should have access to all the information retrieved from a site exploited by finders in order to assess the record, not edited highlights. It is self-evidently not a "lie" to state "that the "PAS says they want all recordable finds brought to them"...". Any fool can check the PAS website FAQs:
2 - What types of archaeological finds would you like to record?
We would like to know about everything that you have found - not just metal objects. We record all objects made before about 1650. We may be selective in recording finds of later objects. It is often best to let the Finds Liaison Officer see all your finds, especially if you are unsure what they are: a nondescript lump of copper-alloy may turn out to be a fragment of an archaeologically important Bronze Age ingot.
This text by the way is a fossil, it was on the very first version of the PAS page from the moment they had one. There is no excuse for any metal detectorist not knowing it. Note that, in fact, the PAS say they want to see more than the finds which are 'recordable' but everything that can give information about the place where other finds came from. What they actually do with them ("i am sure members of this Forum know that this is not a true situation when recording with the PAS") is another matter, but it is not a "lie" of the detractors of irresponsible artefact hunting to say this is what they declare they will do. We are not responsible for the differences between what the PAS says it does and what it actually does. Take it up with them.

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