Tuesday 23 December 2014

PAS Reportedly say PACHI is a 'hindrance'

We are told, through the medium of a metal detectorist's blog:
PAS employees think you [he means me] are biased and don't help them one bit you just hinder them. 
I think it is pretty clear from what one hears from their metal detecting "partners" and learn from other sources that many PAS employees themselves are not free of bias when discussing the issues surrounding private collection. This blog and my concerns are of course not restricted to the PAS and metal detecting on one European island, I would say the wider problems discussed here should be the concerns of all who are interested in the study of the past and best practice in preservation of its remains.

In what part of their work does my looking critically at what the PAS and their partners do within that wider context "hinder" them, and from what? It seems to me that the only thing I hinder is them telling the rest of us that they have gone a great deal of the way to "solving the metal detecting problem", which I do by producing evidence that matters are by no means as simple as their spin suggests. Pulling the wool over the public's eyes by a major publicly funded body is indeed something that should be identified and questioned in the interests of transparency, accountability and keeping the public informed. That's what lies at the basis of democracy. Recent events almost seem to suggest that the British Museum feels it is above all that. 

It is a shame that the PAS is not at the centre of the discussion of the complex issues with metal detecting and current policies rather than, as the PAS seems to be intent on doing, trying to marginalise attempts to continue such a discussion. Marginalising open discussion of issues of best practice in artefact hunting and collecting is not - I would argue - what it was originally set up for, and what its function should be in the heritage protection "system" (such as it is) in England and, for the moment, Wales. That is not 'bias', it is self-evidently a perfectly valid position, whatever individual PAS employees may find appropriate to tell their "partners" about it.

In any case, while (if the frequent reports of this kind are to be believed) these "professional" archaeologists are apparently fully at ease dismissing what I say here behind my back in the company of metal detectorists, they are less willing to actually discuss them in public. This blog is devoted entirely to portable antiquity collecting issues, there are thousands of posts here made over the space of as many years as some of them have been in post. Yet, if I recall correctly, there are comments in this entire blog from just four of them (and occasionally from Roger Bland and Dan Pett from the Central Unit)  on less than a dozen occasions, and this year only one of them with two comments on the same matter. It seems that like other parts of the British archaeological community, they are all mouth no trousers when it comes to actually addressing the information and questions this blog contains. But I invite them to contribute to the debate in this social media venue too. They won't of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Pulling the wool over the public's eyes by a major publicly funded body is indeed something that should be identified and questioned"

Damn right.

What they say (or possibly don't say) in the back room of the Daft Badger to persuade detectorists they are on the same side as them and that they share their selfish mission is supremely unimportant.

If they don't say it in public to their peers they don't say it in a way that matters.

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