Tuesday 20 January 2015

PAS on BBC2's Eggheads


The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been making a bit about the appearance of a team from PAS on the BBC2 quiz show "Eggheads".  Detectorists were gawping at it last night and one of them reports:
I did enjoy watching it (never have before) [...] Some of the FLO's certainly came across as quiet [sic] geeky (no offence meant) Not sure the Eggheads deserve their title and not sure I would have either side on my phone a friend list.
There's true 'partnership'' for you. All however was not sweetness and light. Oh no, we're dealing with metal detectorists, a right petulant lot. Member "The Ferret" from Burnham On Sea, Somerset (Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:23 pm) has a bright red emoticon following his shout-out:
and in a subsequent text peppered with red and yellow emoticons explains:
It was their reactions to a comment about a find being worth a few £££. The other side Said I grab my detector and have a go... FLO said not interested in the money its the historical value ...other side more or less said yea right...... The FLO laughed.......... [emoticon] I think they should have stood their ground and said "NOT ALL detectorists are in it for the money" {emoticon] Have to watch it to understand my rant [emoticon] TF [emoticon]
Perhaps we should get straight that the personable and attractive folk chosen to take part in the show were there to represent the Portable Antiquities Scheme (which they did very well), not any other group. 
Member "Littleboot" from Staffordshire/ Normandy also has a go at FLOs in this connection (Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:47 pm):
Being a FLO is a nice job. Get to see interesting stuff. Do something you love. I daresay the pay isn't a lot....but they do get paid. I.E.....Last time I heard they didn't do the job simply for the love of history..... I get really p'd off with archies pontificating about money and finds from the rarefied position of being paid from the public purse.
Well, if detectorists object to public money being spent to attempt to mitigate the effects of their erosion of the common archaeological heritage, let's just cut the PAS and save everyone a lot of money. Of course that would immediately have a knock-on effect on the way metal detecting and artefact collecting are seen. But if the 'partners' are ungrateful about the efforts that are being made by professional archaeologists to accommodate them, then let's just STOP it and start up a public information campaign against Stop Taking Our Past instead. It probably would come a lot cheaper.

And as for being a FLO "is a nice job". I really think PAS FLOs have one of the worst jobs in British archaeology, they work with some pretty awful "finders" with metal detectors, they have to go to club meetings and rallies, and they work for an organization which seems to have lost direction and which they are not allowed to properly discuss with outsiders, except in the most glib and vacuous terms, and they get criticised from both sides of the heritage debate (such as it is). I think there are many archaeologists who'd not do such a job for even four times the inadequate salary the FLOs get, or stick it for long.

Anyhow, what happened was that after the Staffs Hoard reward was brought up and one of the "Eggheads" joked that he was going out with his metal detector now, Teresa Gilmore (Finds Liaison Officer - Staffordshire & West Midlands) quickly broke in and gave the appropriate and accurate answer, verbatim: "We're not interested in the monetary value it's the archaeological value". And of course they and we aren't. But the metal detectorists obviously think they were paid to include his ilk into the statement and it was a sacking offence not to.

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy". 


Brian Curtiss said...

Paul it's nice to see your balance in commenting on the tough spot the FLOs are in.

Paul Barford said...

Ooops, deleted by mistake (answer to follow):

Brian Curtiss has left a new comment on your post "PAS on BBC2's Eggheads":

I wonder about your last statement. Do you feel that PAS truly wants to engage people who destroy the cultural heritage? Or do you mean that is what they are doing through poor management or their mission? There may be a disparity between the intent of the mission and the execution of itn. Are you assuming the intent of those trying to create a workable system or commenting on their success/failure? There is a difference, and it's ill-advised to paint with too broad a brush. Do you know any of the FLOs? What's their take? Would you invite them to perhaps respond to your points in a way that encourages them to do so, or do you think you discourage that? I appreciated your comments about how hard their job is.It seems so to me also. Sometimes your criticism of a particular FLO of late has possibly obscured the fact that their job is not easy. Would you be willing to be an FLO? It must be a tough spot to be in. Your point that perhaps the money being spent is not achieving the goals it was meant to is a good one. But it's also the easiest way out to sit on the sidelines and comment about the job done by others, when you are not in their position. It was refreshing to see you recognize the challenges faced by the FLOs. You put a lot of people off by your acerbic style, but I do find in your blog an occasional recognition of the challenges and that gives your perspective greater power. Others might not see that, but I did and I applaud you for posting an entry that allows readers to see that you can appreciate the complexities of the situation and to some degree at least can have some sympathy for what I also regard as a very un-eviable position to be in for the FLOs. Sometimes, allowing others some understanding does more to advance your cause than any critical commentary. Thanks for the post. I read your blog regularly and appreciate the work you do and I like seeing posts that don't immediately alienate people but rather encourages a civil dialogue about the issues.

Best regards,


Paul Barford said...

Well, there are several points here. Yes, I am not the only one well aware of the "special circumstances" under which FLOs and the PAS work.

My reaction to that however is to say they and we should jolly well all be trying to change that, and if the way they've been doing it now for seventeen years is not working, well, let us take another approach rather than just shrugging shoulders and feebly saying "but you don't understand the problems we have".

Except they never do. Experience shows that the PAS will be the last to admit it, and the last to engage in any kind of discussion of these issues (as we have seen over the case of the "a certain FLO" where PAS remains utterly silent). The PAS should be the first of course to point out the problems and issues, but somehow it has worked out a disappointingly different way.

The management is taking the PAS the only way it sees that it can I guess.

Brian Curtiss said...

I think you make good points - PAS leadership might be afraid of offending the collectors but their first priority should be to issue an official comment on the situation. In other words - leadership. If you want to have people follow your recommendations you have to lead. And that means having standards that those involved with the organization follow. From collectors to FLOs to PAS leadership. So that seems a problem. That and resources. Not just money (though I'm not sure there is a lot of oversight happening there frankly), but the right people.

Paul Barford said...

But if you look, metal detectorists don't need leadership. They are led by the naysaying and secretive oiks that run their forums, clubs and the NCMD etc. ("Get off our case"). Have a look at how they inevitably react at every possible manifestation of the PAS setting any kind of standard, and you will see why the PAS can never be a solution to the MD problem in the UK.

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