Friday, 24 April 2015

UK Metal Detectorist: the PAS is Not Working

Over on John Winter's blog Sock Puppet Steve, apparently answering a criticism by an unnamed "foreign correspondent" of the "Bring the English Disease here Please" video here (link) makes laboured and verbose excuses for the PAS:
i must point out something that the foreign correspondent always forgets – more finds are offered for recording by detectorists than the PAS can ever hope to actually record hence the changes to the management of the Scheme in recent years with limits to recording added to reduce the burden on the FLO’s. It is of course easy to level a charge that many finds are not reported to the PAS simply because it is a fact that many finders are turned away and so having no other mechanism with which to report finds cannot report them. 
So, basically throwing million of pounds at the problem, year after year, England (GDP somewhere around $ 2680 billion dollarshas not come up with a solution to the metal detecting problem, it is still erosive, and detectorists show no signs of slowing their private collecting down to levels the PAS can cope with. What hope then for the Republic of Ireland (GDP 227 billion dollars - one tenth of that of the UK) to run a Scheme equally or more effective if they liberalised artefact hunting?

The rest of Sock Puppet Steve's arguments are the same self-serving crap the metal detectorists trot out time after time, most of it finds no justification when you look into it:
- I would say it is Sock Puppet Steve (who has not even watched the video) who is guilty of not placing the mantras of metal detecting "in their broader context" of the preservation of the archaeological record,

- he pretends that metal detectorists do not search for "productive sites" at all but all find "random casual losses". That is not true. I suggest Sock Puppet takes a look at what artefact hunters do in the wider, global, context,

- the agrichemical and plough damage argument, but although detectorists have been trotting this out since the days of Denison and Dobinson (1995), is it not notable that not a single study has actually confirmed this model? All the "evidence" is anecdotal, and coming from the supporters of metal detecting. But we've been ploughing and fertilising fields for decades, yet the artefacts are still there, and many of them in online databases of all types (PAS, UKDF, eBay and on the forums) are still in pretty good nick - not at all what the alarmist models evoked to justify a hoiking-free-for-all would predict.

- and the scale of development, this begs the question about the real scale of actually usable information obtained by hobby metal detecting on sites subsequently developed whether or not they were subject to development control. Since this argument is being increasingly trotted out, time for the metal detectorists to back this up with a survey and statistics. I suspect that the actual amount of useful information from hoiking on these sites prior to development is not all that great (in how many cases have development control archaeological provisions been based solely on metal detecting data compared to the number when not?), but if they and their supporters want to use that argument, let the tekkies do the footwork and prove that suspicion wrong. See here for one telling case study, admittedly from the US.
 Come on Sock Puppet, put your money where your mouth is. Let's put what you said in its wider context, in the context of that "mainstream archaeology and portable antiquity issues in the UK" you accuse the "certain foreign correspondent" of missing. By the way the latter has a name, unlike some he does not hide under worthless pseudonyms on an old man's little-read metal detecting blog (such as here). 
Vignette: Sock Puppet.

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