Saturday 27 June 2015

Cleaning up the Image of Artefact Hunting

"Lets get the bad eggs out of 
our hobby, before they spoil it for the rest of us".
Pommy down Under June 17, 2015

As the PAS begins to fade into history, metal detectorists are beginning to show more interest in their public image. One expression of this is a webpage recently created: 'Help Snuff out illegal detecting and videos' posted on June 23, 2015 by "Lancelot".
We at Global Detection Adventures strive to show and promote only legal and ethical metal detecting practices. However on video sites, such as YouTube, there are so many videos where even the most popular metal detectors are out there practicing illegal detecting methods and immoral detecting. We reach out to all our readers in helping our great hobby get the attention it deserves and not through supporting certain detectorists who use these unjustifiable metal detecting practices. We ask all of our readers to look out for any of the following, in any video, and then report them to the appropriate authorities and YouTube, or whatever video site it may be, to have the video in question removed
The list of activities which are felt to be of concern is quite wide:
Digging of explosive devices, and playing with or tampering with these dangerous items. [...] 
Digging in what is possibly a grave or mass grave site from a war or other event and taking items from it, or not reporting the location to authorities. 
Metal detecting where it is illegal. IE: protected sites such as Castles, Battle fields under historic or conservation protection acts. 
Metal detecting in areas where permits are needed, and not used. IE: Sweden, Parts of Germany 
Metal detecting in countries where it is illegal. IE: Russia, Poland 
Destroying land to retrieve items. IE: Cutting or removing trees or bushes to dig under them. 
Destroying buildings, abandoned or occupied. 
Digging, with or without a metal detector in known battlefield areas, which are protected by government laws or considered areas that should be treated as memorials to the fallen regardless what side they fought on [...]  
Holes [should] always [be] filled in correctly in order to remove danger to members of the public and wildlife. 
Respect the rules of the countryside. IE. if the farm you are detecting on has livestock always make sure you shut gates behind you and respect the landowners property. 
Above all each and every detectorist is a an ambassador to this great hobby when out detecting and as such should behave in a way that shows the public and authorities that we are to be trusted with our respective nations heritage.
A good start, it will be interesting to see what effects this has. It seems to me that the focus on battlefields is missing the issue of other known sites which are targeted because likely to be productive. I think an important point is to ask what kind of 'outreach' did all those millions of pounds spent on the PAS obtain that - eighteen years on - these things are still appearing in videos and one group of metal detectorists has to point out to another that they are wrong. Where has the PAS been all these years? And all those other 'partner' archaeologists?

I suggest though that it is not just videos that are a problem, while much bad behaviour of detectorists on the forums is kept behind closed doors, there are blogs and bloggers who create the worst possible image of the hobby and hobbyists. I am thinking of individuals such as Dick Stout, John Howland, Steve Taylor whose online and very public antics discredit the image of responsible artefact hunting. Is any responsible artefact hunter going to take responsibility for the hobby and confront these fifth columnists in their midst who are taking pleasure in deliberately making life unpleasant for everyone? 


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I see this as a cynical exercise in wallpapering a disreputable shack. Where is the reference to keeping to Best Practice as defined in the England and Wales Responsible Detecting code? There's nothing "ethical" about detecting without an adherence to that.

Paul Barford said...

True enough. Note that this is not about "what we actually do", but "what we let people see of what we do". How can you show adherence to the Code of Practice on a You Tube video? I was surprised though that videos showing detecting on permanent grassland are not mentioned

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