Thursday 15 October 2015

Scheduled Sites and Artefact Hunting: Seed or Strip?

Over on a metal detecting forum near you, they have now deleted the thread asking members to identify the three men filmed detecting on a scheduled site in Gloucestershire. They are pretending that these men are "not one of us" as usual. So, as a substitute topic they are discussing how to protect scheduled sites from these metal detector using pilferers.
The first idea is to "seed" the sites:
oldartefact » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:30 pm [...] why dont they seed them with a variety of junk targets .. I am sure the metal detecting community would be only too pleased to give them a supply of buttons, random lead, copper and the like. Also via seeding each site could be protected in minutes! Then put a sign up saying "This site has been seeded with 10,000 junk targets. so dig away lads!" and [Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:00 pm] I must admit that i am failing to see any downsides to seeding high status sites... * It can be done in minutes * It costs nothing And the effect will last for thousands of years to come.. I cannot think of a more viable, cost effective, and lasting alternative.

Except scattering the sort of metal objects coming from other sites over a new one creates a false image of the surface content of the site - the site they are supposed to be protecting from interference. "Dig away lads" is in any case exactly what is trying to be prevented. Metal detectorists don't really seem mentally quipped for understanding what the issue is. So the alternative to seeding is stripping:
muddy fingers » Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:46 am [...] why don't Historic England organise a proper metal survey of the scheduled area so that any such statuettes and the like can be retrieved whilst they are still intact. It wouldn't take too long surely for a small army of student archaeologists (whose integrity never seems to be in doubt) to learn how to use a simple metal detector. Once the area had been properly investigated and all metal items removed then the attraction for clandestine searches would be over. [...] [and Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:35 pm]: Night hawkers [sic] need to be made to feel that it's not worth the effort to detect scheduled land, because they know that all artifacts [sic] have long since been removed- something that should happen as a matter of course if archaeologists carried out their jobs more efficiently.

Member "DougieH" (Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:53 am) reckons its a simple matter:
The FLOs in the area would be able to draw up a list of their regular customers that record finds, that they know would be honest. Have 3 or 4 archies to run it, a couple of dozen of their students to log all finds, and have the MDers on the list sweep the site over a weekend. Shouldn't be much left. Could possibly have anything not relevant to the site and not going through the treasure route, returned to the finder to split with the landowner.
Mr "Fingers" has obviously not really worked out what the word "preservation" means. Such is the failure of the system, that the PAS also seems to have been unable to educate him that archaeology is not about "hoiking all the things out". Note the prevailing attitude that this is always something "somebody else" should do, but heaven forbid that there should ever be anything expected of artefact hunters."DougieH" basically has not the foggiest how an archaeological project works, and how much it costs to employ "3 or 4 archies to run it" even if they exploit students "to log finds" made by detectorists who expect to be able to walk off with part of the haul from a Scheduled site. Scheduled Monument Consent will contain no such clause.

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