Sunday, 21 August 2016

An Invitation from the Northern Relic Hunters

Up north of the Watford Gap, I hear they do things differently, like the way they'd send a cordial invitation to go 'metal detecting' with them. It seems the upbringing of the metal detectorist calling himself "Stephen Robinson" was a little lacking in the social graces. He thinks that by calling me silly names and insulting me, he can tempt me out with my metal detector (not used yet) on an artefact hunting trip (aka, "work") with him. Over on the John Winter blog [under the comment where I pointed out why the archaeologist's heart sank after a metal detectorist gleefully exhibited to her a load of naked, loose, ungrounded finds in a bag], he shoots off this gem ( 20 August 2016 at 8:40 pm): 
John, How many hoards have been found by metal detectorists on land that “had” (sic) No interest by Archis? In every trade and profession there are crooks. Even Archis. Yet Ball-ford says all detectorists are this way. Why does Mr Barf-ford have to tar everyone with the same brush? If he would like to come out from hiding in Poland and pop over to the uk I invite him to spend a couple of days with me to show him the work the honest lot put in. He won’t do that though because he has something against the PAS and now detectorists. I think it’s due to him not getting the Job with the PAS as chief tea boy and he’s took it to heart. Paul. Lighten up and broaden your vision on the hobby. If people dig deep enough they will find dirt on any profession… Just remember that
One wonders just what this guy thinks he's achieving, beyond giving his similarly blank-minded  "M8s" something to guffaw about. 
1 - Firstly the comment which the tekkies were trying, and failing abjectly, to discuss was not about illegal activity, but about the way that many of the so-called 'honest lot' go about doing their collecting. That means his reply got off on the wrong foot straight away,
2 - The question of how many otherwise unthreatened hoards have been recovered and then require expensive purchase, analysis, conservation, proper publication and storage is totally irrelevant to this issue but a deflection.
- that archaeologists have been known to steal objects is not at all connected with this issue either (but is it intended to act as a Two Wrongs justification?),
3 - I criticise artefact hunters on the basis of what their hobby is doing to the archaeological record and public perceptions of archaeology. I have never considered that all artefact hunters are thieves. It must be said that t, though many of them by not treating the archaeological resource properly in pursuit of their self-centred aims are leading to the destruction of information which it is entirely fair to label 'knowledge theft'.
4 - I live (not hide) in Poland, in the centre of Europe. We have metal detectors here too. We have people who know how to use them. I have "been out with" them a number of times in the past thirty years. I have used the services of these people and their machines on two of my archaeological projects, watched them work and had ample occasion to assess just how useful (or not) they actually are in the type of work I was doing. In the survey they were essential, on the excavation I was less enthused. I really do not see why I need to go all the way to visit Mr "Rob-inson" to learn what I more or less know anyway. 
5  - I'd have nothing "against" the PAS if they'd just engage in honest discussions, archaeologist to archaeologist, about the issues that they, and only they, can do something about but do not. 
6 - I have never applied for a job with the PAS as a teaboy or anything else. I can do the finds work no problem, but dealing with the likes of a "Mr Robbing-some" all the time might try my patience. 
7 - I think one cannot really accuse me, after fifteen years of studying it, of not having a broad view of artefact hunting and collecting. It's time to write the book.  
What is pretty galling is the way this guy assumes that the only reason somebody could possibly have criticism of artefact hunting and collecting is that they "do not know what I know". Because he has been told by the PAS spin-machine (and is incapable of weighing up the degree to which it is true) that artefact hunting and archaeology are in some way the same, he cannot see that those who express concerns about policies on the hobby are coming to the issue from a different position entirely. The only ignorance in question here is his own, failing to appreciate what the issues raised are. And here the thread of comments on the metal detectorists' blog is instructive. An article was published in a national newspaper. Its readers mostly seem to have understood the point made about detecting (the 300 comments under the article focus on other issues). Yet a metal detectorist reading it three months later did not understand what was being said, and then blogged about his misconceptions, and despite having it pointed out what the issue was, the comments of his fellows under it veer off wildly in a totally different direction - completely oblivious. It is with the lack of the facility for critical thinking among most metal detectorists in the UK that the difficulty lies. And what will, or can, the PAS do about this?

He  Mr "Robbin-some" is a member of the Northern Relic Hunters but you will not be able to see all the "good things" they do, because their forum is "private". Obviously got a lot to hide from the British public whose historical heritage its 790 members are pocketing bits of. But here they are in action....

Posted on You Tube by Raki Man 24.06.2014
.... I think that more or less clinches it. This really does not encourage me to fly over from Warsaw on the off-chance that I might 'learn' something from these representatives of the 'honest lot'.

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". 

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