Saturday, 22 July 2017

Another Commercial Organization Eroding the UK's Archaeological Record

Apart from Nigel Jones and his happy band of pay-to-exploit diggers and collectors, there are other ones. Make no mistake, organizing commercial artefact grabfests is a money spinner. Here's another one, Let's Go Digging:
Lets Go Digging was the brainchild of Paul Howard, a detectorist who was becoming aware of the difficulties facing himself and his fellow ‘diggers’ when it came to getting permission to detect on farmland. With the rise in crime and other negative factors, farmers were becoming more and more reluctant to allow strangers on their property. Paul realised that the only way to convince landowners to allow detecting was to commercialise it, to recompense the farmers for allowing groups of people onto his fields. In no time at all, Paul’s venture began to gather pace with hundreds of people joining his Facebook page interested in being part of organised group digs. With the farmers seeing it as a revenue stream for their business, permissions began to increase and recommendations and referrals soon enabled Paul to organise frequent events around his home area in the West Midlands. Lets go Digging’s popularity has now stretched to almost 2000 members and land permissions being offered nationwide. Recently he launched Lets Go Digging (Wales) which is already attracting substantial interest.
They are now active in Wales. The first event in Brecon had a good turnout with 'a great range of coins and artefacts recovered, making the day a success for all' (except the main stakeholders, the British public whose heritage was pocketed).
With over 100 coins unearthed, including a few exceptional hammered silver pennies along with a few Romans and various artifacts (sic), the Brecon Rally was a positive start to the Welsh venture and already Paul has been approached by farmers offering permissions. 
Paul intends to take this venture further South and further North 'as further interest in the hobby is becoming increasingly apparent'.
Paul believes that with group digs, the administration and organisation will result in far better records being maintained of what finds are discovered and where. That landowners will be far more receptive to a respected organisation and that the hobby can be promoted to encourage more people to join in digging the history from beneath their feet.
Our archaeological heritage, our feet. I am sure Mr Howard would like to show us all those records of the 100 coins and other artefacts from the 'Brecon dig' on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Where are they now?

What, though, is happening to the PAS' concept of 'citizen archaeology' as more and more businesses are being set up to commercialise the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Heritage? We've had one off or annual commercial artefact hunting rallies on individual sites, now we are seeing the creation of businesses set up with the explicit purpose of identifying exploitable bits of the archaeological record and setting their paying clients loose on them. Surely, this is making a mockery of the claims of the PAS about 'responsible artefact hunting' (because doing it commercially is as far from a 'responsible' approach to the archaeological record as you can get). Will then a 'responsible' PAS be addressing these problems at any of their conferences any time soon? Don't hold your breath.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.