Sunday, 9 July 2017

"Michael Lewis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Will Explain How the PAS has been so Successful Throughout Europe"

Members of European Council for Metal Detecting will meet in the historical English city of Norwich (Norfolk area of East Anglia), in the splendid surroundings of Norwich Castle Museum and Maids Head Hotel, between Friday the 22nd of September and Sunday the 24th of September 2017. [...] ECMD represents metal detectorists from 11 countries, members of many different clubs and federations. [...] it will be an opportunity to exchange points of view, share experiences and information about positive as well as negative issues related to metal detecting in our respective countries. During the Conference a special metal detecting rally will be organised, during which an archaeologist will be present who will record all finds, there will be presentation on latest techniques of GPS finds recording and documentation and a raffle will take place with many great prizes. [...] Conference motto is: Responsible Metal Detecting – advancing the protection of our heritage. More updates soon.
Archaeologists should be pointing out to these people that Responsible Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record does not exist. The conference avoids this by using a euphemism ('metal detecting'). The whole process is destructive of the archaeological record and merely results in selected items entering scattered ephemeral personal collections - which are for the most part inadequately documented and archived. This is as true for England and wales as it is for all the other countries being pillaged for collectables by ECMD members (listed as Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, France, Denmark, Croatia, Spain, Ireland, Jersey etc.)  in which what they are doing is often totally illegal. The ECMD exists to make it legal to exploit archaeological sites and assemblages for personal collecting. 

Liam Nolan tells forum members more about this special rally:
Land should be very good, hopefully a lot of it and undetected, but cannot promise on that. I am working on a minimum of one acre per person. Day 1 might have around 80 acres, Day 2 that same land PLUS another 80 acres, Day 3, all that land PLUS another 80 acres. So something fresh for each day. [...] Location- "somewhere in Norfolk" More details to follow as we negotiate with farmers. [...]  Nearer the time if there are any local detectorists who may be able to help out with accommodation, then that will help. I am sure the gesture will be reciprocal. The proceeds from the detecting will help to finance the work of the ECMD throughout Europe to look after our hobby and create a European Detecting Community. This is an ideal opportunity to meet new friends and perhaps plan some overseas detecting later on. The ECMD Conference will have some guest speakers, perhaps Michael Lewis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme who will explain how the PAS has been so successful throughout Europe. 
Nothing is said about arrangements for obtaining export licences for any finds those 'overseas visitors' will make while plundering Britain's archaeological record over '240 acres' of previously undetected land, by law (as any so-called 'responsible detectorist' should know) they are needed for archaeological material of this nature. Not that all artefact hunters understand (or respect) the legal issues connected with the movement of finds between countries. Not very far at all from Norfolk-based Mr Nolan is a recent case: from May 2013,  '900 looted artefacts recovered in Norfolk'' with more on this here:  'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Criminal gangs Trafficking Stolen Antiques Between Ireland and Britain' (and  the person responsible - though apparently known to the British Museum - was never charged, and for all we know is still active in British 'metal detecting'). You would think after this notorious case, Norfolk detectorists like Mr Nolan would be sensitive to such issues.

I think it is pretty disgusting that Norwich Castle Museum is allowing this event to take place on its property. People who go metal detecting and hoik out artefacts from the archaeological record for private collecting in many of the countries listed are, by the law of the land, acting illegally. They are no better than 'nighthawks', yet Norwich Castle Museum indiscriminately welcomes them within its doors.  There is no way to make an illegal act 'responsible'. What are they thinking? As for Mike Lewis turning up and trumpeting his team's  "success throughout Europe", it is equally disgusting, given the context.  Also he did the same thing at the ECMD's inuguration in a Birmingham airport hotel. How many times can he deliver the same talk before these oafs notice? The archaeological outreach of the PAS (if such a thing exists any more) should be pointing out that the PAS exists because of a deficiency in British law and that the 'voluntary reporting' of finds removed from the archaeological record by Collection-Driven Exploitation falls far short of what is pocketed by these (ahem) "responsible detectorists". Mike Lewis taking part in yet another ECMD meeting is a huge statement on what a travesty the Portable Antiquities Scheme has become.

The ECMD exist, its website says to: Promote, Protect and Encourage [Metal Detecting, including the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record]. Should Mike Lewis, the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Norfolk Museums Service be "promoting and encouraging" the Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record and helping protect those who do it illegally? I think not. Why should they and delegates at a conference in Brexiting England try to influence the way the law works in other sovereign nations such as Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, and France? From this point of view, one might even say that the sooner we kick arrogant, interfering Bonkers Britain out of Europe, the better.

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