Sunday, 5 August 2018

For the Avoidance of Doubt, in UK Artefact Hunting, it is not just the So-called "Charity Rallies" that are a Racket

A heritage-snatcher says that the valuation and remuneration of the value of finds made on a recent rally he ran 'full (sic) into the NCMD recommendations'. Wassatt then? Well, it seems to be this document: 'National Council for Metal Detecting Member of: The Sport and Recreation Alliance MODEL SEARCH AGREEMENT', which inauspiciously starts: 'I..... being the owner / occupier of land premises known as...' (the occupier has no say in the matter).

This document predictably (instead of defining conservation-based ethical and responsible - sustainable- artefact hunting) immediately starts talking of the money, it seems the old notions of the 'Treasure hunter' die hard:
'...agree that in consideration of the payment to the landowner / occupier of ............% of the value or rewards arising from the recovery of any property or objects found by the undersigned [herein after called the licensee(s)] over the value of £ ....... ........ , the licensee(s) may enter the said land or part thereof to search for items of buried or other material, whether antique or modern'. 
A point of contention is the blank space for 'over the value of...'. Surely the landowner (NOT the 'occupier') has the right to veto the licensees pocketing anything at all from his land, irrespective of its value (and the agreement does not set out any form of protocol for valuing any item found). In any case maybe he landowner is not interested in getting five quid for the sale of a small fragment of Roman bracelet or pin, but if the metal detectorists finds 437 of them or small 'minor' items of similar value and disposes of those of them that are duplicate to his growing collection (which also has a financial value that somebody at some time will realise), this document in its present form denies the landowner of the percentage of cumulative 437x5 quid profit (that's over 2000 quid he's asked to simply give away).

Note that, despite the recommendations of the '2009 Nighthawking Report' (which the NCMD did not endorse of course), there is no mention here of the documentation of the transfer of title from the property owner to the collector of each item removed from the property.  

This dodgy NCMD 'Model Search [and take] Agreement' then goes on to state that one of the provisos of any individual agreement continuing in force is that
'The licensee(s) shall always observe and adhere to the Code of Conduct as set out by the NCMD which is a condition of membership and include s reference to the voluntary Code of Practise (sic) for Responsible Metal Detecting (See overleaf)...'
In fact 'overleaf' in its present form is not the CPRMD at all, but the 'shut-the-gates' NCMD one and way down in that is written that members should 'acquaint' (sic) themselves merely 'with the terms and definitions used in the following documents: [...] (3) The voluntary Code of Practise (sic) for Responsible Metal Detecting to which the NCMD is an endorsee'. Well, actually in its current (2017) form, it is not in fact - an element of the current form of the detecting racket that is not reflected in the unrevised NCMD document two years on. The same old lies are being told and passed on to the landowners. As far as I am aware nobody has been expelled from the NCMD for not being 'acquainted' with a document that the NCMD no longer endorses.

Another proviso for the agreement remaining valid is
(4). The licensee(s) shall record finds made on the said land with third parties including The Portable Antiquities Scheme ( PAS ), Historic Environment Records (HER ) or any museum service only after gaining the appropriate permission of the landowner to do so and then only to an accuracy of findspots that all parties are comfortable with. 
This is rather ridiculous, because if recording of finds is made one of the provisions of the agreement being signed, 'gaining the appropriate permission of the landowner to do so' is a superfluous provision. The very fact that the landowner has signed that he'll allow these people to hoik archaeological artefacts out of their land on condition that they allow the evidence of what they've taken to be entered in a public record already conveys the landowners permission to do so - since he's made it a condition. Joined-up thinking was never an attribute strongly represented in the British artefact hunting milieu.

But note those 'third party' recorders only 'include' (but need not be) the Portable Antiquities Scheme (Cf what the CPRMD says, its what puts the 'R' in it for goodness' sake).

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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