Tuesday 25 September 2018

"Scotty's Bellingham Dig": What is a PAS Liaison Officer to do?

Scotty Bea 43 min
Welcome to the sight (sic) [.] Andrew agate are (sic) local FLO[.] those who found anything from the dig on Sunday and are not already going to take to there local flo [,] please contact Andrew[.] he there to help any any way possible and is amazing help to (sic)
In Polish we would say 'Kali iść, Kali jeść'. I think the Poles take more pride in the way they use language than many Brits. It turns out that the FLO ["It would be good to get the hoard all together" (sic)] was already in hospital when this Treasure hunting event started, and nobody responsible thought to check on FLO availability and reschedule it for when professional help was actually available. Anyhow, here is my letter this morning (sent before I knew he was in hospital) to the FLO responsible for portable antiquities liaison and outreach in this area:
Dear Mr Agate (FLO)

If I may I’d like to draw your attention to this:

I hope you agree that what is shown by this candid account on a club's open Facebook page is a million miles from the 'best practice' million pound outreach by the PAS and CBA have been trying to attain for several decades now.

According to the facebook page, the FLO was due to visit this site today. I would like to ask what was said to the organizer in this case and how this matter will be taken further. I would also like to know, in the light of the organizer's plea, what steps are being taken to identify those present around this findspot during this digging and to retrieve other objects from the hoard that were removed without being handed in, and what will be done after the statutory 14 days are up.

Quite obviously, the 'best practice' message is just not getting through after all these years. If you look at the detectorists' comments on the facebook page, they are (after twenty years of PAS public outreach) TOTALLY unaware of the issues and what they did badly and could have done differently. They simply lightly dismiss concerns as due to ‘haters’, with no awareness of what is being said about the situation and why.

In particular, I'd draw attention to the comment "It even states on the FLO website that you don't have to wait for them as long as they are informed afterwards". Really? Do you say that? Are you sure that your outreach is presented in a way that facilitates being understood?  Why is there NOT on the PAS website a section about how to secure a sensitive findspot overnight for later more systematic recovery? Did PAS learn absolutely nothing from the Lenborough Hoard farce? When are you people going to get serious about the job of getting real, palpable, best practice results from the entire metal detecting community?

And if you cannot, when will we all admit it and when will this farce STOP and we start thinking about how archaeology should instead respond to the serious erosion of the archaeological record through its willful Collection-Driven Exploitation? How many more decades will you let this go on with smokescreen puff press, a shoulder shrug and avoiding confrontation? I think it is beyond time this question was actually more widely debated.

I have already copied this to Mike Lewis and Mike Heyworth (and also my co-author Nigel Swift).

Paul Barford

I got an automated reply that includes 'Please note that I work part time Tuesdays to Friday', so a metal detecting event taking place on a Sunday cannot expect any FLO support until Tuesday (Mr Bea's "flo will be there 25/9/2018" seems therefore to be a lie - nothing was agreed with an FLO in hospital. Likewise is the claim that the hoard site was guarded by policemen all night a false statement engendered by agarandisement and the fantasy world some detectorists inhabit?).

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