Friday, 5 October 2018

Beach detecting

The post above, by Hougenai refers to some comments I made about 'beach detecting' and revealed that, although I am a great advocate of getting some proper terminology in place to discuss collection-driven exploitation opf the archaeological record, he (correctly) finds me guilty myself of vague use of terminology.  What I had in mind when using the term 'beach [metal detecting]' is in fact just part of the phenomenon.

What I had in mind was the searching of freshly-deposited sand for (and only for) the lost loose change, costume jewellery bling, and Dinky toys left in the past few days or weeks previously by sunbathing tourists lounging around on the sand. This is "Sustainable Metal Detecting" because what is taken away is replaced by the next batch of tourists and washed up and moved around by the next high tide.

Here's the sort of thing I had in mind, from tekkie John Howland's stamping ground in Bournemouth:
posted on You Tube by Minelab Mal 10 maj 2012

and here is Mr Howland himself, pretending he did not bury the IKEA spoon: and getting excited about pennies and 20ps...

I am afraid there's not we can do about the inane ('guys', 'guys', 'guys') banter of You-tube-detectorists mould.... still, it's entertaining if nothing else.

There is a legal issue here, depending on the position of the recovered material on the shore with respect tidal reach (and who is the actual owner of a section of the beach, quite a lot has private owners too). Another problem is UK lost property legislation, so I am not saying that this kind of metal  detecting is squeaaky clean, but al least it is (as it says on the box), pure metal detecting. 

Obviously, if as Hougenai states, lasting environmental damage as done, then I cannot condone it. In the case where any archaeological damage is done, that is just CDE in its terrestial incarnation transferred to somewhere soggier. In my British past I used to do a lot of coastal survey (Essex Red Hills were my thing) and came across sites damaged by collectors (Canvey Island a tragic case in point) and agree totally: 
These sites are now under threat from the coastal processes associated with sea level rise, increases in scale and frequency of storms, they require the same systematic approach of recording and rescue, not a detecting free for all, simply because it's on a beach. 
So, what terminology could we use to make clearer what kind of metal detector use on a beach is acceptable/sustainable, and what is not? PAS? 
Sustainable Metal Detecting, Sustainable Metal Detecting, Sustainable Metal Detecting, Sustainable Metal Detecting.

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