Friday, 5 October 2018

Important, Please Read. Guest Post on Beach Detecting

This initially came as a comment, but I thought the topic so important that I'd ask the author to allow its use as a guest post. Hougenai wrote:
Hi Paul, In your recent posts I note that you do not object (so much) to the use of detectors on beaches and riverine situations. I would like to draw your attention to a few points;

1) Environmental damage; In my area of Furness 95% of the borough's coast is designated as variously, Special Protection Areas (SPA), RAMSAR, National Nature reserves (NNR) or  Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), this includes large intertidal areas with significant avifaunal interest. Disturbance by flocks of detectorists, if increasing, could easily effect this interest. Similarly we have problems with our rivers, rare invertebrate populations are already in decline in many areas, are likely to suffer under increased disturbance by people churning up river gravels, boulders etc .

2) Archaeology does not stop where the tide comes in; My own interest in the environment and archaeology is 'coastal'. I took it upon myself to investigate and record sites of interest in the littoral. These mainly relate to 'Environmental' sites eg various faunal footprints, skeletal remains, peat 'lenses' and prehistoric sites 'under threat from sea level rise'. This is due to my primary interest in both prehistoric archaeology and the environment. The current rate of erosion has undoubtedly increased (120m of land has disappeared along one section of the Walney coast since 2005) but there is good evidence of coastal variation since the glacial retreat. Some archaeological sites, from various periods, may well have been on higher ground that have tumbled into the sea and now exist only as a scatter of associated small finds, but some , low lying at the time of inundation, have simply been covered by a relatively shallow 'beach' and are as secure as a site in a riverine valley covered with a few feet of colluvium . A relevant example is the Roman Cemetery 'up the coast' at Beckside (often now targeted by our mates with coils). 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.

3) Defining what is a 'beach' is a whole issue in itself. Mean High Water Mark (MHWM) is generally shown on the maps, but where is that on the ground when the beach itself is mobile? We have some wonderful shingle structures in this area. These can change , almost literally(littorally-pun) overnight (I witnessed the formation of a new extension ridge on North Walney in the late 80's, A section 2m high, 10-15 wide, 100m long appeared overnight during a storm). In many places the MHWM is nothing more than an a line in the sand with no clear demarcation on the ground. Many people in this area would consider the sand dune systems as much 'beach' as the sand and shingles of the intertide. Nature reserves on the dunes in this area have a considerable archaeological as well as natural heritage. We occasionally get the odd detectorist, but in general (one hopes thanks to efforts of myself and others) they are known as protected sites, encouraging any 'beach detecting' would undoubtedly increase those wandering into the dunes, under the pretence 'I thought this was the beach.
Thanks Hougenai, for that useful correction. I'll make a few points in answer below.

No comments:

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