Sunday, 7 October 2018

Nigel Swift: "I beg to differ with PAS"

Nigel Swift comments: 'I beg to Differ with PAS':
Smash a display case in the British Museum and it would be front page news. Do the equivalent in a field and it’s pretty much a secret. How come? The answer is simple: PAS. It was set up simply to educate yet from the start it has minimised the public’s awareness of the damage and its scale. As a result the public’s knowledge is stolen daily on a massive scale and the public isn’t told. 
Reference is made to the Bellingham case, raised on this blog two weeks ago and the dismissively mollifying comments of the PAS FLO covering up for the bad practice of yet another bunch of artefact hunters, explaining that nobody had told them what bad practice was.  That is rich coming from the PAS, whose job it is to pass on that information - and what better way of doing that than publicly making an example of some excruciatingly bad practice by ignorami without consciences that led to knowledge loss? How dare the PAS not say anything now, as they'd not said anything about knowledge theft for 20 public-funded years? Heritage Action are among the few that have spoken out about the Detector Lie. 
We first said so in 2005 when 480 acquisitive people told an elderly Lord close to Avebury don’t worry we all report our finds to PAS. It was a lie that has been repeated ever since. Yet PAS attacks us for saying so – we don’t understand, we exaggerate, we should “get on the train to Liaisonville”. (Yes, seriously! Many times!) Just last week a FLO said our article  is “fake news”, “a sham”, “click bait” and “full of half-truths and outright lies”. (Please read it. Is it?)
The PAS seems grossly to misunderstand the situation, Nigel Swift eloquently explains his own position:

As always I am resentful: we’re member of the public and stakeholders and hold that our mantra “ordinary people caring for extraordinary places” applies not just to visible monuments but to buried archaeology. Plus we DO know what we’re talking about, I’ve studied detecting for 2 decades, far longer than most FLOs. Here are 450 articles, 3 million words I’ve written about it, not because I hate detecting or my mother was frightened by a detectorist but because I’m hopelessly infected by a conviction that mass non reporting is mass knowledge theft. It’s happening every week, entirely legally, a British cultural scandal and cultural loss and someone ought to highlight it weekly if PAS won’t. And no, PAS, praising the good guys does NOT change that reality, or convert the others, it hides it and provides the perfect environment for it to flourish as all can see. [...] We believe the large scale damage and the ignorance should be known to every farmer, every taxpayer and every stakeholder – as it’s their cultural knowledge that is being silently destroyed and nothing detectorists or PAS say will change that truth.
I think the appalling accusation that those who raise concerns about the scale and effects of the damage being done under the PAS umbrella to the British archaeological record by collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record for personal entertainment and profit is any kind of “fake news”, or “a sham”, “click bait” or “full of half-truths and outright lies” is atrocious. If I were head of the PAS anybody working for me that would write like that about a fellow archaeologist would get a warning and be out on their ear if they did it again. I am not, and the person who is, probably could not give a tinkers. The PAS on his watch is sinking anyway.

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