Monday 10 February 2020

Another Bit of Bonkers British Churnalism About Trashing Archaeology

Serious puzzles: What is the
matter with British journalists? 
This one is paywalled to save you from having to read all of its its breathlessly enthusiastic fluffiness: Laura Freeman, 'Hurrah for the heroic detectorists digging up our heritage' Telegraph, 7th Feb 2020.
Ring pull, Coke can, house keys… jackpot! All over Britain, in bogs and back gardens, from Hadrian’s Wall to Rochester Castle, amateur archaeologists are unearthing our island’s ancient Roman past. For every damp squib of a KitKat wrapper there’s always the chance that the insistent beep-beep-beep of the metal detector will reveal the whereabouts of a lost Carausian hoard. Best of all, you get to hang on to the loot. According to the Treasure Act of 1996, it’s (mostly) finders keepers. Which would be Gollum-ish and miserly if detectorists weren’t such a sharing bunch. Since 1997, more than 1.48million artefacts have been voluntarily declared to the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. A new book, 50 Roman Finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme collects some of the best, from a bearded bronze bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius to the [so-called PMB] Crosby Garrett cavalry helmet found by an unnamed man – or woman – in [he said, PMB] Cumbria. I like that “unnamed.” No fuss, no glory, just a cool £2.3million from the Christie’s auction house sale....
Right, Ms Freeman, bogs are not places the Code of Practice says looters should be looting the archaeological record for collectables. Hadrian's Wall and Rochester Castle are protected sites, that means your "heroes" are going to be doing something illegal digging holes in them, Treasure or no Treasure. Most of them have detectors with discrimination function so they'll not be finding KitKat foil, but targeting real archaeological artefacts,  on real "productive sites". They are not "amateur archaeologists" - archaeology is something very different from what this lot do. You DO understand the Treasure Act do you?  You may like that "unnamed" helmet-finder, the rest of us think there should be more transparency, there are a few questions some of us would like to ask the duo (nota bene) that took this thing to an auction house. I understand a journalist of the calibre of the author of this fluff piece might not really want to bother....

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Agree with all you say; also deprecate the use of "hero" in the original article. Why is this miserable paper using such nonsensical space fillers?

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