Sunday 9 February 2020

Lessons the Brits Fail to Learn: The Ransacking of Boxted

Fluffbrains with metal detectors keep insisting that artefact hunting is producing lots of information about the sites exploited. This week, Heritage Action addresses the reality behind the rhetorical puff ('Metal detecting: the ransacking of Boxted' Heritage Journal 09/02/2020), using the example of ten massive commercial metal detecting rallies on the same farm near my sister's place in the decade since 2010. Despite the numbers of artefacts being found (because otherwise, why serially loot the same patch of land?)
and yet … by 2018 only 23 artefacts from there had appeared in the PAS database! Is that OK with you dear Reader? Ten years of industrial-scale exploitation for commercial gain and oodles of knowledge theft?
If one searches the PAS 'database' ("1,481,236 objects within 945,342 records"), you can tick the "rally finds" box and discover that the listing includes just "25,733 objects within 16,834 records"... 

Maybe unconcerned archaeological supporters of collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record will tell you how many rallies have been held in England and Wales since the nationwide PAS started in 2003. They will not, but we may note that since 2005, the PAS 'knows of' 543 rallies. That's 36 a year, but the probably actual number is quite a bit higher (especially including commercial 'club digs' and 'metal detecting holidays').

 In 2019, the  PAS saw artefacts from just five rallies they knew about:
Detectival 2019 Saturday 14th -15th September 2019  View all 313 records from this rally  Medway History Finders, Sheppey 2019 Friday 30th August 2019 Sunday 1st September 2019 View all 1 records from this rally CTTS High Melton Thursday 22nd August 2019 Sunday 25th August 2019  No records of any artefacts have been entered yet on the database.  Joan Allen Lenham August 2019 Saturday 3rd - Sunday 4th August 2019 View all 9 records from this rally. Spring Detectival 2019. Saturday 6th April 2019 Sunday 7th April 2019  View all 608 records from this rally.
This is an average of 186 finds per rally, but note the difference between 'Detectival' figures and the others, these rallies have had 6-700 attendees in 2018-9). All the rest of the artefacts ripped from these fields were simply pocketed.  Ask the unconcerned archaeological supporters of collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record how many that might be. I doubt they will deign to tell you.

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