Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Britain's Wibby-Wobbly Treasure Results

A couple of months ago, the British Museum refused to say how many Treasure finds had been reported in 2019 when I asked in connection with the series of posts that I made on some observations of the dropping numbers of Treasure finds being reported in relation to the increased numbers of metal detectorists. Now we have those figures and we can see why. First the posts to which I refer, check them out:
Saturday, 11 January 2020: 'PAS and Ixelles/Helsinki supporters, You REALLY need to Explain This!'

Sunday, 12 January 2020: 'PAS's Preliminary Figures for 2019 Treasure Finds Shockingly Low [UPDATED: Don't Worry, It's Just a Lack of PAS Transparency]' (the search facility of the PAS database gave a false result - see the post of 14th Jan)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: ' Treasure Trace: Why does it go Wibble-wobble-blip?

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 'Speculation on 2019 Treasure case Numbers' (and, see below, I got it RIGHT - ha!).
and what was it they were hiding? Only this (a bit of a cop-out article, this): ' British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year' (Mark Brown, Guardian Tue 17 Mar 2020 ).
The British Museum on Tuesday announced that 1,311 finds which are defined as treasure had been found by members of the public across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019. In total, 81,602 finds were recorded with the portable antiquities scheme. [...] The culture minister, Caroline Dinenage, said it was brilliant so many were going on display in local museums. “Each one of these valuable discoveries tells us more about the way our ancestors lived and I want to congratulate all those who played a part in helping uncover more about our shared history.”
But of course when you put those numbers in their context, they tell a tale of destruction. But who gives a tinkers about that when you've got so many glittery bits?

I am sure the metal detectorists are going to say "but it's oop on larst yeer, M8!" but I'd draw attention to the phrase in the third post cited above, a technical term used in statistics, its a "wibble-wobble-blip" that suggests that going out with a metal detector and just finding a Treasure is not the "shooting fish in a barrel' activity that it once was. The treasure is running out. It remains to be seen if the coronavirus epidemic will have much of an effect on depressing Treasure find numbers in 2020, even if it does not, it really seems that there ARE questions to be asked about current UK 'policy' (I use the term loosely) on Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record. The longer it goes on  the longer that totally ignoring the evidence that it is already severely depleting the resource becomes a scandal.What are British archaeologists playing at?

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