Wednesday 8 April 2020

UK Metal Detecting Some candid Statistics for the First Three Months of 2020

What artefacts are in those scrap buckets?
On a metal detecting forum near you, and to juxtapose with the thread on the man with a shedful of unlabelled and unsorted metal detected items, here is an informative thread, started by this post: Your Seasons stats (Post by Dave The Slave » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:07 pm)
As we are now finished for the season, how did you do ? Detecting trips,hours searching, items dug, FLO possibilities ? Expenses incurred, Miles travelled, Travelling time ? Were you happy with your season ? Better start the ball rolling myself. Here we go.
Visits: 19
Hours Detecting: 67
Items dug: 578
FLO possibilities: 1 [emoticon]
Expenses incurred: 38 Gallons of Petrol, 1 burst tyre, 4 sets of batteries. Aprox 300 quid.
Time travelling : 45hrs.
2000 miles roughly.
Season was disappointing in that nothing went back further than a 1721 Halfpenny. Only 7 coins, 3 Dec = 4p, 1x pre Dec 6d, 3 x Georgian Halfpennies.
Mainly 20th Century items, with some WW2 bits at the end of the season.
Only missed 2 potential visits, as it was heavy rain and wind. Definitely the wettest and windiest conditions have detected in.
Detecting Maize stubble was a nightmare, although better than nowhere. Got into the rhythm of 3 sweeps and lift, for each row. See what next season brings, if and when.
Cheers all and stay safe, ::g Dave.
This detectorist therefore has only found material that is later than the nominal 300-year cutoff point of the Treasure Act (and therefore PAS), sees only one potential recordable item. Dave has done 67 detecting hours in 19 trips since the beginning of the season, 578 items dug. Note the emphasis on coins rather than artefacts.

Another expresses the same ethos:
by PinkFloyd » Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:06 pm
God I’ve no idea about anything apart from hammered count, 58 since January 2019
That's 3.8 hammered coins a month (so a year's haul would be 46). Note no mention of anything else dug and kept/discarded. Another adds
Post by spazzyken » Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:26 pm
Well that took some doing but gave me something to do, I also log everything and save pics of the days finds and record them in the relevant folders I also email all the finds for the day to the land owners as they are as keen as me. 98% of my digs are done with string lines regardless of field size as in my opinion this is the best way to detect, I would love to go on a permission where they just wonder [wander?] as I could do it with my lines and show what they have missed. OK here are the stats cheers ken
Finds 1105
Trips 14  Miles 1650   Hours 126
Finds william 111 sixpence, hammereds 7, romans 4, gold quarter guinea and a Gold stater Flo items 2
Fuel a few quid in deisel
To summarise, 126 detecting hours in 14 trips since the beginning of the season, 1105 items dug. Note again the emphasis on coins rather than artefacts. Also that although among them are 12 recordable coins (Roman, Medieval, stater), he sees only "two" that he'll be showing the PAS FLO (how reliable are the 'data' in the PAS 'database' of what is actually being found?). The same member gives in the signature field of his post gives a rundown of what he sees as the significant finds:
Post by spazzyken » Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:26 pm [...] 2018
Roman finds x43
Silver x5
Roman silver x6
Hammered. X7
Gold x1

Roman coins x7
Silver x1
Hammered x9
Bronze axe x1

Silver x1
Hammered x7
Romans x4
Gold quarter guinea 1762
full Gold stater
And once again, though 'Roman finds' and a 'bronze [age?] axe are mentioned, once again, this artefact hunter and collector is only interested in the cois. How much of the rest of the artefactual material from the sites he searches ends up in the scrap bucket and being melted down? 'Oxgirl' ('a Lancastrian living in sunny Oxfordshire') comments (Oxgirl36 Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:38 pm):
I thought I’d had a poor start to the year, but actually I did much better than I thought [emoticon]
Hours detecting 50-60
Gold - 1 ring
Silver - 2 cufflinks (1 x 18th and 1 x 20th century)
1 silver thimble remnant (treasure item)
1 roman
3 milled (2 William III and 1 Vicki)
4 hammered (2 pennies, 1 half, 1 cut quarter)
Recordable items - about 35 (22 already with the FLO)
Distance travelled - about 70 miles in total
Oxgirl has done 50-60 detecting hours in ?? trips since the beginning of the season, ?? items dug, but of them, three are potential Treasure items, 32 are recordable, and once again, note the emphasis on (Treasure and) coins rather than artefacts. Then we have this one:
Post by Mancave-man » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:51 pm
Don't normally do a count up but as others have, can't say how many hours detecting, travelling, cost etc but I did find 60 hammered and denarius in 2019 and that includes 3 months when I got nowt and a further 14 for so far this year (2020). Not all good-uns though but they all count as they say [emoticon] All recordable too [emoticon]
Three months in 2019 when he "got nowt" [nothing] sounds a bit like he means "no coins" doesn't it? Sixty hammered medieval coins in a year (and 14 in the first three months of 20202) is five a month. Again, no mention about other artefacts. The next one:
by Ten pence! » Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:03 am
22 items that will be going to the Suffolk FLO, 18 going to the Norfolk, I'd guess about five kilos of lead and about the same of mixed brass, 79 hammered silver, no gold this season and for some reason a bumper year for rose farthings, and as for fuel costs and number of times I went out? No idea, as I don't count that, but it was less than last year thanks to the ground being so wet and muddy. [emoticon]
Again, note the enumeration of the coins, and just lumping the rest of the artefacts (of all periods, but - regardless of whether the finder was cap[able of recognising them as such - some obviously contemporary with the coins) are just disregarded as "about five kilos of lead and about the same of mixed brass". But 40 recordable items fond in just this season. Another post in the thread adds:
by Dave8472 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:19 am
OK here is my data [emoticon], [emoticon]
Likewise a difficult start to the year due to many places being water logged. I did get out on a few paid digs but mainly stuck to my own pasture sites.
Total amount of digs : 28 over 4 counties
Detecting time added up : 94 Hours
Miles walked (GPS) : 50.8 (I think the amount is lower due to gps errors)
Dig costs minus fuel, including annual gifts to a couple of my landowners : £136
PAS recorded : 7
Best finds : 1 Hammered, 1 Gold Half Sov, 11 Milled Silver and 1 Silver Ring
Digging on pasture... This Dave has done 94 detecting hours in 28 trips since the beginning of the season, ??? items dug. Quite happy to accept that the GPS he is using to plot locations of sites has an 'error' in it (data quality control by PAS totally non-existent). Note the emphasis on coins rather than artefacts.

So, what is going in those scrap buckets? And why did PAS spend all that time and money producing finds guides when it seems that many (most?) artefact hunters are really only interested in the coins (and Treasure)? What value are the 'data' produced and recorded at huge public expense in the PAS 'database', what is it actually a reflection of, if not the attitudes and ignorance of the finders that produce the stuff from which iitems are selected (according to totally unspecified an regionally variable criteria)?

It did not always use to be like this. When Heritage Action and I were putting together the data on average finds rates which lie at the basis of the original HA artefact erosion counter, it was on the basis of precisely posts like this (as well as enormous numbers of posted accounts with photos of of 'look what I found today/ yesterday/ last weekend / at the XX Rally'). we took into account that not everybody went out so frequently, and that not everyone found the same amount. But what was noticeable that back then, finders were posting and mentioning more artefacts. Today there has been a shift in attitudes, they are far more interested (and prone to brag about) just their coin finds. Coins are easy to understand, have pictures and writing on them, but it is the artefacts that they are also ripping out of the archaeological record that are the evidence that we are losing to this erosive hobby.

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