Sunday 31 May 2020

Lockdown Looting Facilitated by UK Culture Department

On a metal detecting forum near you and seen from all over Europe (not just Poland) we all learn that in the UK the NCMD has been lobbying the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport DCMS for a Dominic Cummings exception to current lockdown rules for artefact hunters too, to allow a quick return of exploitative commercial rallies. So far, in a forum posting made a few hours ago they've only managed to puff up the government's announcement of Thu 28 May 2020 that groups of up to six people would allowed to meet in England from Monday 1st June as their own achievement. All the Baz Thugwits of the forums (who don't read the papers it seems) are delirious.

 It is worth noting this is happening while the UK papers are reporting that there are currently 54,000 new cases a week (for comparison, the total number of cases from the beginning of March in Poland, 40 million people, today is is 23,571). Johnson's move seems rash, but the metal detectorists don't care. They think only of getting out there and grabbing as much of the past as will fit in their pockets.

The conservation group Heritage Action  (PAS’s commitment to archaeology is about to be tested in public! 31/05/2020) note the DCMS's response
"I [sic] will further investigate the situation as it relates to commercial rallies [the DCMS actually used the term!] and get back to you as soon as possible. As lockdown measures are eased we will continue to update you, and the guidance, so that your members are able to safely enjoy [ripping up and pocketing the nation's archaeological heritage]"
the DCMS used a euphemism instead of that last bit, but the meaning is clear.

Heritage Action note that:
Given that most detectorists and most archaeologists (including PAS) disapprove of commercial detecting rallies on the grounds they are particularly damaging, not to mention morally dubious, it is to be hoped the answer is a resounding NO. Interestingly, just about the only “further investigation” the DCMS will be undertaking is to ask PAS what they think. We can but hope that PAS has the testicular fortitude to tell them!
I think we can safely assume that the shrinking violets of Bloomsbury (some of whom seem to be in the thrall of collectors anyway) are going to say with trembling lower lips and shoulders sagging in helpless resignation, "yy-ess, yes, go ahead, but pleeeease show us what-yer-got". This is how England preserves its archaeological record, in artefact hunters' pockets.

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