Tuesday 30 June 2020

PAS Cymru to Fight Poverty, Gender and Racial Inequalities Now?

Detectorist and Finders survey
Deep Digging in Wales
Ruth Garnault Consultancy, have been appointed to evaluate the current structure, provision and funding of PAS Cymru. We are asking for your views on PAS Cymru. This will help us develop options for the future of the service. [...] . Time is short to produce the report and we would be very grateful if you could complete this form by 6th July. A Welsh version is here: https://forms.gle/8dudCmnmiQA4knBWA. You can be anonymous if you wish.
Seems open to abuse... It is not clear whether these results will be made public and in what form so that the British public can see what is happening to the archaeological heritage. Now, why is PASCymru being treated as a "service" for "finders and detectorists"? The questions are dotty. There are the usual crap ones you'd expect in a survey obviously intended to generate PAS spin. In the section Current strengths and weaknesses of PAS Cymru we read:
"As part of the work to deliver the aims described in the introduction, a core role of PAS Cymru is to record finds. Staff photograph, report on and then return the object. Significant finds would normally be best looked after in accredited museums, which also protects them for future generations. Part of the staff role is to instil this understanding of responsible finding".
There, of course, being "no other"?

Above all there are some questions about "what PAS does for you" in which the survey omits the fundamental questions  "do you record artefacts that you find with the PAS/how many/ do you use any other means of recording finds/ what are the reasons that [if any]  you do not record some of your finds with the PAS?  Indeed (to establish the scale of operation of PASCymru in the future), "in an average year (pre-covid) how many recordable finds would you be making?"

 But it gets dottier:
What could PAS Cymru do to make a better Wales? (For example, people be healthier, more prosperous, have a better understanding of our culture and heritage, have stronger communities - or anything else you might want to say.)
What does PAS Cymru do now in poorer communities? What else could it do?
and the verbal gymnastics involved in determining "how you think about your gender" and "ethininicity" [sic] (looking forward to seeing the results of that one). Nothing here about education or literacy levels or computer savviness (online recording and dissemination). It seems the Consultancy has been tasked with finding out how to "make PASCymru more inclusive" - but before they do that, they need to find out whether the main source of the finds, the activity of "metal detecting" in fact is "inclusive". I suggest that it most certainly is not, so what are the Welsh planning to do? Find ways of getting LGBT+ people and members of ethnic minorities to get involved in collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record? Eh? Why? We need to be curbing this destructive activity, not getting more and more people doing it...

Not a question here about the Code of Practice or attitudes to what it says about detecting on pasture/grassland, or about whether the detectorist only searches in Wales and what happens bout recording of finds made outside the country.

What also is missing is anything asking "finders and detectorists" what they see as the future of PASCymru when the funding stops (as seems increasingly likely). What alternatives do THEY see? In fact, how many finds are they making a year and how many of them are they reporting? Such a statistic would be vital to determining what the effects of cutting (or altering) the Scheme would be. There is a difference between cutting a scheme where only one-in-eight finds gets recorded (which is what I currently think is about the figure for England and Wales as a whole) and one where six out of eight are (in fact unachievable).

So Ruth Garnault Consultancy, instead of doing something even remotely useful in the area of heritage conservation, has just set out to produce yet another coffee-table document full of fine words and feelgood sentiments about the usual waffle about "iclusivity", "partnership" and "social values" while skipping the real issues of a policy that has at its core the stripping of the archaeological record of Wales to fill the pockets of a small social fragment of greedy collectors.


Brian Mattick said...

From the Consultancy website:

"Firstly I listen to you: what do you want? What do you need? What’s stopping you? I then work with you to propose a solution that helps you to get great results. I can either implement solutions, or train you and your people to get things done.

And hopefully have a few laughs along the way."

Ranting Ruth said...

Thank you for your blog. We are gathering a range of views through different methods, to which your comments will contribute.

Ruth Garnault

Brian Mattick said...

I wonder if Ruth will work with detectorists as well as FLOs? If so she may have a bit of a surprise if she intends to "train you and your people to get things done."

Paul Barford said...

Hmm, with respect, no, I don't think you are, because your "survey" is addressed to "finders and detectorists", and I am neither. The PAS was set up (with public money) for the benefit of the whole of the public - the majority of whom are in no way connected with either the collection/sale of archaeological artefacts or going out with tools actively seeking them. In fact, I bet if you did the survey from that angle, the majority of members of the public would be against it if put in the context of global archaeological looting.

Neither does this survey deal with the "landowners and archaeologists/museums" of the PAS aims and how one goes about "promoting best practice in the discovery, recording and conservation of finds" by them... So what's the point?

All it seems to me that the person making up these questions has done is taken SOME of the aims of the Scheme and made a pastiche of them, to churn out something that looks like a report. Whether that was you or the "Advisory Board" I don't know, but it leaves a whole lot of important areas of the whole solution to the issue of collection-driven exploitation of the Welsh archaeological record completely ignored.

The NCMD is promoting your survey saying that "Knowing the demographic of the detecting community will also help the Advisory Committee understand more about detectorists", wow, after TWENTY years of expensive liaison, they only now discover that they need to know this? Astounding. Including their sexual preferences and SKIN colour? But then what about the non-collecting members of the public that the PAS also answers to?

As I said, with covid and a no-deal Brexit, over the next few years, the British economy is going to be in no fit state to support the manner in which the country has been dealing with artefact hunters in the past - Wales in particular. So PASCymru should not be commissioning a survey to see how the old situation has functioned, but be seeking for answers to questions helping decide what to do when funding disappears.

So no if you are dealing just with detectorists, you cannot include my thoughts, unless you canvass too a wider range of archaeologists and heritage professionals.

Paul Barford said...

Yeah, hence my point about literacy skills. But if she looks on some forums ("Detecting Wales" is a good place to start) she'll see the cut of the land pretty quickly...

Ranting Ruth said...

Thank you for your feedback. As you say, this survey is to gather the views of detectorists.
We are using other methods, for example interviews with and a survey of heritage professionals: museum staff, archaeological trusts etc.

Paul Barford said...

OK, so please treat this as a voice in that discussion, it was done some time ago when the PASWales was lurching from crisis to crisis, but I stand by most of what was written there: http://paswales.blogspot.com/

Will the report be made public or hidden from the public that pay for it?

Hougenai said...

PAS disappear? After Boris the Builder's recent speech it probably won't be long before they are doing pre development evaluations. All those delays getting newt counters (such as myself) and archaeological surveys will be dispensed with in the name of 'speedy' covid19 recovery. Instead of a professional unit, metal detecting clubs will likely be invited to give sites a 'once over' on the basis of finders keepers, with PAS giving finds advice on a % value basis. (Local shooting clubs also being considered as a means to speedily resolve wildlife problems).

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