Saturday 13 June 2020

Possible End of the PAS Looms into Sight, so What Next to STOP the destruction of the PAst?

Divisions become starker
Boris Johnson’s bungled handling of the current crises spells financial disaster for the UK (Observer editorial, 'As Britain flounders, Europe charts its recovery' Guardian Sun 14 Jun 2020).
 Late into lockdown, late on PPE, late on testing, test and trace, late on halting the avoidable care homes catastrophe and late on the reopening of schools, Johnson’s government now lags behind in launching an economic stimulus package to mitigate the potentially disastrous long-term effects of the virus. Last week’s report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows just how urgent the need is. Britain’s economy is likely to suffer the worst damage of any country in the developed world, with a projected 2020 fall in national income of 11.5% amid un-budgeted, virus-related costs of £133bn [...] It should be plain to even the meanest ministerial intelligence that Britain is in the process of swapping a health emergency for an economic and social emergency [...] Lockdown produced a record 20% slump in Britain’s GDP in April. There has been a modest increase since, but nothing like fast or deep enough. The ongoing damage to the public finances, and thus to public services, manufacturing, retail and jobs, is alarming – and possibly irreparable. 
The oncoming reductions in public spending and on public services are almost certainly going to affect the Portable Antiquities Scheme that has already swallowed millions of pounds and still not achieved the goal of introducing best practice in the artefact hunting and collecting community. In terms of its database, the only figures we have (mine, because the PAS will not address this issue)  suggest that only one in eight recordable metal detected finds in England and Wales actually results in a record in the PAS database. That is not mitigation and its not a representative sample if the material being lost under its aegis. In 23 years, almost no progress has been made in any sphere of the interaction of archaeology with the collectors.

So, where do we go from here? There will shortly be no public money to reboot the existing scheme, or build a new one of any significance. Private recording schemes such as the UKDFD have shown the limitations of such a form of curating the records. Any ideas?

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