Thursday 30 July 2020

Archaeologists will train amateur metal detectorists

Archaeologists being trained in
metal detecting, Finland (SuALT)
Mark Bridge, 'Archaeologists will train amateur metal detectorists' the Times Thursday July 30 2020
Archaeologists could help to train Britain’s growing army of metal detectorists under plans to promote responsible detecting. Historic England has awarded £50,000 to explore setting up an Institute of Detectorists to promote good practice and provide courses in collaboration with professionals. It would also seek to build bridges with archaeologists, some of whom have reservations about the hobby, and to examine how detecting has been beneficial in the investigation of archaeological sites and landscapes.
Oh yeah? That's going to be the first substantive discussion on that idea in 20 years? I mean an actual discussion with real facts and counter-facts rather than the usual shouting-down we saw from the PAS?

And what are they going to be 'trained' in, pray? Closing the gates and filling in their holes, or something more complex? All 27000 of them? Boggled will the minds be.


Brian Mattick said...

There has been some creative confusion throughout between training people to help stick flags in during archaeological surveys, which will involve a tiny minority and requires three minutes training and persuading Wayne on his own in the middle of a field to behave, which so far has needed 23 years of outreach and still mostly hasn't worked.

The £50K will only influence the minority who already behave. It would be better spent outreaching to farmers.

Paul Barford said...

No, I am pretty sure the intention is different,

1)set up a turnkey 'Institute' that goes through the motions of "educating responsible detectorists" at a fraction of the cost of the PAS,

2) pay for a two person team to maintain the former PAS database for now with said "responsible detectorists' recording their finds there themselves, now the PAStexplorers scheme has shown that it can be done,

3) get rid of the PAS. Save money, but still promote "responsible detecting" and getting finds recorded

4) Run newspaper campaign showing recording numbers dropping, scare the tekkies unless situation improves, hobby will be placed under restrictions,

5) tekkies record stuff to "save the 'obby".

6) newspapers say how good these "responsible detectorists" are.

and the farce we have today can go on at a fraction of the cost, everybody happy (except the jobless FLOs)

Hope I am wrong

Brian Mattick said...

Well I'm sure you're right PAS will go and this IoD is seen as a lucky decorative patch across the gap when it happens.

But long term, without half a hundred PAS archaeos praising "responsible detecting" to the skies and the likes of EH doing the same to help PAS, I'm doubtful the message can be sustained.

In addition, I have yet to hear ANY detectorist be other than hostile to the IoD and when they hear membership of it depends on actual responsible behaviour rather than lip service to it, which is all that PAS ever asked of them, well ...

I also expect those jobless FLOs to rip off their gags and say what they really think!

Paul Barford said...

FLOs? Skeered.

As you say, what discussion there is on the forums is pretty negative, so obviously (assuming HMG has done the groundwork and found that out) there is some other agenda there...

Brian Mattick said...

Like other things in politics, saying stuff is often enough, and it being true doesn't matter. As for FLOs being skeered, it depends if a threat can be sustained even after they've gone or whether some of them do the Deep Throat thing!

Unknown said...

Commenting as an individual, my aim was initially to create an education and research Institute for detectorists who wanted to assist archaeologists (Jan 2017). It was then put to me that education should be available to all detectorists and I dropped 'archaeological' from my proposed name of 'Institute of Archaeological Detectorists' (Jan 2018)

The metal detector I believe, is under utilised as an archaeological tool and has greater potential if we all work together in creating a consistent approach through developing new methods, standards and guidance.

Reducing the instrument to just sweeping spoil (volume to surface area ratio is really not efficient) or 'sticking in a few flags', plays straight into the hands of some hobbyist detectorists, who downplay the impact of bad practice and state that they are doing no more than 'random searching for casual losses'.

True, I have received a hostile response from a few, albeit influential detectorists, who may well have been involved in the CoP boycott but, there is room for a new approach. I can find no-one yet who can see find serious issues in the CoP wording.

To me, a national body which looks to drive forward an educational programme teaching best practice to hobbyists, based on archaeological principles and values, has the opportunity to hammer home a message that goes way further than 'closing the farmers gates'.

My hope is that the IoD will work with, support and complement the Portable Antiquities Scheme and help it go from strength to strength in the coming years.

Realistically, I know that this approach will not be easy but, a difficult road ahead shouldn't alone be enough to hold back the initiative.

Keith Westcott

Paul Barford said...

So, why not just put that extra money into the PAS and get it to create that educational programme? Doing so is entirely in the remit of the Scheme and its aims, it already has the CoP and is in already contact with thousands of responsible detectorists. So why is it being undercut here?

It's not going to "go from strength to strength" is it? What makes you think it will? I think it's going to be phased out.

Hougenai said...

Keith's comment may apply to those 'Responsible detectorists' who want to 'help archaeologists' but in my experience this amounts to less than 10% of those who practice the 'hobby'.
The other 90% are simply using detectors like fishing rods, with the same anticipation of the chase, excitement of the find and the elation of a record breaker (£ find).
Of all the questions possible, 'what's it worth' is by far the most prevalent amongst the 'enquiring minds' behind a coil and £50k is going to do little to even engage with these people never mind educate them.

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