Tuesday 8 December 2020

Irish Metal Detecting: At a Crossroads or Being Led up the Garden Path?


In the October issue of The Searcher metal detecting magazine, Liam Nolan wrote a self-gratulatory text about how he and his mate were potentially leading Irish metal detecting to new pastures. His text contains the usual tired tekkie nonsense, attacks on bad archaeologists, bad museums, bad farmers, bad everything. Just the good artefact hunters. So off they went to a meeting in Dublin - Liam Nolan, Keith Westcott of the IoD (why?),  Stuart Elder Irish Institute of Archaeology and Arne Hertz from Denmark both speaking in support of working with detectorists.

Now, it is interesting that Denmark was being invoked. Dobat & Jensen, 2016  show that there are around 2,777 active detectorists there, but less than 300 are reporting finds. It's hardly very supportive of the view that artefact hunters provide new information if only one in nine is playing the game and reporting their finds (the proportions are about the same in England and Wales where according to my estimates, while 80 000 finds are reported, 800 000 recordable finds are being pocketed annually). 

Nolan's text is a load of tekkie bla-bla. What's interesting is that the current number contains a reply from one of the Irish archaeologists mentioned, who denies he ever said any of the scandalous things Nolan attributes to him. So the text is tekkie fake news too.  It is interesting that a tekkie (probably used to his closed-doors forums) thinks he can publish something in the open and nobody will pick him up on the untruths. 

In the archaeologist's response we find out some interesting facts about Mr Nolan

Then there is the issue of what collaboration with artefact hunters actually involves

and then the conclusion, regarding typical metal detectorist thickness and inability to perceive the wider setting of their behaviour:

I think we would all like to know what Keith Westcott was doing collaborating with Liam Nolan in this project. Does the projected Institute of Detectorists that he is planning have ambitions to operate in a EU country outside the UK? The Irish Republic has laws on artefact hunting and no need for an Institute.


Unknown said...

I was very pleased to be ask to attend the meeting in Dublin, which gave me the opportunity to promote the use of metal detectors on archaeological projects, by practitioner detectorists who had completed courses based on archaeological principles and practices, supervised by archaeologists.

Paul Barford said...

"Unknown", who are you? Are you Keith Westcott? So why not say so? But that (as presented by Mr Nolan) is not what the meeting in Dublin was about. This is also confusing two different things.

You can use a quad to get from point A to point B. This type of vehicle has many responsible uses, but repeatedly riding a quad through a nature reserve, speeding over hillocks that happen to be Bronze Age barrows and associated earthworks is indefensible. Why try to do so by pointing out what quads can be used for instead - but very frequently not?

Unknown said...

I don't know why my name is not coming up on my response... but yes, this is Keith Westcott.

My involvement was and was only ever going to be, supporting Irelands interest in utilising detectorists on archaeological projects. Ireland's Chief Archaeologist is involved as an 'Observer' on the Institute of Detectorists Project Advisory Board and is supportive of metal detecting in a controlled environment, assisting archaeologists.

Paul Barford said...

I do not know either, it must be the way your account is set up. Until you sort it out, to make sure your meaning is clear, you could put your name at the bottom of the posts...

Frankly, I cannot see how anyone can claim to be ignorant of Mr Nolan's agenda with regard to Irish metal detecting: http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2015/04/green-light-for-metal-detecting-change.html

nor can they claim to be ignorant of who it is with whom they are collaborating.

"Irelands interest in utilising detectorists on archaeological projects" So why was Nolan there with you?

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