Friday 15 January 2021

Professor Michal Lewis Replies to UK Detectorist's Comments about Text on Commercial Artefact Hunting Rallies

I see Mike Lewis the head of the portable antiquities scheme reads John Howland's Detecting and Collecting blog (just kidding, I sent him the link) and has replied to the detectorists remarks in an eye-opening (in many ways) text "Biting the hand that feeds, or, feeding the hand that bites?" there:

Michael Lewis on January 14, 2021 at 6:44 pm said:
Hi John, The evidence for the lack of finds being recorded at rally finds [sic] is there. Over the summer there were several major rallies (as mentioned in the BA article) but hardly anything from them recorded on the PAS database. As I say in the article, attending rallies is really resource intensive for PAS, especially as there are so many of them and often poorly set up for recording finds. I believe metal-detecting can make an immense contribution to archaeology, but only if finders follow best practice and record their finds… I just think organisers need to do more to make that happen.
The blog's author replied disrespectfully:
John Howland on January 14, 2021 at 8:11 pm said:
Hi Michael: Thank you for your getting in touch. It’s greatly appreciated. But I have to say your comments were politically inept and hardly a rallying call for co-operation.

That said, I agree with the overall thrust of your comment. Reporting is absolutely crucial… no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. If as you say, the evidence for non-reporting (which is discretional), is there, then I’ll gladly publish that [sic] data on here. It [sic] will be challenged as I expect you understand, especially if it’s airy-fairy Barfordian in content.*

However, as it seems you’ve thrown in your lot with Heyworth and the CBA who are no friends of ours, never have been and never will be, is cause for suspicion. Heyworth for some reason known only to himself has given his tacit approval of the ludicrous AEC, the brainchild of Messrs Swift and Barford.

Once sane, abuse-free, orthodox archaeological debate kicks-in, and unless that archaeological aberration, the AEC, is archaeologically condemned out of hand, I cannot see full co-operation progressing to the next level. [...].

I believe the rally scene does need revisiting. Ideally, the NCMD (and Sport England), needs to be the prime movers, but I’m ashamed to say the NCMD has all the potency of harem guards.

The co-operative will is out there. It needs careful cultivation. Heyworth, Barford, and Swift, are out of the equation. We are moving forward to better things… join us.

Regards John
This guy is completely off his rocker. Donald J. Trump-style. He seems to equate himself with the nation's body of detectorists, and if somebody says something about him, Johh Howland, that means the whole detecting community. If he, John Howland, is sceptical of figures about non-recording, then they all must be too. If there is "evidence of non-recording" he demands the authors supply it to HIM for publication on HIS blog, and he "warns" that HE will be the one to challenge it.  Unless HIS demands about getting Barford and Swift (only?) "archaeologically condemned out of hand", there will not be "full co-operation" of the UK metal detecting community "progressing to the next level". Nothing more or less than 100% narcissism.

I don't know whether Mr Howland has any inkling of what the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group is (but I'll guess not much), but Mike Heyworth has been chair of that body for quite a while now, so hardly "throwing in his lot".  

The Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, is - as the name hints - an advisory group, so it is not there to be "politically-ept", nor after coming up to quarter of a century of operation of the PAS should there be any more a need for a "rallying call for co-operation". Either metal detectorists are responsible, or they are not. They should not need asking. Their will for co-operation should not need "careful cultivation".
… join us.

That's just insulting.  

Of course anyone who'd actually read the article of Lewis and Heyworth in British Archaeology would be aware that the number of finds (not) being recorded is only part of what they said. 


 * As I have pointed out many times, but Mr Howland continues to ignore because it conflicts with his world-picture where metal detecting is a victim of "abuse", the PAS has already published its own figures - that broadly coincide with those of Heritage Action. Page 14 here, up on the Internet since August 2014


Philip said...

There's always much to enjoy (sic) in Mr Howland's ranting, but I think this time he has surpassed himself with his request for 'sane, abuse-free' debate. Since he is seemingly incapable of writing anything 'abuse-free' it would be interesting to see him lead the way. What are the chances, eh?

Paul Barford said...

I am intrigued to know if the lack of a followup post from tekkie-backslapper Professor Lewis was due to his own cowardice and him not writing one, or Howland's for not publishing it..

Brian Mattick said...

I really don't blame Professor Lewis for not responding further for fear Howland might publish his home address for the benefit of yobs.

Paul Barford said...

What is interesting is that there used to be a number of MD blogs, Mr Howland however has been left holding sway alone:

and he is the best ambassador that critics could want for the hobby

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