Friday 8 January 2021

UK Metal Detecting Rallies in the Times (1)


Metal Detector rallies were discussed in an article in The Times yesterday: Mark Bridge, 'Detectorist Rallies leave pros in a hole' (sic) The Times Thu Jan 07, 2021. It's based on an earlier piece by Mike Lewis and Mike Heyworth in the current number (176) of British Archaeology ('Detecting rallies: Good for new detectorists, businesses and sometimes for charities, but not so much for archaeology'). Neither of them seem to be available for you to read online. It's pretty gratifying to see that after many years of activists like the author of this blog trying to get the PAS and CBA (of which Dr Heyworth was for many years the head) to publicly condemn rallies - precisely due to the damage they do to the archaeological record, as well as their commercialisation of archaeological material - they have done so. Finally. 

On a metal detecting forum near you, tekkies are livid. How dare the archaeologist Michael Lewis (they did not spot Heyworth's name) talk about the archaeological implications of what they do? Eh? Stephen Grey (Anglo Celtic Metal Detecting) from Birkenhead from a self-absorbed and entitled  position writes angrily on Facebook [punctuation added]
Dr Michael Lewis head of The Portable Antiquities Scheme showing his true colours in The Times newspaper. A shocking attack leaning towards untruths attacking the very hobby that keeps him in a well payed (sic) job. I think no matter how learned and respected this man is, he needs to print an apology in The Times and take a demotion for his efforts at least. Shocking behaviour by a man running the PAS, an organisation that would probably not exist if not for the very people he’s attacking. Not only has he done this on a public stage but he’s chosen his stage very carefully. The Times is read by many powerful people who might one day have a say in all this. How can they reach informed decisions if they base them on the likes of this ?

They can inform their decisions reading both sides of the discussion, Mr Grey. Why not open the MDF forum and LGD facebook page to Whitehall and the informed public so they can see the other side of the story if you think that they will find edifying what they see there? Like the offensive comments under Mr Grey's piece here... 

Of course the PAS is there to record public finds, not just those of artefact hunters. I see nothing at all in that text that "leans towards untruths" and I do not see any attack on metal detecting, but on certain practices within that hobby.  Furthermore if Mr Grey were to actually read the text, he'd see that Prof Lewis and Mike Heyworth did not "choose" the Times, but the Times chose to write about their article elsewhere. Tekkies, eh? 

'Old Baldy' writes (Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:23 pm) [punctuation corrected]

[...] I take issue with what he has said to the Times as he appears to be making comments based on hearsay and "rumours" without evidence to back it [them] up. If the PAS cannot get people to events, that is their problem to solve [...]
No, it is the problem of all (truly) responsible detectorists to alleviate. So would Mr Baldy recommend that instead of what he dismisses as 'hearsay' derived from 25 years of liaison with artefact hunters the PAS make a thorough investigation and submit an official report to the relevant government institutions about how much archaeological damage really is being done by all types of artefact hunting? If so, I agree wholeheartedly. PAS should have done this two decades ago and repeated it a decade ago and done an assessment of progress five years ago. But it did not.    

And yes, responsible detectorists would be avoiding commercial artefact hunting rallies. No "perhaps" about it of course - and the "time", Professor Lewis, for the PAS  to tell them (and society) that in no uncertain terms was also more than twenty years ago. 

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