Wednesday 3 February 2021

The Guardian Reinvents the Wheel: UK Treasure Figures

There's nothing like up-to-date news, and the Guardian's latest article on UK Treasure numbers is nothing like up-to-date news (Lanre Bakare 'Buried treasure: record UK haul fuelled by rise in metal detectorists' Guardian Wed 3 Feb 2021).
More than 1,300 pieces of treasure were found in the UK during 2019 – the largest haul since records began – as a growing number of keen metal detectorists fuel the finds, according to new government information.
Hm. Mark Brown, Arts correspondent, 'British Museum says metal detectorists found 1,311 treasures last year' Guardian Tue 17 Mar 2020. Ten months ago... Anyway, the good news is that the article finally admits:
There are approximately 20,000 detectorists in England and Wales [...] “The search for buried treasures by budding detectorists has become more popular than ever before and many ancient artefacts now see the light of day in museums’ collections,” said culture minister Caroline Dinenage.
 The headline says that this "record UK haul" was "fuelled by a rise in metal detectorists", on the watch of the PAS. 

Previously, as late as 2014, the PAS was operating under the assumption: "we estimate that there are around 9,600 metal detector users across England and Wales' (K. Robbins, 'Portable Antiquities Scheme: Guide for Researchers, PAS/Leverhulme Trust/ British Museum 2014, p. 14). Now, actually the number of artefact hunters with metal detectors in England and Wales is more like 27000, but it is good to see the official figures admitting there's a problem. And for how long will UK policy treat the archaeological record as an inexhaustible resource?

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