Friday, 12 March 2021

City Council Debates Introducing Permit System for Artefact Hunting: Implications

A new post on thePipeLine talks of a "Welcome For Proposed Metal Detecting Policy In Portsmouth That Goes Further Than Current Guidelines" (12th March 2021) New proposals for a licencing system for artefact hunting on lands owned by Portsmouth City Council in Hampshire have reportedly attracted wide attention in the archaeological community 

with some archaeologists welcoming the new policy as it appears to go further than current national guidelines in protecting the integrity of archaeology both in the ground and as recovered by members of the public using metal detectors. The proposed new policy also comes at an important moment for both archaeologists and metal detectorists, with archaeologists concerned at the number of artefacts which are being alleged to be recovered without recording and even illegally and detectorists concerned at possible curbs to their hobby, with the Government in Westminster engaged in a consultation regarding the legal definition of "Treasure" as set out in the 1996 Treasure Act. [...]  it is equally possible that the interest has been prompted by the alleged increase in the number of people metal detecting since lockdown and reports of a decreasing number of permissions to metal detect available on private and farmland, as commercial rally organisers price individuals and traditional metal detecting clubs, out of the market.[...]  licences/permits will only be granted to detectorists prepared to follow national guidelines and required to observe nationally recommended recording standards. If adopted nationally by local authorities, and other landowners such as farmers, the kind of approach proposed by Portsmouth might go some way towards solving the vexed issue of how to regulate a hobby in the public interest, which, while popular, and capable of providing much useful archaeological data as long as the participants act with integrity, appears to many archaeologists to be increasingly out of control. 

As proof of this widespread approval among archaeologists of what is, in effect, nothing more than a direct transfer of the Polish system to Britain, the Pipeline quotes a whole series of quotes from:

"Archaeologists commenting on the proposed policy to thePipeLine",

"a spokesperson for the PAS 

"one finds specialist [and regular user of PAS data]"

Why are no names given, yet again, when its metal detecting and metal detectorists involved. are British archaeologists afraid to say in public and under their own name, what they think about collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record? And why would that be? 

What is notable, reading between the lines, the PAS was not involved in this proposal. That is a shame. 


The proposed new Metal Detecting Policy at Portsmouth City Council is approved without opposition.

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