Saturday 17 April 2021

Personal, Re: Dr Rachel Pope, Liverpool University

A rather unfortunate business. The lady (Dr Rachel Pope BA, MA, PhD (Dunelm), FSA, FSA Scot. Director of Fieldwork; Senior Lecturer in European Prehistory Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, Liverpool university) has yet to respond:

Warsaw, Friday 16 April 2021 21:32
Dear Dr Pope,
I am writing to you with regard to your public accusations about me on social media this morning. They took me quite by surprise. I did not respond earlier, as I was attending a funeral and had a class to take.

I can’t imagine what prompted you to make such vindictive, false, libellous and unprofessional claims in the middle of a totally uncontroversial discussion of metal detecting rallies.

The discussion was about the undesirability of the starting up of commercially organised pay-to-dig artefact hunts in the UK, and one participant (@HeneryIggins) asked if archaeologists were going to condemn it. In response, you suddenly attempted to deflect the discussion and started to bully and harangue him. Later it turned out that you had taken this person for me and the all comments you addressed to him were intended to be about me! (not what I had said about rallies or archaeology, but about “me” and you presume to dictate what I “should do” – mostly shut up). I do not see what either has to do with commercial artefact hunting rallies. What were you trying to achieve by this?

As a fellow academic teacher, you will be aware of the damage potentially done by public allegations of this type (note the plurals throughout): “I’ve seen the way you get a kick out of harassing young women” []. Allegedly being “known for harassing PAS staff and young women curators and researchers” [] “online harassment (which is also a criminal behaviour)” [], “the online harassment of our young professionals” [], Without any basis, in addition to my own account (@PortantIssues), you falsely accused me of writing as @HeneryIggins []. “You’re using a pseudonym, and pop up whenever Paul is challenged. It’s called sock-puppetry. It’s a well-recognised device of online harassment.” [ ]. You imply that the activity under this account is somehow “criminal” [“Yep, it’s very clearly a sock-puppet account. And the conduct is into the criminal. Blocking is most definitely the best policy”]. I am presuming that @archaeowoman and @oldoswestryfort are only pretending not to know what ‘sock puppet’ actually means, and you will no doubt be able to quote where @HeneryIggins has done anything “criminal”.

You seem so sure of your “facts” here, so I wonder what else you get so wrong.

As you have already been informed, the account @HeneryIggins belongs to somebody else completely, in a different country even. @HeneryIggins like yourself is a campaigner for Old Oswestry Hillfort. He is clearly somebody concerned about the damage British policies on artefact hunting are doing to the European archaeological record, which is all that links this person with me. I write under my own name with the handle @PortantIssues, and (unlike some), I don’t have several Twitter accounts to hide behind [feel free to check that one out].

You claim (referring to me) that there is a “a well-documented history of harassing young professionals in the field” []’ by one or both of us. I do not know if your employer takes such accusations as seriously as mine, but for the latter now I am asking you to provide that “documentation”.

And it had better not be just a repetition of what that Durham FLO (a male) that you seem to support [] falsely alleged in the Rescue Facebook Group three years ago []. The group moderators were so embarrassed by his attacks there that a week or so later (and unprompted by me), they deleted two of the three threads where he attempted this. So I insist that you document your accusations. You say you have “A very full dossier, as and when it’s required.” []. That sounds awfully like stalking to me. Anyway, that “very full dossier” is now required, please produce it, and let’s see what constitutes harassment in your view.

Is it, as @HeneryIggins pointed out [], that by this word you mean challenging some of the glib things FLOs say? If so, do you have any evidence that when @HeneryIggins or I do, that [disproportionally to their distribution in the structure of the PAS] we deliberately pick “young women” or the “young” ones to challenge (how many ‘old” ones are there anyway)? Because that is what you nastily allege.

Since I have never met you, and never been in any kind of relationship with you, I doubt that you can claim factual knowledge of what I “get a kick” from in the lewd way you imply. And we are not on first name terms.

I also doubt that you have access to the full documentation of my interactions with the PAS and its staff members over the past 21 years ( I wonder therefore that you feel entitled to assess the whole from the portion you see. You may well be surprised by what they consider to be professional standards.

The PAS is a public-funded archaeological body intended to communicate archaeological values to the public, who pay for it. Yet, in the case of their interactions with artefact hunters, and discussing artefact hunting with the wider public, they are failing to do so. You and the majority of the six thousand heritage professionals in the UK may be resigned to that. It does not mean that all archaeologists have to remain unconcerned, shrug shoulders and remain silent about their being concerned does it? To actually suggest, as you did, that the reason why “we are not making progress” despite six thousand British archies being silent and playing along for 24 years, is because ONE (one) blogger in Poland criticises British policy and collection-driven exploitation and those who support (or ignore) it, is simply laughable. But then to add to that damaging, malicious and false personal attacks (of the type: “don’t listen to his opinion as he’s an abuser’) is totally going too far.

After your upsetting attacks on him, I had a phone call this morning from @HeneryIggins. Despite my attempts to persuade him not to allow himself to be bullied by you, he said he’s not taking part in that discussion any further. You seem to have silenced him, if that was the aim you achieved it. Personally, I think that university academics shouting down concerned members of the public and bullying them to shut them out is not a way to encourage the promotion of archaeological values where it is needed. If you have any conscience at all, and any professional ethics, you most certainly owe him a public apology.

I want to see this “dossier” on me documenting what you claim is evidence of real “serial harassment of young women” (and I sincerely challenge you to, because I do not think it contains anything of the sort). And if it does not, you will also owe me a public apology, as you do your 11,700 followers that you misled.

This is longer than intended, but I’ve had a long and upsetting day and can’t be bothered to edit it for you tonight to make it shorter.

Paul Barford (Warsaw)
Her only response so far has been to block me on Twitter. As far as I am concerned these allegations are unbalanced and false, I suspect that Dr Pope confuses critique with harassment. On my Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog there are just short of 12,000 posts provided for public information, available for all to see. I am sure that Dr Pope would have great difficulty using that as “documentation” of any kind of bias of coverage due to gender or age (most artefact hunters, collectors and people involved in the antiquities trade are male and middle-aged or older). One wonders why she said such a thing.


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