Saturday 10 April 2021

UK Tekkies: "No Empowering the Landowners Approached by Unprincipled Tekkies!"

    Pete Spencer: "No empowering landowners approached
        by anonymous members of the public wanting to take away
                                    artefacts from sites on their land!"…

It seems that "responsible metal detecting" is fine by everybody in UK while it remains an undefined foggy and vague concept. But surely everybody with half a braincell can see that it cannot go on like that. At some stage we have to say what that means and why (for one attempt to do just that, see here). So now we have the Naysaying Council of Metal Detectorists (NCMD) telling its members: "The Association of Detectorists – proof it’s a trojan horse for licensing" (16th March 2021)
There has been lots of commentary about the Association of Detectorists (AoD) and the proposed Institute of Detectorists flying round in the last few weeks. We chose to stay quiet because we had already stated our views and now wanted to give you the space to make your own minds up.
You have now spoken and your views were very clear and loud – you do not want any new detecting body, and certainly not one being advised almost exclusively by archeologists. We were also humbled by the support you gave to the NCMD too – thank you!
But we think some people are still unsure on what is going on and who to believe about the AoD. If that is you (and even if it isn’t!) please read this article by Peter Spencer. It proves what we were saying – this is back door licensing of our hobby. If you weren’t sure before that you should reject this new body then you will be after you’ve read this!
IOD – the hidden agenda
It's pretty disturbing to see what NCMD tekkies consider to be "proof". Peter Spencer's article certainly does not supply it. It's built around polls of similarly halfwit tekkies with questions like:
Q1. Should the NCMD participate on the Advisory Board of the IOD?
Q2. Is the AOD a competent body to set up an Institute of Detectorists?
Q3. Could the IOD be used as a vehicle to restrict the hobby of metal detecting?
Q4. Is the IOD a cause for concern for the hobby metal detectorist?
Of course it's easy for a halfwit to decide, it's what your mates say. The poll does not require respondents to state why they wrote what they wrote. What is clear however is this is the view of 220 tekkies out of 27000 - so less than 1%. The opinion of 99% of tekkies was not taken into account, let alone any other stakeholders.

Then Spencer carries out a FOI request to Historic England. And them moans about what he got, and presents it as some kind of a bad-will conspiracy. It seems to me that Spencer is muddling several different things here. To me to take other people's comments (the green boxes) out of context about what they see in the creation of an "Institute" as "proof" (sic) of its initiators' intent is at best disingenuous, at worst simply deceitful. If we dismiss them, and look at the pieces on a blue background that present (again out of context) the Association of Detectorists' own ideas from September and October 2018 and February 2019, I not only cannot see anything that there is to disagree with, let alone anything that "threatens the hobby of metal detecting". Mr Spencer will have to explain that to us. But his "conclusions" are:
Keith [Westcott] is keen to appear to be a detectorist, who is on the side of detectorists in general. However, his comments indicate the disdain in which he holds the detecting community, the NCMD and even the PAS system. His strategy is not to engage with detectorists. Instead, he will circumvent them by going to the land owners. Also, he doesn’t need the support of the detecting community, as Historic England will provide him with funding. Under his vision for detecting, you will pay him for the privilege of going out detecting, via his Passport scheme. And what you find will become part of his National Collection.
Again, disingenuous, ignorant or deceitful, which is it?
- There is indeed a lot in the UK the detecting community to be disdainful about. Their response to this initiative (in the context of what they'd have us all believe about them) is one of the good reasons, there are many others.
- After following them for the last two decades, I and others, can see good reason for being disdainful about the NCMD, they are getting "detecting" nowhere at all.
- After following them for the last two decades, I and others, can see good reason for being disdainful about "even the PAS", it's getting archaeological conservation, public opinion, and "detecting" nowhere at all.
- "[Keith Westcott's] strategy is not to engage with detectorists", really? It looks to me that tekkies are the ones turning their backs on this initiative, and are already intent on scuppering it.
- "Instead, [the Institute] will circumvent them by going to the land owners", wow. The very same landowner that British law gives the power to say what happends to most of the buried heritage on their land? And why shouldn't they when (unless they are nighthawking), individual detectorists also have to follow their wishes. What the Institute is envisaged as doing is precisely what should have been done right at the beginning by PAS, give the landowners some ways of assessing the claims of the artefact-greedy scruffy oiks coming to their gates clutching spades. 
- "Under his vision for detecting, you will pay him for the privilege of going out detecting"... no. Spencer misses out that the idea is that the Institute will train tekkies in best practice, give them education and support (which is what they pay for - and why not, do they want everything for free forever?). This fieldwork skills passport (see here) will be certification that they've done this and the landowner has some sort of guarantee that the holders of such a certification can be trusted not to trash sites like a "nighthawk". Whether or not they have a passport, the detectorist still has to come to an arrangement with a landowner, which indeed (given the increasing number of pay-to-dig events spreading across the country) may well involve paying the landowner for access to their property.
- "what you find will become part of his National Collection" ... hmm. What Westcott says in the fragment Spencer says is "proof" of this dastardly scheme is: "IOD looks to develop a different and more ethical approach to finds ownership, based on a custodianship" and I think Mr Spencer perhaps has problems understanding the words "ethical" and "custodianship".
For me, the key passage of Spencer's long expose is: "As shown above, Keith’s allegiances are with archaeology". And by extension, this should be enough to persuade any "real detectorist" to shun him, or worse: "I am aware that threats of violence have been posted online and sent to Keith Westcott and other parties associated with the IOD and AOD. Criticism is fine but threats are quite clearly not". That was addressed to the thugwits in the UK detecting community. 

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