Saturday, 24 July 2021

UK Looting: The PAS and the Elephant in the Room

Heritage Action 'Tick, tick, tick. The country that let its heritage be removed' (24/07/2021)
Our Artefact Erosion Counter recently ticked over 14 million. [...] No doubt most detectorists will seek to rubbish the figure. Let them. They should know that the 14 million figure is based on our original estimate that there were 8,000 active detectorists whereas now there are 27,000.
My updated version here operates on the basis of the same HA figures for finds rate, but compensates for the number of tekkies we now think there are. It takes as its starting point the beginning of the attempt to mitigate this loss by the PAS. According to HA figures the sum of objects removed and pocketed by artefact hunters since this time is a shocking-enough 7,134,019. My counter shows it is more likely to be 9,349,336. Where are all these artefacts coming from? Where are they going? And how much archaeological information about the past of the UK has been simply obliterated by these diggers? And what, pray PAS, have you actually replaced that with? A dot distribution map of Snodling Type 1A thingamyjigs? Please.

In the same period, the PAS has created just 985,289 records of some of these missing finds, just over a tenth of them. Nine in ten of them have disappeared without trace.


Hougenai said...

From my observations, the idea that there are ten objects being removed for one PAS record is laughable.
Selection is made, in the field (what's worth taking home and cleaning), at home (should i take it to the FLO) and then by the FLO (is it worth my time to record).
I've seen landowner collections with hundreds of items in biscuit tins from land with no PAS records and detectorists collections with no recorded items.

In my humble, anecdotal opinion from a quaint corner of NW, i'd suggest the ratio of unrecordeed to recorded metal items is closer to 100 to 1 and the Erosion counter out by a factor of ten.

Who knows, perhaps one of your regular detecting contributors would discuss their own finds ratio's. After all, they are so interested in openess and working in poartnership with archaeologists.

Paul Barford said...

I am sure you are right (except that any of them are at all interested in an honest partnership). I'd stress the idea all along has been that the HA erosion counter would deliberately choose to err on the side of caution - the Hardy 27000 tekkies figure is also the LOW estimate. And it talks of PAS-recordable items and not just any old scrap of old metal (even though the latter too are archaeological finds). But you see there are unreflexive twerps in the UK archaeological world who insist we are wrong, even then.

So it's not just the artefact hunters that are lacking the requisite intellectual honesty to discuss this issue properly.

Brian Mattick said...

"Who knows, perhaps one of your regular detecting contributors would discuss their own finds ratio's".

I've seen scores, probably hundreds do exactly that elsewhere and very few say they don't report everything to PAS!

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