Tuesday, 2 November 2021

UK's PAS Supports Partners' Acquisitiveness, ignore Issues [Updated]



Durham FLO Ben Westwood   @FLODurhamFLO   3h
Returning a huge batch of finds this afternoon, over 100 objects, including this amazing #Viking weight with inset green glass! Only 6 have previously been recorded on @findsorguk, and all seem to have a distinct North & East distribution #Danelaw #HibernoNorse 

Prof Michael Lewis @Tostig1066  3:54 pm · 2 Nov 2021· 
The finders will be very happy - good work  

@HeneryIggins 20s  
Replying to @Tostig1066 and  @FLODurhamFLO 
"The finders will be very happy". You mean the owners, surely?

A single batch of 100 loose artefacts hoiked from the archaeological record eh? And who is it that was saying the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter was overestimating the number of items artefact hunters hoik? That's a batch of 100 selected from a collection of... how many Mr Westwood? there is a lot of misinformation going around in the UK metaldetectorworld.

Artefacts, Professor Tostig, belong to the landowner.

Update 3rd Nov 2021
Interesting rejoinder from a FLO:
Durham FLO Ben Westwood @FLODurhamFLO 12h
The finder is the owner here, as they most often are (dependant upon individual arrangements with landowners).
Henery Iggins @HeneryIggins
Replying to @FLODurhamFLO and @Tostig1066
"Most often"? You sure? Written or verbal? Based on whose valuation? Is PAS given proof?
This question has been raised many timnes and the PAS has ignored it and refused to answer. In every case, they should be requiring people bringing loose artefacts to them for recording (and thereby legitimation) which they will be handling, and in many cases storing on their instiotute's premises, for documentyation of title. An itemised protocol of transfer of title/ownership signed by teh landowner to make clear abnd transparent the legal position of each item handled. My guess is the silence on this matter by the PAS head office and individual FLOs on this matter means that this issuie is not t6reated seriously and professionally, but "partners" njust bring stuiff to a FLO who is willing to shut their eytes to te legal question, and simply take their word for it. That of course is how the illicit handling of antiquities functions the world over, "nudge-nudge-wink-wink-trust-me,-ask-no-questions-get-told-no-lies". One would have expected the archaeologists of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to be paying more attention to this after 25 years (in which a number of examples of attempts to use them to fence dodgy material are documented and the potential for more undetected by them is clear). But it seems this is too much bovver. I stand to be corrected if there is a big drawer in each past and present FLO's office full of xeroxes of such protocols for every item they have entered onto the PAS database. The PAS should be fully accountable for their handling of other people's artefacts in the same way as we (and, one presumes, they) want dealers to be.

Update update 3rd November
The apparent naivety of some FLOs is disarming:  
Durham FLO Ben Westwood @FLODurhamFLO 18m
[...] it's highly unlikely that anyone engaged in criminal activity (since that is what you're implying) would come anywhere near us. Why would they bother, when we're a voluntary scheme?
What on earth does that have to do with whether PAS are exploited by anyone? As is well-known, UK artefact hunters attempt to cover up some pretty dubious activities on the grounds that they are doing it "for charity". But trying to explain why PAS should be ascertaining that the items they are handling and are recording in their "database" have been legally obtained is like trying to fight your way through a room filled with cotton wool:
Durham FLO Ben Westwood @FLODurhamFLO
Replying to @HeneryIggins and @Tostig1066
Ok. But how is that anything to do with us? That's between finder & landowner. We're there to preserve data, to ensure that these (like it or not) legally recovered objects do not disappear without trace.
"But how is that anything to do with us?" I think that says it all, doesn't it? Maybe Professor Tostig can explain it to his employee, or maybe not - as usual on social media, he's keeping out of the discussion. As he seems to think befits any representative of PAS head office. It's what they always do, despite the fact that the PAS should be leading such discussions concerning "portable antiquities matters". A task they seem ill-equipped to undertake. They prefer just to block out such discussion and retire to their Ivory Tower of Silence.



Hougenai said...

It appears as though Mr Westwood is sticking with the 'Nighthawkers are the criminals' definition and simply ignoring the potential for theft and laundering of objects.
Has he not come across the concepts of 'Aiding and abetting' and 'due dilligence'?

Is it a simple naivity, an inability to read the room, or institutional groupthink where 'ask no questions' is considered valid policy to attain the greater good of declaration and recording, the database.
Even the CSE Philosphy course handbook (if there is such a thing) would show the flaw in this rationale, what use is a database flawed by misrepresentation and criminality?

Paul Barford said...

"what use is a database flawed by misrepresentation and criminality?" or naivety?
None whatsoever. And the longer the issue is ignored, the more money is wasted on a flawed project.

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