Sunday 23 January 2022

Hodnet, Don't Look Up! Challenging UK Detectorists' Ignorance and Superficial Thinking


The social media discussion on the Hodnet fiasco has been waylaid by an individual (luckyorange @luckyorange1812) that one can only assume is a metal detector owner. As may be recalled a video shows a man in a bobble hat digging down 45 cm in a grassy field. After reading the thread going since yesterday, LuckyOrange (could be a bot) remarks trollishly:
3 hours
Phew, in the plough soil , thank goodness they found them before the next pass of the plough and disc harrows smash them up for good . No archaeological context as they have been spread eh? [...] They have been spread around by the plough and possibly run over by machinery tonnes in weight which may push them down further. Echo chamber with you lot @PeterReavill is the guy that makes the decisions far more experienced in these cases than any armchair warriors. 

Oh. So, (a) does young Mr Reavill actually claim "more experience" than other archaeologists on that thread, for example myself (or is LuckyOrange making that up)? and (b) how sure is he that Peter Reavill will not "echo" what the other archaeologists are saying here about this not being best practice? Won't he, really? Whoah. Where did he go to archaeology school?

Anyway I issued a challenge that I confidently expect will not be taken up:
Bring here an [one] UK archaeologist (not a FLO) who will go on record in writing, saying that there is NO ...archaeological information to be gained from carefully collecting and documenting the pattern of artefacts of all materials in ploughsoil in the UK and collating it with information from, e.g., remote sensing. You only have to find ONE, we are interested to meet him or her.[...] Because if you cannot do that, it will show that you have swallowed uncritically a tekkie myth grown out of ignorance of what archaeology is/does.
I exclude the staff of the PAS for three reasons. 1). Most of them block me on social media so the majority of them cannot see the challenge, 2) Their boss, Professor Michael Lewis is on record in writing in at least two places as claiming precisely that [here p 134; here p. 2 ]. He may well think that, and not see that as in any way having any bearing on his running what is in effect one of the largest archaeological outreach bodies in the country, I could not possibly comment, 3) While in PAS employment, most FLOs seem to me from my contacts with them not to have the guts or gumption to go against the PAS 'party line' (or express any independent opinion at all) as far as artefact hunting is concerned (so see point 2 above). But if a PAS FLO wants to express an opinion here, fine, let's hear it. After all, they are archaeologists too.

Update 23.01.2022
Ooops, no archaeologists came forward to support his view, but there is an all-too-telling response from a guy on first name terms with the local FLO..... 
It is none of your bloody business to be frank. It is however Peters job to deal with it and as Finds "Liaison" Officer, note "Liaison". you would like to see detecting banned but without it no job for Peter and his ilk, stop poking your nose in and undermining his role.
Oh, so Mr Reavill will "deal with it" and will go along with the current situation in artefact hunting  because he'd somehow lose his job doing "liaison" to the metal detecting community? But Mr Reavill does not get funded to service metal detectorists (more entitlement there), but to liaise with all public finders and members of the public in general. It is the public who pay for the FLOs, not just a minority damaging hobby. I think (especially if the PAS is not going to do it), educating the public about collection-drive exploitation of the archaeological record is the role of all archaeologists, actually.

As for whose "business" it is, this concerns a film in the public domain of the destruction of archaeological information that belongs to everybody, not just Mr Clueless Woolly Hat Digger. It is as much everybody's business as logging in the Amazon, a woolly hat manufacturer dumping toxic waste into the sea, or parties thrown by public officers during lockdown.

Now can Mr LuckyOrange (or any other detectorist) produce an archaeologist that does not work for the PAS who has never done any gridded surface survey work and will say here in the comments below in writing that there is never any context in ploughsoil? Can he or can he not?
Visual aid for the Woolly Hat Brigade (from the Rossnaree Project Blog,
English FLOs eat your heart out)

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