Crime and Puzzlement
A graffiti vandal has been given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £285 compensation to English Heritage to cover the cost of specialist cleaners. Is that right? So that means he was asked to pay for the damage but not actually punished? That seems surprising. Although didn’t much the same thing happen at Priddy?
The Cleveland Museum of Art has just hired a full-time “provenance researcher“. Seems a good idea. She can make sure they have nothing they shouldn’t. So should all museums and collectors use someone similar to make sure they don’t buy in dodgy gear? Or would it be simpler for them to just make every supplier sign a piece of paper giving the name, home address and telephone number of the person they got it from? Or if they dug it up themselves, the name, home address and telephone number of the landowner on whose land they found it, together with a letter from him saying he knows about the sale and the price being paid?
Best possible taste?
We’re saying absolutely nothing. But do watch out for this on the telly!
Britain’s Scary Future
Abroad the headline “LiDAR survey allows public to discover new sites” would be a cause for huge celebration but maybe not here. The survey carried out in a small area of Caithness in advance of a wind farm development is certainly spectacular…. a billion points of light captured, showing field boundaries, walls and ancient monuments in unparalleled detail, even in heavily forested areas (no chance of missing a prehistoric stone row there then!) 300 new sites were discovered in the small area addressed by the survey and the images obtained are truly stunning. A dedicated website has been set up to showcase it all (paid for no doubt by the wind farm developers – Gawd bless you Sirs for your selfless kindness to the ‘umble public!)
But here’s the scary bit. The website account talks of archaeologists already working on the next project to open up data recovered from projects such as this to “citizen scientists across the globe.” Sounds great. But not in the British context sadly. Here we don’t just have citizen scientists looking to discover new sites do we? Uniquely, we also have a huge army of legalised “citizen artefact hunters” who have repeatedly shown they are more than happy to utilise every last bit of data archaeologists make available to them in order to locate, target and exploit for pleasure or profit every non-scheduled site they possibly can.
Imagine a future in which lots of unselfish developers provide ever-more sophisticated means for thousands of unselfish people to unselfishly help themselves to the contents of the archaeological record! That’s what you get if you leave a dodgy laissez faire policy unchanged for 15 years – technological advances (such as LIDAR and deep-seeking detectors) come along and make your policy look shameful and stupid in the eyes of the rest of the world!