In September there’s to be a Metal Detecting Fun Weekender– £50 a head, 300 detectorists, which adds up to £15,000! Plus there’ll be rent/takings from a variety of trade stands and a licensed bar suggesting a total of about £20,000. Nothing unusual, the farmer will presumably get a few thousand, plus (if you believe in fairies) half the value of all finds over £500. So quite an income for simply saying yes!

But even more so when you read this from the organiser: “This land is on the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which means for us, it is strictly forbidden to detect on grass margins around the fields, or on the camp-site pasture.”

So welcome to bonkers Britain where a farmer is getting paid by English Nature to look after the grass margins and by a bunch of detectorists to damage the rest!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Here are a group of American detectorists in a Norfolk field ten years ago. They paid £2,200 excluding air fares to be there. Numerous similar “detecting holidays” have been held throughout Britain for nearly 40 years.

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 “The experts are keen to have the help of responsible detectorists to help them piece together Norfolk’s history said one organiser, although we haven’t heard any archaeologist or archaeological bodies saying that and we’re confident that Chuck, Errol and Arnie are there to help themselves more than  Britain.

In any case, the group of people who have benefitted most from selling about 100,000 heritage prospecting days over 4 decades are the salesmen. We calculate they’ve taken about £20 million. It’s to be hoped the pending metal detecting reforms will involve the discouragement of this unique-to-Britain trade.

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The previous 34 yowling moggies (i.e. the sound of truth being tortured) show the pro-tunnel agencies bending reality to justify inflicting massive new damage on the Stonehenge landscape against UNESCO’s wishes. Mr Hunter of Highways England has outdone them all, telling the world: “What we have shown, what archaeological remains there are, are nothing that one wouldn’t expect. As the World Heritage Site goes they are a bit on the dull side.”

For his information, the Stonehenge Landscape contains the densest concentration of prehistoric sites in Europe. Wherever archaeologists look, they find. Recently hundreds of new features have been found including 17 previously unknown circles, mounds and pits, a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and a unique double henge.

And the basis of his “a bit on the dull side” claim? 514 trial ditches and 1,800 test pits, (many not on the line of the proposed access roads), perhaps totalling 10,000 square feet out of the 1,500,000 square feet they intend to tear out of the landscape – so a derisory 0.66% sample! To then imply to the public who pay their wages that only “dull” archaeology will be lost is a national scandal.

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It would be crass for finds made in work time and the law precludes it. But what about in their spare time, as happened recently? At present, yes, they’re eligible. But should they be detecting at all? We think not, as ethics aren’t portable. PAS clearly agrees, which is presumably why you’ll have never, ever seen an image of a Finds Liaison Officers detecting! Only ex Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey didn’t get that memo!

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Comfortingly, a poll on the ethics of the matter on the BAJR Facebook group reveals that of 464 archaeologists only 6% thought an archaeologist getting a reward for spare time detecting was OK, and then only if he acted like an archaeologist. That sounds fine at first, but we do wonder how you can act like an archaeologist if, as happened in this case, the archaeologist was part of a detecting rally?

PAS tells landowners that most archaeologists (all?) think rallies are damaging and for our part we wonder how the blue blazes random digging and artefact selectivity in anticipation of personal wonga has anything to do with scientific endeavour worthy of respect and reward?

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A detectorist has claimed those who want detecting regulated are incapable of seeing they’re wrong. We confess it’s true: we think people shouldn’t steal heritage knowledge by not reporting finds and we’re certain we’re right.

But he’s wrong about one thing: we wouldn’t prefer to live under a dictatorship than democracy“. However, anarchy isn’t democracy and there’s overwhelming evidence that unrestricted mob rule is massively harming our nation’s heritage!

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anarchy
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Actually, we don’t know ourselves!

It’s an oil painting by Alphonse Marx (1853-1918) owned by our Chairman, and he’d like to know!

(Possibly Saint-Jeures Menhir?)

It’s all gone quiet, but the fate of Stonehenge is currently being discussed (or confirmed) in private, pending a final decision (or confirmation) by “I see many ships” Chris Grayling.

Here is JMW Turner’s 207 year old view of the stones, the very one English Heritage, Historic England and the hapless National Trust have urged him should be hidden from the travelling public forever, from everyone.

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Dear Colleagues,

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Heritage poison? Administered by a paid heritage carer? Surely not? And yet …

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First, in its Guidance for Landowners, PAS says some detectorists (almost all, actually) follow the National Council for Metal Detecting or Federation of Independent Detectorists codes. But why mention that? Those codes allow non-reporting, in blatant defiance and avoidance of the proper one! How is mentioning and legitimising codes that give farmers false reassurance about how detectorists will act NOT administering heritage poison?

Second, they freely admit “most archaeologists think metal-detecting rallies can be damaging to archaeology yet they dedicate numerous pages to details of many hundreds of rallies over the past 14 years, thus implying they’re acceptable instead of some of the World’s most heritage-poisonous events!


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So, friends, if PAS won’t do the right thing by either you or the public or the resource for fear of upsetting detectorists, YOU CAN. Tell anyone waving a “code of fake conduct” to go away – and tell anyone wanting to hold a rally (including “for charity”) they can’t, because PAS disapproves but is frit to say so!

Cheers

Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow
Worfield
Salop

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The nasty (and let’s leave him nameless) detectorist and website owner who wanted to make all detectorists aware of our Chairman’s photograph and home address for obvious reasons ….


“I have photos of him …. I’m anxious to let anybody who wants them, have them…. if he is frightened for his own safety he should have considered his actions …. Throw the shyster to the dogs”


and only desisted after being spoken to by the police, has now turned his bile onto Britain’s two main archaeological charities – The Council for British Archaeology and Rescue, The British Archaeological Trust, threatening them with all sorts of bad stuff for maintaining that metal detecting is a net problem for Britain….

  • “a charity campaigning to restrict the rights of others might very well find itself in very hot water.”
  • “Were a complaint to be made to the Charity Commissioners and subsequently upheld that “… detriment or harm…” was or could be caused to that particular pastime and/or its devotees, the offending charity may well find itself in serious trouble.”
  • “Penalties are harsh and can lead to forfeiture of charitable status and associated fiscal benefits.”

He then lists the contact details of various charity regulators in the hope no doubt that his followers, not him, will act accordingly (see the pattern?). Somehow, we doubt they will. Or, if they do, that the Charity Commissioners won’t find it hilarious.

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Paul Barford highlights a report saying this is now one of the most nature-deprived countries in the world. “Nature is falling silent, and the impact on our environment, culture, health and happiness should not be underestimated.” He adds (of course!) that there is parallel heritage impoverishment due to metal detecting. For our part we’d add a further regret – the damage to the settings of many ancient sites through encroachment or unimaginative and intensive land use. Here’s our 2011 account of our visit to Hetty Peglar’s Tump …..

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“Context and “setting” are almost everything in the world of megaliths but unfortunately no-one told the twenty first century.  Although Hetty Pegler’s Tump (or Uley Long Barrow) was placed with great care at the summit of the Cotswold scarp, its magnificent 40 mile views to the West across the Severn Estuary to the Brecon Beacons are entirely lost due to a narrow belt of trees. At the same time the opposite outlook, that could well have once been bursting with variety and life, is today victim to soulless monoculture, 30 acres of barley so chemically tweaked that hardly a weed or bug is allowed.”

The view to the East ….

And to the West ….

And to the West, but for the belt of trees ….

 

 

 

 

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