Who needs a history book?! The depressing cul-de-sac that is Britain’s portable antiquities policy can be deduced from just three flyers…. . .
First, British archaeologists expressed outrage…. .
Then they settled for “do it if you must but please tell us what you find”. And that’s where we’re stuck, 17 years later, with most finds still not being reported. Meanwhile, over in Ireland they have THIS flyer in every library and police station….. . .
It says things that are unspeakable in Britain, things like unregulated detecting “causes serious damage” and it’s illegal to do it “without the prior written consent of the Minister” and that will only be forthcoming if “the greatest possible level of archaeological knowledge is obtained”. The British Government and all 8,000 British archaeologists bar none strongly agree but the boat you see, it mustn’t be rocked..
So there we are, two countries, one of which makes the other’s policies look ludicrous. However, there’s a third flyer, something we published 3 years ago, that could save Britain’s blushes for now, without waiting for legislation. Both CBA and EH have signalled that its aims correspond with theirs so it’s an open door waiting to be pushed…..
(Vistaprint will supply 5,000 flyers for about £70 – enough to put one in every public library and police station in England and Wales. If PAS, CBA or EH can’t afford to pay that then we could. Alternatively here’s a version the public could print off and deliver to their local library or police station. Why not? It’s their heritage knowledge that’s not being delivered.) . PS…… In fact, you could print it off and apply to put it on your Parish Council notice board or sweet shop window. After all, if you don’t, this is the sort of message farmers will get (which appeared just two days ago): “Please let us onto your land….. We will pay the farmer or landowner £10 cash per member on the day of the search (which normally takes place between 8am and sunset) and also give 50% of the value of any item found worth over £500 to the landowner.”
History ISN’T something that should be treated like that. As the Irish know.