By Nigel Swift

The Association for Metal Detecting Sport is offering £10 million insurance cover for £5 a year, cheaper than the NCMD.

But a detectorist has asked: “Would a new organisation have the same clout with the powers that be, as the NCMD has built up over the years?” That strikes me as deluded. The NCMD refuses to endorse the real Code of Responsible Metal Detecting and runs its own inferior version so of course it can have no clout with the powers that be. Obviously.

The new organisation may well be successful in gaining recruits (many detectorists say “I’m only in the NCMD for the insurance cover” so an alternative that costs less is likely to be popular). But “clout”? No, not unless it endorses the official code, which we can all assume is mighty unlikely.

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Delusions of clout

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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By Nigel Swift

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has just launched a video featuring lots of Establishment figures explaining how important it is for detectorists to abide by the proper Code of Practice. Good.

But a large number don’t and most of them are members of the Council for Metal Detecting which refuses to endorse the Code of Practice and has published its own, far weaker, code which doesn’t oblige members to report non-treasure items to PAS, but seems to.

I’ve spent many years wasting my breath begging PAS and archaeologists to warn farmers not to be misled by claims of false valour. They haven’t, and this was an ideal moment for them to do so. In my opinion not conning the landowner about your behaviour is the single most important thing a detectorist should be doing for the farmer, science, archaeology and the country yet there’s not a word on the video about that from the professionals.

In my opinion, that’s just not right. It lets everybody down.

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A scammer who posed as a United States Navy veteran and defrauded innocent Americans of almost a quarter of a million dollars is heading to federal prison.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Trail Hunting on National Trust land is banned!

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Still allowed: riding for fun.

Another public landowner, the Malvern Hills Trust, has put moral pressure on the National Trust. The Board of Trustees expressed concerns over the number of infringements of its Trail Hunting policy over the past four years and has decided to ban the activity indefinitely. The level of scrutiny at Malvern was far greater than anything the National Trust could concoct so any plan by the latter to “tighten up and still allow” now looks impossible.

Scrutiny does not work. Hounds do not read the memo.

Incidentally, Malvern Hills is another body that has a purpose very similar to the National Trust’s claim to look after land “forever, for everyone … “We protect and manage the iconic Malvern Hills and Commons on behalf of the nation. Our work keeps this diverse landscape open to all and maintains its rich cultural and natural heritage”. “Open to all” does not include people indulging in something the vast majority of people oppose. National Trust, please note.

Malvern Hills: open to all, within reason.

Natural Resources Wales has banned trail hunting PERMANENTLY! It said it could not be sure that trail hunting was not still being used as a “cover” for illegal activity. The significance of this is that many other public bodies are now sure to follow.

This piles a lot of moral pressure on the Trust, currently vacillating suspiciously despite a vote to ban it.

Interestingly, the Trust has previously defended its position by saying it looks after its land “for everyone, forever” which is remarkably similar to what Natural Resources Wales says: “Our purpose is to ensure that the natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, used and enhanced, now and in the future.”

By Nigel Swift

Paul Barford has just highlighted that PAS has reached a milestone of 1 million records. I predict much self-congratulation as well as the usual praise for detectorists. However, as he points out:

“There’s a bit of a problem for those who want to use this as a symbol of PAS “success” and that “most English and Welsh detectorists are responsible”. My Revised Artefact Erosion Counter that (nota bene) nobody has yet falsified, and is still the best available estimate in the absence of any other, says today that some 9,681,409 finds and groups of associated finds have been hoiked by artefact hunters (that’s just the ones with metal detectors) since the PAS began. So that translates into a rate of “one-in-nine responsible“, not very impressive, is it? But Bonkers Britain will soldier on, until it’s all gone. Then the archaeological establishment will express in shocked surprise: “oh!”.

I disagree with him. It isn’t just not very impressive. 8 in 9 not reporting all their recordable finds is a bloody outrage. And yes, it looks as if Bonkers Britain will soldier on, until all the hotspots they can find are gone.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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ANSWER … Avebury steeple.

Many people in the North have been dismayed by the cancellation of part of HS2. That infinitely unconvincing term “Northern Powerhouse” is now looking more like an electoral fib than ever before.

But what about the “Western Powerhouse”, the claim that Cornwall would enjoy massive prosperity if the Stonehenge tunnel was built? That also is looking like yesterday’s chip paper as funding to that region has been slashed. According to the BBC:

” Cornwall may only get a maximum of £3million of cash from the Government to directly replace the £100m it could have been eligible for if the UK had remained in the EU, it has been claimed. Prior to Brexit Cornwall had qualified for funding from the European Union due to it being recognised as one of the poorest regions in Europe. As a result Cornwall could have been receiving £100m a year to help provide economic stimulus and support projects which would provide everything from employment and skills to infrastructure.”

Finger crossed.

It’s now a fortnight since the National Trust’s membership voted overwhelmingly to ban trail hunting from Trust land yet the Trust’s response has been to say the vote has provided a useful basis for discussion but was only advisory and they’ll announce their own decision “later in the year”.

It is to be hoped that everyone recognises that both the response and the delay are in defiance of the democratic will. It is hardly a mystery what is now being planned: a very much-delayed, very low profile statement saying that Trail Hunting will still be allowed but with stricter safeguards.

The delay cannot be justified and stricter safeguards will be pure window dressing. As has been illustrated in a video recently viewed by millions of people, if someone wishes to be cruel, whether to a fox or a horse, there is no way it can be prevented by “safeguards”.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Tulip Tower has finally been cancelled by the Government. Historic England will be delighted as it has consistently opposed the proposal on the grounds it would interrupt some sightlines to the Tower of London.

And yet, it is passionately lobbying to totally destroy a million sightlines to Stonehenge, another UNESCO World Heritage Site!

A clear statement justifying this fundamental inconsistency is surely owed to the public.

Seriously? Please explain.

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