A vivid insight into metal detectorists’ psychology has been provided by this story
A hoard of nine silver Roman coins was found near Nailsworth by detectorist Wayne Jacobs in 2004. Now, Stroud Museum in the Park (annual budget to buy finds, £100) has launched an appeal to raise £450 to buy them for the benefit of the people of the area. (To make a donation, send a cheque payable to ‘SDC Coin Appeal’ to Museum in the Park, Stratford Park, Stroud, GL5 4AF).
The reaction to this story by detectorists on minelabowners.com, the detecting forum where it appeared is revealing, to say the least…. One suggested a metal detecting rally should be organised (in other words, finance the retention of one cultural asset by destroying a lot more). Another complained that a budget of £100 a year for buying finds wasn’t enough. Two suggested the lottery fund should stump up the cash. And another suggested – “If members of a detecting group were to donate £5 each and provide it to purchase the coins, that would be a great PR move. News coverage would be very beneficial and could be played up” (in other words, there was a golden opportunity to persuade the public metal detectorists were heritage heroes).
Not one of them suggested the blindingly obvious solution: that Wayne should simply renounce his right to payment. Since presumably the money would be shared with the landowner who is the actual owner (and has anyone asked him if he is willing to do without the money?) the most that Wayne would be giving up is a pitiful £225.
Not a lot for a member of a hobby that swears it is in it for the history, not the money!
There was a time when everyone would have instantly donated such items to their local museum without a thought for money or personal advantage. Even now most ordinary people would be highly likely to do so. Schoolchildren, gardeners and members of local archaeology societies for instance tend not to put their hand out and force museums to raise a few hundred pounds by public subscription. But not Wayne or his detecting pals on that forum evidently. £225 is owed and must be paid. Amoral doesn’t even begin to describe it. Let us be guided by the evidence not the public posturing.
*** UPDATE! ***