Church of St Peter, Clyffe Pypard. Image credit Heritage Action

First it was the village hall at Foxham. This time it’s the church at Clyffe Pypard, North of Avebury. As the church website says: 

Metal detecting rally at Woodhill Farm, Bushton ….. If you would like to try your hand at unearthing a loot of medieval treasure, ring Jane Angus (01793 731246) for a ticket, £15 per person. There will be experts on hand from the Salisbury Museum to authenticate your finds.   All funds will go directly to the upkeep of St Peter’s Clyffe Pypard.  Saturday 17th April 2010 at 10:00 AM
That’s what you get if that which is plain criminal in other countries is officially “partnered” rather than controlled – churches being misled into thinking that because raising money in this way is legal it’s therefore moral! Perhaps the church should ask a few questions and get in line with churches abroad, (none of which would dare raise funds in this way – or think it was other than a terrible idea)…..

1. These experts (from the Portable Antiquities Scheme possibly) could be asked, straight out, if they actually think this event is a good idea? Or if they are actually there to record what they can because the event is going ahead anyway, whatever anyone says? Did they actually ENCOURAGE this event? Have they ever encouraged ANY such event? (Pin them down. Ask them for a yes or a no.) In their opinion is the investigation of the buried archaeological resource here needed? In view of English Heritage’s guidelines for proper professional investigations is it being done in the best way or a totally and utterly inferior and damaging way that English Heritage would say no archaeologist should dream of employing? (Make sure you ask these questions to any archaeologists or archaeological bodies you can find, but in strict confidence, and make sure the answers are unequivocal. If they say this event is a good thing and they want it to go ahead then ask them to put it in writing. And draw your own conclusions when they won’t!)

2. “All funds will go directly to the upkeep of St Peter’s Clyffe Pypard.” Oh WILL they? So will all the finds be donated to the village for local display or for selling in aid of the church? Are this busload of detectorists coming all the way from Wales to Wiltshire and paying you a fee going to do exactly that, to help your village and your church, or are they going to take some if not all of your history home with them to keep for themselves or to sell on EBay? (Do take a look on Ebay, it’s a revelation!)

So please, please consider whether letting people do in Clyffe Pypard what would get them sent to jail for elsewhere outside Britain is a good idea. (Do your own research, don’t take our word for it!) If you really need to investigate your history pay for a proper archaeological exercise (not that they’ll agree – archaeology prefers not to disturb the record unless it’s unavoidable and archaeologists don’t dig our communal inheritance up for fun or to claim for themselves, or to sell, or on a false pretext of charity), there’s no other way that won’t deprive the next generation of local inhabitants it’s right to it’s own historical record.

“Where’s our history Daddy?”

“The church flogged it to a busload of Welsh people for a few pounds each and it’s no longer here. You could go to all their houses if you know who they are and ask them if they still have it, or ask Ebay if you could look through their sales archives – or see pictures of an unknown proportion of it on the internet.”

(PS, yes, yes, “Treasure items will be shared fifty fifty”, bet you’ve been told that, but what about the 99.9% of archaeologically interesting or valuable items that will be found that will NOT be Treasure Items – did anyone mention those? Will they end up on the bus? We think you know the answer.)


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