You’d think (as they hold commercial detecting events most weekends) Central Searchers would wish to be seen as responsible. But look what they say about their upcoming 3-day Bank Holiday Special at Twywell/Slipton, Northants …….
”We have now run out of cropped land to search…. So this means a return to pasture, we have 3 new un-searched pasture sites to use, however we are we are returning to the most productive of our pasture sites first. This weekends dig has been particularly kind with Hammered coins and Saxon artefacts on the previous visits. Some of the site is ploughed out Ridge and Furrow, other parts still has the real deep ridge and furrow, part of the land still has Iron Age burial mounds visible which can also be seen on the air photos of this site.” (See http://www.centralsearchers.co.uk/ and click on Club Digs.)
That certainly seems to suggest they’re selling (inter alia) the right to metal detect on deep “ridge and furrow” (which by definition is “undisturbed pasture” and a no-go area according to clear archaeological advice to confine events to disturbed ground that has been ploughed within the last five years. If that’s not the case they ought to clarify lest customers are misled. On the other hand, if it IS what’s intended….well…. that would make this event even more outrageous than the recent notorious one at Foxham
But that’s not all. We have dubbed it a crassfest for a separate reason. It seems they have a “Rule” that applies to ALL their events: Items found by any member/non member/guest can be retained by the member/non member/guest as long as its value is no more than £2,000. Translated, they are telling customers that although all non-Treasure finds are owned by the landowner they have swung a deal that says their customers will own 100% of any such finds that are worth up to £2,000! We thought the event held by the Colchester Metal Detecting Club was unseemly enough – see Lucrative Heroism – but this, negotiating to own the first £2,000 of finds, far out-grubs that – and they do the same deal every week it seems, which means thousands of detectorists have attended events on that basis.
Twywell Day 1. Digging purely to save history for everyone else in Britain. Although… “Items found by any member/non member/guest can be retained by the member/non member/guest as long as its value is no more than £2,000.” (So apart from Treasure Items the farmer and anyone else can whistle for virtually anything that comes up!)
So what think you dear reader? Does it seem like a Rule designed for a gathering of people whose main interest is “history” – people that British archaeology should flatter and get itself in “partnership” with? Or does it seem like a Rule designed to attract primarily acquisitive people, out to grab what they can get? Is it fair or unfair to call such an event a crassfest that brings profound shame upon our country? You choose.
UPDATE Wednesday 27 October 2010: It seems that those who run Central Searchers continue to regard “ridge and furrow ” as fair game for them to exploit for money despite knowing it’s wrong. This time they are exercising their selfless beneficence in Bythorn, Cambridgeshire. The thirty acres of British history they have arranged for their paying customers to detect upon today include, in their own self-condemnatory words, “20 acres of ridge and furrow pasture that runs to the back of Bythorn village up to the earthworks of an old manor house“.
UPDATE Tuesday 2 February 2011: And still they persist. This time they’ve targeted 200 acres of ridge and furrow pasture at Keyston, Cambridgeshire, that English Heritage say is of national and perhaps international importance.