By the end of today, 10th January, with the year hardly begun, our Artefact Erosion Counter will show almost 8,000 recordable archaeological artefacts having been removed already this year by artefact hunters with metal detectors from the fields of England and Wales. It is a conservative estimate and we believe there is reason to think it should actually be a lot higher. On the other hand, according to the Portable Antiquities Scheme a maximum of only 2,300 of those finds will have been reported to them (a large number with inadequate levels of detail).
It is easy to simply scoff and deny the figures are true, and thousands of metal detecting artefact hunters and the Portable Antiquities Scheme do exactly that without ever having offered a scintilla of explanation why. But unlike thousands of metal detecting artefact hunters and the Portable Antiquities Scheme we have taken the trouble to look at the available evidence and have based the Counter squarely upon that.
Here is the Counter, together with the evidence that underpins it and some reflections upon the issue. We think it speaks for itself – as do the denials.