Dear Farming Colleagues,
You should read some detecting forums. It’s clear money is the main interest of many people and loads of finds aren’t being shown to us as a consequence. So I’ve been wondering what’s the point of us signing finds agreements? The Responsibility Code (for detectorists) says it avoids future ownership disputes. But it categorically doesn’t as by law they’re already our artefacts, no-one else’s. No archaeologist would tell us we need a document on top of the law as that only muddies the water and reduces the clarity of our ownership rights. With one exception: PAS (in conjunction with no other archaeologists nota bene) specifically recommends landowners to get a finds agreement! For whose benefit would that be?
Don’t do it. Sign nothing, especially if it contains the word “share”. By all that’s logical, legal, practical, safe and just it should be YOU alone who decides what (if anything) you give away, and then only when you’ve seen everything the detectorist has found, not before. So if you own land in England or Wales here are three simple rules you could show to a detectorist. No need for you to sign anything – nor indeed for him to either. It would suffice for him to know what you require of him as a condition of going on your land. No dishonest or money-orientated detectorist will wish to comply so it’s good for both you and heritage!
Notice to those seeking permission to metal detect
Rule 1 Keep one thing in your mind: it’s mine. Bring it to me before you return to your car. My brother may run your metal detector over you. I’ll show all items to PAS and then I may give some to a museum or to you. If you love history you’ll be pleased.
Rule 2 Do NOT say “let’s build a trusting relationship” (how’s that in MY interest, rather than just yours?) I prefer a structured, businesslike approach, not a pally one based on a bottle of wine at Xmas as from now on I wish to be 100% sure all artefacts found, whether many or few, valuable or not, reach me safely.
Rule 3 If you’re offended, read the Code. Archaeologists advise you to get an agreement “in writing” rather than trust me. So what’s good for Kev is good for Silas, see? Also, if we use a detector on you, imagine we’re airport security guards. Would they make an exception if someone said “just trust me”? If you object to being checked don’t ask for access to a plane – or my fields, OK?
(For more from Farmer Brown put Silas in the search box.)