Dear Colleagues,

Were you shocked by Somerset Metal Detecting Club’s rule that everything they find that isn’t Treasure is entirely THEIRS? History lovers, eh? History locusts more like. Of course, hours after it was highlighted on the Journal they acknowledged they’d been banged to rights by deleting the “all ours” rule and substituting words saying the finds belonged half to them and half to the farmer, which is half true. But you just wonder, now they’ve admitted the previous rule was an outrage, how many tens of thousands of pounds that should have gone to farmers have gone into their Members’ pockets over the years. And crucially: what they’re going to do about it. A lot of farmers in Somerset are now owed a lot of money, surely?

I rather doubt those farmers will ever see their money though judging by the very next rule: Please show your finds to other club members at the end of each dig. The club may wish to photo record some items and feature them on the clubs website and the Farmer/land owner may wish to see items found on their land”. So, Friends, even though they now openly admit that you own 50% of what is found they tell their Members you only may wish to see it (and then maybe only a photo!!!) How utterly dodgy is that? Is it likely that you or anyone, anywhere has ever NOT wanted to be shown exactly what complete strangers from Liverpool or Latvia in cammo gear were busy taking out of their field, house or pocket? Unless of course they were told nothing but junk was normally found in a gathering of scores of detectorists and no-one from the Government bothered to make public the fact that that is almost never the case ….

It’s a crying shame, isn’t it, that the Government and the Portable Antiquities Scheme don’t issue us landowners with warnings against all the dubious and self-interested  and deliberately imprecise wording contained in detecting club rules and finds agreements.***  People are endlessly warned about unfair marketing ploys coming though the post but not about this – some of which is said to be “clarified verbally”, a sure sign of someone wanting to disadvantage someone without the world knowing. Multiply Somerset by hundreds of detecting clubs and you end up with vast amounts of stuff in the wrong hands. Yet aren’t landowners taxpayers too (and on a vastly greater scale than artefact hunters)? Don’t we have a right to be expensively outreached to and to be adequately informed and to have our interests protected by the government?

Silas Brown

*** Here’s PAS’s advice to Landowners.
Not a word of warning about the danger of being ripped off. Plus, a recommendation to get a finds agreement  (why, when it all belongs to him anyway ???!) which is a wide open door to being conned and deprived. NEVER sign a finds agreement friends. You decide if you give anyone anything ONCE you have it in your hand. See my letter on why finds agreements should never be signed.



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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting