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The idea of The Ethical Metal Detecting Association was to lay out a set of ten pledges that  artefact hunters could adopt in order to play fair with landowners, museums and the public. Nothing onerous, in fact they were deliberately kept below the ideal, so we’ re supremely confident that if you read them you’ll find nothing in them that you’ll think is unfair, unjust, impractical or unreasonable and that you’ll agree that they simply ensure that landowners and the public receive what is their entitlement. Yet in 3 years not one detectorist has signed up to them. Last week however the Moderator of the UK and European Metal Detecting Forum publicly broke the silence:

“That EMDA idea is so ingratiating that I wanted to throw up. One sentence really caught my eye;  Members will promptly give a museum a sight of any finds the landowner allows them to keep on the basis that if the museeum requires any they will be donated without conditions. It sums it all up. I am proud to be in this hobby and happy to associate with some wonderful like minded people. I don’t feel we need to almost apologise for owning a detector and enjoying a days detecting within the laws. That EMDA is something you expect to see on April Fools day.”


So the pledges are a joke and make him sick!  In that case, here they are. You judge:

“We believe metal detecting should be about an interest in history alone, not money. We also recognise that other than the ones that belong to the Crown finds belong legally to the landowner and the historical knowledge to be gained from them belongs morally to society so failing to keep the landowner properly informed or failing to deliver the knowledge to society or selling finds are all inconsistent with an ethical approach. Accordingly, our Members make the following pledges to landowners:

1. Members will give a signed copy of this document to the landowner so that he/she is fully informed about the way we will act if given permission to detect on the land.

2. Members will also present their EMDA photo card, a current PL insurance certificate, personal ID documents and contact details for PAS and the Local Archaeology Service and will encourage landowners to make independent enquiries about themselves and whether detecting on the land is appropriate.

3. Members will never ask landowners to enter into “finds sharing agreements” but instead will promptly deliver ALL finds of interest into the hands of their legal owner, the landowner, so that he/she can consider what (if anything) should be done with them. Members will advise landowners to obtain independent advice upon the significance and value of all finds.

4. Any sale of a find will be a matter for the landowner alone to decide upon; any find he donates to a Member will be at his sole discretion and not subject to any contractual or other obligation, and if he does donate a find to a Member the Member will never sell it.

5. In the event that a public museum wishes to purchase a find, Members will voluntarily forego a significant portion of any benefit (whether Treasure Act reward or ex-gratia share offered by the landowner) in order to enable the museum to purchase at less than full value as we believe accepting maximum rewards are inconsistent with an ethical approach, as is obliging hard-pressed museums to buy finds at full market value).

6. Members will confirm prior to detecting that the landowner consents to him promptly reporting full details of all recordable finds or discoveries of unknown sites to the government’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and will then do so in every case.

7. Members will promptly give a museum a sight of any finds the landowner allows them to keep on the basis that if the museum requires any they will be donated without conditions.

8. Members will properly catalogue and curate any finds not required by the landowner or museum (and recommend or help the landowner to do the same with any he keeps) and make arrangements to ensure they will be re-offered to a museum in the event of their demise.

9. Members will not detect anywhere (irrespective of legality) without prior confirmation from the appropriate Local Authority curator that doing so poses no threat to the known resource.

10. Members will comply with and regard the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales as a minimum level of good practice, with the exception of certain sections which fall short of the Association’s view of truly ethical detecting. In particular:
(a.) Members will not enter “finds agreements” with landowners (see above)
(b.) Members will not support metal detecting clubs or institutions in which the behavioural standards of any participants are less than entirely ethical
(c.) Members will never detect upon long-undisturbed land or use the new generation of artefact-detection machines that are capable of working at excessive depths.
(d.) Members will not support unstructured commercial artefact hunting rallies that do not accord with professional standards (as these deliver neither maximum benefit to society nor minimum damage to the resource).”

Also, see Update, here


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting



August 2013

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