Dear Colleagues,

Oh dear. My brother Jacob sent me some Guidelines that the Culture Minister has issued this week. It’s got me in a right old muddle as it says stuff no-one told me about. Things like ….

> “Archaeological objects must be excavated in a structured scientific manner”
> “Failure to expertly record the context from which an object has been removed results in an irreplaceable loss of knowledge of the past”
“Unregulated and inappropriate use of metal detectors causes serious damage to archaeological heritage.”

Jacob lives in Ireland but what’s true there must be true here mustn’t it? So why haven’t we been told? Or is the Irish culture minister lying? Or not? It’s a puzzle. We need to get to the bottom of this. I’m going to write to my cousin Simone who farms in France to see what advice her culture minister has given the public. I’ll let you know. Either unregulated metal detecting causes serious damage to archaeological heritage or it doesn’t. As the sole decision maker on my 500 acres I’m entitled to absolutely demand that the British authorities tell me which. Who knows, they could be knowingly making me an unwitting party to serious cultural damage.

Your friend,

Silas Brown

PS – you can see the new Guidelines here. Seems like the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland endorses them.  Confusing isn’t it? 

PPS, 18 August 2012:
Perhaps in response, 
a detectorist has just quoted the well-worn slogan: “The past belongs to everybody, not just to the members of a professional close shop.” But without meaning to the hapless chap is actually backing Ireland’s culture minister to the hilt for it is precisely because the past is everyone’s that it needs to be excavated in a structured, scientific manner by experts to avoid everyone suffering “an irreplaceable loss of knowledge of the past” ! Anyone that says otherwise is claiming a private right to damage the public interest aren’t they? Not in my back yard they won’t. If you want a moral philosopher don’t look at the top end of a metal detecting machine. But I’ll wait and see what the French culture minister says. Maybe he’ll say his Irish counterpart is wrong?


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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting