Yes, you heard it right. Central Searchers run detecting rallies that are arguably the most irresponsible detecting events in the universe. How can we say that? Well, for a start, Britain is one of very few places in the universe where such events are legal so that cuts the field down a lot. Then there’s their notorious crook-helping rule that says farmers get nothing that’s worth less than £2,000 as secretly judged by the detectorist. But third and worst is the fact they hold rallies wherever they can, irrespective of whether they should.
The latest (at Pertenhall) was to be on top of many recent archaeological evaluation trenches. Archaeologists were outraged and it was prevented fortunately but they have reacted not with shame or an apology but a bellicose announcement that future venues will be kept secret to avoid “trouble-making“ – i.e. to avoid archaeologists being able to ask farmers to say no to rallies on vulnerable archaeology.
Wrongdoing by detectorists is always portrayed as confined to “a tiny minority” but the fact Central Searchers rallies are constantly promoted and praised (to the skies!) in the hobby press and always attract hundreds of eager customers with neither the wit nor decency to stay away makes total nonsense of the claim. Who can deny that large-scale wrong-doing of this sort ought to be publicly exposed and stopped? No-one. Yet officialdom is silent.
Update 28 October 2013
- Forgot to say: 500 detectorists – ( 12.5% of all detectorists! ) – attended Central Searchers’ Summer Rally this year.
- A County Archaeologist is leaving after 28 years and isn’t being replaced. But one detectorist has just said: “I hope she ends up working on the streets….detectorist’s across the Country will raise a glass and rejoice at her departure” . Another has said: “Good riddance! Another one bites the dust….. They never learn. All those years spent bitching about detectorists amounts to her demise….but detecting moves on!”
Is it unreasonable to hope that archaeologists and politicians (and decent thoughtful detectorists!) will drop the ubiquitous “tiny minority” phrase from all their comments on metal detecting? It’s clearly inappropriate, the minority is not tiny and the misdescription has helped sustain a great deal of wrongdoing and cultural loss for far too long.