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If you keep to the rules then metal detecting is good for Britain we’re told. In fact heroic. Not quite, not if the rules you keep to are self-serving ones specially designed for you by your hobby association. Imagine if car drivers had self-serving rules. Or archaeologists. Or brain surgeons! What then? Yet in Bonkers Britain we allow ten thousand people to interact with our heritage on exactly that basis! And then, in an act of either knowing or uncomprehending Machiavellianism, to tell themselves and the papers they are doing it to help the public! Oh no, if metal detectorists were doing it for our benefit they’d do it in accordance with our rules, it’s as simple as that and a billion words by them or PAS won’t change that plain fact.

“Ah but we DO lay down laws in cases of Treasure” Ed Vaizey would say. Indeed, but that’s only 900 finds out of 288,000. Plus, the Treasure Act isn’t fit for purpose, as many archaeologists have told the Government. As proof, think how it would operate in the case of this “piece of the true cross


It’s in Britain at present (on a visit from Jerusalem – see here) but what if, instead of arriving in Harrow last Thursday, it had been dug up in Jarrow on Wednesday? Under the Treasure Act the public would have to pay £XXX million for it – as there’s no top limit on treasure rewards. Is that OK? Worse (if that’s possible) if the gold bits accidentally fell off it wouldn’t be treasure so it could go straight to Christies to be flogged off. Finders keepers see? You can sell it, hide it or smash it up, it’s the British way. No such thing as Society in the Continent that institutionalised it, just state-sponsored redneckery in Old Europe.

Within hours this vivid example of what we are saying pops up in the press:
“Most responsible metal detectorists will belong to a club, and work under a strict code of conduct. All our members are affiliated to the National Council of Metal Detectorists and will carry a membership card as ID. We abide by their code….”
A proud assertion that utterly self-serving rules are OK!
Knowing Machiavellianism? Or uncomprehending? What does it matter, the effect is the same and it’s just one out of thousands of such instances each year.


More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting



December 2013

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