pick3.

For a moment it seemed nagging had paid off. For 13 years I’ve said if some enlightened detectorists formed an ethical detecting group they’d get massive prestige and others would follow and everyone would gain, including detectorists. That’s what our Ethical Metal Detecting Association is all about. Trouble is no-one has ever bitten – until recently when a detectorist contacted us saying he agreed with many of the pledges it contains and wanted to persuade his club to run along ethical lines.

Sadly though it turns out he and his colleagues can’t live with Pledge No. 3: “Members 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.” It’s “not practical” he says – because farmers are less likely to report the finds to PAS than detectorists are!

I bet you find that hard to credit Dear Reader, considering most detectorists don’t report to PAS! But be that as it may, the crucial point is that the finds are the farmer’s property so it can’t possibly be ethical for Joe Bloggs from Bootle to take them home instead of delivering them to the owner. Our correspondent might be sincere but it’s naive to think there aren’t a large number of Joe Bloggs’ who will never come back from Bootle with what they’ve taken (but who will love to adopt his ethical cloak as an aid!)

Such a shame, it could have been the start of something good. But you can’t pick and mix when it comes to ethics – and you particularly can’t ignore the biggest one of all, Pledge 3, which expresses something very basic and important: don’t take a bloke’s property away without showing him!  (Duh!). Tesco’s don’t agree to people taking their stuff home without going through the checkout. Why should farmers be asked to do so?

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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