Silas (feeling a little embarrassed for having to explain to  professionals how to conserve national heritage).

Silas (embarrassed to be having to explain to professionals how to protect stuff).


Dear Portable Antiquities Scheme,

It seems to me that your “Advice to finders” is waay out of date, ooh arr.


“Removing finds from the plough-soil does not usually disturb the archaeological layers below”

But the latest machines can detect targets 15 inches lower than most plough depths and you must be well aware that many people keep digging if they get a signal. Since you wrote your advice technology has rendered the claim that detecting on plough soil is harmless increasingly false. The proper advice should now be “There is no responsible reason for using the new deep-seeking machines on plough soil” – and indeed since many plough soils are extremely shallow it should always have been “Don’t detect on plough soil that’s less deep than your machine can go”.

“…. but on unploughed land the archaeology can lie close to the surface.”
But archaeology can lie close to the surface on some ploughed land too whereas that wording implies otherwise. The advice should surely be amended to say “on unploughed land and some ploughed land the archaeology can lie close to the surface” ?

“If you think you have located a previously undiscovered archaeological find beneath the plough-soil, tell the landowner and your Finds Liaison Officer (FLO)”
As recent events have shown, that advice is hopelessly inadequate and therefore damaging. You need to add “there should be no exceptions” and “here’s a list of ways you can protect important finds in situ if an archaeologist isn’t available …” and “failure to comply may result in a reduced reward”.


Shouldn’t those things have been added long ago – and certainly in the wake of the Crosby Garrett scandal or any of the subsequent ones including the recent Kent one?  Why haven’t they? And why does it fall to an octogenarian Salopian farmer to call for it to be done? It’s not me who is being paid to give advice to finders. Anyway, can you please make the changes without any further delay – before another spade-happy hero digs up what he shouldn’t and comes asking the poor taxpayer for even more money and saying the state financed advice bureau hadn’t told him what he should have done? As a taxpayer I’m not sure who annoys me most, him or you, but I think probably you as you know I’m right.

Kind Regards,

Silas Brown
Grunters Hollow Farm,

Update:  The new detectors won’t go that deep claims a newby detectorist who appears to know so little he doesn’t realise how little he knows. (It’s a problem, blogging. Anyone can claim they are knowledgeable and responsible. But it’s all downhill, daily, from then on if they aren’t!)

Anyway, infinitely more experienced detectorists (than someone who has only ever found two recordable finds in their life!)  have settled the depth issue entirely in Farmer Brown’s favour. (“Hello there, Neil Jones here aka slow_n_low, i can now get 24″ on the same small coins as i know the machine inside out and a lot lot deeper on the larger finds”.)

Incidentally, he also chirps that the Farmer Brown device is “childish”. On the contrary, giving farmers information other than what they are told at a farm gate by someone with a massive vested interest in him letting them onto his land is inarguably beneficial. It’s a shame that PAS can’t give farmers the proper advice. They have tried but are bitterly opposed by the NCMD unless THEY are allowed to dictate what farmers are told. One wonders why, but not for long.

Update 23 Sept 2013:
As predicted, they’ve done it again:

Free to be brainless“Stop digging” isn’t very complicated. These are not clever people. Just how un-clever is illustrated by the same person who made the silly comments above: “It is said that we should not dig below the plough level because we are digging into undisturbed soil but this is down to personal choice and what you decide is responsible and ethical in your approach to metal detecting.

So….. they can help themselves to Society’s history and destroy Society’s knowledge as a personal choice based on what they decide is responsible and ethical and then come to Society with their hands out for a massive reward! Hey PAS, EH and CBA, any comment?