Dear Fellow Landowners,
You really should look at some detecting forums. See this, just 3 days ago: “I’m trying to get my head around that what we find is the land owners property…..something laying buried there for years, maybe hundreds of years how can it belong to them if they didn’t lose it….. Stuff we normally find that’s not treasure surely is ours.” Followed by…. “Im totally with you on this one …. I think we are the new owners (excluding treasure items of course)” Followed by “They aren’t the land owners property they never lost the stuff in the first place” So what they are saying is very clear: what they find on our land is theirs! What is it with detectorists? Which other group would include people who claimed that? It makes you wonder how much we farmers have lost on the basis of such belief.
As it happens, Central Searchers have just provided a clue about that. They say 341 recordable artefacts were found at their last rally. So do the maths – if each was worth £20 and they have 50 such events a year plus a massive summer one – and loads of artefacts are worth vastly more than that and many are pocketed without anyone being told – the value being taken out of the fields by Central Searchers alone has to run into millions a year. And guess what, the rallies are run under their hidden Rule 11 that says all finds worth less than £2,000 (as privately valued by the detectorist alone) belong entirely to their detectorists. Basically that means the same thing: everything on our land is theirs! And that’s just the Central Searchers attendees. Who knows how many other detectorists at other rallies or on their own work on the belief, whatever they say at the farm gate, that everything they find is fair game and theirs?
Friends, how come the government and it’s officials keep quiet about all this and do absolutely nothing to warn us or stop it happening? They must know perfectly well what is going on as their quango has had a grandstand view of it every single week for 15 years. What have we farmers done to deserve the official silence? Is Britain totally, totally barmy?
Yours, in considerable anger,
Update, 28 April 2014
Look what happens if you pay a quango oodles to outreach and it pulls its punches for one and a half decades to the detriment of us farmers:
“Up until the other day I always thought that the finds we made unless classed as treasure was really ours, to keep or to sell. I never realised that there were laws in place about who has the rights to our finds. To be honest I always thought that if it wasn’t a treasure find it was up to us if we wanted to hand it over to the landowner or not. Just that it was common courtesy to show or even offer the land owner what I had found and never really thought that these finds belonged to him/her by law. That’s the bit that hit me, by law, as I like to keep within the law I will now have to declare everything to the land owner and say words to this effect, “This is all yours, anything you don’t want I don’t mind taking”. I know I hear some you shout, I should have been doing this from the start.”
Bloody scandalous. And I don’t just mean the detectorists. Will the Government be compensating us for the millions of pounds we’ve surely lost due to their dereliction of their duty of care towards us?
Update 29 April 2014
And on the same forum …. “Interesting discussion. Just to warn you all that there are ‘people’ watching this thread with great interest. Kid gloves, my metal detecting brethren. Don’t become a quote on a tacky blog.”
Translated as: Careful what you say lest unkind people such as Farmer Brown and his tens of thousands of colleagues as well as historians, conservationists and taxpayers come to the view that a lot of us are utter ignorami and moral pygmies who shouldn’t be on the fields – and the rest of us are protecting them!
Heroes and history lovers, eh? But you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one would you Mr Vaizey? 😉
Update 30 April 2014
Amazing. From the original fellow on his blog: “I’m just imagining now holding out my hand showing the farmer the finds for a day consisting of some buttons, a buckle, some other interesting tat and a silver hammered coin and thinking…’Please don’t take the hammy’, Please don’t take the hammy’…
So he’s imagining it. He doesn’t DO it. How many times has he not done it and how many detectorists habitually do the same. How is that not mass theft from the country’s hardworking farmers? And still, the whole shebang isn’t regulated. No-one can justify that.
Update 30 April (later)
Another blog and someone who would like to be “responsible” but doesn’t quite get it: “Without the farmers and landowners there would not be much of a hobby” [none at all, actually], “so its only right that we show them the upmost respect and always let them know what we have found on their land.” No, you shouldn’t show them respect and you shouldn’t show them what you have found, you should give them their property. It’s a subtle but crucial distinction, give property not show property, one that most people would have no problem whatsoever recognising as being right and proper but one which 16 years of being praised and patted on the head seems to have robbed even the best detectorists (bar a tiny minority) of the capacity to grasp. Altogether now, ad risk of nauseam, it’s time this nonsense was regulated like it is in the rest of the world. Show me a detectorist who disagrees and I’ll show you a crook or someone that wants to make it easy for crooks.
Update 1 May 2014
This could go on forever Friends, so I’ll end with this. A barrister friend once advised me: if a big lorry aggressively tailgates you move over straight away, the driver may have an IQ of 80. By the same token you shouldn’t assume that at one end of a metal detector there is always an heroic historian. Beware. It could also be the likes of this bloke who has just publicly responded to me on his blog:
“The definition of a thief to me is shoplifting, burglary, pickpocket, etc, To be called a thief for taking away something that’s been lost maybe hundreds of years ago and I had permission to search and no one knew it was there in the first place is so wrong even if it seems it is in the eyes of the law. Before people start branding others what might be right and wrong, they should take a look at their own lives. Ye who casts the first stone etc comes to mind.
No one is squeaky clean, everyone breaks a law now and again. Important laws like murder, assault, theft, (here i mean theft as in breaking and entering), drink driving are examples of important laws and we must have them. But this law of whatever I find in the ground with the reasons above is bound to get flaunted, its human nature. Its nothing like pinching a bit of bacon from Tescos as one site put it. To me its on par with throwing a ciggy butt out your car window, picking a wild flower, taking a pebble off a beach, dropping litter….the list goes on. These things are all against the law, but people do it and they know its wrong, its just a minor thing.
If we lived within every nitty gritty bits of laws like these minor ones the world would be a perfect place. It won’t happen. Hell, I’ve said it before, some of the people who make these laws are at it themselves and in a bigger way than taking something away that never existed before we found it. There will never be a perfect world so all we can do is survive as best we can on how far our consciousness will take us.”