Dear Fellow Landowners,
It was a rumbustious night down at the Black Sheep and Wellies on Friday. I and my farming pals celebrated that a detectorist has just written on his blog: “I will also be letting the farmer know that all items found excluding treasure items belong to him, if there is anything that he does not [want] after the recording of the finds I will let him know I am interested in acquiring them”.
He might have added “once he’s obtained independent advice on them“ but still it’s a step forward and I’ll give a bag of mangel wurzels to any detectorist, archaeologist, lawyer, philosopher or priest that can show why ALL artefact hunters shouldn’t be doing it too. Anything else, like getting the farmer to sign away 50% of his property while still undiscovered (which most detectorists and the whole Archaeological Establishment encourage landowners to do) is plain wrong. Imagine finding your granny had let someone clear her loft when she was out in exchange for 50% of what they said they’d found – and that the Government had urged her to do it!
He’ll get a ton of criticism for what he’s doing but on the other hand he can console himself with the fact he’ll be treating farmers in a fairer and more honorable and respectful way than many thousands of his colleagues as well as English Heritage, the British Museum, the Portable Antiquities Scheme and many others. (Heaven help their grannies!)
Grunter’s Hollow Farm,
PS, Friends, here’s a drinking song I and the lads composed at the Sheep and Wellies. It’s time we farmers stood up for ourselves, don’t you think?
The Fifty-Shifty Contract
Just sign this find-sharing contract mate,
It’s written out really good,
We can split your stuff fifty-fifty mate,
(The archies all say we should).
But how do I know you won’t take nine
And show me only one?
What if you take what’s supposed to be mine
And clear off home old son?
It’s all a matter of trust my friend,
Purely a matter of trust,
And I know you’ll agree with me my friend,
That mutual trust is a must.
Fine, then bring me the lot old chum,
Trust me, I’ll give some to you
Just as soon as I’ve taken advice on it chum,
(I think independent advice would be best, don’t you?).
Er um, er, no sorry that wouldn’t be just,
Or at least, not just what we detectorists do,
You see, when we say that trust is a must
We mean the trust must come only from you!
Chorus (ALL FARMERS)
Then get off my laaand you untrusting twister
Get off my laaand, ooh arr!
Your contract’s unfair and you know it is Mister,
So get off my laaand, ooh arr!
Update (Nigel Swift): A sockpuppet writeth… that I’ve been banging this drum repeatedly for years and that therefore (presumably) I should now stop. My answer is this: yesterday we reckon about 790 recordable artefacts were dug up but most of them weren’t reported to PAS (according to PAS’s statistics) and most of them weren’t shown to the owner (according to the wording of the Finds Agreements). The same happened on each of thousands of previous days and will apply on each of an unknown number of future days.
So my attitude is simple. When detectorists cease to act in an uncivilised way I will immediately stop pointing out that they are doing so. That’s not unreasonable is it?
Incidentally, I see Silas’s little ditty has been described by a detectorist as “inaccurate”. Trouble is, it’s not. Taking someone’s property home unseen and unchecked by them to Liverpool or Latvia on any pretext or none is plain wrong by any standard. And doing it on the basis that “trust” is essential” is pure nonsense when both a crook and a cad would use the same wording so the wording leaves him open to being swindled. (“Oh but I wouldn’t swindle him” – that’s not the point, an awful lot of your mates would and do, as you know very well, using the same words). Some things are just wrong. Think Granny and loft. Or YOUR loft, for God’s sake! Would you trust Silas or a bloke from the pub to come to your house, take away your stuff without showing you “to report it to the National Stuff Reporting Scheme”? No you wouldn’t! So why would you subject farmers, on any pretext whatsoever, to a greater risk than you are prepared to tolerate at your own house?! Whatever leg you thought you were standing on has just collapsed.
********** STOP PRESS **********
We’ve just had a text message from Silas. It says:
Here! That detecting fellow said I was a patronising and pathetic stereotype! Well I’m not. Oooh aarr!
I’ll tell you exactly what I am though, and I’m very proud of it. I’m someone who has stood up for the rights of all landowners more than him and his ten thousand mates and all the signatories of the Responsibility Code combined! No amount of abuse or dressing up by the former or guilty silence from the latter can make that not true so bring it on, let’s see what else you can all offer, archaeologists, detectorists and Cabinet Ministers, to justify an army of people taking home vast quantities of other people’s property unseen!
Me and my mates in the Black Sheep and Wellies are totally, totally agog.
Another Update! The Trouble with Paul Barford ….. is that he says things Artefacts Hunters wish he wouldn’t and which The British Archaeological Establishment know they should. Like this, that he has just posted on a detectorist’s blog (which no-one logical, honest or heritage-friendly could possibly not cheer. Could they?!) :
“I’ll tell you what is “patronising”, it is going to seek permission without some recent back numbers of “the Searcher” and “Treasure Hunter” to LEAVE with the landowner, to show what metal detectorists do, what they find interesting, and above all to let them see the “finds valuation” pages in both those hobby magazines BEFORE they put pen to any agreement signing away any rights at all to artefact hunters. How many artefact hunters seeking finds agreements do that would you say? On how many forums have you read metal detectorists advising others to go permission hunting with these magazines under their arm so farmers can see how much those buckles, brooches and badges are valued at there? Why not yourself go onto a forum today and suggest it? Let us see what response you get. “
Update 13 May 2014
It seems we are being misunderstood and misquoted in some quarters so to clarify I’ve just posted this elsewhere. I trust it’s clear enough….
“detectorists are thieves” ….
No. The assertion is that every detectorist ought to bring the owner’s property to him so he can take independent advice upon it – as only that can be regarded as “fair dealing”, given that the detectorist has all the knowledge and the landowner has none. It seems to me so few detectorists do that (judging by the finds agreements) that not doing it has become seen as OK. It’s not. Not when many millions of pounds worth are leaving the fields yearly and the owner is given little information about the objects or their significance or their value or all of them other than what one person tells him. That is not fair dealing and calling it trust doesn’t make it so, nor is using the excuse that “he isn’t interested in them”. He would be if he was properly informed. To say otherwise would be to say he’s an idiot.
“shows the metal detectorist in a bad light”
Damn right it does. What do you want of us? To say the behaviour of most detectorists isn’t unprincipled and profoundly unfair to landowners? I wouldn’t hold your breath!