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by Nigel Swift

It’s usually safe to ignore anything US detectorists say about UK detecting as their lack of knowledge is obvious. However, I’d like to correct a blatant piece of misinformation just offered to them by an English detectorist as I suspect it refers partly to us. He talks of “the dictum of archaeology’s ‘Hard Left’ faction” (that’ll be us no doubt, we’re often portrayed as commies or Nazis) “who promote the notion that all land, artefacts, and collectibles should belong to the People”.

Now if you’re in Britain you’ll know that’s nonsense as neither we nor anyone else advocate nationalisation of land or artefacts or collectables, but for the avoidance of doubt: we don’t advocate nationalisation of all historic artefacts! We don’t even advocate the nationalisation of historical knowledge – for the simple reason it already belongs to the public! All we want is for detecting to be regulated so that thousands of people stop stealing the public’s knowledge by not reporting their finds. How Hard Left is that!

And, until the law changes, here’s another crazy left wing idea: let reasonable detectorists join with archaeologists to declare that just as nighthawks are artefact thieves, so non-reporting detectorists are knowledge thieves – who cause far more cultural damage – and that neither group should be allowed into detecting clubs or onto the fields. Any takers? No? (There weren’t the last time I proposed it!) So Britain will no doubt remain bonkers and history-taking will continue on an industrial scale despite both sides knowing perfectly well it’s avoidable and profoundly wrong……


The two types of heritage thieves. Only in Britain are the public not told they are equally contemptible.

The two types of heritage theft,  one criminal and relatively small-scale, one legal and massive …….  Communist propaganda or the plain truth?



More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting



July 2014

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