As if failing to regulate artefact hunting isn’t embarrassing enough there’s now further humiliation for Britain: the French are complaining that increasing numbers of English people are travelling to France to metal detect. Jean-David Desforges (Head of “Stop the Pillage”) says they come “in search of a nice little earner” despite it being a crime in France. The French Culture Ministry has a very clear opinion on the activity: “These uncontrolled digs are a real problem because it is a catastrophe for science.”
Makes yer proud to be British don’t it?! Last month the nation was informed by Country Life magazine (briefed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme?) that critics of the British system are “scholars of the old school” (in other words, out of touch and wrong) and that Dr Lewis, Deputy Head of PAS, “actually welcomes” the activities of metal detectorists. Stupid French. And Irish. And indeed every other country on the globe. They just don’t understand the lack of need to regulate artefact hunting like the British do (“a catastrophe for science” indeed! Damn fool French Culture Ministry!) so us sending our artefact hunters over to impose our Truths – a bit like we used to send missionaries – is exactly what they all need.
Update 14 October 2014:
This has just been posted on a metal detecting forum …..
“Trip to Normandy detecting:
Morning Guys and Girls,
I muted [sic]last year a possible trip to Normandy to detect on my permissions. Currently i have permission to dig on over 1000 hectares of pasture and ploughed land. This is what i am thinking:
* go and stay at my house (sleeps 10 people)
* 2 cars co across on the ferry from Poole (Dorset) to Cherbourg (5 in each car)
* all costs shared (money in the kitty for grub etc etc)
* couple of beers each night and a possible talk on what ever subject by who ever wants to do one
* have a general laugh!!”
So, is that an exciting ten-person lost tractor parts hunt (which is legal under French law) or is it something else? And will the British authorities, including PAS and the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage be having a conversation with their French counterparts or will they pretend they haven’t read this or that it’s not their concern? Are we Europeans or dog-in-the-manger Rosbifs with piratical standards?
More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting