Farmer Brown writes …..
Dear Farming Colleagues,
Back in April 2013 the Heritage Journal highlighted the rally rule of Somerset Artefact Seekers Detecting Club: “Any items found that are not Treasure Trove become the property of the finder/s unless otherwise stated.” It was changed the very next day to “Any items found that are not Treasure Trove become the property of the finder and the land Owner on the basis of 50/50”. Hmmm. You’d have to wonder what degree of fiction about the low likelihood of finding anything induced all those farmers to sign all their property rights away? Anyway, here’s the question: have all subsequent farmers (and previous ones before the rule change) now been paid their 50%?
It’s a lot of money. The club website reveals they tend to find at least 20 historic finds per event – so maybe on average 15 finds @ £10 each, 3 @ £50 each, 2 @ £100 each and 1 @ £250 = £750…. x 100 events since they started = £75,000! (Not counting any undeclared items or priceless ones!) So the farmers should have been paid at least £32500, yes? Were they, and are there accounts and receipts showing that? And do the other 200 clubs have similar paperwork? The harvesting of hundreds of thousands of non-Treasure finds is big business, maybe £10 million a year, so accounts must be available surely, for without them how would farmers and the public know they were getting their just deserts? If they weren’t it would be theft. Heritage crime. Yes?
Yet it seems that in Britain no-one is calling for financial accountability to ensure farmers are treated fairly. Not archaeologists, the Government, the National Farmers Union and certainly not detectorists. Think what £10 million a year can pay for – 380 nurses, 3000 annual student fees, a doubling of offshore wind subsidies – or 7 years of running costs for PAS. It’s inconceivable there would be no paperwork for any of those. So does that mean the rights of we farmers are seen as irrelevant – and that we’re far less deserving recipients of the benefits of harvesting our property than metal detectorists? I guess so.
Grunters Hollow Farm,