2015 began shockingly. Unaffected by 18 years of PAS outreach a large group of detectorists pressurised a respectable professional into digging out the Lenborough hoard in a hurried and damaging manner on the blatantly fraudulent grounds that it couldn’t be guarded overnight. PAS later compounded the farce by pretending everything was fine. Was that the low point of PAS’s behaviour, ever? Probably. Nothing like what its founders intended. What did other archaeologists and the Government make of it? (There’s a possible clue in paragraph 3.)

The only way from there is up and later in the year came hope that PAS might change for there’s now a “new PAS”, unburdened by the past. Will it start ensuring it always puts archaeological protection ahead of the wishes, threats or sensibilities of artefact hunters?  The jury is still out but the year ended ominously.  The new Countryside Stewardship Scheme will require landowners to disallow detecting on ploughed fields that contain known but unscheduled archaeological sites but a detectorist reports that his Finds Liaison Officer told him “its no good for you and its no good for us”.

PAS is about to issue an official statement. Will it side with detectorists and say the new requirement is wrong and that targeting known archaeological sites on ploughed land is not bad practice? (Show us any archaeologist who praises detecting and we’ll show you someone who avoids acknowledging that that’s where most finds come from!) Anyway, we’ll soon know. One thing seems likely: Natural England didn’t come up with this change in isolation – and from that it seems to follow that the Government and The Archaeological Establishment, with or without PAS’s agreement, have decided sucking up to detectorists to the detriment of archaeology has gone too far. Maybe Lenborough was the final straw, in which case we all owe the detectorists there a big vote of thanks! ***

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The Janus of Bloomsbury, trying to work out how to look after both artefact hunters AND archaeology ....

The Janus of Bloomsbury, trying to resolve the impossible: how to look after both artefact hunters AND archaeology ….

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 *** You may be interested to know that far from being forbidden from ever going back, like would happen in every country on earth but one, the original heroes of Lenborough, not archaeologists, are holding another rally right now (Jan 3rd 2016) on that very field! That’s how inured we are in this country to unacceptably damaging behaviour in plain sight and how utterly ludicrous and inadequate our definition of “good practice” currently is!

Oh! Paul Barford has just pointed out a forum posting by detectorist “Bob”
Re: Rallie 3rd Jan 16
CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER.
Funny innit, how the Met Office has bravely done for Archaeology what Britain’s timid and “voluntary” portable antiquities policy can’t!

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Update: Unsurprisingly none of the above points has been refuted by detectorists (how could they be?) Instead, the author has simply been dismissed as “a well known serial detractor”. It saves thinking, But on the contrary “Geoman” I’m on good terms with some detectorists, it’s just that I think the ones who get their kicks digging artefacts from known archaeological sites are selfish. And a bit thick! And should be stopped by law. So sue me!

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