Last month Silas said what others don’t: “detecting contracts that don’t tell farmers to get a second opinion are a bloody scandal.” [See “Farmer Brown: I ain’t signing that!”}  In case you’re unsure, here’s the urban equivalent of a detecting contract:

"“Hello, I collect things. Can I clear your loft for free? Trust me, I'll tell you if I find anything valuable, honest....”

“Hello, I collect interesting things. So can I clear your loft for free? Sign here. Trust me, I’ll tell you if I find anything valuable, honest….”

No-one would like their granny treated that way, it’s as close to criminal as you can legally get and “sharp” practice at best. Yet that’s how all detecting contracts, including the “model” ones, work. Detectorists back it up by telling farmers it’s all a matter of trust. (If you Google “metal detecting” + “a matter of trust” you get 2,100 hits!) Yet when their own interest is at stake detectorists don’t believe in trust, they get independent expert advice on value. (Here’a a forum discussion just last week about reporting Treasure finds: Whatever you do, make sure you get your item independently valued for gawd sake! “)

So, quite a contrast! Not trusting the competence or honesty of independent professionals on the Treasure Valuation Committee (and frequently disputing treasure rewards by getting second opinions) yet telling farmers to trust their competence and honesty (despite having a massive vested interest in their own valuations!) Sadly, The National Farmers Union doesn’t warn members not to sign “trust me” contracts or to get proper independent advice. The reason isn’t hard to see: they only advise what they’re advised to advise by The British Archaeological Establishment.

Surely the fact that British farmers are being sold down the river through the silence of the British authorities, frit to stand up to detectorists, compounds the bloody scandal? If it’s not so let them say so.

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